CIS Policies

The Course Instructor Survey (CIS) has been administered at the end of each semester since the mid-1960s. These surveys provide instructors with valuable student feedback about classroom experiences and associated teaching/learning approaches. The surveys are also used to provide feedback to administrators about the effectiveness of a faculty member’s teaching and student rapport. This information, along with a teaching portfolio and peer review of course materials, is used in promotion and tenure decisions. The CIS office is also guided by House Bill 2504, specifically Texas Education Code 51.974 "Internet Access to Course Information" which states: (h) Institutions of higher education included in this section shall conduct end-of-course student evaluations of faculty and develop a plan to make evaluations available on the institutions website."  In order to provide the highest level of accuracy, the following processes and procedures have been adopted by the University and the CIS Office. The policies are categorized by timeline.

General CIS Guidelines

  1. It is a University requirement that all classes defined by House Bill 2504 and other courses organized by the Registrar's office in FaSET (e.g., graduate, undergraduate) be surveyed every semester, including summer, using an approved CIS form, which is generally either the CIS Basic Form or the CIS Expanded Form.
  2. CIS information conforms to AIS data and is received from FaSET in the aspects of: Instructor of Record, Unique numbers and groupings of unique numbers, which courses are organized and which are Individual Instruction (II).
  3. All CIS paper surveys are to be anonymous and administered by someone other than the instructor or TA. Instructors and TAs should not be present during the evaluation, nor should they see the completed surveys until grades have been officially reported. Each college/school/department is responsible for its internal Course Instructor Survey administrative plan. 
  4. The CIS office does not alter or delete student responses after they've been recorded by the system.
  5. The results of the Course Instructor Surveys, including the handwritten comments by students, are official University records and are ultimately managed by the University. As official University records, they are subject to provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA), Texas Open Records Act (TORA), and the Records Retention Schedule.

Preparing the Course Instructor Survey

As you prepare to request Course Instructor Surveys, the following are a few CIS procedures to consider:

  1. Approximate to the 12th class day of the fall and spring, and the 4th class day of the summer semesters, we will send email notification to faculty, department chairs, and CIS department contacts informing them of paper and electronic CIS (eCIS) procedures.
  2. Formally appointed Teaching Assistants and Assistant Instructors are eligible to be reported in Faculty and Student Electronic Tracking (FaSET). If a college/school/department wants to track its TAs/AIs, it will need to enter them into FaSET system by the 12th class day. The CIS departmental contacts must manually add any TAs and AIs through the online request system that are not in the FaSET.
  3. If an instructor wants an unofficial survey anytime during the semester, he or she should use an alternative means to collect feedback (e.g. Canvas online survey tool) for that purpose.
  4. Items 1-5 on all Basic and Expanded series forms were created and mandated by UT System in 2013. Seven additional items, which are also present on all Basic and Expanded series forms, were approved and mandated by UT Faculty in 2014. Together, these comprise the UT Austin mandated "Core 12" items present on all Basic series forms (Items 1-12) and Expanded series forms (Items 1-7, 13, & 18-21) which were implemented in Fall 2014. It is not within the purview of the CIS office to change questions on any of the forms.

Requesting Surveys

For two weeks each semester the administrative site is open to accept survey requests. These procedures address when and how those requests can be made.

  1. The opening date for the CIS request system is contingent on when the University-wide course data is received from FaSET. The date is set with enough time for the data to be received and tested for compatibility prior to the opening of the Official CIS Request Period.
  2. The closing date for the Official CIS Request system is 10 business days after the opening date, except for summer sessions. The closing date will be enforced to allow the CIS Office sufficient time to prepare, pack, and allow departments to retrieve surveys before the survey period begins.
  3. When making a request, the only options a contact has to change a survey is a simple "Yes" or "No" designation to determine if that course shall be surveyed or not, and a determination of the survey form used to survey the students (Ex: the Basic form (B100), Expanded form (E100), etc).
  4. Instructors may choose to administer either a paper CIS or an electronic CIS (eCIS), but not both.
  5. Only courses with unique numbers from the Registrar’s Office may be surveyed electronically (eCIS). 

Results and Reporting

The following processes and procedures are intended to ensure survey data integrity and maintain proper handling and reporting of survey data in compliance with the Texas Public Information Act and FERPA guidelines.

  1. Faculty members may request that results be reviewed for perceived incorrect results or policy violations. The CIS Office must be contacted before the end of the Provisional Results period for this. Any requests after this deadline must be made by the dean or chair. A cover memorandum or "Letter of Explanation" will be prepared and accompany a copy of the original report. It will state the reason for the discrepency, and officially certify and acknowledge the error.
  2. Regardless of when a survey is requested or administered, CIS results are released after the Registrar's Office grade reporting process is completed. Provisional results are available 2 days after official grade submission deadline. All officially recognized results are viewable immediately following the end of the provisional period. Every effort will be made to adhere to this schedule.
  3. In compliance with Texas House Bill 2504, numerical survey results are posted online for the university community and the public.
  4. CIS results with fewer than five respondents will not be displayed.

Retention Schedule

The University has a records retention policy of 10 years and this affects CIS in the following ways:

  1. Departments will be advised that the current university records retention period is 10 years and original paper CIS surveys should be stored for that duration. During this time, the designated custodian is responsible for retaining and securing the records. Departments may convert master records from a paper to an electronic format. Visit the University guidelines on records management for more information.
  2. The department may delegate to each faculty member the responsibility of maintaining the master paper CIS records for the institution, whether as original paper forms or as scanned copies. Upon the request of the administration, the faculty member will make these surveys available for use in the reviews of the faculty member. We will advise departments that when a faculty member terminates his/her employee relationship with the university, the department is responsible for taking over custodial responsibility for the official CIS paper surveys and handle them in accordance with university policy for official records. Regardless of where a government document is stored, it remains the property of the State of Texas. As such, the University has the right to determine the location or repository where it will be stored. The official state record document must remain retrievable from the time it is created until its final disposition. The documents must be maintained for no more than 10 years per UT Records Retention Schedule.
  3. CIS paper surveys are official University documents and the act of delivering them to individual faculty members does NOT make the paper surveys personal property. Any copies (sometimes referred to as “convenience copies”) of the original CIS paper surveys are still University property and NOT the property of the faculty member.
  4. The CIS office will advise departments that the original CIS paper surveys, including convenience copies, must be destroyed following the official approval process at the end of the retention period. For more information, view the guidelines for Departmental records retention.