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CIS Frequently Asked Questions

To make finding answers to your questions easier, we've sorted them by the following categories:

If you still have questions about the eCIS or the paper CIS please contact us at CIS or call the CIS Office at 512-232-2637.

Important Dates

When is the Course Instructor Survey (CIS) Request System (i.e. "Search for Survey" in CIS Administrative System) open?

See CIS important Dates and Deadlines.  Also, this System is accessible only to authorized department CIS Contacts who have completed the Course Instructor Survey: Department Contact Training class. Contact the CIS Office for further details regarding obtaining status as an authorized CIS Contact for a department.

What day of the semester is the count taken to establish the enrollment for a class?

Enrollment counts used within the CIS system are taken on the 12th class day and at the opening of the Registrar's grades submission period.

What are the dates within which surveys are allowed to be administered to students?

Fall and Spring: Anytime in the last two weeks of class (the Official CIS Administrative Period).

Summer: The survey period is the last week of class.

When are students allowed to take the eCIS?

The eCIS are available only during the Official CIS Administration Period. 

When will the CIS results be available for viewing?

Provisional results for eCIS are available for viewing via MyCIS two days after the Registrar's Office grade reporting process is completed for the semester (summer = after the last summer session's grades have been processed). Provisional results for paper surveys will be available via MyCIS by the first class day of the following semester. All officially recognized results (paper and electronic) are viewable approximately the third Friday of the next semester. Every effort will be made to adhere to this schedule.

Where can I go to see CIS results?

For faculty members looking for their own results, please visit MyCIS

For students looking for a specific instructor's results, please visit Official CIS results

Requesting Surveys

How do I make arrangements for cross-listed or multi-section courses?

For each cross listing there will be one Parent Unique Number, all the remaining Unique Numbers will be Child Unique Numbers. The lowest Unique Number is by default made the parent by IRRIS.

To add Child Unique Numbers to a Parent Unique Number:

  1. Perform a search for the Parent Unique
  2. Click on the unique number to open the details page
  3. Enter the Child Unique Numbers in the grid below the information
  4. Click on "Update this Record"
  5. Search the Parent Unique again, make sure it is marked as "yes, paper" or "yes, electronic" in "Receive Survey?" column
  6. Make sure each Child Unique is marked "no" in "Receive Survey?" column

To change which unique is the Parent Unique Number:

  1. Contact the department who is currently the Parent Unique
  2. Ask them to search their Unique, open the details page, delete any Child Unique Numbers by checking the boxes next to the number and click "Update"
  3. Search for the Unique Number you want to be the Parent
  4. Open the details page
  5. Add the other department’s Unique Numbers in the Child Unique grid
  6. Click on "Update this Record"
  7. Search the new Parent Unique, make sure it is marked as "yes, paper" or "yes, electronic" in "Receive Survey?" column
  8. Make sure each Child Unique is marked "no" in "Receive Survey?" column

How do I request an early survey (i.e. to be administered prior to the official CIS Administration Period) to accommodate a special circumstance (e.g. irregularly timed course; team-taught course)?

To request an EARLY PAPER CIS, department CIS Contacts must complete the early CIS request form (available soon) at least three (3) business days prior to the date the EARLY CIS must be retrieved for administration. The CIS Contact (requestor) will then be notified via email once the EARLY CIS is ready for retrieval. All EARLY PAPER CIS requests must still be appropriately and accurately requested in the CIS Request System during the CIS Request Period.

What will happen if I create a group of Unique Numbers to be surveyed together or change an existing grouping of Unique Numbers that were set to be surveyed together?

Groupings of Unique Numbers to be surveyed together as a single class is permitted by the CIS Office. However, if a grouping is not consistent with that sent to the CIS system from the Office of Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems (IRRIS), the results from the survey may not be included in official CIS reports.  Please contact the CIS Office if you believe this has occurred with one of your requests.

I have found a survey administration record for a class that is labeled Individual Instruction, but I know that it isn't. How did this happen?

"Individual Instruction" is a designation that is sent to the CIS system from IRRIS. If a course appears with the Individual Instruction designation, it is likely because the person responsible for providing course data to the Registrar, or the Registrar itself, determined that it met the criteria for this designation.   If you truly believe this designation was issued in error, please contact your course scheduler or Registrar directly.

How do I cancel a survey administration request?

A survey record can be canceled by setting the record to 'No' from the "Receive Survey" drop down menu and hitting the "update" button.

What should I NOT do to a survey packet to get it processed for recognized results?

  • Do Not return a packet that has been altered or one with an unofficial label
  • Do Not return packets with mixed forms
  • Do Not switch instructor names on packets
  • Do Not return CIS forms commingled with separate classes in the same packet

The excessive administrative burden for continuing this service greatly reduces accuracy and timeliness for the majority of survey processing.

What if my packet is altered or returned past the official paper CIS Return Deadline such that it cannot be processed for formal results?

Frequency Counts are available as an alternative to formal CIS processing. Frequency counts are not included in the University’s official data record and are not tracked by the CIS department. A printed summary of results is returned with the original surveys to give the instructor access to student feedback.

CIS Process

When the system opens, why are there already survey assignment records for some courses and instructors and not for others?

The CIS system assumes that every instructor of record for every class as sent to the CIS system from the Office of  will be surveyed. Thus, a survey administration record for each of these instances is automatically created in the CIS system.

Who/What is the official source of course and instructor information?

Course and instructor information is based on official information sent to the CIS system from Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems (IRRIS)

What formats are available for the CIS?

Instructors may choose to administer either a paper survey or an electronic survey but not both.

What is the role of my CIS department contact?

Your CIS department contact has four primary tasks:

  1. requesting a paper or electronic Course Instructor Survey for all faculty members, AIs, and TAs in courses assigned to your department
  2. turning off requests for courses/instructors that should not be surveyed
  3. adding surveys for classes that are not found in our database
  4. collects surveys from CIS, distributes them to the designated student administrators, collects completed paper survey packets, delivers them to CIS, and finally collects and distributes processed paper surveys

As an instructor, how do I indicate my choice of the option I want?

Tell your department CIS Contact person whether you'd like the paper CIS or eCIS option (prior to the close of the CIS Request Period) so that he or she can record your option in the CIS Request system.

CIS Policies

What survey administration options exist for instructor/TA surveys?

Both paper and electronic (eCIS) survey administration options are available for official courses that are offered by official UT academic departments as sent to the CIS system from the Office of Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems (IRRIS)

Can a single survey be administered for a course that is team taught?

A set of results from a single CIS survey is associated with only one instructor/TA for a class.

How many paper CIS forms will be delivered for a class?

For official paper CIS survey administration, the number of survey sheets that will be delivered is the same as the 12th class day enrollment as sent to the CIS system from Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems (IRRIS). For paper survey administration that is not for official CIS purposes, the number of survey sheets that will be delivered is the number of forms that are requested.

How can my department change a current form or add a new form to the list of available options?

CIS must receive Dean's requests for new or modified college-wide supplemental forms, not individual course or instructor forms, at the beginning of the fall semester in the academic year before the planned implementation semester (ex: planned implementation: FA08, CIS must receive the request by FA07). Supplemental sections are written and distributed at the discretion of the Dean. A one year lead time requirement is in place for purposes of designing and ordering.

Currently, what official CIS results reports exist?

At this time, official reports of CIS results are produced for the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems (IRRIS), and the official CIS Results site. If a different type of report is needed by your office, it is recommended that you go through Information Quest (IQ). Questions regarding Information Quest can be directed to Jamie Sweeney

What constitutes "Recognized" CIS records and results?

Recognized CIS information conforms to SIS (Student Information System) and Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems (IRRIS) data in the aspects of: Instructor of Record, Unique numbers and groupings of unique numbers, and class enrollments. The practice of independently processing and storing data made it impossible for official CIS data to match other data reported by SIS and IRRIS, and it cannot be sustained in an online environment. Agreement of records is also desired for comparative and analytical purposes.

Who has access to my survey results?

Surveys for classes that match the IRRIS records are posted on the official results site for anyone with an active University status and UTEID to view. The Basic Form questions ("Core 12," also existing on all Expanded Forms) were mandated and used with the intention of public disclosure. The committee that developed these questions intended the public to have access to the responses to these questions. The Texas Legislature has determined the answers to these questions are public domain.

What if I need survey results early?

CIS cannot release survey results until two days after the registrar receives grades for the semester and, further, cannot prioritize paper CIS packets for processing and reporting outside the scheduled paper CIS Provisional Results posting date for the semester. Instructors who know they will need to access results as soon as two days after the semester's latest grade posting deadline should utilize eCIS due to the earlier Provisional Results posting date compared to that for paper CIS. The CIS Office processes a high volume of paper CIS for the university and cannot accommodate requests to prioritize processing for individual paper CIS packets outside the processing schedule for the entire university.

Who has ownership of the actual CIS forms after processing?

The act of delivering the original official forms to individual faculty members does NOT make the forms personal property. CIS forms are official government documents and therefore not the personal property of the faculty members. The public has a significant interest in knowing student opinion regarding their instructors’ performance at a state-supported institution and these documents fall within the definition of a completed report, audit, evaluation, or investigation made of, for, or by a governmental body. If a governmental body could withhold records relating to official business simply because they are held by an individual, it could easily and with impunity circumvent the act. On a more practical level, the survey forms remain university property also because the university pays for and provides the survey material.

After the CIS forms have been returned to the department, will I have to return them for any reason?

The University has a legal right to require that the faculty return the original documents when requested to do so. Regardless of where a government document is stored, it remains the property of the State of Texas. As such, the University has the absolute right to determine the location or repository where it will be stored.

What should I do with the forms when the retention period is over?

At the end of the retention period, the official state record must be destroyed following the official approval process. It is best practice to destroy convenience copies at or before the end of the retention period or as soon as they have served their purpose. Any copies of survey documents that are retained beyond the record retention period become the official documentation. As such they fall under the Texas Public Information Act and TORA. Upon an open records request or subpoena, they must be produced. While an agency employee or agent is prohibited from destroying the original or official copy of a record prior to retention period, an agency employee or agent generally has discretion to retain either the original or a copy of a record beyond the record retention period as they deem appropriate. Copies may be destroyed anytime as long as the master is saved.

eCIS Information

What is the eCIS?

The electronic CIS (eCIS) is a web based survey system for students, which is accessible via an internet browser. Its content is equivalent to the paper version of the CIS.

Can early survey administration requests use the eCIS?

No. The eCIS is only available for students to complete during the standard CIS administration period for a semester.

Which students are allowed to take the eCIS?

Because the selection of eCIS is an option available to instructors and TAs, only those students officially registered in classes whose instructors/TAs have selected this option are allowed to take the eCIS.

Who is allowed to use the eCIS?

The eCIS option is available for courses for which the unique number has been included on the officially recognized 12th class day data file provided to the CIS Office (system) by IRRIS.

Will students receive notification that an electronic survey exists for the class?

Yes. Both students and instructors/TAs of classes who are participating in the eCIS will receive four email notifications. Emails will be automatically sent out during the eCIS administration period on the opening day, 3 days after opening day, 2 days before closing, and the last day. However, unfortunately it is often the case that these notifications land in a student's "junk folder" if the student has designated a non-UT email (e.g. Gmail, yahoo) as their primary email within the UT system. For this reason, it is highly recommended that instructors utilizing eCIS personally notify students via Canvas about an active eCIS for the course and further provide the (one and only) eCIS URL (see below).

Are there any differences between the paper CIS and the eCIS?

In terms of survey content, they are the same. However, the following differences exist between the paper CIS and the eCIS:

  • the eCIS is not available for early survey requests
  • the eCIS is only available for courses that are offered by official UT academic departments
  • the eCIS is not available for survey situations that are not for official CIS purposes
  • the eCIS is available for students to complete at any time during the survey submission period
  • administration of the eCIS does not require any tasks to be carried out by the instructor/TA in the distribution of survey forms to students

For more detailed information, contact the CIS administration office by email at CIS.

Where do students go to take the eCIS?

The eCIS can be found here.

Are TAs allowed to be surveyed electronically (eCIS)?

Yes. A department contact may add a survey administration record for a TA and then set it to receive the eCIS.

Am I required to use the eCIS?

While a College/School/department may default to selection of eCIS if a faculty member does not state her/his preference for paper CIS, faculty do have the right to choose either paper or electronic as their preferred format. Departments may, however, choose to mandate either paper or electronic format for their TAs.

How does the privacy of students' comments on the eCIS differ from comments on the paper CIS?

Typewritten student comments collected on the eCIS system are subject to open records requests but still must be fully redacted. You can find details about the current interpretation under the Texas Public Information Act regarding student comments from the CIS here.

How do overall ratings of the instructor and of the course on the eCIS differ compared to ratings on the paper CIS?

National and UT-specific research indicates that the ratings do not differ significantly between paper and electronic forms, either at UT Austin or at other institutions.

How does the response rate for the eCIS differ from that for the paper CIS?

National and UT-specific research indicates that after an initial drop in response rates for electronic compared to paper systems, the rates trend upward as use of electronic systems becomes commonplace.

Is there anything I can do to increase response rates if I use eCIS?

Suggested strategies include:

  • Discuss in class the uses for and importance of student feedback on the survey
  • Send students personal reminders by e-mail and educate them about the importance of their evaluations.
  • Utilize class time to "administer" the mobile-adaptive eCIS to students (just as in paper CIS administration)

Is there a difference in the kinds of students who choose to complete the eCIS and the paper CIS?

Research indicates that online evaluations may be less susceptible to non-response bias than are paper evaluations. Results may be biased if responses from students who complete an evaluation are different from responses that would have been provided by students who did not complete an evaluation. Because online systems provide all students an equal opportunity to participate, online evaluations may be less susceptible to this type of bias.

Are UT Austin's peer institutions using electronic course evaluations?

Most of our peer institutions have replaced or are beginning to replace their paper systems.

Where can I find out more about research relevant to the eCIS?

We have published a comprehensive report, Electronic Course Instructor Survey Report, of three studies we've completed addressing whether an eCIS system provides information and security comparable to the paper-based CIS system. We recommend that you and administrators consider these findings when you make your choice of paper or electronic Course Instructor Surveys.

What if I still have questions about the eCIS or the paper CIS?

Email us at CIS or call us at 512-232-2637.