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Content: Democratic Transitions: Student Evaluations and Testimonials

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Taught under the listed course name "Post-Communist Transitions", Theories of Democratic Transitions was an advanced upper level course I designed for Spring 2011 when I was already a Visiting Assistant Professor at TCNJ. It was offered simultaneously at Rutgers after Dr. Jan Kubik, who normally teaches the Post-Communist Transitions class, examined the syllabus and agreed it was a nice fit. While it is primarily offered to Juniors and Seniors, it is neither it Tutorial, nor a Seminar, but functions in a similar manner with graduate-level reading and one large research paper that students work on all semester.

The class was also offered at a time when the majority of enrolled students already took two, three, or in some cases even four classes with me, and like the Globalization classes was already familiar with my teaching style and classroom expectations. Thus it was not difficult to get them motivated, nor explain to them what they needed to do. Being a relatively small class (in comparison with most other Rutgers Poli Sci courses) also helped, as lectures were accompanied by student questions and classroom discussion.

The class sort of took on an "end of an era" feel, as students I had since Freshman or Sophomore year were about to graduate, and for a university as large as Rutgers, the close student to instructor interaction nurtured over the years gave this class somewhat more of an emotional aspect of finality than most others at Rutgers. Positive student response was near-unanimous and at the end I would say this class ended up being one of the best classes I've taught in all my years at Rutgers.

Statistics of Students Feedback

** Data for Section and Course are identical

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

2011 Spr. 0 0 0 1 29 0 4.97 4.97 4.58 4.60
2 The instructor responded effectively to student comments and questions 2011 Spr. 0 0 1 1 28 0 4.90 4.90 4.54 4.58
3

The instructor generated interest in the course material

2011 Spr. 0 0 1 3 26 0 4.83 4.83 4.40 4.39
4

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

2011 Spr.
0 0 0 1 29 0 4.97 4.97 4.55 4.56
5

The instructor assigned grades fairly

2011 Spr.
0 0 2 3 25 0 4.77 4.77 4.36 4.40
6

The instructional methods encouraged students learning

2011 Spr.
0 0 1 3 25 1 4.83 4.83 4.24 4.20
7

I learned a great deal in this course

2011 Spr.
0 0 0 2 28 0 4.93 4.93 4.31 4.34
8

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

2011 Spr.
1 2 4 7 15 1 4.14 4.14 3.94 3.98

POOR EXCELLENT
9

I rate the teaching effectiveness of the instructor as

2011 Spr.
0 0 0 3 27 0 4.90 4.90 4.42 4.43
10

I rate the overall quality of the course as

2011 Spr.
0 0 0 6 24 0 4.80 4.80 4.32 4.34

Selected Comments from Students

What do you like best about this course?

Spring 2011

"The lectures were entertaining and educational. [The class] gave freedom to choose a topic of actual interest to me!"

"Very informative; professor presents abundant amount of information."

"The professor was always prepared and taught the class in a way that was easy to understand even though the material was difficult."

"Professor Rossi forced us (not in a negative way) to really engage this material and think about it on a deeper level. The final research paper was a great experience for writing a thesis."

"I loved how the course challenged me to analyze the factors involved in democratic transitions and how just one can make or break a transition."
"The breadth and depth of material covered in this course coupled with the professor's enthusiastic knowledge made for a productive, intense, and enjoyable semester."
"It was very interesting as it covered parts of history I had never learned before and provided additional information on topics I was familiar with."
"I learned a lot from my research and the teacher was fundamental in shaping that."
"Rossi. He has ways to generate interest and make students want to learn even the most boring topics."

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

Spring 2011

"Absolutely Nothing!"

"N/A."

"Nothing."

"Nada"

"Nothing."
"Not let Professor Rossi leave the Department."
"Less writing."
"Nothing."
"Nada."
"N/A"

"Nothing"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    .

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

Spring2011

"It encouraged me to explore a topic and learn about it individually which helped me better learn the material."

"Perked interest in an unknown topic by utilizing effective teaching mechanisms."

"I think it made me a better writer. [Rossi] was very good at giving feedback on papers and I learned a lot about a subject I would've never explored on my own."

"We were able to synthesize a courseload of theories and integrate them into an independent research paper; this was great for 1) getting a 'big picture' perspective on the issue and 2) having to really understand democratic transitions."

"Keep Prof. Rossi. No one else could recreate this course in the same way."
"He has encouraged me to better analyze historical and political situations through a critical framework. He showed us that all nations at any point in nature share one human nature and therefore [are] prone to political prowess."
"Continue teaching! It has sparked a passion for the Eastern European political world for me."
"Best course I've ever taken. Also the most work. Challenging and satisfying."
"Promoted discussion in a casual sense, making discussion somewhat fun instead of a requirement."
"Made me go to the library and study for the first time."
"I learned a lot, from elite bargaining to vampires, from historical memory to turbo-folk. Everything and anything even slightly related."
"I have definitely been encouraged to learn more about the world. Professor Rossi seemed to know EVERYTHING."

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