Sub-Four Courses

This article provides a brief introduction to sub-four courses at BYU-Idaho. For more information, contact the RED team in the OPR department.

What is a sub-four course?

“Sub-four” is a label given to poorly received courses. If a student  has a poor learning experience in a course, they may rate it poorly in the end-of-course evaluations, leading to a sub-four rating for the course. 

How do we determine that a course is sub-four?

The end-of-course survey question “What is your rating for this course” is used as a flagging system for problematic courses. This question is rated from poor to exceptional on a seven-point scale. Anything at or below a 4 (good) is considered sub-four. 

How often to we determine a course is sub-four?

Usually, there are about 20 courses a semester. Some of those stay sub-four for many semesters in a row. Some become sub-four, are given attention, and then are fixed.

What do we do once a course is sub-four?

The curriculum designers pay attention to the metrics, and if they see a course isn’t doing well they may start an improvement project on it. When a course is found to be sub-four, designers may review other data to determine what issues the course is experiencing, such as instructor ratings and feedback on the course, course metric data from the end-of-course evaluation survey, and student comments. The designer may also do their own review of the course to identify issues. 

Based on this information, they may start improvement projects to improve the student experience. Research has found that many improvement projects are successful in improving the student experience, as reflected in the overall course rating.

What does research say about sub-four courses?

  • Designers are very good at intuitively knowing when a course is going to be low-rated. A one-point decrease in overall course rating is related to an additional 83 hours’ worth of recommended improvement projects.
  • All courses rated at or below 4 have problems worth addressing, many having critical problems with clarity of instruction or alignment between instructional resources and assessments.
About this article

Responsible: RED Team Lead

Accountable: OPR Director

Consulted: Institutional Research

Informed: Curriculum Development

Sharing: Restricted


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