347 Schaeffer Hall
Spring 2023 Office Hours
Tue & Th: 4:45-6:15
Dept of Political Science
341 Schaeffer Hall
20 E. Washington Street
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242
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Below are the written comments I've received the last several semesters for POLI:3120/30:158. Each semester's comments are grouped together, with more recent semesters at the top. I will reproduce the comments as accurately as possible. This will include spelling and grammar errors (but I won't mark them with [sic]). Any response or comment I have will be in italics following the student's comment.
Starting in Fall 2020 the written comments section of course evaluations was more directed in that it asked students to comment on three aspects of the course. Although the comments under each question are numbered, I'm not sure they necessarily correspond to specific students. That said, if the students responded to every question the first comment for each should be by the same student, the second by the same, etc. Anyway, my comments will just follow each part.
Most recent semesters are on top, scroll down for older ones.
Q: What aspects of the course were most useful for your learning?
I think all the material we covered was super important and relevant to the class objective. In particular, I think briefing cases was super helpful.
Good! In this course we read (edited) Supreme Court cases in the second half of the semester. That’s a good introduction to how to read and get necessary information out of the cases given the way they are written. Along those lines I explain how to brief the cases. That’s particularly important for those going on to law school, or my fall Con Law course.
The class was structured well. The study guide questions helped with the direction of the course. The selected book is well-written. The course focuses on material from the book. I can confidently say I learned a lot in this class and feel more prepared for law school than I did prior to taking this course.
Good! The study questions provide a basis for what I want the students to get out of the material. There are a lot of them, which can be daunting, but sticking with them will allow students to know they have a good handle on the material. Some students have complained that the lectures are too close to what’s in the book but the lectures help to focus and explain what’s in the book that students should know.
This is my fourth class with this professor since the beginning of the 2021/2022 school year so I may just be getting used to his teaching method, but I feel that he puts a ton of effort into condensing complex material for students and communicates that material exceptionally well. The immense amount of study questions is daunting but are an amazing resource for tests, and the extra credit opportunity on the paper is a welcome safety net. Though more apparent in his constitutional law class, this professor does a great job making students think about why the Court has developed the legal precedents it has re. our time looking at actual court cases.
Thanks! It’s true that the material can be complex, so I’m glad this student thinks I’m doing a good job of getting it across. This class is a bit different than the Con Law class (POLI:3101). In that course all we do is read cases, so it can be difficult if someone hasn’t had experience reading them before. This course is a bit of an introduction in that we only read a few cases and the discussion of them occurs after having read how they are presented in the text. That helps students to understand what the case is about before actually reading it.
It was nice that the book was heavily used.
Glad you liked that. As I’ve noted before, some students are unhappy that my lectures stick so closely to the book. My doing so in this course, by the way, is quite different from what I do in my Judicial Process course. Each course is structured differently depending on what I want to accomplish.
Learning how to apply the constitutional rights I have to real life situations.
Yes, an unfortunate fact of studying the criminal justice system is that you see stories about these concepts all the time in the news. Students that have had this course will have a better foundation on which to determine what is occurring in given situations.
Q: When this class is taught again, what changes would you suggest?
Nothing pertaining to the substance of the course.
Sounds ominous. (See this student’s comment in the next question.)
I don't have any significant suggestions for course revisions. Everything felt fair and accessible.
It is so hard to pay attention without any visuals. Next year consider showing your notes under the spotlight thing because we need to be able to spell things and it is so much easier to see stuff and learn.
I get this type of comment more frequently in Judicial Process given that I don’t lecture directly from a book. In this course, students have the text to use as reference and I stick very close to it when lecturing. That should provide some visual stimulation while reading the material. That will also help with the spelling. Aside from the legal terms being in the text, the book also has a glossary and I have the students buy a law dictionary for the course and I frequently advise students to look up words there.
Q: What else would you like the instructor to know about your experience in this course?
The professor did a good job at grading objectively, but in some instances, the material was presented in a subjective and somewhat biased manner. Overall, it didn't bother me too much or detract from the meaning of the material, but I think it is always important to consider how information is being presented or what information is being presented. This class was very difficult. It was, without a doubt, definitely one of my favorites, though.
I’m not sure that how I present the material is different from the substance of the course (recall the first comment in the above question), but I always do consider how material is being presented. It would have been nice for this student to have provided an example or two of the alleged bias. The student wants me to fix something but doesn’t say exactly what he or she thinks is the problem.
I learned a lot in this course and do not have any problems in terms of the course. Thank you for teaching this course in the way that you did. I am grateful for the skills and knowledge I have gained through this course.
I do have a problem with the way you handled accommodations. I have never had an instructor treat me the way that you did. For starters, I met Professor Hagle during office hours at the beginning of the semester to go over my university-approved accommodations. In this meeting, Professor Hagle mentioned that he has had problems in the past with SDS. He also suggested that I take the first exam with everyone else, regardless of my accommodations. He said to just try it out and see how it goes and then when the final comes around I can change my mind. When he said this he also mentioned assessing how I am feeling with the material and if I felt comfortable with it, then I could make the decision. First of all, I have accommodations for a reason. I have extended time and a reduced distraction environment for a reason. Being comfortable with the material does not change my disability. It does not just go away because I know the material. The two are not related. It is important to know that we did not come to an agreement on this. I just told him I would email him what I wanted to do because I was thrown off by someone even suggesting that. Then as the semester progressed, I emailed him to tell him I wanted my accommodations. It was not emailed weeks in advance, but I have never had a problem with asking professors for alternative testing. He mentioned that it was a short test and I would have plenty of time. He also mentioned our prior agreement which was not an agreement at all. It was more of him suggesting/telling me what to do with my accommodations. He mentioned that he wanted me to take the test with everyone else. Then he said, "If you REALLY don't think you can, then show up at my office at about 4:15..." I brushed off that "REALLY" and said ok great. Then I get an email that says, "I think you're just panicking a bit due to test anxiety. You should still try to take the test with everyone else..." Then he said, "I would say to try to relax and take it, but if not you'll need to wait at my office..." At this point, I was so overwhelmed. I have never been back and forth with an instructor so much to grant my accommodations. I have never had someone push back and tell me what to do. I have never had someone who does not know me speak on behalf of my disability. There was more to this engagement, but I simply was over it. He asked if I wanted extra time after the test was already done and we had to leave the classroom because another class had the room. At that point, I was so overwhelmed and was about to break down in tears. Professor Hagle did grant my accommodations for an extension on the paper, although there was pushback there as well. As for the final, I emailed Professor Hagle over two weeks ago about needing my accommodations for the final and I have not gotten a response. The final is in 3 days. I did poorly on the first exam because I did not have my accommodations. Now, I am not sure if I am going to get them because I have not received a response.
I appreciate this student’s concerns as well as the detail here, but this student is simply incorrect on several points. Given that detail I obviously know what student wrote this comment. Given privacy concerns I need to be careful in my reply comments, but it’s worthwhile to discuss several points.
First, students with accommodations are supposed to discuss them with instructors. That’s not a one way street. Instructors have concerns that need to be considered in the context of particular courses. (That’s one of the areas where I think SDS is deficient.) I’m somewhat limited in what I can discuss with students, but when they come to see me to discuss their accommodations I try to determine what they need and how to work that into the course. SDS gives about 90% of the students the same accommodations, but there are clearly differences in what each student needs and that’s what I discuss with them. Among other things, I have concerns about test security and fairness to other students. I don’t want to be too specific here, but the first test in this course is treated a bit differently and provides a good opportunity for a student to try to take the test with other students. Depending on how it goes, the student can then also take the second test with everyone else or have a separate room and extended time (as those are the usual accommodations). I’ve had students do it both ways for the second test after further discussions with me as to how it went for them on the first test.
Second, in terms of the specifics, I discussed these points in my initial meeting with this student. Given my previous experiences I was very careful to raise the subject of taking the first test with the other students in a way that made it clear that the student did not have to try that and could have the listed accommodations. The student says that “It is important to know that we did not come to an agreement on this.” This is untrue, at least in terms of what the student told me during our meeting. Again, based on my past experience I was careful to give the student a choice to give a try to taking the test with everyone else and I usually ask the question several times to be sure about it. The student indicated a willingness to give it a try. Then the day before the test the student emailed me indicating a desire to have the accommodations. I replied that the short notice didn’t give me time to find another room so indicated coming to my office for it after everyone else was done. The student agreed to come to my office. I sent a second message suggesting the possibility the student was experiencing some pretest jitters and reminding the student that given the structure of the course it was relatively costless to adhere to our initial agreement. The student then indicated a willingness to take the test with the other students.
I should note here that there are forms available for students and instructors to use to fill out whatever agreement they reach regarding the accommodations. I don’t like to deal with such forms because they don’t really have any power. I suppose they might be useful in a situation like this, but my strong preference is still to work out how to deal with the situation with the student person to person.
The first test in the course is relatively short and the usual 75-minute class period is usually plenty of time to finish it. Even so, there are often some students who use the whole time. In fact, prior to this semester I never had a student with an extended time accommodation use the whole time. This student was an exception to that and when I called for the last tests I said “Do you need more time.” The answer was no. I thought the student did well on the test and didn’t hear anything to the contrary about it once I gave the students their results.
As to the paper, the student had a deadline modification accommodation. It’s not clear what that means as a practical matter but the students have four weeks to do the paper once they get the assignment and it didn’t seem to be something particularly relevant (such as it might with weekly papers or essays). In any case, nothing was said about it until the student emailed me the day before they were due asking for an extension. Although the penalty for late papers is fairly minimal, I do grant extensions when students seem to need them. This student leaned heavily on her accommodations as a justification in the email to me but I would have given an extension regardless.
As the second test (during the final exam period) approached the student sent me an email that again included her accommodation list along with a desire to use them for the test. She also copied her SDS advisor on it. I previously said the student could use the accommodations for the second test and we should discuss the results of the first test. The student never came by to discuss them and just sent me the email. The student is correct that I didn’t reply immediately. The reason was that I had two other SDS students in the class that also needed accommodations and I needed to coordinate with all of them before I could arrange a room and time.
On my syllabus I tell students that if they have a problem with the course they should let me know sooner rather than later and that waiting until course evaluations to do so probably doesn’t do either of us any good. That seems to be the case here.
(Sorry for the frequent “this student” but I wanted to keep the student’s gender unknown.)
Like I said, I've taken two classes with this professor each semester of this year and each one significantly reaffirmed by desire to pursue a legal education. I greatly appreciate how much effort this professor puts into his lectures, study questions, and curated course packs. Criminal justice is not as rigorous compared to the upper-level ones he offers, but I would encourage any student interested at all in legal studies to enroll in one of his classes. Thank you for such an academically rewarding year.
Two classes each semester and survived! :) Seriously, I’m glad it reaffirmed this student's desire to get a legal education. Yes, Criminal Justice isn’t as difficult as my Con Law course (POLI:3101). In fact, I usually advise students to take CJ or Judicial Process before Con Law.
Glad you enjoyed them!
It was an interesting class.
Good, I hope you did well!
I really enjoyed this course and reading the cases each week.
I’m glad this student enjoyed reading the cases in the second half of the semester. The topics can be a little more interesting (search and seizure, self-incrimination, death penalty) but reading cases is not like reading text and can take a while to get used to.
Q: What aspects of the course were most useful for your learning?
The lectures. I enjoyed them as they helped fill in some of the gaps I had after reading the materials. The study groups and questions helped give me an idea of what I should be learning.
Some students complain that the lectures are too closely tied to the textbook, but one purpose of them is, as this student indicates, to fill in gaps and be sure students understand the material.
Going over the practice questions and re-reading the textbook.
I provide an extensive list of study questions and I regularly emphasize that students should be working with them to be sure they are getting the material.
The instructor was very knowledgable about law, and criminal justice reports, and brought in good secondary materials.
Textbook and class resources that you provided through ICON pages and your website have been extremely useful. I will be referencing some of these resources throughout both my undergraduate and graduate academic careers.
Good. I'm glad you found them useful.
Q: When this class is taught again, what changes would you suggest?
Not much. Being forced to wear a mask is a detriment to the instructors AND students because it removes facial expressions. A very important tool of rhetoric. If there was any way to make that silly rule optional, I suspect we would all learn more form this instructor.
I agree wtih this. Teaching with a mask in-person is better than some online version, but the masks make it hard for me to "read" the students and for them to understand me. This was particularly true given that this class was in a larger room and I practically had to shout to make sure students in the back could hear given the muffling effect of the mask I had to wear.
It would be nice if the practice test was just a real test and if there were more opportunities to earn points throughout the semester. Not every person interested in this material is interested in law school.
Pre-pandemic the first test wasn't just practice but I had to make adjustments given the possibility of either the course being required to go online or for students to be missing class given the protocols. I hope that will change in the near future.
less out of the textbook and more of his own analysis and teachings. could use some visual aid at least, itd help get stuff written down. more how to internalize info if everything is just on one or two tests. some practices and smaller writing assignments. Need to update demeanor around poc issues, says "Blacks" and says there are some truths to stereotypes. issues like these are especially important in law classes at iowa.
Lots in this comment. As I noted above, some students don't relying on the text as much, but it contains what I want the students to learn, as supplemented by my lectures. At the very least, it makes clear what they should be learning. Some of the other items have to do with my teaching style, which for this class is primarily lecture. I tell students this at the start of the semester so it shouldn't be a surprise.
A few more things in the grade book. I understand the class is supposed to function like a law school course, but it was tough to only have one paper and one exam. I learn better when I am given more opportunities to be assessed, and only having two graded items made it difficult to understand all of the material.
I'm not sure this student's concerns are actually related to having more graded items. As I noted above, I used to also have the first test graded rather than just practice, but even then students would want more. Sometimes it's a matter of just wanting lots of graded items so each one isn't so important to the overall grade. That's understandable, but sometimes you have to get it right the first time, especially at this level.
The instructor put his personal bias into the curriculum a bit too much, claiming a lot of things that are opinion based statements as objective fact, and that got old fast. Also please make it more clear that this class is designed for lawyers, I went in expecting theory, and got chalk and talk memorization fodder.
It would have been nice for this student to have mentioned at least one example of the claimed bias. Given that I stick so closely to the text is the student also complaining about it? I'm always careful about this issue and this class is the least subjective of my three main prelaw courses.
Speaking of which, most of the students who take this class are interested in law school, so I do gear it toward helping prepare them for law school. Even so, I spend part of the first day of class explaining what the course will be about and how it can be important for both those planning on law school and those not.
The organization of the course material through ICON could be greatly improved. When trying to find materials, I was often unsure whether they were going to be on the Professors personal website or ICON and I had to spend time shuffling through each one. I would also assign course assignments related to the material so there is more in the gradebook than a paper and the final exam.
I mainly use ICON for additional resources. There really aren't that many additional things on my website (some links and such). It shouldn't have taken too much time to find things.
Aside from the one test and paper, there is a practice test and three practice quizzes. They don't count to the official score, but I do look at them and consider them when thinking about the effort the student put into the course.
I can tell that you have perfected the structure of this class as you've been teaching it for many years so any fundamental recommendations is not necessary. If anything, maybe try to not be so intimidating. There was many times that I wanted to come to your office hours for further clarification on a concept, but with all due respect, you scare the heebie jeebies out of me!
Well, who wants heebie jeebies! Seriously, it surprises me a bit when students suggest something along these lines. I would also say that I think having to wear a mask in class certainly didn't help in this regard.
Q: What else would you like the instructor to know about your experience in this course?
Great class. I preferred the class periods when we had guided discussions but that is just my personal leaning preference. Besides that, I dug the class. Keep the 80's references coming, I will gladly recommend this to others interested in the topic.
I think by "guided discussions" the student is referring to the discussions of the cases at the end of the course. Although most of the course is lecture over the textual material, in the second half of the course we read some Supreme Court cases and I use a discussion method to cover them rather than lectures.
Many things could be explained in much fewer words - mainly the few documents posted.
This reminds me of the complaint to one of Mozart's works in the movie AMADEUS: "Too many notes."
Some of the things I post are long, there's no doubt about that, but they are long becuase they cover a lot of material and I want to make things as clear as possible.
I really liked the paper assignment. It was a good way to bringing a real life situation to the course material. I would not have minded writing another one or even having a few more smaller paper assignments.
Glad you like it. One good-sized assignment is about all that fits given the need to cover other material and allow time for both writing and grading.
No one here remembers the Clinton scandal, we were all either too young or not born yet, update your material.
Sometimes one has to learn about things that occured before one was born. Shocking, I know.
I do mention the Clinton scandals to some extent, but I usually provide some background info so they understand the points. I do this with other things too, such as what happened with Rodney King.
The one place I use the Clinton scandal more is that it's the basis for the sample paper I provide the students to show them how to handle the paper assignment. Although it deals with Clinton, they don't need to know anything about it beyond what's in the fact statement they are given.
I think the quiz questions could be formatted better. It makes very little sense to me that there would be "multiple right answers" and that we would have to choose the "most right answer" on a multiple choice question with course topics that have highly debatable answers. If there are multiple right answers, but one believes there is one that is "more right" than the others, then it should be written as a short answer question so the answer can be debated. Considering the uncertain expectations of the paper, with the exam questions, I felt like the course was more about trying to read the professors mind than it was about the actual course material.
Actually, there aren't "multiple right answers" to the questions on the quizzes. There was always one best answer. That's how it works sometimes and part of what I want students to understand is that sometimes you have to make fine distinctions.
I'm not sure why this student thinks the expectations for the paper were uncertain. I provide a sample paper assignment and two sample papers along with a lengthy style guide, check list, and fact statement. I also spend most of a class period going over the the assignment explaining what is required, etc. If this student was unclear, he or she should have contacted me about it.
Overall, this has been the most interesting AND challenging courses that I have taken at the U of I. Even as I write this review, I have no idea whether I will be passing or failing this course, but this will be information that I will use forever. Thanks for the experience!
Well, I would think one generally as an idea between the two extremes, even though the student wrote the comments before taking the test. Regardless, I do want to make the course challenging and I'm glad he or she found it interesting.
The response rate for course evaluations dropped dramatically when it went online. Although my understanding is that the students get more than one email reminder about doing them, and I talk about doing them in at least one class period, the rate remains low. Spring 2020, the semester when classes were forced to go online on relatively short notice, the rate was the lowest I’ve seen. For this course only four of the 37 enrolled did the evaluation. Interestingly, all four also submitted written comments. That’s pretty unusual. It also suggests that the ones who did the evaluation had something to complain about. I suspect the powers that be realized this as we were told that spring evaluations were going to be discounted.
Before getting to the written comments let me describe how I handled going online for this course. I should note at the outset that I do not like online courses and have chosen to not do them. Even in classes that are mostly lecture, such as this one, I prefer the face-to-face communication of regular classes. It allows me to “read” the students’ reactions and answer questions or provide clarifications if needed. I suppose some of that can be done with Zoom or something similar, but I had not used such programs much and didn’t want to rely on them on short notice.
My approach was to provide audio files of the lectures that were then posted on ICON. The program I used, which was one available in ICON, didn’t see to work right in terms of getting posted properly so I also posted the transcripts of the lectures as well. There were two lectures for each of the five chapters we covered, each about an hour or so, which was less than the normal two 75 minute class periods per week.
In the second half of the semester we also cover some Supreme Court cases in an additional coursepack. Normally I handle these in a discussion format to that students learn how to pull information out of them. I may need to try this in Zoom in the future, but for this semester I just lectured through the cases in an additional audio file.
Given the disruption of having the students sent home and the classes moved online I wasn’t sure that all the students would be able to access online materials for a single test at a specified time. Thus, rather than a single test during the assigned final exam period I divided the material into five quizzes, one for each of the chapters covered. They totaled the same as the second test would normally have been. Each quiz was available for a whole business day and was open for an adequate amount of time once begun.
As to that latter point, there’s always the difficulty of striking a balance between giving students enough time to consider the questions but not so much that they have time to look up the answers. I asked students to be on the honor system in terms of not consulting course materials while taking the quizzes, but there was no way to enforce that.
I wish we would have been given a little more time to do the weekly quizzes as schedules got switched around somewhat during the move to online classes and I sometimes had to cram to take the weekly quiz as opposed to the midterm. I also wish there was some way we could have had a discussion of the cases each week over Zoom since that would give a better understanding, although a certain individual may have dominated the discussion on that platform. Overall, the course was interesting and you teach the material very well and I signed up for your course again in the fall.
I’m not entirely sure what this student means by more time. Each quiz covered one chapter and under normal circumstances I would cover one chapter per week in class. The one difference was that because I would normally use a discussion format to cover the cases it would take an additional class period. Even so, there wasn’t so much material that it couldn’t be covered in one week. I also wanted to get on a regular schedule so the students could plan on it. My guess is that not having a regular schedule for the quizzes would have been confusing.
As I noted above the quizzes were available during an entire business day, so that should have provided sufficient flexibility in terms of access. I regularly cautioned them to take the quizzes early in the day in case they had any connectivity issues. Of course, I noticed that more than a few would wait until very near the deadline.
If the student means more time for the quiz to be open once begun (i.e., it had to be finished in a certain amount of time) I picked 20 minutes for a 10 question multiple-choice quiz. The average time spent on them was around 13-14 minutes, so 20 should have been fine. During in-class tests I know some students will agonize over questions and take right up to the limit hoping, I suppose, for some inspiration for whatever question is still puzzling them.
As I mentioned in the above material to this semester’s comments I agree about wanting some form of discussion for the cases. Again, given the short notice aspect of having to move the courses online, and my unfamiliarity with Zoom or similar programs, I opted for using just audio files. For this course, the cases are a good introduction to how they are handled in law school, and in my more advanced Con Law course, but can be done via lecture if needed. Plus, and quite frankly, I often have trouble in this course actually getting a discussion going as few students seem to have read the cases in advance of class or are willing to discuss them. What sometimes happens is one student will dominate the discussion and as bad as that can be in class, it might have been even worse over Zoom. I suppose I’ll find out as I may have to find a way to have discussion of the cases for my fall course.
As someone who writes out their notes during your lectures as opposed to typing them, moving online helped me quite a bit considering I had the ability to pause and go back and make sure I wasn't missing important details, especially when you mentioned concepts that weren't found in the textbook!
One advantage to this course is that I stick very close to the text for my lectures. Although some students complain about this, the text is exactly what I want them to know. My lectures supplement, highlight, and clarify aspects of that material. By lecturing over the same material I also have the chance to see if the students are getting it. This is “reading” the audience I mentioned above. Although it’s less important in this class than in my Judicial Process course for a student to take copious notes, having the lectures in an audio file certainly allows one to pause and repeat certain material.
It is very hard to remain focused in this class especially when it was moved online. The professor added quizzes that even when doing the readings and listening to lectures were incredibly difficult and became unnecessary added stress. I would read and listen to the lecture and still fail every quiz. Worst part is you were unable to see what you missed or the right answers so the quizzes were completely pointless and never helped me learn only made me stressed. The lectures were very hard to follow as it was just a black screen for an hour and even in class was hard to follow. Most of my professors tried to help their students and I through this difficult time as classes became harder and strange during this time. This was the one class where not only did it get more difficult because of COVID-19 but the professor also just made it more difficult on its own.
Although the student above found a positive aspect to providing the lectures in audio files, this student didn’t like that approach. This is, I suppose, a good example of not being able to please everyone.
Actually, I didn’t “add” the quizzes as they were a substitute for the test I would normally have given at the end of the semester. The point of dividing the material into five quizzes, one over each of the chapters covered, was to make it less stressful. That said, I can see that getting feedback on each of the quizzes, particularly if one didn’t do all that well on the early ones, might make one a little worried. This is as opposed to the test I would normally have given when the students would not have any feedback in terms of how they did prior to seeing the course grade. Perhaps, the quizzes were more stressful because it actually gave them feedback indicating that they needed to study harder or better.
I didn’t make the answers to the quizzes available after each in part because I wanted to make them as much like the test as possible given the circumstances. Under normal conditions they would have been able to see the test by coming to my office hours and discussing the results. Of course, spring semester it is very rare for anyone to come back to look at the tests, even if they are around the following fall. If one were interested in learning from the test coming to office hours to look at the first test would be the way to go, but very few do that. Of course, that wasn’t possible this semester given that there were no classes or office hours after Spring Break. I did, however, go over the first test in class as I normally do. Anyway, the quizzes certainly weren’t pointless and they are to help me determine how much the students have learned and are not intended as a learning tool for the students. (There are other things for that.)
The lectures shouldn’t have been hard to follow. In the future I might do video files if I have to record lectures, but on short notice this was what I was able to do quickly to be sure it worked. Instead of looking at a black screen the student probably should have been taking notes, or at least following along in the text to see what I was covering directly from there.
Actually, I did try to help the students by avoiding a single stressful test at the end, making a regular schedule for the quizzes, and providing audio files and transcripts of the lectures. It’s unfortunate that this student didn’t see what I did to try to keep things as uncomplicated as possible.
Timothy Hagle is the most condescending, rude and unsupportive professors I have had in my 3 years at UIowa. He is hostile towards anyone who has a question regarding his teaching style or when asking for an explanation. He also has made the material significantly more difficult during the period of online classwork. With no empathy for anyone but himself, he truly demonstrates how any professor should NOT act. When asked to go over answers for a quiz online he refuses to share the answers "because we will never come across the material in our life." Yet, many of the students in his courses will be attending law school where they will come across the same material. He also has no sympathy when asking about receiving a test score at a later date due to going out of town for a FUNERAL and he refused to give me my test grade. He also labels students work as disappointing when we put hours of work into his convoluted essay prompt and provides no constructive feedback whatsoever. Lastly, he reads straight from the textbook with no additional information. My tuition dollars are going towards work I would be doing at home. Overall, the course material is important but it would be much, much better if a different less polarizing professor taught the course.
If a student is going to engage in criticism as harsh as this it’s at least nice that some specific examples are provided. That allows me to know more precisely what might have happened to make the student mad. In this case, it allowed me to identify the student and to be able to determine that almost everything in the comments is either incorrect or disingenuous. Let me go through it point by point.
Although I know who this student is, I won’t reveal the student’s gender, which means some of the phrasing will be a little clumsy.
The student begins by accusing me of being condescending. I’m not. If fact, I generally try to be fairly gentle in communicating with students, either in general or when providing feedback. That said, I am honest about their performance and that can come across as rather blunt at times. More on that below.
I’m not hostile to questions about my teaching style or about my approach to courses. I explain how my courses work at the beginning of each course. I tell the students what I do and why I do it. My approach doesn’t always please every student. It’s often not a matter of a student questioning my style, but complaining about it. Some students want what they want and often don’t care about the reasoning behind my approach.
The next sentence suggests that I made the material “significantly more difficult.” The student really has no basis for this assertion. As noted in one of the prior responses, I get that listening to audio files might not be one’s first choice. Using them to convey the course material certainly wasn’t mine, but it satisfied the short term needs at the time. I would also suggest that the quizzes ended up being less difficult than the test I would have given at the end of a regular semester.
Speaking of the quizzes, the student goes on to note that I did not release the answers to the quiz questions and claims I said “because we will never come across the material in our life.” The request about the quizzes was in an email and so was my reply. What was quoted was not something I said, and wouldn’t have said. What I said was that the material on the individual quizzes wouldn’t be covered on later quizzes. I never simply release the answers to the multiple choice tests, but students can come to my office to look over and discuss the tests. It’s unusual for a student to do that after the second test spring semester, but occasionally a student who is around the following fall will do so. This semester presented unusual circumstances in that there were no regular classes or office hours, so the student couldn’t come by to see the quizzes, but given that he or she will be around in the fall I wonder if there will still be a desire to see them.
The student next accuses me of having no sympathy for going out of town for a “FUNERAL” (emphasis in original). The first test in the course was on the Tuesday before Spring Break and I discussed the results, went over the test, and explained the paper assignment on the following Thursday. Contrary to what the student claims in the comments, the request he or she made was to get the results before leaving campus, not later. There are often several students who skip the class after the test. The reasons vary, but given that it’s always the Thursday before Spring Break it’s not surprising. I always send out a lengthy summary of what we did in class that day. I also post a PowerPoint that I present in class concerning the paper assignment. I often email the test score to any students who miss that class and ask me for it. This student didn’t suggest any reason why he or she needed the score early and later did ask for the score via email, which I sent along.
The next sentence contains several assertions, but let me provide some context about the paper assignment first. For this class I give the students a fact statement containing a summary of events that potentially involve several crimes that we had discussed in class during the first half of the semester. The assignment is to analyze the statement in terms of what crimes might have bene committed, the elements of those crimes, etc. Earlier in the semester we do something similar as a class exercise. I also provide a sample paper assignment and two sample papers for students to review so they know what will be required of the assignment. When I present the assignment to the students I use a PowerPoint to highlight what is required. For students who miss that class I also talk about it in the summary I sent to the class. More generally, I also provide a Style Guide and Checklist for the students to follow regarding a variety of stylistic matters.
I tell the students that 10 pages is the maximum for their papers. Sometimes students ask what the minimum is. I occasionally say “zero” because they can choose not to do it (even though it’s worth 30% of their grade in the course). Even though it should be clear from the sample papers and PowerPoint presentation that they could easily fill 10 pages, I directly tell them that it would be next to impossible to fully analyze the facts in fewer than eight pages.
Nevertheless, I often get papers that are well less than 10 pages. Students can usually at least identify the possible crimes and basic issues in six or seven pages. When the papers get below that there are major weaknesses in terms of their analysis. Even at five pages I try to start out by telling the writer that it was a “solid effort” or would have been a good first draft before getting into the weaknesses. When papers are even shorter I’m a little more blunt and will indicate up front that it was a disappointing effort. That’s what I did with this student’s paper.
This student turned in a paper that was only three and a half pages long. Given that the assignment was worth 30% of the grade in the course I would hope that students put in hours of work, but it’s the result that counts and this student’s paper was, well, disappointing. My written comments to this student on the paper were relatively short in large part because there wasn’t much to say beyond the fact that the paper wasn’t long enough to adequately deal with any of the major issues raised by the fact statement. Plus, in addition to the written comments sent to every student, I also post a lengthy analysis of the fact statement (nine single-spaced pages this semester). The combination provides plenty of constructive criticism of what a student should have and could have done with the assignment.
The student also notes that the situation in the fact statement was “convoluted.” Actually, it wasn’t as complex as some I’ve given for this course. The situation was based on the disappearance of Chandra Levy, so based on a real situation. If the student thinks this the situation was convoluted, he or she is going to be in for a surprise on seeing a law school exam.
The final comment is familiar, but also inaccurate. My lectures in this course do stick very closely to the text. Even so, I also use them to highlight certain points, clarify others, and add additional material, such as how Iowa handles some offense or issue.
As bad as the comments were in terms of their inaccuracy, etc., it didn’t end there. After the evaluations were closed (i.e., after the student had written the evaluation), the student sent me an email that began as follows:
“Hello Professor Hagle,”
“To start off I wanted to say how much I enjoyed your Criminal Justice System course. This course challenged me but I was able to learn a lot about myself and what I am capable of throughout it.”
The rest of the message was basically a plea for a better grade. At that time I had already submitted grades and briefly replied about them.
Seems to be a bit of a disconnect here.
I was amused that the student referred to me as “Professor Hagle” in the email but wouldn’t do so in the evaluation comments. More serious, of course, is that the student basically lied in the email after trashing me in the evaluation. At best this was unethical, at worst just dishonest.
Even aside from the email, comments such as this student’s are not helpful and are an example of one reason some people don’t take the evaluations as seriously as they could. I read the comments I receive and respond to them every semester. If a student has made some thoughtful points I consider them or at least explain why I approach a course in a certain way. Lashing out like this student did are of no value to me.
This is my second course with Prof. Hagle. Prof. Hagle is by far from my four years of experience the most knowledgeable and effective professor in the department and probably the college. Any student who is even remotely interested in a future in law school, government, the legal field, or just wants to know more about the American legal system would benefit greatly from this class. Prof. Hagle has a very unique, rigorous, and informative style to his classes. Prof. Hagle knows his material is attainable yet not easy, and he gives his students opportunities to succeed if they put in the effort. Prof. Hagle really knows his stuff. I always look forward to his classes and the notes I took I will take with me to law school and beyond. I know for a fact that my legal knowledge has multiplied thanks to this and Prof. Hagle's other classes.
Thanks! I appreciate that this student understands what I try to do in my courses (which, for most of them, is to get them ready for law school).
Summarizing the text for the whole lecture for the past four months gets boring and is useless for those struggling to understand the textbook. I do like the case coursepack though.
I do stick very closely to the text in this course. I do so because the material has so many legal terms and as I summarize it I talk about the terms and provide examples of various sorts for the points made in the text. Hearing the material in a slightly different way can help one to better understand it if the text seems a little unclear. Sticking so closely to the text also gives students an opportunity to ask questions about what they didn't understand when they read it the first time and if my explanation didn't help.
Professor Hagle is my favorite professor that I've had at Iowa. POLI:3101 is the second class I've taken with him and I believe that his courses are great for Pre-Law students. His style of teaching really makes the information interesting and he is very knowledgable. I recommend his classes to all of my Pre-Law friends. Earning a good grade in his class is very rewarding!
Thanks! I assume this student meant POLI:3101 was the first course and this one was the second. Regardless, this student is correct that these courses should be very helpful for those preparing for law school.
TH's classes help me feel more prepared for law school. Keep up the good work.
Thanks, I'll certainly try!
The content of this course is difficult but the instructor laid out that expectation very clearly at the beginning which I think helped students set themself up for success.
This isn't my most difficult course in terms of the concepts, but there is a lot of legal terminology and the students have to stay on top of it if they want to do well. I explain this at the start of the semester and provide tools (and a fair amount of nagging) to encourage students to keep at it.
Professor Hagles classes are tough but fair. Any sort of failure in the class is completely self-inflicted, he is more than willing to help students. As a student, this is the type of class I would expect to take in order to make the most out of my degree. I wish more classes taught me as much as I have learned in his classes.
It's good to hear this student has learned a lot in my classes. I do tell students at the start of the semester that the course is tough, but is certainly do-able if they do the work and I provide them several tools to help, such as practice quizzes, study questions, and a style manual. Of course, I'm also available during office hours (and most other times via email) if students have questions.
I loved most aspects of the class, including course readings/content, assignments, structure, and generous grading. My only complaint is that Professor Hagle’s lecturing style didn’t adequately promote/allow for students to ask questions and participate (although help via his office hours was available). I would have liked for Professor Hagle to encourage students (maybe even with a friendlier demeanor) to ask questions to make for a more welcoming, inclusive classroom environment—one that reflects our university’s environment. On the whole, this was a great class that I’d highly recommend to sophomore/junior/senior students (regardless of whether they plan to attend law school).
This comment is a bit puzzling regarding the opportunity to ask questions. As I note in a response to a prior comment, part of the reason I stay so close to the text is so that students will know the material to be covered and will have the opportunity to ask questions about anything they didn't understand when reading the text. I'm happy to have students ask questions about the material in class as it shows me they (or at least the one asking the question) are thinking about the material. It also breaks up me just lecturing. I tell students this at the start of the semester, so they shouldn't be particularly hesitant to ask a question.
My biggest problem with this class was the very last couple sections where Prof Hagle used the r-word multiple times. Although I recognize that that was the language used at the time of the court case, unless he is directly quoting from the court case (in which he could likely still switch the words around without changing their meaning) he could have used mental disability instead of that word. There were a couple other times that his word choice could have changed to make students of all backgrounds feel more comfortable. Additionally, I believe Prof Hagle did about as well as other Poli Sci professors at keeping his political views from influencing his teaching too much which I appreciated.
The word the student is referring to is "retarded." Some of the cases we read at the end of the semester deal with applications of the death penalty for those with mental disabilities. I mention before these cases that the justices' use of the word "retarded" is generally considered inapproprite these days. Even so, it's a matter of dealing wtih the language context in which the terms was used. Sometimes that, and the law more generally, can be uncomfortable. We can face that fact or try to cover it up. I prefer the former.
Tough class, but great professor!
This is my second course with Professor Hagle. While the material can be challenging, Professor Hagle provides numerous resources to help students succeed including extensive study questions. I would recommend this class to anyone considering law school.
Thanks! This is certainly one of my courses that I use to try to get those planning on law school ready for it. The course introduces students to a large amount of legal terminology and some practice in reading cases.
Very challenging, but rewarding class. Professor made the content enjoyable and tests relatively fairly although difficult
This isn't my most difficult course, but it does require learning a lot of legal terminology and in the second half they have to learn to read some Supreme Court cases. The first test is right from the text and is fairly easy. The second test (which this student wouldn't have seen at the time of doing the evalutation) is harder because it also covers the cases.
This is basically a self-taught course. All of the material is directly from the textbook and there is not adequate time to take quality notes during lecture, as there are no visual aids and it is impossible to keep up with the spoken material.
Well, no, it's not self-taught unless this student skipped class a lot. It's true that my lectures are very closely tied to the text, but I also use them to explain the material and provide additional examples. (See the last written comment for this semester.) Because the material is so closely tied to the text the student shouldn't have to take extensive notes in class. For the same reason, there also shouldn't be as much of a need for visual aids, which I assume means PowerPoint outlines or something similar. Reading the material before class and perhaps even taking notes on it would mean being able to keep up more easily in class.
The workload in this class is insane. We are not third year law students. We are undergrads. Easy up.
Also; use some visual aids. It can be mind-numbing to have someone talking AT you for over an hour.
While the study questions are helpful, for the first test being only 30 questions - there are way too many study questions.
I assume "easy up" was meant to be "ease up." I am well aware that this is not a class for third year law students. That's why I use a text for undergraduates. The class does require some work--probably more than this student expected--but the goal is to get students ready for law school, where the workload is MUCH greater. I realize, of course, that not all the students in the class are planning on law school. For them this class provides an opportunity to learn material that would be helpful to anyone with an interest in the criminal justice system.
Once again we see the visual aids comment. This might just be a way for the student to get me to "ease up," but it might also be a request to be entertained. As for the talking "AT" students, that's pretty much what a lecture is. Then again, I work to not just talk at students by providing examples and such. I'm happy to have the students ask questions and we sometimes get a little discussion going, but at times it can be very difficult. For example, in the second half of the course the format changes from lecture to discussion when we cover Supreme Court cases. Unfortunately, this semester it was all but impossible to get anyone to discuss the cases. One student almost carried the entire load of discussing them, with only a few others demonstrating that they had read the material.
As for the test, I tell the students in class that the point of the test is to sample what they have learned. In other words, it is not intended to be a comprehensive exam covering everything I want them to learn. The study questions cover what I want the students to learn from the course. I then sample what they've learned on the tests.
It would have been helpful had you slowed down during your lectures. I type my notes on my computer and I still could not keep up with the pace of your speaking. When switching to a new topic or new section from the book, short breaks would be very useful for catching up on taking notes and would provide time for people to actually ask questions instead of trying to keep up with you for their notes.
This is similar to a prior comment from this semester. I know I can speak very quickly, but, again, because my lectures are so closely tied to the text it shouldn't be a problem to take notes in class--assuming, of course, that the students have read the material before class, or even after! I'm always willing to answer questions in class. Unlike my Judicial Process course where the lectures aren't tied to a text so the students are hearing the material for the first time during lecture, in this course they should have read the material in advance and then can ask questions when I get to it during lecture. I should also note, that comments along these lines are not new and I even talk about the need to do the work before class, but, alas, some don't.
Professor Hagle is an instructor that possesses a wealth of knowledge. His lectures coincided with textbook
chapters, further explaining each concept to contribute to a better understanding, and he also applied those
concepts to real-life examples to clarify any confusion. He was very accessible, regularly being available during the time of his office hours and willing to answer any questions. His grading criteria was clear and consistent. Overall, a fantastic professor.
Great material, I just learn better in different teaching methods. Powerpoint's etc
This is one of two students who mentions PowerPoints this semester. I get this more in POLI:3121 where I present a lot of material not in the texts. In this course, however, the lectures are tied very closely to the book, so PowerPoints to summarize everything shouldn't be necessary. I suppose, however, that if students are getting used to them in other courses they may come to rely on them.
This class is just way too much work. 300 study qs for a 30 question test? Asking too much. It should be more direct and could easily be cut down. No need for a PRE-law class to include this much. Too much time is required to be dedicated to this course, not a fair or reasonable expectation.
Not surprisingly, I disagree with this student on a couple of levels. First, the 300 or so study questions per test (about 600 total) are not too many or too much work. They are a lot of work, no doubt, but they are certianly do-able if one stays with them, as I mentioned in class MANY times during the semester. Yes, I could cut them down, or not provide any at all, but they thoroughly cover the material for the course. Basically this student is asking to not have to learn so much.
As for the concern about it being a "PRE-law" class, one of my goals is to get those planning on law school ready for it. Law school is a lot of work and requires familiarity with a lot of legal terminology and strict attention to detail. I try to give students a taste of that in this course so they are ready for it when they get to law school.
The last point is basically that the course takes too much time. It certainly can take a lot of time, but it pays off in the end for those going to law school (or even those that don't). If this student thinks this course takes too much time, he or she will get the proverbial "rude awakening" if planning on law school.
I wish there would be more of a powerpoint or guide to his lectures. Too much time is spent reading verbatim out of the textbook.
This is the second student who mentioned PowerPoints this semester. There are actually two guides to the lectures. The first is the text itself. I stick very closely to it in my lectures. The second is the extensive set of study questions I provide that follow the material in the exact order. The study questions aren't divided into sections and bullet points, but the text has a lot of that.
I often get the "reading out of the book" complaint in this course. My lectures are tied very closely to the text. I don't read out of the book, but my notes (which I come closer to reading from) do take a lot of meaterial right from the text. To a certain extent that is required given the precise nature of the legal terminology, etc. Even so, I include additional examples and explanations. Plus, in the second half of the course we read cases and the material is covered in a discussion-style rather than lecture. This particular semester it was pretty clear that only a small group of students had actually read the cases as they were the only ones who would (or could) discuss them.
I have been impressed with how much I have learned and how courses from Professor Hagle have given me a passion and the ability to read between the lines. This has lit my passion and fire for law school and am happy to have this as a background.
Thanks! A major goal in my courses is to get students ready for law school. I'm sure this student will get off to a good start by having had one or more of my classes.
Hagle has been the most effective teacher I have had at the University.
I have learned a lot in this class and i enjoyed the structure of the tests as well.
I'm glad this student learned a lot. I'm also glad he or she liked the tests. You don't see many multiple-choice tests in law school, but the allow me to ask questions over a wider range of material than simple essays or short-answer questions.
I would mention you're very challenging, but fair.
Thanks, that the essence of what I strive for.
Loved this class. Worked my schedule around so I can take more of your classes.
Great! I look forward to it (even though I don't know who you are!).
Great class, lot of material covered, just boring as hell.
Yes, some of the basic material on elements of crimes can be a bit dull, but it's important as a grounding for material in the second half of the course.
I don't like how you read word for word from the book. I know how to read.
Too many study questions.
More graded work.
In this course I want the students to know very specific material. Because of that I stick very closely to the assigned text, but I don't read word for word from it. Still, some passages (definitions and such) do come right from the book, but I supplement that material with comments and explanations of my own. I also regularly include material on Iowa's version of various laws, which are not mentioned in the book.
The study questions go over the material that I want students to get out of the course. There are a lot, but not "too many." I strongly urge students to do them as they are a good and comprehensive way to review the material. If students don't do the study questions until the weekend before the test then there will certainly be too many, and I tell students this on a regular basis to get them to do them sooner.
I don't have much to say about having more graded work. I do in some courses, but in my three main judicial courses the grades are based on two tests and a paper (plus an extra credit assignment). That breaks it up nicely, but it does mean that students must stay with the material and not blow off one or more assignments.
This class is very challenging.
The material in this class is fairly straightforward (at least in the first half), but because of that I expect students know it very well. That can be a problem for some students not used to a more demanding course. Plus, as I noted in a prior comment this semester, I do want to challenge my students.
I really enjoyed this class. I found it to be challenging but rewarding. It is necessary to do the study questions & come to class. I liked coming to class. I'm not going to law school but the information from class has made me a more imformed citizen. Thanks, loved this class.
Thanks! Yes, doing the study questions is important. Sometimes students think they can skip class because I stick so close to the text, but it's in class where I explain the material. One occasional complaint about the course comes from students who aren't planning on law school and don't see the need for learning about elements of crimes and criminal procedures, but this student hit on exactly the value of this information for those not interested in law school.
Be more receptive to questions.
I'm very receptive to questions. The problem is that I don't get many of them. I'm not overly keen on the "will you repeat that" question if it's something in the book, but I'm happy to have students ask substantive questions.
Students asking more questions also allows me to talk less. In the second half of the course we cover Supreme Court cases and the course turns from lecture-based to discussion-based. That would involve me talking less and students more, but it's often difficult to get them to engage.
I think it is unfair to be read aloud a textbook when we are paying thousands of dollars for class.
Whew! Good thing I don't just read aloud from a text book then! (See above comment/response from this semester for more on this.)
I value the information in the course, but found that test questions were unnecessarily tricky or confusing, and were often semi-arbitrary. I don't think grades in this course could ever accurately reflect effort or understanding of course content. I was thoroughly disappointed by assignment grades. Content was fine.
I expect the students to know the material for the course very well. That means they need to know the details and how to apply them in different situations. That often causes students to think the questions are tricky or confusing. I don't know if this student came in to discuss the first test, but I could have easily explained why the questions weren't as problematic as he or she believes.
I'm not sure what this student means by the assignment of grades. At the time evaluations were done the students only had one grade in the books (paper and second test still to come). My guess is it's a complaint about how he or she did on the first test.
An unusual set of circumstances preceded my teaching this course this semester. It's a long story, but the short version is that I hadn't planned to teach this course and it wasn't until very late spring semester that it was put on my fall schedule. The department DEO at the time (I think his name was Lucius Malfoy) wouldn't let me teach in my usual time periods, so that meant that there were hardly any days, times, or classrooms left. The result was that the course got little or no advance "advertising" and was slotted for Thursday evenings. The enrollment ended up being very low (for this course) and there seemed to be more students who just took it because it fit into their schedule (i.e., not overly committed to the course or material). This became evident during the semester when attendance was really poor. There were a handful of students who regularly attended and a few more who showed up fairly regularly, but others who I rarely saw. There were, in fact, two students who basically skipped the whole course but surprised me by showing up for the final exam. The running joke each week when I came into the classroom was whether we had a "quorum" that week. That's one reason, by the way, that the questionnaire portion of the evaluations for this semester had only five entries (even though I announced in advance, as I always do,when we would be doing course evaluations). Not surprisingly, that's why there are only two written evaluations for this semester.
I thought there was a lot of material to cover so relying on class notes wasn't enough to succeed but because three was so much to cover, class seemed a little too fast paced for me to keep up sometimes.
For the lectures in this course I stick very close to the material in the text (as others in prior semesters have complained about). I think this student is correct that at times we move pretty fast, but that's due in part to my assumption that they have the text and know what's coming--or should I not assume they've read the material before class? ;)
In addition, if students aren't asking questions then I just keep going until the material for that week is covered. That can sometimes make it seem that we are moving fairly quickly.
Change the test format for those who struggle more with test-taking. For example, have more questions rather than just 33 in order to cover more material and increase the chances of a higher score. Instead of just multiple choice, add assay questions and short answers. This would reflect the writing portion on the LSAT. If you have multiple choice questions make them 1-4 instead of 1-5.
I understand the concern about those who have a harder time with multiple-choice tests. What's odd about this comment, however, is that he or she is suggesting my tests be more like the LSAT, which is mostly multiple choice. I don't design my tests to be "comprehensive" in the sense of my trying to put everything I expect the students to have learned on the test. Rather, I see it as a sample of the material they should know. I do try to hit topics I emphasized in class a little harder on the test, but there's always the possibility that a student wouldn't have remembered one bit of information or another. Of course, that's even more of a problem with essay and short answer questions that cover an even narrower range of material. The last comment is interesting as it's the first time anyone has requested four rather than five options for the questions. Mathematically, if one is guessing on the question one fewer response increases the chance of a correct guess from 20% to 25%, but I can't imagine that is the point the student is making.
This class is the easiest of the "Hagle Courses." I strongly preferred reading and discussing cases to reading the text, although the book was very straightforward. This is a fun, pertenent[?] class that I would recommend to anybody.
I've always thought that my Judicial Process (30:153/POLI:3121) was easier, but it does require more notetaking, so maybe this is easier in terms of work. Either way, it's a good introduction to criminal laws and procedures and in the second half of the course I have the students read several edited Supreme Court opinions.
This student apparently took my Con Law course before this one. That makes it understandable to want more discussion and less lecture. I generally recommend that students take this course first so that they have a bit more exposure to legal terminology and some experience with reading court cases. That helps to prepare them for how I run the Con Law course, which is more like a law school course in terms of its format.
I think the material is valuable I just wish it was presented in a more interesting manner. I often found myself very bored. A topic like criminal law lends itself well to an example-driven model and I would like to see it more in this direction.
There are two aspects to this comment worth following up on. The first is the desire for examples. Actually, the book is full of examples and I mention many that aren't in the book. Although that's true for the first half of the semester when we are going through the elements of many crimes, it's particularly true for the second half when we start reading some Supreme Court cases at the end of each chapter. There could hardly be better examples of the concepts than the cases on which they are based. Aside from that, this course lays the ground work for the Con Law course that is exclusively based on cases.
The second aspect of this comment is the bored part. More and more students are using laptops in class and, unfortunately, many are not using them just for taking notes. That means they are either distracted by whatever else they are doing, or are too willing to let themselves become distracted if they find the class "boring." Although I don't try to make my courses boring, I also don't shoot for the entertainment factor. If students are used to being entertained then my courses may not be a good experience for them. As a teacher, I may complain about some students not paying enough attention in classes, but I also have to recognize that the overall norms may be changing.
1) I've taken this class before while I was ill. I obviously did not pass the first time. This time I am able to study much more and focus on the abundance of material presented to us in class. What I feel would help students understand more is if we had short writing assignments throughout the semester. The paper did a wonderful job of helping me actually understand the terms and how the law works. I feel like studying law is kind of like a math class; you really have to practice and read over the material in a critical manner. And that's exactly what I did while writing the paper. I definitely think you should have writing assignments for points in class, especially for students who do not perform well when taking MC [multiple choice] tests.
I'm glad this student found the writing assignment to be valuable. It's understandable for some students to want more writing assignments. I've designed some of my courses to be based more on writing and discussion. Unfortunately, to be effective such courses usually need to have a smaller enrollment and there's a general desire to stay away from such small enrollment courses. Another reason I use multiple choice tests is that they allow me to cover a much broader range of material than either an essay test or a writing assignment. Short writing assignments would usually have to be narrowly tailored and would simply not provide the coverage of the material that I think is necessary for a full understand of the course topics.
By the way, although this student started the comment with "1)" there was no "2)."
I've really enjoyed this class! I've learned a lot and I can apply it [to] other classes and non-academic situations, too.
I wish we could have done more case studies. I know this class is structured differently than ConLaw, but I think it would be helpful to have book readings and immediately had cases readings relating to the material covered, not just at the end of the chapter
I wish there was more "Socratic method" -type teachings. Maybe not as intense as ConLaw was. But going straight through the book, I don't think is as beneficial as posing questions and having students formulate answers.
Thirdly, as this is a "pre-law" class, I strongly wish there had been more writing opportunities I liked the paper assignment, but if there was a way to have another one or more, shorter writing assignments, I'd love that.
Other than those three things, I've really enjoyed this class, and I think its wonderful that Professor Hagle is almost always available to answer questions or offer advice.
As always, I'm glad this student enjoyed the class. Let me comment on each point raised.
As I suggested above with a prior comment, having this class after my Con Law courses can be a bit of a let down in terms of how the material is presented. I basically structure my courses so that the best order in which to take them is Judicial Process, Criminal Justice, Con Law. That sequence isn't required (and isn't always possible given course scheduling), but it does lead students through levels of understanding about legal terminology and cases to get them ready for the law school experience (and my research course). Often those who liked the discussion format of Con Law are let down a bit by the greater use of lectures in this course.
That gets more at the student's second point, on the first point, the structure is such that I need to cover a lot of material in the first half of the course that doesn't lend itself as well to using cases, particularly given the amount of material to be covered. That said, the book certainly gives plenty of examples (i.e., cites cases) and the students could certainly look them up if I don't spend time on them during lecture.
This comment also seems to hint at how the second half of the course is structured where we read the chapter then the cases at the end. One problem with this is that the chapter covers each of the cases later discussed. I think what the student is suggesting is that rather than waiting until the end of the chapter to discuss the cases that we discuss them as they come up in the chapter. That's not a bad idea and I'll have to think about it a bit. I like to do the cases together as it puts students in "case mode," but discussing them as they come up might also help to break up the lectures more. I may have to give this a try.
Note-taking is rather difficult. I feel there needs to e something that can help facilitate learning rather than reading the book. Powerpoint slides or some sort of outline should be used.
Of my three main classes this is probably the easiest one in terms of note taking. My lectures directly follow the book (and sometimes students complain about that). If the student has read the chapter in advance--ahem!--he or she should have a good idea of where the material is going. In addition, the book and materials available on the web for it provide outlines and summaries of the material. Plus, the extensive study questions provide a guide to the points that will be made in class (and can be considered an outline of sorts).
There was so much content & the chapters were very long I think lecturing so close to the textual material was not beneficial because it didn't increase understanding.
Like I said in the previous comment, some complain about my sticking close to the text in lectures. My purpose in doing so is to be sure that the students understand the material. During lecture I highlight certain points, bring out others, and bring in additional examples, particularly those involving Iowa. There is a lot of content, which is another reason I stick to the book so that students know exactly what they are expected to learn. It's also why I provide the extensive list of study questions. I would quibble, however, with the notion that the chapters are long. A few chapters are long, but most in the first half of the course are only 20-30 pages long, which is much to read per week. The chapters we cover in the second half are longer, but we also spend more than a week on them. Of course, those page counts don't consider all the pictures, sideboxes, etc., that the book also contains. In other words, the reading load is really pretty light for this course.
Enjoy examples given in class not stated in the book.
I stick pretty closely to the text for this class, but I do try to provide plenty of additional examples to highlight what's in the text.
I took this course because it was part of my major & because I thought it would be interesting. I was unpleasantly surprised. The tests were WAY [with three underlines] too hard and I don't believe they showed, fairly, what I truly learned in the class. Professor Hagle is obviously a very smart & prestigous teacher, but his teaching methods could improve. He talks too fast, so it's hard for me to keep up with notes in class. He also only talks. There is no powerpoint, so for us student who are visual there is no hope. I think multiple choice tests are okay, but he should add a short answer section so those who are bad at MC have a chance of a decent grade on tests.
I don't know that this specific course is part of any major, but it is one that Political Science majors can take. On the whole it appears that this student took the course for the wrong reasons and was unhappy because it turned out to be more work than he or she expected.. (Choosing a course because it seems interesting isn't necessarily a bad reason, but there should be a strong motivation.) I tell students the first day of class that the tests are multiple choice. I explain why I give multiple choice tests and I give them help and advice in how to take them (particularly my tests). This student should have spoken to me if he or she had a serious problem with such tests. In addition, one purpose of the paper assignment is to make sure that the course grade isn't based entirely on the tests. I tell the students that the tests are likely harder than multiple choice tests they've seen in the past, but they aren't "too" hard even if they might be quite hard for some students. I stick very close to the text for this course (and I've sometimes gotten complaints that I just read from the book), so students don't need to take extensive notes (unlike, for example, my Judicial Process course). Even so, being able to take good notes is a good skill to have. One cannot always rely on PowerPoint presentations to do the work for you.
The paper was kind of boring--too easy (maybe a good thing).
I can't remember if you did this, but you should tell students in beginning to read Helter Skelter during 2d half. It is more relevant now, but I forgot much of it.
Not quite as interesting as your other classes, but still a good class and I'll miss your classes!
I'll have to remember the advice about Helter Skelter.
Glad you enjoyed them!
You should make A-E on your evaluation a uniform scale so your answer aren't skewed.
Excellent course. The study questions are a great resource, they force you to study & think about the material instead of just reading it. Hagle does it again!
The comment about the multiple choice portion of the course evaluation could be referring to one of two things. The first possibility is that unlike the standard forms I switch the order of the responses so that a "good" response isn't always first. This is something basic to survey research and something that should be well known to any social scientist. The purpose of varying the response order is to make sure that the respondent is actually reading the questions and responding appropriately and not just running down the list filling in all "good" or "bad" responses. It's always struck me as odd that the standard course evaluation forms for CLAS don't follow standard survey construction practice. The second possibility is that the particular responses don't use the "agree strongly" to "disagree strongly" format for the standard form. My responses pertain to the specific questions I ask and get at information that I think will be helpful to me.
I did not understand the purpose of Question 15. Course material isn't controversial.
[A second comment concerned the TA.]
Question 15 on the multiple choice portion asks whether I presented the material fairly and didn't give too much emphasis to one side or another. This question is probably a bit less relevant for this course than it is for my Constitutional Law course, but even here I try to make sure that I strike a proper balance between law enforcement and defense, particularly at the end of the course when we are discussing Supreme Court cases.
[First comment dealt with the TA.]
As for this course--I think it is great, it builds on others nicely and gives a good foundation for these aspects of the legal field. I feel like I have a good base for going to law school and criminal law!
This is exactly one of my goals for the course. Those going on to law school will get into this material at much greater depth, but this course will give them the basics in terms of legal terminology, elements of basic crimes, and the structure of the system. That foundation should get students off to a good start when they have Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure courses in law school.
Good Job teaching
Hagle is pretty awesome, BUT, I'd like 10%-20% of our grade to be participation.
I have a portion of the course grade based on participation on a couple of my other courses, but this one doesn't really lend itself to it. The class is all lecture during the first half. In the second half we have more class discussion on some of the cases we read, but there isn't a good way to grade individuals on their participation. That said, I usually have a good idea of who participates and it's one of the unofficial things I consider when assigning grades.
Good class looking for[ward] to taking more of yours
Great, I hope this student was able to do so.
Overall, this is a great course. Hagle is always well prepared and the course is very organized and logically laid out. The paper assignment really gave me a more nuanced understanding of the textbook material. I personally don't use the study questions, but I'm impressed with the amount of time that was spent creating a student study aid. I have and will continue to recommend Hagle's classes to other students.
I wrote a good review for you on ratemyprofessor.com!
The course pack would be easier to navigate if there was one consistent numbering system, from cover to cover.
I wish we could get our paper grades back sooner.
Can you get someone to do something about the handdryers in the bathrooms in this building? They're a joke.
Thanks for a great semester!
I'm glad this student enjoyed the course. The paper assignment gives students an opportunity to apply the crimes we read about to a factual situation. As this student suggests, it's one thing to know the elements of crimes and a bit different when you have to actually apply them to some situation where not all the facts and evidence might be clear or available.
I've looked at the ratemyprofessor.com site a few times, so it's good to know a positive rating was left to balance a couple of the negatives ones I've seen before!
The coursepack for this course is a little different now than it was for this semester, but I still start the numbering for each section with 1 given that the cases it contains are in separate files. I'm actually working on a comprehensive numbering system for one of my other coursepacks, so maybe I will do so for this course as well.
I always make sure that the graded papers are returned to the students by the last class period. That usually allows me (or my TA) three or four weeks to grade them. Depending on the size of the class and the papers I have for other classes, it often takes that entire period to get them done without rushing and to ensure that the students get sufficient comments to understand the grading.
I understand the hand dryer comment as a couple of them in the ground floor restroom are pretty weak. The instructions for them should be: 1. Hold hands under dryer. 2. Rub hands vigorously. 3. Wipe hands on pants.
You pass out far too many review questions--its ineffective because they just cover everything we learned instead of emphasizing just he key points, or what is on the test.
This is funny. I provide students a long list of study questions, about 600 for the semester divided roughly into half for each test. The questions do cover all the material we cover, which, as I tell the students, is what I want them to get out of the course. I also tell them that the test is a device to sample the level of their knowledge. It's not, for example, a competency test looking to determine whether students have attained some minimum level of knowledge. Basically, this student seems to only want to know (or learn?) what will be on the test. Well, everything we cover in the course is fair game for the tests and pretty much everything we cover in class is covered by the study questions, so . . .
Very good course. I appreciate that you had greater expectations for students than most professors at this university. Thanks!
Actually, I do have fairly high expectations for my students. Given that 90+% of the students in my courses are planning on or thinking about law school, it means they tend to be a bit more focused than others might be. Aside from more focused students, I also want to make sure that they are prepared for the rigors of law school, which means that I ask a bit more from them.
Challenging, but very rewarding. Course requirements are clear and amount of work is fair. Pretty interesting class.
This is along the same lines as the previous comment. Again, I appreciate that most students find value in the course. I think if they are challenged a bit they will get more out of a course.
Narrow down Study questions, there is way too many of them.
Test Question are too confusing, Each question should just have one right answer that is true instead of finding things that are false.
Aside from my reply to the prior study question comment above, I often get the "too many" comment. I even talk about this at the start of the semester in all the courses in which I have the extensive list of study questions. I tell them they can use the study questions or not, but that they are a very good overview of the material covered, and a strong indication of what I want them to get out of the course. I strongly recommend that students at least every week and not wait until the last minute. Those who wait until the weekend before the test will certainly be unhappy looking at a list of 300 or so questions, but trying to cram everything in at the last minute isn't the way to approach the material in this course.
Each question does have just one correct answer. Basically this student seems to want easier questions. That's understandable, but one of my goals for students in the course is to get them to pay very close attention to details because that is critically important in the law (and especially in criminal law). The multiple choice questions on my tests are designed to make sure students can make sometimes fine distinctions. (Some questions are designed to be very easy and others very hard, in other words, there a range to their difficulty.) Students are aware of this before the tests as I give them a handout on taking my multiple choice tests as well as up to three practice quizzes during the semester.
Our instructor, although very knowledgable in the material, went WAY too fast. Lecture could have been more interesting & thought provoking if he opened floor for questions it seemed very rushed. We pay for class & I felt that this class could have been taught better if he encouraged more discussion. Somewhat condescending. -->made me not want to participate in fear of getting laughed at
In this course I stick very closely to the material in the textbook (and sometimes get accused of reading from the book or my notes as in the next comment). That means that students know exactly what material I will cover in class. I add to, elaborate, and more fully explain what's in the text, but I also encourage students to ask questions. In fact, I really like them to ask questions so that I'm not always appearing to read from my notes or text! Aside from that, in the first half of the course I present a couple of elaborate examples in a discussion form and in the second half of the course we cover some Supreme Court cases that I present in a discussion format. Thus, even though there's isn't a formal discussion component to the course there's certainly an opportunity for students to do so if they wish.
Which leads to the second comment. I sometimes see comments along the "condescending" lines. I certainly don't intend to be condescending to students. I do, however, try to keep the mood in the class light and inject a bit of humor into discussions (when appropriate). That will sometimes take the form of kidding around a bit as I try to move a stray comment back on topic.
Prof Hagle knows the material forwards and backwards but his teaching style doesn't convey the information in a manner that helped me learn. Reading straight off your notes in class is boring and not conductive to learning. I like Hagle. He's tough, but he could make this class so much better than it is because the topic/material is so interesting.
As I've said before, for this course I follow the material in the the text very closely. My notes add a fair amount of information to the text, but, admittedly, I do need to read straight from my notes at times, particularly when I am reading sections of statutes or several sentences from a case. Still, I understand the complaint here and I continue to make an effort to improve in this area.
Please try to make the course more interesting.
Reading from the book as part of the lecture might be efficient, but it is also discouraging to the listener.
I suspect this student wants the course to be more "entertaining" rather than "interesting." Either way, there are very few times when I read things directly from the book. My lectures do follow the book very closely, but I also add things to the material in the book, add emphasis or explanation to other things, and generally offer an opportunity for students to ask about things they don't understand.
I think there is a lot of material covered and more tests to break it up would be helpful. The small number of questions on only 2 tests is very challenging, especially considering the difficulty of the questions. Overall very good course and good to see an instructor that actually knows what he is talking about.
The concern about the number of tests relative to the amount of material is one that comes up somewhat regularly. Aside from the fact that more tests take away from class time that could be used for discussion or lecture, the tests aren't intended to be comprehensive representations of the material. Rather, they sample the material the student should be learning.
Professor Hagle is an effective instructor due to his engaging demeanor and openness to class discussion. This class was somewhat difficult, but that is to be expected in an upper level class. The study questions in the course pack greatly helped to offset the difficult nature of the subject matter. Whoever complains about their grade is likely someone who did not take advantage of this effective study tool provided by Professor Hagle.
I'm glad this student found the study questions useful. In this course (like 30:153) they provide a good review of the material. If a student works through the questions he or she should do very well on the tests.
Much easier to grasp than 116. [Deleted a comment on the TA.] I would recommend this over 116, and to be taken before 153.
There's no doubt that 30:116 is the more difficult course given that it deals exclusively with reading and analyzing cases. We read some cases in this course, but they are easier and are described first in the text, so students know the main points before reading the case. I'm a little surprised that the student thinks this course should be taken before 30:153, but the two are about the same level of difficulty.
Would be nice to know test score before last class before final.
This is a strange comment. If the student is talking about the score on the first test (there is no final, just a second test), the students get their scores the next class period after the test. There are often students who skip that class, but I always email the entire class to tell them they can pick up their results (which most do the next class period). A few students never bother to get their test scores. Although some of these are students who have dropped the course, there are a few that never pick them up or ask about them. That always seems odd to me, but it's the student's choice. If this student is referring to the scores on the paper, it's true that they are given back the last class period. Given the time it takes to grade the papers, which means putting useful comments on them, it takes effort to make sure the papers are given back to the students before the second test (particularly in a large class). I know some instructors that do not hand back papers until finals week, but as an undergrad I always appreciated knowing my situation going into the last test, so I make it a point to make sure my students have that information.
Fall 2007 (S&E)
You are so much more intelligent than [an instructor who taught this course while I was at DOJ]. You articulate everything very well. I appreciate that you stick to the text of the book, however, anecdotal teaching seems more effective for myself & my friends.
I'm guessing that "anecdotal teaching" means telling stories to illustrate the points in the text. If so, I do that, but apparently this student would like more, and that's fine.
The only issue I had with the course is that the 1st test only had 30(?) questions over 8 chapters of material. That is an extremely large amount of material for so few questions. To make it a little more tolerable, I would either divide the 1st half of the course into 2 tests over 4 chapters each or just have more questions on the 1st test to give the student the opportunity to still do well if they had trouble with the large amount of material!
This is an interesting comment. I think that it is based in part on the notion that the test should cover all the relevant material. Some tests do this. (The bar exam that law students must take to practice law and similar qualifying exams are examples.) Other tests are used to sample the student's knowledge. As I tell students, I see my tests as the latter. I expect them to know quite a bit of material. To test that expectation I put together tests that sample the material that they should know. The results on this sample given an indication of how well the student knows the material, including items not directly covered on the test.
Aside from that, the paper assignment is drawn from the first half material which gives students an additional opportunity to demonstrate their understanding.
I wish the test questions were more reflectant of the study guide questions. I spent a lot of time focusing on the study guide questions as you suggested but still did not do as well on the test as expected. There seems to be a lot of general information and specific test questions. Also, further direction on the paper would have been helpful. I was not sure if I were writing it correctly or not.
Everything on the tests are mentioned in the study questions. Although I tell students that if they work though all the study questions they should do well on the tests, that's certainly not a guarantee as it still depends on whether the student is getting the study questions correct--and remembering the material for the test.
For this course I provide a sample paper assignment and two sample papers. In addition to the presentation I give explaining the paper, students can certainly ask questions about it if they are having trouble.
The course material is very interesting and will be helpful for future studies/attending law school but method of presentation made material feel dull. I would have preferred more class interaction/discussion of topics. There were times that I felt class was pointless to attend b/c it was just a recitation of passages from the book. I feel class would've been more beneficial if it would have provided more/different info than what was in the book.
I approach each of my main courses (30:116, 30:153, and 30:158) differently. In this course I stick very close to the text, though I don't actually read passages from it. Even so, I regularly add to what was in the book by discussing current cases in the news that hit on the topics. I also add in plenty of material about how Iowa handles the various offenses covered. There are also usually students in this class who have some real world experience, or at least enough info from what they've seen in the news to be more willing to ask questions. I like to discuss such things, but it still depends on the students' willingness to participate.
I'm so glad Professor Hagle is back. He makes learning about judicial politics and the justice system very interesting. He could run circles around [an instructor who taught this course while I was at DOJ].
I'm glad to be back; wearing a tie every day was really getting to me.
Break study questions down by chapter.
The study questions follow exactly the material in the text. It should be very easy to see where the questions for one chapter end and those for the next begin.
Enjoyed material but thought the cases could use much more discussion. The book seemed to prevail over the cases and the cases were confusing to someone like myself who has not taken 116.
The first half of the semester we just cover textual material. In the second half we also read some Supreme Court cases. I try to use these cases to generate some discussion, but the students are often uninterested in talking about them. The few cases we read in this course are good preparation for all the ones covered in 30:116. They can be confusing regardless of which class a student has first, but the ones in this course are relatively easy, but certainly more difficult than straight text.
I felt the paper was set up poorly where you could only get an A if you spoke with [the TA].
It's unclear what the students means by this. Speaking with the TA about the paper was a good thing, but certainly not required in any way.
I missed one class because my grandma died and hagle wouldn't let me make an announcement to the class to borrow someones notes. He told me to get them from a classmate but I don't know anyone in this class so I was screwed.
Overall I liked the class & I liked hagle. I've heard from other people that he won't give out of class help, which I found to be true.
I'm getting this posted a couple of years after the fact, so I don't recall this specific situation. My guess is that I told the student to just ask someone in the class. If this student was willing to make an announcement to the class he or she should have been willing to just ask someone sitting nearby for the notes. At the time I also had a course listserv to which students could post, and this student apparently chose to not to that either.
As for out of class help, it depends on what the students wants. I'm certainly available during office hours and at other times. I also encourage students to email me questions at other times. I'm very willing to help students, but they have to put in the effort as well.
Not enough availability for paper questions.
This was apparently a comment for my TA, but I know the TA I had this semester had a very large number of extra office hours to talk to students about the paper.
Summer 2004 (three week session)
Occasionally your answers to question did not address the actual question - but went on a tangent from the issue
The first test did not cover all material studied, but picked out random info - lucky if studied those parts or not
The study questions - helpful, but no way in hell to get through 600 in 20 days - 30 Q's a day if every day!
On the first point, yes, my responses to question can sometimes provide additional information to put the initial question and response in context. Plus, there are times when the question itself is off topic and I need to tie the response to the material.
On the second point, right. The test isn't intended to cover everything. It is designed to be a sample of the material which will provide an indication of the student's knowledge.
On the third point, students often complain about not being able to get through the study questions during the full semester. The 20 days the students mentions refers to this class being taught in the three week summer session. Even so, a three credit course in the summer is supposed to be like 15 credits in the full semester. Thus, 30 questions per day should certainly be possible.
Thank God we didn't have a paper! It seems as though since we sped through the required cases in the Course Pack that it was not really necessary and the abbreviated cases at the end of the chapter would have sufficed.
The three weeks session just didn't allow time for doing the usual paper. As for the cases, we went through those as much as we do any other semester. The difference was largely a lack of willingness of this rather small class to discuss them which made it appear that we were going through them quickly.
The class was good, but for a three week class, the amount of information that was on the test was a little overwhelming at times
As much as possible, the amount of material shouldn't depend on whether the course is taught in the summer or during a regular semester. Of course, the shorter semester, particularly the three-week session, means that you have to go through the material much faster. That doesn't affect each day's pace, but it does mean that the sessions are longer and every day. That means students don't have as much time to "think about" the material from one class period to the next. The amount of material for one course in the three-week session should be about the same as five courses during the regular semester, but focusing exclusively on one course can nevertheless give the impression of being rushed.
The study Q's were helpful in preparing, however it probably would have been more beneficial if there weren't quite as many. It was difficult to try and answer them in a 3-week course.
I tell students at the start of the semester that I often have students tell me that there are too many study questions (about 600 for each of my courses). I then tell them if they feel that way, don't do them! The study questions are a way to review the course material and see what I want them to learn from the course. It's their choice if they don't want to use them as a study aid. This student also refers to the fact that this course was taught in the three-week session. As I mentioned above, however, one three credit course in the three-week session is like five in the regular session, so the number of student questions was effectively the same.
Fall 2003 (S&E)
Study questions were very helpful
Good. Students often complain that there are too many of them, or that they are too hard, but they do cover all the material. If you really work with them you should be well-prepared for the tests.
I really appreciate that the instructor takes time to research what he is lecturing about and information on current issues/statistics/etc. It really relates the material to real life.
I thought the paper was a little too hypothetical. It was almost as if anyone could have been charged with any crimes if . . . certain elements. Maybe try to make the fact case more concrete.
I'm very glad this student recognizes that I bring in a lot of material to supplement what's in the main text. In addition to just keeping up on certain statistics (e.g., the number of people in prisons and on death row), there are usually a few high-profile criminal cases in the news that raise issues on topics we've covered in class.
The comment on the paper assignment is accurate, though that's the point. They get a factual situation and are asked to analyze it in terms of the crimes we covered in class. They certainly can't get enough information in the two pages of facts to be able to reach conclusions about whether someone is guilty of a particular offense, so they must work through the elements of the offense and discuss what can be shown, what needs to be shown, what evidence is available, etc. Basically, the fact statement just gives a context for a discussion of various criminal offenses.
Spring 2003 (S&E)
I don't have any comments for this class. It was a large class, so there should have been some written comments. I'll have to see whether I just didn't get the copies.
Fall 2002 (S&E)
Maybe find a video clip or two to help emphasize a point if possible, to break away from lecture for a while.
This was Saturday & Evening class, and smaller than usual, so there wasn't that much discussion of the topics. That meant it was mostly be lecturing for up to nearly three hours some nights. Even if I can't come up with a video of some sort, something else to break it up a bit on long nights would be a good idea.
The examples of crimes that you make up are very helpful. Especially when you designate at what different points the crime is at depending on what time of the commission.
A very interesting course. A very challenging instructor.
Enjoyed this class and the instructor immensely! :)
I contacted Prof. Hagel about a question not related to the course--he went out of his way to provide me info about this question. This was very helpful!
Interesting, but a lot of material to cover.
I think the info for this class is very interesting, but it wasn't effective for me to just have you read basically the same info out of the book. I might have learned more if I could actually applied it more.
This complaint is usually made every semester. I do stick close to the text, but during the second half of the semester we cover some cases and I approach them much like I do in 30:116 where I try to use a strictly Q&A format. Unfortunately, and like previous semesters, I got no where with this approach in this class. Although I told students how were going to approach the cases, and several students in the class had been in 30:116 the previous semester, it was still like pulling teeth to get anyone to discuss the material.
Very happy overall w/ the class. The professor does an excellent job w/ the subject matter.
Fall 2001 (S&E)
There were no written comments this semester.
Course was very interesting, and I think you are the best lecturer I've had. But it got a little hard to get motivated to read & come to class when all we did was read the book, especially w/ class so late in the day. A question/answer or discussion format (like 116) was much more enjoyable & beneficial.
I do still very close to the text, but each semester I bring in more examples--as a few folks who didn't come to class found out come test time. I'd like more discussion, but it's largely driven by the students' willingness to participate. That's less of a problem in a "regular" class (i.e., not Saturday & Evening), but also harder given the larger size. I think that students who had 30:116 will be more likely to want the additional discussion, though I often get complaints there about the discussion!
It would be much better if you did not read directly from the text.
This is a common theme. The odd part is that during the second half of the semester we cover some cases and I approach them much like I do in 30:116. In other words, I try to use a strictly Q&A format. Unfortunately, I got no where with this approach in this class. Although I told students how were going to approach the cases, and several students in the class had been in 30:116 the previous semester, it was still like pulling teeth to get anyone to discuss the material.
More law-related classes!!
I teach three such courses, but there are two others that are on the department's list that I no longer teach for lack of time. Maybe someday.
Should move paper assignment before first test. It would be more helpful that way.
Re-word the tests.
Prof. Hagle specializes in tests that are not easy to understand, not hard tests.
On the paper, it would be hard to give the assignment before the first test because the students wouldn't have any material to write on. On the tests, I tell students that I want them to know the material very well. The questions on the test are worded to determine their understanding. As a result, several folks each semester complain about the wording, that they are "tricky," etc.
One of the best classes I've taken @ Iowa. Very useful in understanding the legal system and I look forward to take Constitutional Law.
It's amusing to see the last two comments next to each other. One wonders whether they were in the same class! Of course, it also makes one realize that you can't please everyone.
Would have liked to see the paper cover topics in 2nd half more so than 1st, possible appeal preparation?
That would be fine, but there just isn't time. I have to make the papers due early enough in the semester to allow time to grade them and get them back to the students before the end of the semester. That basically means the paper assignment has to cover the material from the first half of the semester.
Fall 2000 (S&E)
The paper was a bit excessive. Some of us students aren't wanting to be Pre-law or even law students & I think that was the route the paper was directed towards.
The essence of the paper assignment was to apply what they learned about various offenses (assault, perjury, murder, etc.) to a factual situation. As I explain in class, this isn't too much different from someone sitting at home who sees a story about a crime in the news .
More classroom discussion should be encouraged--professor shouldn't read from the textbook so much
More examples could be used to illustrate ideas.
Professor not very sensitive/sympathic to needs, problems of students, could work on personal skills.
Tests not very well-written; felt prepared for test but questions were poorly worded and confusing, too many obvious trick questions (and those are productive for no one).
Professor was knowledgable and had a sense of humor.
Let me take the first four points in order. First, I don't read from the text, but I do stay very close to it as I go through the material. I stop regularly to see if folks have questions, but folks usually don't (particularly in S&E sections).
I actually do this quite a bit, and certainly provide them when someone has a question about a particular item. Still, I can always work on providing more.
This is an example of where details would be very useful. Without details I don't know whether the problem was something fixable or whether it was specific to this student or something I did in class.
I don't write my tests any differently when it's a Saturday & Evening section, so I get even more folks that think the tests are too difficult, tricky, etc. I provide an extensive list of study questions (600+) and three practice quizzes so my tests shouldn't come as a complete surprise. Of course, not everyone bothers to take the practice quizzes or work with the study questions.
The course material could be significantly more interesting with some class discussion/Q&A, etc. as opposed to 2h-45min lecture.
I agree (even if we only went the full time once or twice during the semester). Again, I am eager to take questions to make it more interesting for me as well, but folks are often unwilling to ask them.
Fall 1999 (S&E)
I really thought the paper was difficult. It may have been directed more towards a class of pre-law or 1st year law students. It was very difficult from non major (poli sci) students.
The paper assignment was a pretty straightforward application of the offenses we covered in class to a factual situation. One doesn't have to be pre-law to do it, and I certainly don't vary the course based on whether the students are pre-law or political science majors.
Some kind of visual cues during class would be helpful.
I probably use the blackboard less in this class than I do in 30:116 (which isn't much). Some students want instructors to make things easier for them by outlining the course. The thing is, in this course I stick pretty close to the text, so it provides a pretty good outline already. Can't please everyone I suppose.
The paper would have helped with the first exam, but it was assigned after the exam.
I can't assign a paper until we've covered some material for them to write on. Also, by assigning it after the first test they have an idea of whether they understand that material and can plan accordingly for the paper.
Introduce material in class not covered in the text.
This is a common complaint. Each semester I add a bit more material not in the text, but I still stick pretty close to it for two main reasons. The first is that I pretty much like what the text covers. The second is that I tell the students that I'll stick to the text unless they have questions. Most seem unwilling to ask questions in class, particularly for S&E sections, so I end up staying with my prepared material.
I would have liked the paper assignment to have unknown participants hard to sort out what I already knew and what I was supposed to know when writing justificiations. Great course!
The paper assignment was based on the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. Although I told the students to not let the political aspects of the situation influence their analysis, some still had a hard time with it. Still, that was partly the point. Prosecutors are supposed to not let political considerations enter into their decisions, so part of the assignment was for the students to focus on the facts.
After taking 30:116, I think I was much better prepared and found the material much easier. The paper helped me to understand some general concepts better, but I found it a little tricky because it was based on a real world situation. Also, the last two questions on the first test were too tricky and I think everyone should receive two extra points.
Because there were so many students in the class that previously had 30:116, I tracked their performance in this class. On the whole, they did significantly better than the other students. One reason for this is certainly the experience of having had a previous course that also dealt with Supreme Court cases. Several students from this class have told me they will be taking 30:116 next fall and I expect that they will do better than the average there as well.
As for the rest, I must admit that I always bristle a bit when someone says one of my assignments is "tricky." Maybe it's just a difference in how the term is defined, but what a students sometimes calls tricky, I see as being able to carefully read the assignment or question. As I mentioned in the multiple choice section, the paper assignment was based on the Lewinsky scandal and some students had a difficult time putting aside the political aspects of the situation, which is something that students will likely have to learn to do sooner or later. My tests are all multiple choice, but the two questions this student mentions were based on a fact statement and they were certainly more difficult that the rest. This difficult is partly due to the lack of certainty often present in the law. During the second test one student came up and said he thought many of the questions were vague because they used words like "generally" and "usually." I reminded him that all through the course I would tell them of a rule and then list one or more exceptions. For good or bad, there are few absolutes in the law.
Very good course--enjoyed it a great deal.
Great! I'm glad you did.
I wish the questions on the tests were as easy as the ones on this sheet. :)
The student who wrote this told me he did so after the class. Although he was kidding around here, we've talked at length about my tests and he does understand why they are so difficult.
This course would be excellent as an introduction to the criminal justice system. Since I had previously been exposed to much of the material it was relatively easy for me. This, of course, is not a bad thing. Perhaps the course title, number should be changed to indicate more of an introductory aspect.
I don't get too many comments that say my course was too easy! I do think of this course as a bit easier than 30:116; sophomore/junior as opposed to junior/senior. Still, I think I would have to make it a fair bit easier to pitch it as a freshman/sophomore course. This student is also correct that some redundancy with other courses isn't necessarily bad (reinforcement of concepts, etc.), but if he or she had courses that were very similar perhaps another course would have been of more value.
Fall 1998 (S&E)
Tests are way too easy!
Humor, I get it. The difficulty of my tests is a common theme on most sets of evaluations. I purposefully make the tests difficult to get students to learn more and make the class more of a challenge. Even so, I account for the difficulty by asking extra credit questions, providing practice quizzes, and allowing students to drop the first test score.
I really liked this class--very interesting & I like the way material was presented.
1 suggestion: If tests are based so much on applying the concepts, not just an understanding, I think I needed more practice w/ that somehow.
Understanding a concept and being able to apply it are not two completely different things. I usually used examples to illustrate the points, the practice quizzes contained application questions, and the paper assignment do so as well. Still, I agree that I would like to incorporate more of this into the course and I attempt to do so each time I teach the course.
Don't make the paper assignment political in nature . . . just avoid that direction.
For the paper assignment I wrote up a fact statement that was closely based on events in the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. The assignment was to analyze the facts in light of the offenses we had studied. I emphasized several times, however, that they should ignore the political aspects of the real events. Part of the point was to get them to look objectively at the facts, regardless of emotions or politics, but a few had trouble doing so.
tests are too hard
As I said, a common theme.
Good class discussion -- current events & how this affects us made the course more interesting & important to me.
Aside from discussing the criminal aspects of the Clinton scandals, I also tried to inform the students of current court decisions. One involving a search and seizure case from Iowa that went to the Supreme Court gave me a bit of trouble in that I put a question on the second test about it and the Supreme Court issued its decision between the time I had the test printed and it was given. The Court's decision changed the correct answer for the question, so I had to make an adjustment to the question during the test--now that's staying current!
Professor Hagle is an excellent instructor--he knows his material very well & is well-prepared.
I'm glad this student appreciated my efforts, both in terms of preparation and presentation.
I absolutely appreciate the opportunity to drop the first test score. I had too many responsibilities at the beginning of the semester and would've had to drop the course if I didn't drop the first score. It's nice to see a professor actually understand that things happen that sometimes make it difficult to give 100 percent and to give students a second chance. Thank you!
You're welcome. Although I warn students about the test and give them extensive study questions and practice quizzes, it still surprises some students. It's been my policy in 30:116, and now this course, to allow students to drop the first test score and put the weight on the second test. As the student above suggests, it allows a second chance to those who didn't do as well as they would have liked on the first test--and I do look for improvement on the second test when I assign final grades.
I really enjoyed this class. The only complaint I have is the paper topic. This class covered such a wide array of topics that it was frustrating to write about perjury. Perjury is boring why not search & seizure or murder etc.
The paper topic actually dealt with many more offenses than perjury (e.g., assault, battery, sexual assault, bribery, conspiracy, solicitation, obstruction of justice). I chose the topic partly because of the range of offenses involved, but also because it was based on current events. The paper had a 10-page limit so I couldn't put too many more offenses into the fact statement for the students to discuss. Aside from the fact that perjury has been in the news of late (!), I would normally agree that perjury might not be the most interesting of topics. Unfortunately, I was limited to topics that we had covered in the first half of the semester (which ruled out search and seizure). Also, you can't always work on the most interesting topics. As many in the class were interested in becoming attorneys, a "boring" topic helps them to realize that you may not be able to refuse a case and that you have to do a good job even if the case (topic, assignment) isn't all that interesting.
I enjoyed this class a lot. I think this course material will help a lot for law school. It would be better if the class could meet for shorter periods of time, but more often. I like the study questions. I thought the paper assignment was interesting, but it might have been easier to write had it been based on a pure hypothetical instead of based on actual events. I liked the list serve for email. The professor responds quickly and thoroughly to questions, both in and out of class. Class discussions were also interesting and informative.
I agree that the two-and-a-half hour, once-a-week format can be wearing. As an undergraduate I liked such courses because I only had to go to class once a week. (I must admit that I had a tendency to skip class, but when it only met once a week, and skipping meant missing a week's worth of material, I managed to show up more often.) As an instructor I have mixed feelings about the format. I generally like having two class periods a week because it means less material is presented each session and students have a chance to absorb and think about the material during the week. On the other hand, the point of the Saturday and Evening program is to offer classes at times when folks who are busy during the day can take them. For such students it's often easier to schedule one long period per week than two shorter ones.
As for the paper assignment, during the first half of the course we covered the elements of several crimes, including assault, perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy. I took the paper assignment right out of the headlines when I wrote up a factual situation involving Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, etc. Although I stressed that the students should focus on the elements of the possible crimes and not get caught up in the political aspects of the situation, a few had trouble doing so and slipped into critiques of Clinton, the press, or others. I may eventually do more to fictionalize it, but the situation covers so many of the crimes we studied that it's hard not to use it!
I like your Buffer points on the test--it doesn't make one bad grade a disaster! :) Thanks for that!
On my (multiple-choice) tests I usually take account of the difficulty of the test by asking additional questions that can be considered a buffer or extra-credit.
I wished I would have had the other class he taught before. I felt left out at times.
The "other class" is 30:116, American Constitutional Law and Politics. I often have students in my courses that have had me for some other course. Because my undergraduate courses are all legally-related, some topics come up in more than one course. This often allows me to call on the students from a previous course to recall (or try to!) some point I made in the previous course. This semester I had about six or so students who had 30:116 the previous semester. On average they did better than the other students in the class, but that's most likely due to the general familiarity with my approach, etc. (possibly along the lines of what doesn't kill you makes you stronger). My feeling is that it would be better to take this course, 30:158, before 30:116 as I see the latter as the more difficult course. If this student takes 30:116 next fall, I'm sure he or she will benefit from having taken 30:158--and I will certainly be making comments in that course to the students who previously had 30:158.
I enjoyed the class very much. I especially enjoyed the cases--they not only provided broader understanding of the text material, but also of the Court in general. Class was always lively and I think this was the first class where I've never seen anyone falling asleep. I think this says a lot for Professor Hagle.
Well, one thing about the once-a-week format is that the break in the middle gives sleepy-heads a chance to bug out rather than having to just take a nap in class! Seriously, one of my concerns about this course was that it was going to be more lecture-oriented than I prefer and I was concerned that might not generate much class discussion. Although there were times when that was true, in general many students would ask questions or make comments on class topics that helped to generate a good amount of discussion.