austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

When they say that we're in trouble

Ouch. I got the student evaluations from last term back. I take rare pride in being a good instructor, in delighting in taking a complex subject and presenting it so everyone will understand, and I like performing as such in front of crowds. So it hurts that my evaluations in pretty near every category were dead average, for the entire faculty. I know my real performance was better than my score, since the bigger the class the more students there are who fill in ``poor'' because they don't want to be there, and the like. Matching the faculty average -- most with smaller and with graduate classes -- is good, but that's not enough.

Most fascinating, as always, were the comments. I'm happy many described me as generous with my time, easily approachable, and great at explaining. One said I was the first instructor they ever had who answered every question in the online forum, a habit I'm sure will surprise everyone reading this journal. For improving my teaching students asked for lecture notes posted sooner; more detailing how to write programs (I didn't realize so many students had absolutely zero programming experience); and to dress better. Apparently my shorts and casual shirts bothered at least a dozen students. Hrmph. Two students last term asked if I'd graduated Cal Tech, because apparently I dress like it. I won't deny my RPI heritage, but I like giving the impression of an even higher-class background. Besides, we've seen what fiascos happen when I try to buy pants here.

Trivia: Abbé Nollet, court scientist to France's Louis XV, linked 700 monks and shocked them with static electricity so they would jump simultaneously, for the court's amusement. Source: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, Walter Isaacson.

Currently Reading: The Paper: The Life and Death of the New York Herald Tribune, Richard Kluger.

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