Change in SOFI platform beneficial to both faculty and students

The Student Opinion of Faculty Instruction surveys opened officially on Wednesday and will be available to students until 11:59 pm on May 4.

Although they come at the busiest time of the semester, student completion of the SOFI forms is crucial for departmental use. Director of Institutional Research Julie Rao said she hopes that students will take the time to complete the surveys rather than simply deleting reminder emails. She said that SOFI results benefit students trying to choose professors as well as the professors who use the results as performance feedback.

For the first time this year, a select group of students will have the opportunity to fill out the SOFI surveys through KnightWeb instead of through the Online Course Evaluation System, a third-party platform that Geneseo has used since 2006. Special education majors will be the trial group to test the new method of distributing SOFI forms.

All other students will fill out the SOFI forms through OCES – the surveys can be accessed at or through a link sent by Rao.

Rao said the college is experimenting with surveying on KnightWeb in an attempt to increase student response rate, save money and decrease survey errors. When the SOFI surveys were first placed online in 2006, the response rate was approximately 79 percent; that rate has been declining ever since. In fall 2010, the response rate was 53 percent. Rao said that since many students already use KnightWeb to access web transcripts and register for courses, they may be more likely to take the SOFI surveys if everything is in the same place.

Rao also expressed hope that the wireless system in academic buildings will be upgraded so that professors can have students complete SOFI surveys during class time.

According to Rao, a KnightWeb configuration will allow students to verify their inputs before submitting the forms, an attempt to minimize errors like unintentionally evaluating the wrong professor.

The results of SOFI surveys are used as one tool through which professors are evaluated for promotions, raises and tenure. Rao said that SOFI surveys tend to be a more reliable source of information about professors and courses than Rate My Professor.

Whether you take your SOFI survey on KnightWeb or OCES, remember that your feedback benefits the entire Geneseo community.