I read an article in the New York Times about obtaining regular feedback from students within the context of one professor's engineering classes. The article can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/education/boston-professor-uses-frequent-feedback-from-class-as-teaching-aide.html?_r=2&sq=feedback%20from%20students&st=cse&scp=1&pagewanted=all
After reading that article, I had realized that written student evaluations of my work had largely become a thing of the past for me. Currently, I have been using only verbal feedback and only sporadically. Using a simple format of a few key questions, I can find out what my students are preferring (outside of the first day questionnaire I give).
One could examine this practice from both a psychological and a sociological point of view, especially from Marxist and Symbolic Interactionist theories. What is the teacher doing that influences the power structure? Is s/he giving up power or gaining power by obtaining feedback? What are the intended and unintended consequences of the practice? Does this symbolic deference to the students and their view diminish the status of the teacher? If so or if not, why?
I will personally be using this practice more formally this semester.
The Teaching High School Sociology web site