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Content: International Relations: Student Evaluations and Testimonials

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Introduction to International Relations (IR) is, along with Introduction to Comparative Politics, the two primary 100-level courses I teach. I've taught this course for nearly five years on a continuous schedule at either Rutgers University or The College of New Jersey. The curriculum is relatively the same at both institutions, though class sizes are considerably larger at Rutgers.

IR classes taught at Rutgers are usually large-scale lecture halls of 100 or more students. As such, it makes it difficult to organize any kind of discussion that won't be dominated by the same 5 students, and necessitates an online component where students are encouraged to participate in discussion threads. This is also a class where students will be exposed to international politics and American foreign policy for the first time. Many topics covered, such as America's role as a global power, the "war on terror", and the conflicting strategies of national security vs. promoting democracy and freedom around the world - all tied in with the IR theories they learn in the first half of class - are controversial for some, and I have at times been accused by some students of being either too liberal or too conservative - often in the same class. Nevertheless, this class has routinely produced some of the most insightful class debates and students have appreciated the way in which the course offers an array of arguments for a particular issue for them to select.

I am planning on altering the curriculum somewhat for Fall 2013, which will reduce the focus on the "war on terror" unit that was largely designed around 9/11 and provide a more general "current issues and challenges to international studies" conclusion that will focus on the Arab Spring, the rise of China, and new threats to national security in the form of cyber-warfare and intercontinental surveillance networks.

The data below reflects the three semesters this course was taught at Rutgers, with additional space for student evaluations for its scheduled offering this coming Fall. In most cases, I have taught the evening section of IR, which is a straight lecture course that meets two days a week. It does not have individual sections, nor does it include any Teaching Assistants. Thus, the "Mean of Section" is weighed first against the entire "Mean of Course", which includes a morning variant taught by another faculty member. Additional scores represent statistics of

  1. Other sections of the course taught in the Political Science department (either recitation sections taught by Teaching Assistants, or standalone evening courses).
  2. Department-wide courses of the same level
  3. University-wide courses of the same level

Evaluations for the course taught at TCNJ can be found here, or by clicking the link to the right.

Statistics of Students Feedback

 

No QuestionTerm Evaluation Mean of Section Mean of Course Mean of Dept. Mean of Level
DisagreeNeutralAgreeØ
1 2 3 4 5

1

The instructor was prepared for class and presented the material in an organized matter

2013 Fall









2009 Spr 0 0 1 8 62 2 4.86 4.81 4.62 4.60
2007 Spr 0 0 1 9 49 1 4.81 4.70 4.51 4.51
2005 Spr 0 0 2 11 56 0 4.78 4.41 4.44 4.44
2 The instructor responded effectively to student comments and questions 2013 Fall








2009 Spr 0 0 5 15 51 2 4.65 4.69 4.62 4.54
2007 Spr 0 0 2 7 50 1 4.81 4.64 4.46 4.49
2005 Spr 0 0 2 9 57 1 4.81 4.32 4.43 4.41
3

The instructor generated interest in the course material

2013 Fall








2009 Spr 2 0 6 7 56 2 4.62 4.67 4.44 4.31
2007 Spr 0 0 3 9 48 0 4.75 4.61 4.29 4.39
2005 Spr 0 0 2 11 56 0 4.78 4.03 4.25 4.23
4

 

The instructor had a positive attitude toward assisting all students in understanding course material

2013 Fall









2009 Spr 0 1 5 12 54 1 4.65 4.77 4.64 4.57
2007 Spr 0 0 2 9 48 1 4.78 4.70 4.51 4.48
2005 Spr 0 0 3 7 59 0 4.81 4.27 4.45 4.37
5

 

The instructor assigned grades fairly

2013 Fall









2009 Spr 0 0 4 15 51 3 4.67 4.55 4.45 4.36
2007 Spr 0 1 5 14 40 0 4.55 4.30 4.51 4.48
2005 Spr 0 0 5 14 48 2 4.64 3.85 4.15 4.03
6

 

The instructional methods encouraged students learning

2013 Fall









2009 Spr 2 3 4 14 49 1 4.46 4.54 4.30 4.17
2007 Spr 0 2 6 12 40 0 4.50 4.43 4.10 4.16
2005 Spr 0 0 6 15 47 1 4.60 3.85 4.15 4.03
7

 

I learned a great deal in this course

2013 Fall









2009 Spr 1 2 7 17 45 1 4.43 4.63 4.38 4.26
2007 Spr 0 2 4 11 43 0 4.58 4.51 4.21 4.28
2005 Spr 0 0 5 13 49 2 4.66 3.84 4.15 4.07
8

 

I had a strong prior interest in the subject matter and wanted to take this course

2013 Fall









2009 Spr 6 3 12 19 31 2 3.93 4.22 4.05 3.95
2007 Spr 1 2 15 16 26 0 4.07 4.15 3.95 4.40
2005 Spr 4 3 16 17 29 0 3.93 3.92 3.90 3.99

POOR EXCELLENT
9

 

I rate the teaching effectiveness of the instructor as

2013 Fall









2009 Spr 0 4 3 16 48 2 4.52 4.65 4.46 4.36
2007 Spr 0 1 4 13 41 1 4.59 4.60 4.29 4.37
2005 Spr 0 0 3 13 51 2 4.72 4.13 4.28 4.27
10

I rate the overall quality of the course as

2013 Fall









2009 Spr 1 3 7 15 43 4 4.39 4.60 4.37 4.23
2007 Spr 0 0 4 16 39 1 4.59 4.51 4.18 4.26
2005 Spr 0 0 2 15 51 1 4.72 3.89 4.14 4.08

Selected Comments from Students

What do you like best about this course?

Spring 2009

"Professor Rossi has a teaching style that brings him to the level of his students. He made international relations tangible and relatable, as opposed to a foreign concept. His lectures were entertaining, informative,, and above all else, a pleasure to attend."

"Professor Rossi was always able to make the material relative and interesting."

"Professor really likes material, knows it, and is willing to help."

"Professor Rossi was an excellent instructor, and one of the best I've had at Rutgers so far. His teaching methods are very effective; everyone learns something even if you don't read. I wanted to come to class everyday and definitely enjoyed his lectures."

"The professor really made the class interesting and the material interesting instead of teaching a boring course."

"I like that the course dealt with present day issues. It really helped me to put the theories into perspective by having modern examples to compare them to."

Spring 2007

"The material (articles) were very interesting. The instructor was knowledgeable, insightful, and intelligent, He made each lecture interesting and was very flexible with office hours. He made my semester a delight."

"Rossi is awesome and the readings were interesting and informative. I learned a ton w/o having extensive previous interest / knowledge on history & IR."

"I got a lot of background information on things I didn't know prior to [the] course, I learned a LOT."

"Very interesting topic. Teaches both theory and current events."

If you were teaching this course, what would you do differently?

Spring 2009

"Not one thing."

"The readings were too much for a 100 level course."
"Maybe add a small multiple choice section to the exams"
Spring 2007

"Nothing."

"Maybe spend more time on class  discussion, but since this is such a large class I don't know if that would even work. _______________________________________________________________

In what ways, if any, has this course or the instructor encouraged your intellectual growth and progress?

Spring 2009 "As a senior at Rutgers, I came into this Intro course feeling as though it was simply a requirement I needed to fill and that I had already learned all I needed to about PoliSci and IR, but Professor Rossi presented the info in a way that allowed me to learn new things [in] each class, as well as offering a new way to analyze IR. Great class!"
"Professor Rossi knows so much about IR - he gave great examples in class and made learning fun."
"The course really made me think about how the US deals with other countries on the foreign policy level. I've always been the type of person to focus to only focus on domestic policy issues but now I understand more IR issues."
"Intellectually I can understand international politics now. And I started watching the Daily Show"
Spring 2007

"I hope to take another course with this instructor if he's teaching any more classes - I'm registered for his class in the fall and I look forward to it."

"The instructor was so enthusiastic about the subject that had a gret influence on how I processed the information. Prof. Rossi is an excellent teacher and very enjoyable"

"Great class. Taking this class was a great break from the routine of the business school."

"One of the best classes I've ever had. Actually cares about his students."

 


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