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Student Perceptions of Teaching (SPOT)

Student Perceptions of Teaching (SPOT) is the university’s centrally supported method for gathering student feedback on courses and instruction.

The SPOT form is designed for use across all university courses; as such, it focuses on issues of broad pedagogical significance. It is not intended to stand alone in providing evidence regarding teaching effectiveness. Rather, it provides one form of information regarding student perceptions of the quality of courses and instruction.

SPOT is administered through course evaluations and surveys by watermark (CES), a software system that specializes in course evaluations and integrates seamlessly with Virginia Tech’s LMS, Canvas. Questions or issues with SPOT can be directed to

See more information on policies and procedures regarding SPOT administration.

Timing of SPOT

The online SPOT system is used to collect student feedback at the end of each term on the following schedule:

  • Fall and Spring Terms: SPOT is open the last two weeks of classes and closes at 11:59pm on Reading Day.
  • Summer Sessions I and II: SPOT is open the last week of classes and closes at 11:59pm on the last day of class.
  • Winter session: SPOT is open for about one week, spanning the end of the session and the first few days of Spring semester due to the timing and duration of Winter session.

Responses can be edited as long as the system is open for response.

SPOT: For Colleges and Departments

College and department SPOT administrators have certain responsibilities to help ensure that SPOT runs properly for the courses in their area. These include:

  • Confirm which department courses are running SPOT
  • Remove courses that should not run SPOT
  • Remove courses that have zero students and/or zero instructors
  • Confirm whether courses with five or more instructors should run SPOT
  • Set up any Custom Question Surveys and attach them to courses, if applicable
  • Make any needed changes to instructors in CES

Department SPOT administrators: see detailed instructions for working in CES

Requesting Access to College and Department Data

At the end of each term, results are copied to a data warehouse maintained by Business Intelligence Services (BIS). For Fall terms, this happens around mid-January. For Spring terms, Winter Session, and Summer Sessions, this happens about four days after grades are due. The data warehouse archives results and provides reports for college deans, department chairs, and their designees.

To gain access to SPOT results at the college or department level, send an email to the SPOT data steward, Bethany Bodo, in Institutional Effectiveness and copy the associate dean for instruction in your college. Provide your name, Virginia Tech PID, position, and the department(s) to which you need access.

Reports for Colleges and Departments

Virginia Tech uses a business intelligence (BI) system called MicroStrategy. Individuals with college and department level access can use this tool to view SPOT results. Directions and other support can be found on the BIS Confluence page.

CES also has reporting capabilities. CES reports are not as robust as those you will find in MicroStrategy, but it can be helpful for quick instructor reports or to see department-wide response rates. See detailed instructions for viewing reports in CES.

SPOT: For Instructors

To encourage thoughtful feedback from students, please see the “Insights from Instructors” document where Virginia Tech instructors share what works for them.

Instructors will receive an email when SPOT results become available for viewing. For Fall sessions, this will be in the first half of January. For Spring, Summer, and Winter Sessions, this will be about four days after grades are due.

Basic instructor reports will be available indefinitely in each instructor’s Canvas Files. Instructors may access these reports by logging into Canvas with their Virginia Tech PID and password. Select “Account” in the maroon navigation bar. Select “Files” and then open “My Files” and “EvalReports” to view and download the reports.

Instructors: see detailed information on using SPOT and CES. Instructors/administrators need to be signed into 4help to view the Knowledge Base articles.