Course Evaluation System

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) is well known as being a leading institution of higher education. UPenn provides executive education curriculum both in standardized packages as well as custom packages for industry training needs to customers such as IBM, BP, and many others.



Data Collection
Web Application
UPenn Wharton Executive Education


UPenn was facing a challenge when it came to creating, editing, publishing and recording the course evaluation forms that were to accompany every single session in a program. Creation was done by hand in a Word Document in combination with data assembled in Access. Recording was also done in Access. In some cases clients wanted custom evaluations created so that the client could assess the value of the program. This created an added challenge to create standardized analytical reports for internal use which spanned multiple programs due to the specialized way that some questions were posed.


XCENT was asked to help design a system that would minimize the effort in preparing these course evaluations, streamline data entry, facilitate generation, and enable effective reporting.

XCENT designed and developed a web-based application that provided the following:

  • A template driven forms system was built that was fed directly from the databases describing the program, session and instructors. Changes to the core curriculum directly updated the evaluation forms needed for the programs.
  • Templates provided a set of standardized questions to ask for a given instructor in a given session, or just for a session, etc.
  • Support for Likert, Yes/No, Multiple Choice, and Free-form Text
  • Generation of the evaluation form was available in PDF or Excel.
  • Since the rating portion of the evaluation was most important for reporting, a configurable data entry system which filtered on the types of questions allowed data entry personnel to enter rating data quickly, and go back later and transcribe the free-form text.
  • A dimensioning system was established to allow each question in every evaluation form created to be assigned a particular analytical dimension just as in a BI solution. This allowed a consistent set of reports to be generated for internal use, regardless of the actual content of the evaluation form.

One might ask why this system depended on paper. In independent studies UPenn discovered that users were more likely to complete and return the evaluation forms if they were available to fill out during or after each session. UPenn observed a significant difference in compliance between a user on-line approach and a paper approach.

However times change, and being able to eliminate the data entry component of this process is certainly a desirable goal. XCENT looks forward to being able to enhance the system making it available to their students directly on-line either via browser or mobile app.