ICES FAQ Answers, Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ICES Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is ICES?

ICES is the acronym for the Instructor and Course Evaluation System. ICES was developed at UIUC as one way to collect information from students about your courses and teaching. With this system, you select items from a catalog (or choose one of 4 complete forms) that you consider most appropriate.

Your choices generate a questionnaire for students. Near the top of each ICES questionnaire, two general items are preprinted. These items ask students to rate the instructor and the course on a five-point scale, ranging from "Exceptionally High to Exceptionally Low. " The first two general items are used to produce longitudinal profiles which summarize your ratings on items 1 and 2 for all the semesters you've used ICES.

Your department may have a group of questions, called a department core, which are printed on your questionnaire after the two general questions. All UIUC instructors are encouraged to use ICES; some instructors are required to do so. ICES is used in approximately 14,000 course sections each year.

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Where can I find a copy of the ICES Item Catalog?

In addition to the online ICES Item Catalog, hard copies (also known as M & E Newsletter #1) may be available in your department office or from the ICES office - just drop us a note at ices@illinois.edu or call us at 333-3490.


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What does an ICES Questionnaire look like?


1

Ices Questionnaire: Front
The first two questions are global or general, and are preprinted on each ICES questionnaire. These items ask students to rate the instructor and to rate the course on a five-point scale, ranging from "Exceptionally High to Exceptionally Low." These questions are used to produce longitudinal profiles.

23 instructor-selected questions can fit on the front side of the questionnaire unless your department has a core. A core is a common set of items that appears on all questionnaires from the department. If the department has a core, it limits the number of instructor items to 23 minus the number of items in the departmental core.

2

Ices Questionnaire: Back
Students have space to write comments in response to the following 4 questions: A. What are the major strengths and weaknesses of the instructor? B. What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you? C. What do you suggest to improve this course? D. Comment on the grading procedures and exams. There are 2 spaces remaining on the back. Use these to get student feedback about very specific course issues. You can write your questions on the board or on a transparency and ask students to write their responses in the blank spaces.

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How can I order ICES Questionnaires for my classes?

Fill out one ICES request form for each class section. So, if you have two class sections of a course, you need to fill out two request forms. These forms should be sent to you each semester by the Measurement & Evaluation (M & E) or you can ask for them in your departmental office. Fill out the information requested on both sides of the request forms. Special note for TA's: On the ICES request form, all graduate students who are teaching should mark "Teaching Assistant" in section 6 for "Your Rank."

Send the completed request forms in the envelope provided through campus mail to M & E, 247 Armory, MC 528.

The timetable for ICES varies with the academic calendar. However, the deadline for turning in requests for ICES questionnaires comes about three weeks before the end of classes in any given semester. Please allow one week for forms to be printed and sent to you.


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Will my teaching assistants receive their own information packets for ordering ICES forms?

Generally, teaching assistants receive their packets from the departments. When we send out the first ICES mailing of the semester, we ask how many teaching assistants each department has and send that many packets to the department.

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What does an ICES request form look like?


3

Ices Request Form: Front

Fill out the information requested on Side 1: 1 - 11. One request form is needed for each course section you teach.

For information about Side 1: 7 ("Release"), see Who has access to information from my ICES ratings?

4

Ices Request Form: Back

In order to fill in side 2, you have to decide first which of the three ICES options you can use. Once you've decided what option to use and the number of questions you can ask, go to the ICES Catalog and select the questions. On Side 2 of each ICES request form, darken the circles beneath the numbers of the selected questions.

Each semester, you have to fill out new ICES request forms for each course or section. This is so even if you are using a departmental core or one of the complete forms. Even if the items don't change, the number of forms you need, your rank, and the release information may change. Therefore, you should keep track of the items you choose each semester, especially if you select them individually and think you may want to use them again.
Send the completed request forms through campus mail to M&E, 247 Armory, MC 528.


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Does my department have a core?

To check your department, click Here


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What are my three ICES options?

You can select one of the following three options:
1. Departmental Core plus optional Instructor-selected Items
2. Instructor-Selected items
3. Complete Form

  • Option 1: Departmental Core plus optional Instructor-Selected Items

Each department can designate a set of items called a department core. These items will be automatically printed on each student questionnaire, so you don't have to choose the items yourself. If your department has a core, you may select up to 23 items minus the number of items in the core. To find out if your department has a core and the number of items on it, click here.
You may want to look at the actual core items before making other questionnaire choices to avoid duplication of questions. Your department office has a list of its core items or call for one at M & E, 333-3490.
If you do not wish to use your department's core, please contact M & E, 333-3490.

  • Option 2: Instructor-selected Items (no department core)

You may select up to 23 items from the ICES catalog. You may choose a different set of items for each section since you fill out one request form for each section of students who provide feedback.
Selecting the university student publication option adds another 6 items to your ICES. You also need to know that if you select too many items, some will necessarily be omitted. Questions are printed in this order: departmental core items first (if there is a department core), then the student core items (if selected), and finally the instructor selected items.

  • Option 3: Complete forms

You can select one of 4 complete forms, ready-made questionnaires if your department doesn't have a core, and you don't want to choose items from the catalog. Note: The system doesn't allow for using both a form and instructor-selected items on the same questionnaire.
Caution: Please do not use questionnaires generated in past semesters as they cannot be processed. Photocopied questionnaires are not acceptable either.


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How many items can I put on an ICES questionnaire?

23 instructor-selected questions can fit on the front side of the questionnaire unless the department has a core. A core is a common set of items that appears on all questionnaires from the department. If the department has a core, it limits the number of instructor items to 23 minus the number of items in the departmental core. Click here for a list of department cores.

If you check the student publication option on Box 7 on the ICES request form, your student questionnaires will contain an additional set of items.


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When is the deadline for turning in requests for ICES questionnaires?

The timetable for ICES varies from semester to semester. The deadline for turning in requests for ICES questionnaires usually comes a couple of weeks before the end of classes in any given semester. Please allow one week for forms to be printed and sent to you. During the last week of the semester, a very limited supply of Complete Forms and questionnaires with departmental core items may be available at 247 Armory Building. These will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis until the supply is exhausted. For questions, please call 244-3846 or e-mail ices@illinois.edu.

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What are the ICES complete forms?

You have the option of choosing a questionnaire with pre-selected items for your ICES. (You choose this option by marking one of the blocks in the right hand column marked Complete Forms on side 2 of the ICES request form. The seven choices available in complete forms are:

Form 1: CEQ: Course Evaluation Questionnaire consists of 21 general concept questions (a good general diagnostic tool).

Form 7: CLQ: Costin's Lecturing Questionnaire contains 23 items primarily applicable to large lecture sections.

Form 8: CDQ: Costin's Discussion Questionnaire contains 23 items primarily applicable to discussion sections or seminars.

Student core: Contains six items which are released, along with the two global items, to the Illinois Student Senate for posting to their web site.

General Questionnaire: Contains nine items designed to be utilized in a broad array of course types.

General Questionnaire plus student core: Combines the above two forms into one form. The results of the six student items will be released (and two global items) to Illinois Student Senate.

Form Global: This form contains only the two general preprinted questions, Rate the Instructor and Rate the Course. Call Measurement and Evaluation at 344-3490 if you want to use the Global form.

If you decide to use one of the forms, departmental core items will not be included on your ICES questionnaires, and you can't add either instructor selected items or the student core.


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Does a student just put the ICES forms in campus mail?


Once your class has completed the ICES questionnaires, it is important that you not handle them at all. Designate a student in the class to collect the completed ICES forms, put them in the self-addressed envelope provided, and then either drop the envelope in the nearest campus mailbox or bring them by the ICES office at 247 Armory.


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When will I get the ICES results?

ICES results are processed after final exams. Results are sent through the campus mail to instructors within about a month. The precise schedule varies somewhat from semester to semester.

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Can I get a copy of Newsletter #4 (ICES Interpretive Guide)?

Copies of Newsletter #4 ICES Interpretive Guide are available by sending a note to ices@illinois.edu or by calling the ICES office at 333-3490.

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How are ICES ratings used?

ICES ratings can be used in a number of ways within two broad areas: improving teaching and making decisions. As examples of the first, you might ask how students feel about a specific aspect of a course i.e., a specific teaching strategy. After looking over student responses to the question and discussing them with colleagues who teach well, you'd be in a good position to make appropriate changes. Another way that ICES results are used to improve teaching is during department seminars about good teaching where faculty pair off to discuss their ICES. And, third, department heads use ICES as one way to identify instructors who might benefit from help with their teaching (for more on this, give CITL's Instructional Development a call at 244-3861).

Longitudinal profiles are an important tool in decision-making, the second area of the use of ICES ratings. Longitudinal profiles list all of an instructor's ratings on the ICES general items 1 and 2. The profiles are used in promotion and tenure decisions and for some teaching awards (profiles are prepared for Teaching Assistants only when they are nominated for teaching awards by their departments). Faculty members can request a longitudinal profile at any time by sending e-mail to exams@illinois.edu or by calling 333-3490.

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Who has access to my ICES results?

When you fill out an ICES request form, you determine in Box 7, Release Information, who will receive ICES results.

1. If you indicate yes for the Incomplete List...?, your name and course number are published if the results qualify.
2. If you indicate yes for the university student publication, the results from the extra set of items added to your student questionnaires are published by the Illinois Student Government.
3. If you indicate yes for Department Head, chp., or other person..., one copy of your results for items 1 and 2 as well as the results on your department core (if one exists) are sent to the department head or his/her representative. Your signature is required for this information to be released to the person designated.


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What is the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students... and how can I get on it?

A "List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students" is compiled each semester. It is based on the previous semester's student ICES ratings on the first two general ICES items, "Rate the Instructor's Overall Teaching Effectiveness" and "Rate the Overall Quality of this Course." To be included in the list, instructors must meet the following criteria on ICES item #1 and #2:

ICES Item #1 (Effectiveness of Instructor)
  Required Mixed Elective
Faculty 4.4 4.5 4.6
TAs 4.3 4.4 4.5
ICES Item #2 (Quality of Course)
  Required Mixed Elective
Faculty 4.3 4.4 4.5
TAs -na- -na- -na-

NOTE: "TA's" include anyone that marked "Teaching Assistant" as their rank on the ICES request form. "Faculty" includes all other ranks. All graduate students should mark "TA" as their rank even if they have full control of a course.

The List is usually published in the daily student newspaper on the day that registration begins and is posted to our web site.

You have to give permission before your student ratings can be considered for inclusion on the List. You do so by completing the List option of Box 7 on the ICES request form. The list is "incomplete" for a number of reasons, including:

1. Instructors may choose not to participate in the list.
2. Instructors may not have completed Box 7 on the Request Form.
3. Not all instructors use ICES.
4. Too few students (fewer than 5) may have responded to the first two items.
5. For some instructors who did complete Box 7 and whose students did respond to the first two items, ratings may not be representative of teaching ability.

To view past and current lists, and for more details about the list itself, see our web site at List of Teachers.

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What is the university student publication and what questions do they use?

The Illinois Student Senate (formerly "Illinois Student Government") publishes results of ICES data if released by faculty. If you check the "student publication" option of Box 7 of the ICES request form, an additional set of 6 items is printed on your student ICES questionnaires. Results from this set of items, AND THE TWO GLOBAL ICES ITEMS, are then given to the Illinois Student Senate (ISS) and may be published on the ISS web site. The following items are included on your questionnaire if you choose the student publication option:


1.

The required texts and other materials were effectively utilized in the course.

Strongly Agree - - - - - Strongly Disagree

2.

The instructor was respectful of differing beliefs on race, religion, or politics.

Strongly Agree - - - - - Strongly Disagree

3.

Grading procedures for the course were fair.

Strongly Agree - - - - - Strongly Disagree

4.

The workload for the course was appropriate for the credit received.

Strongly Agree - - - - - Strongly Disagree

5.

The instructor was accessible to students.

Strongly Agree - - - - - Strongly Disagree

6.

The instructor explained material clearly.

Strongly Agree - - - - - Strongly Disagree

Note: These 6 items are new items starting in Spring 2006. More information is available at the Illinois Student Senate web site. The student core is not available for TAs to select.

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What is an ICES longitudinal profile?

Longitudinal profiles are used in promotion and tenure decisions and for some teaching awards. Instructors (faculty and TAs) can request a longitudinal profile at any time by using our web-based profile request form. For questions, contact us by email ices@illinois.edu or by calling 333-3490.

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I want to use the same items I used last semester. Will I have to complete a new request form this semester?



Each semester, you have to fill out new ICES request forms for each course or section. This is so even if you are using a departmental core or one of the complete forms. Even if the items don't change, the number of forms you need, your rank, and the release information may change. Therefore, you should keep track of the items you choose each semester, especially if you select them individually and think you may want to use them again.

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