This is a post from the “Tip of the Week” series by Richard Lyons which is no longer available, although it is archived on Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine. Below this is a link to the full original tip at Internet Archive.
“Preliminary” Student Evaluations
Nearly all colleges and universities have adopted some system of evaluation of courses and instructor performance by their students. While some might question the merit and validity of these ratings, the practice, reflecting an increasing trend of consumerism, will no doubt continue to grow in its frequency and impact. Professors who fear the comments of disgruntled students sabotaging their budding career need not lower their standards or coddle undeserving students to overcome this obstacle. They must however manage the dynamics of the process proactively. Gambling that students will, by the end of the term, forget, overlook, or not take the time to comment on actions they perceive as ineffective or inappropriate is extremely risky.
How do we reduce the risk? Solicit student feedback informally at before the end of this term, at key points throughout future terms. Such a practice will not only provide some legitimate, useful information upon which you might consider making appropriate changes, but also will serve as a venting opportunity for students, thus reducing their need to “unload” on the end-of-the-term formal evaluation.
Full Post here.