Mike Rossi

Menu

Actual Position

Courses » Comparative Politics » Evaluations

Content: Comparative Politics: Student Evaluations and Testimonials

Parts

Introduction to Comparative Politics was the first course I taught as an Instructor (Fall 2003) and previously as a Teaching Assistant (2001 - 2003). As a Teaching Assistant, I was largely following a syllabus designed by the professor, but had significant leeway to conduct bi-weekly recitation sections as I saw fit. At times, recitation sections reexamined material that students had difficulty understanding in class, while in other cases I had an opportunity to lead open-ended class discussion and debate. Regardless of orientation, this was the class that originally structured my teaching and student interaction, both in small classroom and large auditorium settings.

The primary curriculum has always focused on six country case studies, interspersed with additional reading from newspapers, academic journals, and videos. Over the years, the syllabus has centered on more of a fixed set of scholarly articles that provide a theoretical basis for the countries under study. I have often felt that Intro to Comparative Politics classes generally tend to be too survey-oriented on countries without any real analysis, and as such I have felt it necessary to include two weeks in the beginning of the course to reading some of the major contributions to the field, and interject a number of alternating weeks of theoretical discussion around country cases. This has proven to be rather successful with students who positively responded to the combination of theory and example. I have often "upped the ante" by including a number of readings that are more upper class, and even graduate level. Despite the more rigorous design, the majority of students, including Freshmen and Sophomores, have done remarkably well, and have been appreciative in being given the challenge to learn as much as they did early on in their college career. This has helped them in their upper level courses, many of which are also taught by me.

The data covers four semesters of Intro to Comparative Politics taught at Rutgers University from 2003 to 2013. I am scheduled to teach the class again in Spring 2014 and will update the figures at the end of that semester.

The chart below replicates the exact questions students answered. The "Mean of Section" reflects the overall average of the course. It is then weighed against:

  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

While the overall framework of the course has remained relatively the same, readings and assignments have changed somewhat over the years. Thus evaluations may reflect syllabi with different lesson plans.

The majority of evaluations were left blank in the area that asks students to give their thoughts on what they would do differently if they were teaching the class. A large number of responses also had "Nothing." or some variant of that. There are students who note the class material and work load is hard, but for every complaint, there are at least three positive comments. Rather than be redundant and note multiple "Nothing" comments, I replicated the most constructive criticisms.

NB: I no longer have the individual student feedback data from 2003 or 2004.

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

2014 Sp. 0 0 1 3 15 0 4.74 4.47 4.49 4.45
2013 Fa. 0 0 0 10 48 0 4.83 4.58 4.52 4.51
2013 Sp. 0 0 3 9 44 1 4.73 4.47 4.46 4.42
2010 Sp. 1 0 0 5 53 0 4.85 4.28 4.56 4.51
2004 Fa. 0 0 0 3 48 2 4.94 4.49 4.45 4.47
2003 Fa. 1 0 2 23 54 3 4.61 4.16 4.35 4.27
2 The instructor responded effectively to student comments and questions 2043 Sp. 0
1
0 4 14 0 4.63
4.14 4.50
4.47
2013 Fa. 0 3 0 12 43 0 4.64 4.56 4.54 4.53
2013 Sp. 0 1 3 11 41 1 4.64 4.44 4.46 4.45
2010 Sp. 0 1 0 7 50 1 4.83 4.36 4.58 4.53
2004 Fa. 0 1 1 4 47 0 4.83 4.38 4.41 4.50
2003 Fa. 1 4 6 14 55 3 4.47 4.20 4.34 4.30
3 The instructor generated interest in the course material

 

2014 Sp. 0 1 0 2 16 0 4.74 4.23 4.41 4.36
2013 Fa. 0 1 4 8 45 0 4.67 4.58 4.48 4.44
2013 Sp. 0
0
2
7
47
1
4.80
4.41
4.36
4.34
2010 Sp. 1 0 5 5 47 1 4.67 4.12 4.43 4.38
2004 Fa. 0 0 2 6 45 0 4.81 4.15 4.23 4.30
2003 Fa. 0 1 8 14 54 6 4.57 4.10 4.18 4.18
4 The instructor had a positive attitude toward assisting all students in understanding course material 2014 Sp. 0 0 1 2 15 0 4.74 4.33 4.62 4.58
2013 Fa. 1 0 1 12 43 1 4.68 4.66 4.64 4.61
2013 Sp. 0 2 3 11 39 2 4.58 4.47 4.54 4.53
2010 Sp. 0 0 3 7 49 0 4.78 4.57 4.64 4.60
2004 Fa.
0 2 1 4 45 1 4.77 4.48 4.45 4.54
2003 Fa. 2 0 6 22 50 3 4.47 4.33 4.38 4.42
5 The instructor assigned grades fairly

 

2014 Sp. 0 1 2 2 14 0 4.53 4.42 4.53 4.45
2013 Fa. 0 1 5 11 36 5 4.55 4.49 4.53 4.49
2013 Sp. 0 3 2 13 37 2 4.53 4.55 4.39 4.34
2010 Sp. 0 0 6 11 41 1 4.60 4.47 4.45 4.39
2004 Fa. 1 2 2 11 37 0 4.53 4.29 4.21 4.32
2003 Fa. 1 2 7 19 49 5 4.45 4.36 4.17 4.18
6 The instructional methods encouraged students learning 2014 Sp. 0 0 3 2 14 0 4.58 4.29 4.30 4.24
2013 Fa. 1 2 4 14 37 0 4.45 4.39 4.33 4.28
2013 Sp. 1 2 7 8 38 1 4.43 4.27 4.19 4.17
2010 Sp. 0 2 6 10 39 1 4.51 4.03 4.27 4.23
2004 Fa. 0 0 4 13 35 1 4.60 4.00 4.04 4.10
2003 Fa. 1 3 9 26 41 3 4.29 3.97 3.96 3.96
7 I learned a great deal in this course

 

2014 Sp. 0 1 1 2 15 0 4.63 4.40 4.29 4.30
2013 Fa. 1 1 8 11 36 1 4.40 4.35 4.28 4.29
2013 Sp. 0 1 4 12 38 2 4.58 4.35 4.26 4.19
2010 Sp. 0 2 5 12 39 1 4.52 4.11 4.35 4.24
2004 Fa. 0 0 2 11 39 1 4.71 4.13 4.17 4.16
2003 Fa. 1 3 8 20 49 2 4.40 4.20 4.12 4.03
8 I had a strong prior interest in the subject matter and wanted to take this course 2014 Sp. 0 4 3 3 9 0 3.89 4.11 3.95 4.04
2013 Fa. 1 8 6 12 31 0 4.10 4.19 4.00 4.06
2013 Sp. 1 2 9 14 29 2 4.24 4.14 3.99 3.88
2010 Sp. 2 2 10 17 26 2 4.11 3.93 3.98 3.84
2004 Fa. 0 0 16 13 21 3 4.10 3.76 3.96 4.01
2003 Fa. 4 3 13 28 33 2 4.02 3.87 3.92 3.89

POOR EXCELLENT
9 I rate the teaching effectiveness of the instructor as 2014 Sp. 0 0 1 2 16 0 4.79 4.20 4.27 4.25
2013Fa. 0 2 14 17 35 0 4.47 4.36 4.34 4.32
2013 Sp. 0 4 3 12 35 3 4.44 4.16 4.24 4.19
2010 Sp. 0 1 9 6 43 0 4.54 4.00 4.43 4.36
2004 Fa. 0 0 2 9 40 2 4.75 4.15 4.23 4.30
2003 Fa. 0 2 6 25 48 2 4.47 4.12 4.18 4.19
10 I rate the overall quality of the course as

 

2014 Sp. 0 0 2 4 13 0 4.58 4.30 4.27 4.25
2013 Fa. 2 1 7 10 38 0 4.40 4.38 4.33 4.30
2013 Sp. 0 2 5 18 30 2 4.38 4.13 4.23 4.16
2010 Sp. 0 3 4 11 38 3 4.50 4.01 4.35 4.26
2004 Fa. 0 0 1 17 33 2 4.63 3.99 4.13 4.19
2003 Fa. 0 2 10 18 50 3 4.45 4.04 4.09 4.07

Selected Comments from Students

What do you like best about this course?

Spring 2014 "The material was easy to grasp and I was able to learn a lot of history about the countries studied. Even though the background history wasn't really needed for the exam, it helped me understand the material that much more. I also loved his enthusiasm for the subject and it made me want to listen throughout the entire lecture."
"Professor Rossi was instrumental in piquing my interest in comparative politics and foreign nations system of government. I enjoyed the course content and the interesting wit that Professor Rossi possessed."
"Prof. Rossi brought enthusiasm and excitement into the classroom which positively encouraged his students. This was combined with his expertise in the knowledge that he was lecturing about."
"The fact that he always had great energy! A lot of the presentations were not only interesting, but funny as well!"
Fall 2013 "Professor Rossi made the course material fun with his own opinions but while still providing factual information. And he seriously blew my mind at how much he knows about other countries' governments; it made him very credible."
"I liked the interactive group forums and the method of his teaching style incorporating slides and images but also in engaging students in the class discussion made this class enjoyable"
"The professor speaks to the student is a very approachable way, makes the material understandable by using language that relate to our everyday vocabulary and his enthusiasm about the topics really show and just spread us around all the students."
"Professor Rossi is very funny, tells it straight up, and is quite brilliant. He started class on time every day extremely prepared and ready to go, seemed to have great relationships with his TA's, and made the topics interesting overall. Very relevant to everyday life, maybe i'm saying this cause i adore political science, but he managed to keep my attention for sure!"
"You seemed immensely knowledgeable about global politics and would make very strong educated connections when transitioning. The powerpoints were extremely concise and provided a strong visual representation of the material. You would lead discussions rather then lecture, and you would incorporate student answers into your transitions which encouraged participation since you actually listened."
"Professor Rossi is by far the most entertaining and engaging professor so far for this semester. He makes class fun and makes politics less boring."
"Awesome professor. He was genuinely enthusiastic about the course material and great at keeping people interested. He's a very good lecturer and really open to helping people during office hours."
"Prof. Rossi is awesome! Most fun I have ever had in a lecture. Makes learning fun and the material stuck in my head pretty well, actually."

Spring 2013

"Professor Rossi is an excellent lecturer and kept information interesting, organized and helpful."

"Dr. Rossi ia a great professor who knows how to make the class interactive, informative and fun. I learned a great deal in this class."

"This course was very well organized, and we covered a lot of information. It was an  excellent overview w/o going into too much detail. The Powerpoints made class very effective. Usually Powerpoints are a nuisance, but these were awesome. Also, the professor seemed to genuinely care."

"It gave a really strong background in foreign concepts and a much more worldly understanding."

"Professor Rossi was a great teacher. I definitely learned so much from his class.I was challenged, too, which I appreciated. He was very organized."

"The way Prof. Rossi teaches the course material is always effective due to his knowledge and interest in the material."

Spring 2010

"Professor Rossi is an excellent lecturer and kept information interesting, organized and helpful."

"Dr. Rossi ia a great professor who knows how to make the class interactive, informative and fun. I learned a great deal in this class."

"His sense of humor and Powerpoint presentation."

"This course was very well organized, and we covered a lot of information. It was an  excellent overview w/o going into too much detail. The Powerpoints made class very effective. Usually Powerpoints are a nuisance, but these were awesome. Also, the professor seemed to genuinely care."

"It gave a really strong background in foreign concepts and a much more worldly understanding."

"Professor Rossi was a great teacher. I definitely learned so much from his class. I was challenged, too, which I appreciated. He was very organized."
"The way Prof. Rossi teaches the course material is always effective due to his knowledge and interest in the material."

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

Spring 2014 "Nothing in particular. It's a political science course. It's not going to be exciting and hands on like a science lab class might be. But it definitely was a interesting course."
"Nothing"
Fall 2013 "The only thing I would change is either making more recitation days or condensing the class into more classes because I had so many questions that I wanted to ask but couldn't interrupt the main class."
"I would make the first test slightly shorter"
"Nothing"
"Post the lectures online so the students can review the notes."
"Nothing at all!"
Spring 2013

"I would present the questions asked in a more introductory manner. Professor Rossi makes out the class to be harder than it really is, which is intimidating."

"The assignments were much too difficult. This is supposed to be a 100 level course geared toward freshmen and be assigned an 8 to 10 page paper a week before the final making it very difficult to balance both."
"Nothing"
Spring 2010

"Eliminate online discussion in place of class. Though class is large [it can be] still doable. More case studies."

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

Spring 2014 "This course has made me become very interested in the topic of comparative politics. I am now curious about other countries political systems and etc. I'm taking more international classes in the Fall."
"I now know so much more about many different countries in the world. I understand even newspaper articles now better."
"He really made us look at the material though a different light and not just a US dominant way."
"He is very enthusiastic about his teachings."
"The instructor has guided me to ponder about different countries and their respective customs and traditions."
Fall 2013 "I have learned so much about countries and have gained a better perspective at their relationships with each other, especially the Western countries and BRIC. I've been able to apply them to other classes and recognize the current countries's situations based on their governmental issues."
"Challenging me to see certain topics in a new light, making connections between multiple topics"
"Has completely changed my beliefs on global relationships."
"Totally changed my understanding of what democracy is, and gave it a really interesting theoretical backing that otherwise I would never had known of. Made [me] think many of my basic assumptions about domestic and global politics, Learned about the varying natures of human beings and how they would like to be governed."
"For a person that focuses on one area of the world, the middle east, taking a class that talks about other regimes in different places makes me aware of other patterns of regimes and I've became a little more knowledgeable and a more rounded person."
"This class is sooooo hard for a 100 level!!!!! Rossi doesn't stop for anyone. because of this, however, i was pushed and motivated to bring my "A" game and i consequentially grew as a student in ways i wasn't expecting. i would take another class with him."
"He kept bringing up theories and ideas tying together different things we learned, and then encouraged us to do the same, which was great."
"You led class discussions and during lecture you would often praise the answers or even questions of many students. You listened to them and you incorporated their answers into your transitions."
"This course has encouraged intellectual growth because I want to take other classes about this material now."
Spring 2013 "Dr. Rossi really provided us with a wealth of information, not just on states, but their histories and their leaders histories. I also feel that Dr. Rossi provided me with a great foundation in comparative analysis with wonderful supplemental readings on Grand Theory, Polyarchy, Democratic Transitions, etc..."
"He encouraged everyone to email him and gives many opportunities to pull up our grades."
"I have never loved politics more than with Rossi. Learned so much, and he was so inspiring!"
"I loved this course. It has made me want to take his class Politics and Culture next semester too!"
"Professor Rossi inspired me to follow international politics more closely and gain a broader understanding of the world. He also inspired me to evaluate political systems in a realistic, critical, and comparative manner."
Spring 2010

"Professor Rossi is extremely amicable and willing to help students."

"I was able to have a better understanding of the different regimes and democracy. Through this understanding I can evaluate the political situation of states better."

"I had no real interest in politics prior to this course, but I definitely have a better interest now!"

"It made me glad I decided to be a polisci major! I think this course should be required by all majors in poli sci."

"Yes! Critical thinking about politics. I am now more able to look at the news/world with a critical eye."

"The way in which we compare case studies most definitely helps my analyzation skills as well as critical thinking skills."

 


Contact


©Michael Rossi – http://michael-rossi.demokratio.info