Online versus paper evaluations: Differences in both quantitative and qualitative data

William B. Burton, Adele Civitano, Penny Steiner-Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This study sought to determine if differences exist in the quantitative and qualitative data collected with paper and online versions of a medical school clerkship evaluation form. Data from six-and-a-half years of clerkship evaluations were used, some collected before and some after the conversion from a paper to an online evaluation system. The quantitative data consisted of a composite score based on the average of several Likert-type items; the qualitative data consisted of open-ended comments about the clerkships. Clerkship ratings were more positive in the online version. Students made significantly longer comments about both strengths and weaknesses on the online form than on the paper form. In addition, comments made on the online form were judged to be more informative and showed less evidence of "negativity" than those made on the paper form. The findings suggest that both quantitative and qualitative data obtained with online evaluation forms can differ in important ways from data collected with paper forms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-69
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Computing in Higher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Course evaluation questionnaires
  • Factor analysis
  • Inter-rater reliability
  • Qualitative data
  • Student feedback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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