Let's be honest, we all know the best and easiest way to improve student evaluations: give everyone an A. But some of us have standards we are unwilling to compromise, and so we want to improve our evaluations without throwing out the baby of academic integrity with the bathwater of pandering to snowflakes.
I know, many of you think this is impossible, but I am here to tell you that in the past 10 years, I have discovered that it is indeed possible to - well, manipulate is a harsh word, so let's say boost, or maybe improve - improve student evaluations without sacrificing teaching standards.
"How can this be?" I hear you cry. Let me lay it on you.
- Chocolate. This is a scientific fact.
- Be more physically attractive. Also science. Okay, I realize this one may be difficult for some of you, but you can probably take the edge off the fugly. Comb your hair, trim your beard (especially important for female profs), buy some clothes manufactured after 1979; you get the picture. If you can get a chili pepper on you know where, you are golden.
- Never, ever, ever, ever lose your shit. Don't yell at the whole class about anything, no matter how annoyed you are at them. That guy from Florida who is on video yelling at his class for cheating? ALL his students hate that guy.
- Praise the whole class generously. (You may need anti-nausea meds, but do what it takes.) Even if they all suck and you want to yell at them, say stuff like "I was really pleased with the level of writing in the vast majority of your assignments". This means that the students who sucked think it is about THEM, not about you being mean and hating everyone.
- Never give work back immediately before evaluation day. Unless you gave everyone an A, but if you did, you don't need this advice. If you are late giving back work and really have to give it back on evaluation day, make them come to your office after they do the evaluation. Say "I marked them, but I have to put your grades in my gradebook" or something.
- Making students come to your office makes them see you as a human, especially if you have pictures of your kids (if cute) or your pets on your wall. If you don't have kids or pets, stick up some random pictures of cute kids.
- Don't overshare. Students don't want to know about your ingrown toenail, or your sexual orientation. Remember, snowflakes don't think other people have feelings, and trying to force them to feel empathy makes them uncomfortable.
- Lie and tell them you know they are working hard. Snowflakes all think effort is the same as product when it comes to grades, and this also means they think if you say "I know you are working hard" it means the same as "you are doing well".
- Do something fun in the class before the evaluation. Students have memories like goldfish, so you need to give them a positive memory close to evaluation time. You can even do this on evaluation day, if you aren't TOO obvious in your pandering.
- Combine 8 & 9. Say "I know you have been working hard, so I am going to end class 15 minutes early just this once." I once got an awesome evaluation by giving my students a 15 minute coffee break before the evaluation.