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Content: The European Union: Student Evaluations and Testimonials

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The European Union is the most recent class I've designed and for the longest time the most difficult to put together. I had never taught a class on the EU before, and prior to my European Politics class, never included it as a lesson in any of my courses. I really had no idea how to devote an entire semester to an organization that, prior to the economic crises in Greece and elsewhere, required little more than a month to meticulously cover unless I really wanted to get into the study of EU bureaucracy or numerous examples of institutional development and consensus that, to be honest, is quite boring for someone uninterested in the study, let alone undergraduates whom I feared would find the class incredibly boring.

The Spring 2011 class went a lot better than expected, but students noted that the readings were somewhat lacking in organization, as well as a basic 101 approach to an historical understanding of the creation of the economic free trade organization that would eventually become the EU. When asked if they could have benefited from a textbook, they said they would have wanted one. At the time of that class, events were unfolding in Europe that prompted me to take a number of newspaper articles and use it for the final exam.

I significantly rewrote the class for Spring 2012, taking a lot of 2011 feedback into account. In addition to adding a textbook, I eliminated a lot of the dryer readings, and replaced them with numerous newspaper articles to account for the events in Greece, Spain, and Italy, the impending membership of Croatia, the ongoing negotiations with Serbia, and the growing democratic deficit among many EU member states as the government in Brussels became increasingly technocratic at the expense of public transparency and participation. The resulting rewrite produced an excellent class that the students really enjoyed. Again, noting that this was my last semester at TCNJ and my popularity with the students being very high, the class was bound to be good. But even with material as potentially dry as the EU, the new readings, class participation, and student interest in critiquing the EU in relation to state sovereignty, democracy, and power politics (rather than a straight forward survey study of the organization and its functions), made a class I initially dreaded to teach into one of the most memorable and enjoyable classes I taught at TCNJ.

Statistics of Students Feedback

 

No Question Term Evaluation Mean
DisagreeNeutralAgreeØ
1 2 3 4 5
1 The instructor encouraged and motivated me to do my best in this course 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 29 0 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 0 1 3 14 0 4.72
2 The instructor's teaching style contributed to learning material covered in this course 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 1 28 0 4.97
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 2 16 0 4.89
3 The instructor clearly explained the goals and requirements of this course 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 28 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 0 1 1 16 0 4.83
4 The instructor presented background for concepts or skills developed in class 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 2 27 0 4.93
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 3 15 0 4.83
5 Where relevant, the instructor presented contrasting points of view on topics 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 28 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 2 16 0 4.89
6 The instructor provided valuable feedback on assignments 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 3 25 1 4.89
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 8 10 0 4.56
7 In instructor returned assignments in a timely manner 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 1 27 1 4.96
2011 Spr. 0 0 1 6 11 0 4.56
8 The instructor was accessible to students outside of class 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 2 27 0 4.93
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 1 16 1 4.94
9 The instructor promoted an atmosphere that was conducive to students sharing ideas and knowledge 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 28 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 1 17 0 4.94
10 The instructor used student questions and comments to help students understand course material 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 28 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 0 18 0 5.00
11 The instructor was well organized and prepared for class 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 2 26 1 4.93
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 3 15 0 4.83
12 The instructor communicated enthusiasm for the subject matter 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 1 27 1 4.96
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 1 17 0 4.94
13 The instructor was respectful of differing viewpoints expressed by students 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 28 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 1 0 3 14 0 4.67
14 The instructor was responsive to student needs and concerns 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 1 27 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 0 1 1 16 0 4.83
15 The instructor treated students with respect 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 28 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 0 1 0 17 0 4.89
16 The instructor challenged me to think 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 28 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 0 1 2 15 0 4.78
Instructor Question Mean 2012 Spr. 4.95
2011 Spr. 4.82
17 The course materials were well prepared and carefully explained 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 2 26 1 4.93
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 2 16 0 4.89
18 Assignments added to my understanding of the course 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 1 27 1 4.96
2011 Spr. 0 0 1 5 12 0 4.61
19 Where relevant,collaborative work with classmates added to my understanding of the course 2012 Spr. 0 0 2 0 21 6 4.83
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 1 6 10 4.86
20 Required readings were valuable and enriched my learning experience 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 4 24 1 4.86
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 7 11 0 4.61
21 The examinations or written work in the course reflected the content and emphasis of the course 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 28 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 1 17 0 4.94
22 Methods utilized for evaluating student work were fair and appropriate 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 28 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 1 1 4 12 0 4.50
23 I acquired valuable skills and knowledge in the course 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 28 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 0 1 2 15 0 4.78
24 I found the course intellectually challenging 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 1 27 1 4.96
2011 Spr. 0 0 0 6 12 0 4.67
25 I  increased my ability to analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and points of view 2012 Spr. 0 0 0 0 28 1 5.00
2011 Spr. 0 0 1 4 13 0 4.67
Course Questions Mean 2012 Spr. 4.95
2011 Spr. 4.71

Selected Comments from Students

Please indicate aspects of the instructor's teaching or of the course that have been most valuable to you

Spring 2012

"Dr. Rossi has a wonderful teaching style. Informal, very personable and uses anecdotes to teach. He creates an atmosphere that is very conducive to learning. He can made something as boring as the EU interesting."

"He held the students' attention for the entire class period and encouraged participation."

"Truly one of the best professors I have ever had. TCNJ's loss is another school's - and its students' - gain. Exceptional teacher who cares deeply about his students."
"Professor Rossi is the most intellectual and enthusiastic professor I've ever had. He loves what he teaches and it shows. I looked forward to coming to his classes every week."
"Professor Rossi is definitely one of the best teachers I have ever had. He keeps class interesting and has a hilarious sense of humor. On top of all this he has a wealth of info on the subject and communicates it very well to the class."
"Class discussions were helpful and interesting and it was nice to learn the history and about current events together"
"The instructor provided a variety of contrasting views and opinions in all topics discussed which provided a comprehensive understanding of the material. Also, having a professor available after class to discuss things as well as to provide great feedback on assignments is invaluable."
Fall 2010

"Took very dry material and added substance and a value of entertainment and interest that I did not think was possible. Engaged in deep debates and discussions that made the class all the more enjoyable."

"I thought it was a great class and I learned a lot of information [...] that I would never have been exposed to.."

"Another great semester with Dr. Rossi. The man makes even a boring organization like the EU into something fun. He has a great sense of humor and communicates his point of views quite well."
"Dr. Rossi is an excellent professor: he is scarily intelligent, funny, and clearly wants his students to not only learn but also to enjoy his class. He's been a great addition to the poli sci department. Not tenuring him would be a huge mistake!."
"Notes were great, very helpful pulling out main points from readings that were a bit unclear. Very exciting and interesting lectures - great teaching style!"

Please indicate aspects of the instructor's teaching or of the course that you feel most need improvement

Spring 2012

"NOTHING!"

"Nothing"
"Textbook"
"N/A"
"Nothing. Everything was great!"
"None."
"Did not like that participation counted for so much of the grade."
"I was satisfied with every aspect of the class."
"The fact that he's not coming back next semester."
Spring 2011

"Besides changing the source material, it was an excellent class."

"Encourage more participation."
"Maybe next time begin with an overview of European history and current events. I found it difficult to have insight and draw conclusions without knowing a lot about Europe prior to this class."

"Nothing!"

Please use additional space to clarify any of your responses from the other side of this form or comment on your overall impression of the course

Spring 2012 "Undoubtedly the best professor I've had in this department and at this school. His ability to keep lectures interesting while sharing his tremendous knowledge and experience of world politics makes Dr. Rossi the most qualified educator I've ever been privileged to be taught by in my academic career."
"Best professor I've ever had. He will be greatly missed."
"Great teacher. Sad to see him leave, especially when it was clear that the majority of the students in the major loved both him and his teaching style."
"It is a shame Professor Rossi isn't coming back next year. He's a fantastic professor and will be greatly missed."
"A great overall course. Would not have been half as interesting without Dr. Rossi."
"Best professor I've had at TCNJ. The fact he's not coming back is a huge loss for the Poli Sci Department."
"Great teacher, great guy. I'm glad I got to take a class with him before I graduated. Can't believe he's not coming back."
Spring 2011

"This was quite possibly the best professor I have ever had. I had him three semesters in a row and he's only gotten more engaging, more entertaining, and more interesting as the semesters have gone by. In a day and age where many students bring laptops to class, eyes are transfixed on Professor Rossi and never the screens. It's an incredible experience."

 


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