Assess teaching

Course Instructor Survey


The Course Instructor Survey (CIS) allows you to obtain anonymous student feedback about your teaching in several ways:

Instructors sometimes find, however, that an area of particular concern to them is not addressed on the form(s) they are using.  Therefore, instructors can customize the CIS form to obtain anonymous student feedback by:

Suggested uses of CIS:

Limitations of CIS:

Resource requirements

A moderate level of knowledge about analyzing and interpreting your feedback results, and preparing and selecting customized survey questions is required. [more]

Planning your CIS

STEP 1. Describe the context

Include the age, majors, educational background, motivation level, and skill levels of students. Also consider central goals of the course, your ability to implement changes, and how the instructional setting impacts your course. A worksheet is available to help you document your instructional context.

STEP 2. Identify stakeholder needs and develop central questions

Identify what is most essential for students, your needs, and any organizational priorities that impact your course or program. Central questions, informed by these needs, specify what you want to learn through an assessment. For example, "Are students effectively using online technology in my course?" A worksheet is available to help you identify stakeholder needs and develop central questions.

STEP 3. Determine the purpose of the survey

A survey should have a clear purpose and focus. Avoid the temptation of asking too many questions in a single survey or surveying students "just to see what's going on." Using your central questions as a guide, specify how your survey will help you gain insight, change course practices, or measure the effects of a change you have implemented. A worksheet is available to help you develop and refine your study’s purposes.

STEP 4. Determine how you will use the results

How you intend to use results should also guide the content of your survey. If you will not use responses to a survey question to guide course or program content or instruction, leave the question out.  A worksheet is available to help exemplify how to use results after determining the purpose of a study.

STEP 5. Develop your assessment plan

Decide at what point in your course you will survey your students and schedule it into your course schedule. If you gather information using other assessment methods, be sure to include them in your plan and schedule them at different times. Refer to the assessment planning process for additional help in developing your plan. Once your plan is made, begin customizing your survey.

Customize the survey

Use supplemental forms

  • Foreign Language
  • Laboratory
  • Nursing Clinical
  • Nursing Skills Lab
  • Practicum
  • Student Teaching
  • Studio Art & Design
  • Teaching Assistant

Most colleges and departments allow instructors to choose specialized supplemental forms appropriate for various course types or obtain student feedback about teaching assistants or lab/discussion leaders.

Supplemental forms include:

  • Architecture
  • Applied Music/Ensemble
  • Discussion
  • ExpandedShandy

Check with your college/school to determine which forms are approved for your department. [more]

Contact Shandy Smith to request supplemental forms.

Use the comments section

You can provide students with general questions to consider when completing the Comments section on the Basic and Expanded forms.


What aspect of the course has helped you learn most/least?

What did you like best/least about the course?

What can the instructor do to improve the course?

What can the instructor do to improve his/her teaching?

You can also provide students with specific questions about the course or your instruction.


  • What did you like/dislike about the use of technology in the course?
  • How helpful were the weekly quizzes in preparing for class/lab/discussion?
  • Which of the guest speakers did you like best/least?
  • Which lecture was most memorable? Why?

Add optional multiple-choice questions

You may find that standard CIS forms do not provide specific enough information to help you improve your instruction or course. Adding optional multiple-choice questions can provide additional student feedback tailored to your needs. [more]

Additional information

Hildebrand, M., Wilson, R.C., & Dienst, E.R.   (1971)   Evaluating University Teaching.   Center for Research and Development in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley.

Lewis, K.   (Ed.)   (2001)   Techniques and Strategies for Interpreting Student Evaluations.   New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No. 87, Fall 2001.   San Francisco, CA:   Jossey-Bass.

Official UT Austin Course Instructor Survey (CIS) Website: www.utexas.edu/academic/mec/cis/

Theall, M. & Franklin, J. (Eds.) (1991)   Effective Practices for Improving Teaching.   New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No. 48, Winter 1991.   San Francisco, CA:   Jossey-Bass.

Page last updated: Sep 21 2011
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