The contrast to Tom's post about Malcom Gladwell's Blink is interesting. There's the obvious business and professional considerations. I'm also thinking about classrooms -- resident and online (I do hate the term virtual classroom). As instructors, facilitators, teachers, etc., we're asked to be objective, to evaluate based on the student's intellectual activities in and about the subject matter.
Avoid common rating errors. Seventy percent of Hiring Managers make a decision on a candidate within the first 3 minutes of meeting them. Review candidate’s information and your notes against the job description and performance competencies. Communicate feedback to interview team and Hiring Manager. Make the best decision based on evidence - It’s more than a gut feeling.
I begin to develop a visual and intellectual portrait of the student from the first email or post. It's just what happens, whether I listen to the voice or not. I've used ice breaker exercises to minimize any wary conclusions I might draw from tone, style, or grammatical problems, but the sketch is drawn anyway.
In online courses, I need to function more like the hiring manager -- shutting out that little voice telling me X about a particular student -- waiting until I have a chance to fill in the details of the sketch. And yet there's a degree of pragmatism in what Gladwell concludes. I've been the hiring manager and instructor making the blink decision. While Gladwell might classify a hiring situation or a student evaluation as an "easy situation" (as opposed to what he considers "a complex" situation), I'm not comfortable toggling between gut reactions and working through a body of information before making a decision.
All human interaction shapes a response. What we do with that response is maybe what I'm responding to.