Spring 2011 Student Evaluations

Student evaluations are in for Spring 2011, and I read them while sitting in a waiting room yesterday.

As I suspected, the graduate student evaluations were a mixed bag. There was a palpable anger in the air on the week of evaluations — something many of us teaching graduate classes this spring noted — and we never did get a clear sense about why. My evaluations, alas, aren’t particularly helpful in explaining this group dynamic, though they obviously do have helpful bits for me personally.

Chaucer evaluations are solid, though I’m a bit perturbed that one of my students “liked best” about the professor was “his bicepts.” That’s not how you spell it, kids. (And, um, what the heck?) On the plus side, I was bemused by this statement about what a student “liked least” about me: “He has mean eyes.” I think this is a joke, and I like it.

Most fun were my Honors English evaluations. These came courtesy my class on (not kidding) Satan. It was a literature class looking at an overview of Satan as a character from the Bible through Marlowe, Milton, and on up to modern works like Joe Hill’s Horns. A brilliant fun class, I thought, and one of our running jokes (predictably) was how “evil” the whole class was. The numerical evaluation ratings are off the charts (awesome!), and the written comments from the class are just wonderful:

What did you like most about the course?

  • It challenges students to think critically while simultaneously being fun and interesting. [I swoon! I made them think critically!]
  • It was interesting to say the least. Course material was interesting. [You can say that again!]
  • Seeing Dr. Livingston every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  [ 🙂 ]
  • Human sacrifice.  [No, we didn’t!]
  • What a thorough examination of evil was performed.  [Well, we sorta did do that.]
  • It was very interesting to learn more about Satan.  [Yes, it was!]

What did you like most about this professor?

  • His intimate knowledge of the ways of Satan.  Captain Livingston is an excellent example of leadership at the Citadel.  Capt. Livingston should be given tenure right now.  But seriously, he’s a good professor.  [I love how that last bit kinda sorta back-hands everything else.]
  • He can shoot holes in any argument.  He honestly made me a better writer.  [Happy dance!]
  • I liked his ability to make the material interesting.  [Um, it’s Satan.  Wasn’t hard.  But thanks!]
  • His deep-felt passion and understanding of the topic.  Captain Livingston is an excellent example of leadership at the Citadel.  His principled leadership in the classroom is a role model for us all.  [How this fellow can eat with his tongue in his cheek, I don’t know.]
  • Double plus good.  PROFOUND captain in the militia.  [I think that means good.]

What did you like least about this course?

  • It only lasted one semester.  [Awwwwwww.]
  • I least liked the lack of examinations; we only had 2.  [More testing? Really?]
  • Capt. Livingston did not have enough goat sacrifices and incantations were hard to memorize.  [I laughed out loud at that one, bothering everyone else in the room.]

What did you like least about this professor?

  • N/A. Favorite English professor EVA!  [Slang for “ever,” I assume, rather than Latin for “Eve.”]
  • I didn’t not like anything.  [Shucks.]
  • Nerf gun.  [Well, don’t fall asleep.]
  • The dart gun.  [Seriously.  Don’t.  Fall.  Asleep.]
  • His deadly accuracy with the nerf gun. [See above.]
  • Too bad Capt. Livingston is a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Communist guy.  [This just might be the best comment eva!]

What constructive suggestions do you have?

  • Should get tenure … goat sacrifices in class?  [Two themes established here, making me wonder if there was some collusion going on.]
  • Limit the goat sacrifices to once a week and no more than 3 incantations a month.  Also, the next time you try your hand at necromancy, use a virgin.  “I’ll sell my soul for an ‘A’!”  GIVE HIM  HIS TENURE! (Note: All Satanic references are meant in jest only. Give the man his tenure.)  [Glad he got that jest bit in there!]
  • None, really.  Oh, more goat sacrifices.  [See, I really think someone must have said, “Let’s all ask for more goat sacrifices.”  And there weren’t any in the first place, by the way.  Honest.]
  • Don’t feel bad about taking a couple of sick days every now and then.  Captain Livingston should be considered to teach the sophomore leadership course.  [I assume the former bit is about how I teach through the pain.]
  • Get a nerf gun that doesn’t jam all the time.  [Good advice.  Though that just means more people getting hit, no?]
  • Keep offering this course.  [Okeedokee.]
  • More texts focused on only the devil would be nice.  [Not sure if this is joking or not, but I’m actually thinking on the matter.]
  • Give Capt. Livingston tenure so we can see his true antics.  [“True antics”?  What can I do to live up to that kind of pressure?  Perhaps if I had a goat….]

In all seriousness, thanks, gang.  I had a great semester.

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