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 eCIS 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). Instructors have approximately three weeks to review their provisional results before they are certified as "official" and made available to the public.  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" in the "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 "owns" the course belonging to the Parent Unique (if it is not your own).
  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 Parent Unique again, make sure it is marked as "yes" in the "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 CIS, department CIS Contacts must complete a Special Request form at least five (5) business days prior to the requested "Open" date. The CIS Contact (requestor) will then be notified via email once the request has been fulfilled.  

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 grouped correctly or reported correctly within 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.


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 is the role of my CIS department contact?

Your CIS department contact has four primary tasks:

  1. Submitting requests 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. Ensuring that your faculty members understand the process for checking and reviewing their CIS

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

Tell your department CIS Contact person when you would like your surveys distributed and which form you prefer (prior to the close of the CIS Request Period) so that he or she can record your choices in the CIS system.

CIS Policies

What survey administration options exist for instructor/TA surveys?

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).  Please contact the CIS Office if you would like to make a special request.

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

Yes, but a set of results from a single CIS survey will only be associated with one instructor/TA for a class.  We highly recommend conducting two CIS for courses which are team taught to avoid confusion with students and with reporting.

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 far in advance to their planned implementation.  Our preference, to avoid data loss and ensure smooth transition is at least one academic year if possible (ex: If you would like to see a change for Fall 23, you should try to send the CIS Office a request no later than the end of Fall 22). Supplemental sections are written and distributed at the discretion of the Dean.

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

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.  While this leaves little flexibility for the fall or spring semesters, some early results can be provided for early sessions within the summer session.

Who has ownership of the physical paper CIS forms from previous years.

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 these paper 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 from previous years.

Can early survey administration requests use the eCIS?

Yes. With the transition to all electronic CIS in the spring of 2020, electronic CIS may now be administered at any point per the instructor and department's request.  Please complete a Special Request form to have this done.

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.

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, on each Wednesday and Saturday during the administration period, 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

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.

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

All course instructor surveys have been conducted electronically, since spring 2020. Results, on average, remained the same or higher than in previous years. This was true across the university, within each department, and even among a specially identified sample of 500+ instructors (all of whom were chosen because they had been teaching the exact same course every year for the past five (5) years prior to the pandemic, and therefore could provide context as to how much CIS scores could vary in any given year).  

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 more 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 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.