Frequently Asked Questions

Please refer to the FAQ section based on your role at the university. If you have other questions that are not included in this FAQ, please contact Academic Technology.


There is a SETE grade hold on my account in the SFSU Gateway. What does that mean and how can I get it removed?

If you do not complete all of your teaching evaluations by the deadline, a grade hold will be placed on your account in the SFSU Gateway. This hold will restrict you from viewing your final semester grades until the official grade release date. This hold does not affect your ability to register for future semesters. See the SF State Academic Calendar for the official grade release date.

I accidentally made a mistake on an evaluation. Can I delete or redo it?

Once an evaluation is submitted, it cannot be changed or removed from the system by anyone for any reason.

Why should I complete student evaluations of teaching effectiveness?

  • Receive your grades before the official grade release date - Students who complete all of your course evaluations by the end of the last day of instruction will be able to review your grades as soon as your instructor submit them, prior to the official grade release date. Note: The actual date that early grades become available varies from course to course since faculty have a period of time to finish grading student work.
  • Help improve the educational experience - Student evaluations of teaching effectiveness help SF State ensure quality teaching and learning in all classes in all programs. When you provide meaningful comments that explain what has helped you learn, and also suggest approaches your instructors could use to help you learn better, you help your instructors make continuous improvements to their classes. Your feedback to your instructor is anonymous and confidential. Instructors cannot identify specific student responses and only receive evaluation results after final grades have been submitted.
  • Pay it forward - Other students are making comments to instructors that will, in some way, shape the classes you take next semester, or next year. When all students provide constructive feedback on all courses, all students benefit from good teaching. Your voice matters, make it count.

How will I know that teaching evaluations are available?

Once the evaluation period opens, you will receive one email message per instructor per course to your SFSU email account. In addition, links to all your teaching evaluations will appear in a block in iLearn after you log in. As you complete your teaching evaluations, these links will disappear. Although you have logged in to iLearn, your responses remain confidential and there is no way for your instructor to identify your submission. 

Do I have to complete all evaluations at once?

No. You can complete each evaluation whenever it is most convenient to you – one at a time or all at once. When you compete one evaluation, you’ll be invited to complete an additional evaluation until all are done. You will, however, have to complete each individual evaluation in one sitting since the system is not able to save partially completed evaluations. Also, your evaluation is not entered until you hit the submit button!

Are all instructors evaluated?

Almost all instructors and classes will be evaluated. Exceptions may be classes with very low enrollment, where there is very little instructor-student interaction, when there is an instructor change after the census date or when the course is not for credit.

Will my instructor know that my comments are from me?

No, instructors are never able to identify the responses or comments of individual students, even though you have accessed the teaching evaluations by logging in to your SF State email or iLearn account. The link is in no way tied to your student account. It is a unique, one time use password to take the survey. Also, all data are shown in aggregate form to the instructors, they cannot see individual student responses. Lastly, instructors are not able to access evaluations until one week after the date that official grades are due.


How will my students know that teaching evaluations are available?

Students will be notified two ways:

  • SF State official email - Two weeks prior to the end of instruction students will receive an email message in their official SF State email account with a link to the teaching evaluation for that instructor. They should expect one email message per instructor per course being evaluated. Email messages will include direct, anonymous links to evaluations and provide brief instructions on how to begin.
  • Teaching Evaluation block in iLearn -  Links to all teaching evaluations will appear in a block in iLearn after they log in. As they complete their teaching evaluations, these links will disappear. Although they have logged in to iLearn, their responses remain confidential and there is no way for you, the instructor, to identify their submission.

Will I be able to follow my students’ participation rate?

Yes, you will be sent a response rate update one week prior to the close of the evaluations. This email will include tips on how you might be able to increase student participation if you are not satisfied with the response rate.

Will lower response rates affect my ratings?

Although many faculty members believe that lower response rates might lead to less favorable item ratings, the literature has not proven this to be true. See the SF State Online Student Evaluation of Teaching Effectiveness Study, completed in collaboration with the Academic Senate.

A recent study makes the point that “response rates are not an indicator of student perception, only that of participation.” In fact, the authors note, if the same survey questions are used for an online version and paper version, the actual outcomes and ratings received from the students are similar regardless of which method was used (Burton, William B., Civitano, Adele, and Steiner-Grossman, Penny (2012). Online versus paper evaluations: differences in both quantitative and qualitative data. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, No. 24, pp 58-69).





Question Items & Comment Sections

Evaluated Courses


How will I know the start and end dates of the teaching evaluation period so that instructors can put this information on their syllabi?

Faculty can consult the Student Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness Calendar to verify the open and close dates for online course evaluation periods.

What if an instructor leaves the course half-way through the semester and is replaced by a substitute? Who is evaluated?

For instructor changes that occur after the census date, department contacts (AOCs and/or chairs) should alert the SETE Operations Team ( as soon as possible. The SETE Operations Team will remove the course section from the SETE system and neither instructor will be evaluated. In addition, the SETE Operations Team will provide assistance to the department on using an alternative evaluation process (ex: paper-based, Qualtrics, etc.) for the course section.


Who will receive the results first, the department chairs or the instructors?

All evaluation reports will be released to faculty and department chairs at the same time, one week after the grades submission deadline.

Will department contacts receive department aggregates and means?

Yes, department averages and means will be listed at the top of department report. See the SETE Portal Guide for a legend of how department reports are organized.

Can the department create means for different scenarios, e.g.. what is the mean for all research methods courses? Can they have the raw data to sort and analyze how they would like?

Yes, raw data will be provided to the departments on a per-class/per instructor basis. See the SETE Portal Guide for how to download a spreadsheet of this data.

Question Items & Comment Sections

How do I view the comments left by students in their evaluations?

See the SETE Portal Guide on how to view comments for a specific course. Some departments do not include open-ended questions on their reports. The six core university questions do not include open-ended questions.

Can we change the order of questions on the evaluations form?

The order of the questions will be provided in the same order as indicated in Academic Senate Policy #S13-213 and cannot be changed. The six University questions will come first, then the college questions, and then the department questions.

Will the instructors be able to add their own questions? If not, what method can we use to ask our students these questions?

Only colleges and departments may add additional questions. Faculty can use either Qualtrics or iLearn to create separate surveys to ask these additional questions.

Evaluated Courses

What happens with cross-listed courses? How can our department ensure all students are included in the evaluation results, rather than dividing these into two separate evaluations?

Currently the instructors will receive two separate reports (one from each listed course). Only the department in which the instructor is employed will receive the evaluation report.

What type of courses are evaluated?

All SF State credit bearing courses will be evaluated using the SETE system, unless a department chair makes an explicit request for a particular course or course series to be exempt from this requirement. Examples might include Independent Study or Master’s Thesis courses. A couple months before the evaluation period begins, the SETE team will reach out to department contacts to confirm which courses they would like evaluated.

What about team-taught courses? Will each instructor be evaluated?

Students will receive a separate evaluation for each official instructor of record listed within the SFSU Gateway.