Home Writing Politics Vita Teaching



Grants, Honors, Awards
Public Lectures
University Service
Political Activism

Having been taught by my parent's not to toot my own horn-except when practicing the trumpet-I am a little reluctant to be reproducing some evaluations of my teaching here. But, since one aim of this web site is to provide information requested by those who are considering hiring me, I have overcome my reluctance.

Peer Evaluations of My Teaching

A number of colleagues have taken the time and trouble to come to my class and record their impressions. I am grateful for the very positive evaluations of my teaching from my colleagues at UNCC and the other universities at which I have taught. I am especially pleased that they tend to support my view of the way in which I teach. The evaluations of Marshall Berman (of a course I taught at CCNY), Laura Kaplan and Terrel Rhodes captures very well my approach in teaching seminar classes. The evaluations of Richard Toenjes and Roger Brown present, perhaps better than I could have at the time, my approach in teaching classes in which I both lecture and conduct discussions.

  • Marshall Berman evaluation of The Politics of Criminal Justice, March 13, 1987

  • Richard Toenjes evaluation of Democracy on April 7, 1993, with additional commentary on Politics and Reason, 1990

  • Roger Brown evaluation of Democracy, on April 7, 1993

  • Laura Kaplan evaluation of Body and Soul on September 28, 1994

  • Terrel Rhodes evaluation of Body and Soul on September 26, 1994 and Politics and Reason, September 28, 19

  • Ruth Mazo Karras evaluation of Intellectual Heritage I on October  18, 1999. 

Student Evaluations of My Teaching

Qualitative Student Evaluations

I have always found my student evaluations to be very helpful. But like many other faculty members, I find the comments students write to be much more useful than the quantitative evaluations. Eventually I hope to include some representative qualitative evaluations here. But, given that most students, at least at UNCC do not write much if anything at all, and that typically it is those who most like and dislike my courses who set down their thoughts on paper, it is hard to know how select these comments in a way that gives a fair picture of student views of my teaching.

The qualitative indication of how students regard my teaching most important to me was my being chosen Outstanding Member of the Faculty by the students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Another indication of my success as a teacher, I believe, is the number of students who take a number of courses with me. As I mention in "My Philosophy of Teaching" in any given year, about half of the graduates of the UNC Charlotte Political Science Department will have taken two of my courses while about fifteen to twenty percent of our graduates will have taken three or more of my courses. Since students have many other courses in American politics available to them and are only required to take one political philosophy course--and have other options besides my courses in meeting this requirement--these repeaters suggest that my way of teaching is very attractive to a substantial number of students at UNCC.

Quantitative Student Evaluations

Like most faculty members, I have mixed feelings about quantitative student evaluations. As a Dean once told me, the quantitative evaluations are good at weeding out the teachers who, for one reason or another, entirely turn students off. And they tell us which teachers really do capture the affection of their students--although, as the Dean noted, capturing the affection of students is not necessarily the same thing as teaching them a great deal. The rest of the time, he suggested, student evaluations tend not to be very informative because they do not vary a great deal.

My own results confirms this estimate of student evaluations. I have found that, when I believe that I have really screwed up a course, the quantitative evaluations have confirmed my view. And when I had an especially good rapport with students, the quantitative evaluations were especially good. But, most of the time, they tend not to vary a great deal, and the extent and direction of whatever variation exists does not always correspond at all to my own views about when I have done a better or worse job with a particular course. I am, of course, pleased that the quantitative student evaluations of my teaching are almost always high. But I am afraid that these numbers do not tell us very much about how students view my teaching or about how effective a teacher I have been. Anyway, for what they are worth, here are some numbers and my commentary on them.

Home | Teaching | Writing | Vita