347 Schaeffer Hall
Fall 2020 Virtual 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
Posted Fall 2020 course evaluations
Posted update with 2020 data for Iowa Voting Series Paper 1 (registration statistics)
Posted new book in What I'm Reading
Posted update with 2020 data for Iowa Voting Series Paper 10 (absentee days)
Posted 15 papers in Vinson Court Agenda Setting series
Posted updated Prelaw FAQ for UI students
Published updated and expanded edition of Prelaw Advisor in paperback and for Kindle readers
New book, Riding the Caucus Rollercoaster 2020, published in paperback and for Kindle readers.
New book, Supreme Court Agenda Setting: The Vinson Court, published for Kindle devices and computers with Kindle reader.
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Below are the written comments I've received the last several semesters for POLI:3121/30:153. Each semester's comments are grouped together, with more recent comments at the top. For semesters prior to Fall 2015 the comments were handwritten so I reproduced them as accurately as possible. This included spelling and grammar errors (but I didn't mark them with [sic]). From Fall 2015 on the evaluations were done online so I just copied them as is (again with no corrections for spelling or [sic] indication). Any response or comment I have will be in italics following the student's comment.
The old evaluations were done on one day in class and not a lot of students provided written comments. For the online version the students can submit their evaluations during a two week period. After the first semester the number of students doing the evaluations dropped substantially, usually including the number of written comments, though the written ones are sometimes longer than in the past.
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. Thus, my comments will just follow each part.
Most recent semesters are on top, so scroll down for older ones.
Q: What aspects of the course were most useful for your learning?
This course was extremely engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed coming to class. The outside materials were extremely beneficial. Professor Hagle gave very clear instructions on the paper and I found the style guide and checklists extremely helpful.
Glad to hear it. I provide a lot of supplemental materials for students (study questions, style guide, etc.) and if students make use of them they will get more out of the course.
Q: When this class is taught again, what changes would you suggest?
The only suggestions I have are surrounding COVID. If this had been a normal semester, I would not recommend any changes.
When looking at COVID, it would have been extremely helpful if Professor Hagle would have recorded himself during lecture and then sent these recordings to students who emailed him explaining they were missing class due to COVID (exposure, positive tests, death in the family, etc). I understand not wanting to send content to all members of the class because this incentivizes individuals to not attend in class. However, I had to quarantine for two weeks, resulting in missing 5 classes. This caused me to be extremely lost in the course even when my peers shared their notes. Nothing can replace being in class and listening directly to the professor, but having the recordings would have been helpful since COVID is often out of students' control. Talking with my peers, many of them also had similar issues. I know this affected many of my classmates as well.
Professor Hagle did warn at the beginning of the class that we would need to retrieve notes from peers if we had to miss due to COVID. He also suggested that we try to take the course next fall if that was an option for us. I will be graduating in May and have been wanting to take this class in preparation for Law School, therefore I chose to take the class knowing the circumstances.
For one of my Spring 2020 courses I recorded lectures when all classes had to go online and some students complained about it. For that reason, and some others, I decided to not record or Zoom lectures. (Can we use "Zoom" as a verb now?) Given average attendance in a normal (i.e., non-pandemic) semester some students miss several classes as a normal matter and need to get the notes from others in the class. It's understandable that students who don't ordinarily skip class would be unhappy with getting notes from others, but to compensate for the possibility of more than a few students out at any one time I placed much greater emphasis on forming study groups. I talked about them a lot in both my classes, but I'm not sure students in this class made much use of them.
I felt that the classroom dynamic did not encourage students to ask questions. I understand it was supposed to be led as a law school class, however, I do not feel as though students should feel like they are burdening their teachers when they ask a clarification question.
This class isn't led like a law school course and I never said it was. (My other fall course is, which means it's discussion-based rather than lecture.) As for students asking questions, I like them to do so in this class. Because the course is lecture-based, being able to answer questions from students helps to slow me down a bit to give the students a little break on their note-taking. I'm not sure why this student perceived that I felt burdened when someone asked a question. On the other hand, in some semesters there have been students who ask excessive questions, often off topic. Sometimes I don't mind these, but it can occasionally get to be a problem. I didn't feel that way this semester but something seems to have come across to this student.
tiny bit fast but i get why
I often get comments in this class about my speaking very quickly during lectures. Related to the prior comment, that's one reason I like questions to slow me down a bit. On the other hand, this student may be referring to the same thing as the next comment, so I'll save my response for below.
Q: What else would you like the instructor to know about your experience in this course?
I, unfortunately, was forced to miss class for two weeks due to contracting COVID-19. Because I was unable to come to class due to the risk of exposing others I missed two weeks of class material. I contacted Professor Hagle as soon as I found out that I had tested positive and I was instructed to obtain notes from a classmate. While I understand this being the case under normal circumstances as he is trying to conduct his class in a law school manner, I found it extremely frustrating that I had no access to two weeks of lectures and I was forced to rely on others' notes during this time being gone. I felt that this contributed to my difficulty to follow further lectures and to my overall understanding of the course material. Additionally, because all classes were to be remote following Thanksgiving break, Professor Hagle pushed all class material to be instructed prior to break so that he did not have to deal with teaching us online. I recognize that this has been an extremely challenging time for teachers as we have all had to adjust, but it has also been a difficult time to be a student. By cramming all the course material into the time period before Thanksgiving break I felt that the material was rushed and it was extremely difficult to keep up as his classes are entirely lecture-based with no visuals. I also felt that this made it more difficult to remember the material leading up to the final as we will have had three weeks away from the material by the time of the test.
There's a lot going on here, so let me deal with some of the specific points.
First, I never told this class that it was going to be led like a law school course.
Second, see above for my response regarding dealing with the pandemic restrictions and student absences.
Third, this was an in person class and I know several students took it for that reason. I also know that some students really don't like online learning. In this course I tend to cover less material in the second half of the semester. That usually means letting the students out early many days. I didn't go any faster this semester, but just didn't let them out early. That allowed me to easily finish the material about a week earlier than usual, so not much faster than normal.
Fourth, if this student felt lost with the material he or she didn't contact me about it.
Fifth, I agree with the point about the long time between the last class (before Thanksgiving) and the test during finals week. We talked about this in class. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to give early finals. I regularly sent message to the class. I suggested they use the extra time from our class to finish up their others at first, but then also have plenty of time to catch again with this one.
This class is challenging! It has undoubtedly helped me to become a better student and I learned a lot in this class. I enjoyed digging deep into the material to figure out exactly the issues that were at hand.
Glad you enjoyed it!
Professor Hagle is a very smart guy but is clearly a lazy tenured professor who should just retire. He literally stands in front of class and reads straight from a binder of lesson plans that he has used for years. I don't know why he teaches when he has four degrees and could be doing something else that he cares about more and probably be making more money.
Actually, I have five degrees (BS, BA, JD, MA, PhD). I was making a lot more money when I worked at the Department of Justice but when people asked me why I was returning to the UI I said it was because I missed my students. It sounds cliche, but it was true. It still is . . . mostly. ;)
This is a lecture course. As I tell students the first day of class, that means I'm mostly at the front talking. More specifically, yes, I read from the extensive notes that I've prepared over the years. They get regularly updated, but parts certainly don't change from year to year. I'm not sure what this student expects, but that's usually how it works. If I were truly lazy, I could certainly put a lot less effort into the course than I do now.
Professor Hagle speaks quite fast during lectures, and can sometimes jump from one topic to another in a way that can make it hard to follow what he is saying. But overall, I enjoyed the class.
Yes, I do speak quickly. I warn the students about this, and I do try to slow down, but probalby not enough for some students. To help the students follow along, both because I speak quickly and because we do move from topic to topic so often, I provide an outline for the material that I mention frequently. I also provide an extensive list of study questions that directly follows the lecture material. I suggest students read them ahead of time to be sure they know what some key points are, or at least do so afterward to be sure they got everything.
Timothy Hagle is a great professor. Tests were harder than I expected them to be. I thoroughly enjoyed the class. He provides a lot of outside resources that help students, especially students interested in law school. Great teacher.
The only comments on Professor Hagle's course are that he should include diverse viewpoints about controversial topics like the Hill and Ford hearings, as all articles were from a conservative POV. He seemed very quick to dismiss liberal/Democrat opinions on some issues.
Actually, that not accurate. For the Thomas/Hill hearings although the short articles on ICON were from some conservative publications, other materials on reserve and on the reading list were from either the other side or neutral journalists. There wasn't much material available for the Kavanaugh/Ford hearings, but for those and the Thomas/Hill hearings I tried to strike a balance in the lecture material I presented.
Clearly the instructor has put a lot of time and thought into the curriculum and has expertise in the field.
I also appreciate the fact that he graded the papers rather than a TA.
Thanks! (Do you think you could talk to the person who left the second comment above?)
The grading comment is interesting. At a practical level there wasn't much choice in the matter as I didn't have a TA for the course. When classes were larger and I had a TA, he or she would grade the papers. Unfortunately, a few years ago I had problems with several TAs in a row who were just not doing a good job with the papers. Part of the problem is that we haven't had any TAs in the department that have expertise in judicial topics. That makes it hard for them to do a good job grading papers. In any case, my view now is that I prefer to do them myself.
The readings were the only thing I disliked about this course. I remember one of the Anita Hill articles referred to her as a slut, and that made me really question how reputable the sources for all the readings were. I'd recommend choosing less biased authors in the future. Other than that, I really liked this course.
I spend a lot of time on the Thomas nomination and provide readings from several authors, some partisan on each side, some more neutral. The author the student mentions is on the partisan side and I warn the students about that person. The point of the range of readings is to get a sense of the politics that was going on at the time, particularly given that this semester was the one in which the Kavanaugh hearings were held and the Thomas/Hill situation was particularly relevant.
This class is incredibly interesting but I feel the way the Professor Hagle teaches is not conducive to the diverse ways students learn. He essentially only lectures and provides few guides or visuals to help follow along. I know there is an outline, and I used this outline every day of class, but it is a very bare outline and some of the points he lectures on are very nuanced, or have multiple sections, and hard to keep up with. I understand why he doesn't do this, as he wants folks to come to class, but I do feel some students, particularly students who are not great auditory learners, could benefit from something more than just standing and talking in front of a class for an hour plus each day. I think Professor Hagle is extremely educated on this subject, but often talks too fast, so that is why I think a visual may be a good idea.
Additionally, Professor Hagle comes off as very defensive from the moment you walk into his class. He has his own Rate My Professor critiques and his response to them posted on his own website. This made me feel as if he was not open to criticism, debate, or suggestions as to how to improve as a professor.
Lastly, I think Professor Hagle does his best to remain non partisan during the class, but there were times where I felt he lectured in a way that was ignorant to current issues. For example, he lectured on the Christine Blasey Ford "controversy" and was critical of the process. Instead of blaming the perpetrator for what happened to Christine Blasey Ford and holding that perpetrator accountable, he insinuated that Kavanaugh deserved the position he received on the Supreme Court. No doubt, this man was very qualified, but to not even bring into the discussion how rarely women are believed in these contexts and the sexism and victim blaming that riddled the entire process is to not give a complete or even educated view on the issue at hand.
I'm glad this student wrote some detailed comments. There's a lot here so let me respond in the order the points were raised.
The course is lecture-based. Initial online information about the course indicates this and I emphasize it the first day, so it shouldn't be a surprise. That said, I do use visual aids on occasion during the course, though not enough for some students as this type of comment is not unusual. This student mentions one of the aids I now provide, which is a topic outline for the course. I tell students at the start of the semester that note taking is an important skill and this course emphasizes that. I also know I have a tendency to talk fast, but I also leave plenty of time for students to ask questions, both during class and during "study days" where they can catch up or fill in things they missed.
It's true that I post my course evaluations (those from the UI, not the Rate My Professor website) and I point these out during the first class period. I do this to give them a chance to both see what prior students have said about the course, but also so they can see my responses. Are my responses defensive? Probably some could be characterized that way, but my explaining why I do things or pushing back on some comments would seem to be the kind of debate this student wants.
Speaking of debate, this student seems to have had a particular view regarding the Kavanaugh hearings and accusations made against him. That's fine, but he or she also seems to want me to have echoed that viewpoint. Although I work to be even handed in my presentation of material, the impression can be otherwise when dealing with hot topics. The Kavanaugh hearings were going on during this semester and aside from my mentioning them several times in class, many students were following them. Opinions were clearly divided and intense on the matter. Given the nature of the course it wasn't a topic I could skip until the intensity of the matter subsided, so it's unfortunate, but not overly surprising, that some would have preferred a presentation of the material more inline with their personal viewpoint.
I was a bit leary to take this class given some of the evaluations from students that had been posted on Professor Hagle's website. Despite these evaluations, this class has been one of the most enjoyable and challenging courses I have taken at the university. While Profesor Hagle uses only lecture materials for tests, he provides a note outline and study questions. Using both of those, I was very successful in this class. He leaves time at the end of most of his lectures to answer questions and is very helpful during office hours. This class has reinforced my desire to go to law school and I am very thankful for Professor Hagle's expertise in this area. I would recommend this course to anyone.
Thanks. It was interesting to see this comment right after the prior one. A good example of how two people can have quite different impressions of the same course.
Easily the most challenging course I have taken, Professor Hagle packs a great deal of information into each class. Though it was quite difficult, this is a great course to prepare students for law school or other graduate education. Hagle is a tough grader, and exams truly test you on knowing every detail provided in lectures. However this environment is great for preparing students for higher education, as detailed in the course description.
Yes, as I note at the start of the semester, one of my main goals for the course is to get students planning on law school ready for it. This isn't my toughest course, but as this student notes, it contains a lot of material that I think will be quite valuable to them in terms of law school preparation.
Great course and great professor. I have learned so much throughout the semester.
I'm not sure if the student wrote this or the system generated it because the student had a change of mind about leaving a comment. Oh well.
the professor talks too fast. There were some days i struggled to write things down and he finished with 15-20 minutes to spare. getting graded on more than 3 things would be helpful as well. I also did not understand how he completely skipped over Merrick Garland but spent a whole day on Brett Kavanaugh.
I've mentioned the "too fast" comment before. I actually do slow down (for me anyway) and that's especially true when there are things I want them to get word for word. Still if a student isn't used to having to take notes quickly it can be challenging.
The "3 things" mentioned are the two tests and a paper. I do have more assignments in some other courses, but for this one the division of assignments works well. If, however, someone is used to lots of quizzes and such it may not seem like enough.
I didn't "completely skip" Garland when talking about the various nominations. He got about as much of a mention as a few other Supreme Court nominees who didn't even have Senate hearings (e.g., D. Ginsburg). I did spend a whole day on Kavanaugh. There was a lot going on for the Kavanaugh hearings and I took a lot of notes, more than for any other nomination that we discuss. I was worried about this, but given that it had just occurred, the details were fresh in my mind and, hopefully, in the minds of the students, so I thought it was worth it to cover everything. In the future, once passions about it have died down a bit, I'll probably shorten the amount of time spent on that nomination.
This course is challenging, but also fair and useful.
Thanks, I appreciate that though others (see below) seem to think otherwise.
I would only recommend this class if you are SERIOUS about law school and have a basic law 101 background. Hagle does not teach from a text and the course material is very heavy. Also prepare yourself for a 615 questions study guide that really has 1200 questions.
This course is certainly aimed at prelaw students, but I tell the students the first day of class that the information (court structures, what judges do, etc.) will be valuable for those not going to law school as well. You don't have to have had prior law-related courses but if one isn't at least familiar with how our system of government works (from prior high school or intro courses) there may be more catching up needed. The set of study questions is extensive and provides a thorough guide to the course material.
In all honesty, the way Hagle teaches this class is unfair, unhelpful, and too complex. It is almost impossible to learn in class because of his teaching style. No notes, slides, presentations or anything, make it very hard to learn in his class. He dosent like to repeat himself, he dosent like to thoroughly explain things in class. Taught very lazy in my opinion. He needs to understand that it is hard to listen to him talk for an hour and 15 minutes and retain everything he has said even though he goes way too fast,dosent repeat himself, and has no notes to go off on. He gives us a notes outline that is NOT helpful in any way, shape, or form. Content of class could be presented to students in much more direct way. It is very ambiguous as to what you are being tested on. Overall, this class was HORRIBLE because of how Hagle taught it. He is very set in his ways and needs to be willing to teach in a method that is up to date with how students learn today. Please have someone audit or check on his teaching style.
There were fewer Pol Sci courses taught this semester. As a result I suspect that some students who might not have really been interested in judicial topics enrolled in this course. Unfortunately, it seemed that some of them weren't prepared for the type and amount of work necessary to do well in the course. I understand that this student was not happy with the course or my way of teaching the material, but he or she is just wrong about many of the assertions in the comment. I tell the students the first day of class that because it's a lecture-based course that mainly means me talking and them taking notes. I don't use a lot of slides and visual presentations, but there are a few. I don't lecture directly from a text, but there are texts and many articles available to supplement the lectures. It's true I don't like to repeat myself just for the sake of doing so, but I am happy to explain things in greater detail when asked to do so in class. The classes rarely went the full 75 minutes, so there was plenty of time for students to ask questions if they wished to do so. I provide an extensive list of study questions as well as two practice quizzes, so students should have a very good idea of what will be on the tests. This student mentions the lack of notes twice. I assume the student is referring to the fact that I don't provide notes for the students. I certainly don't provide notes for the students in written form as I expect them to take their own notes on the lectures. As for the course outline I provide, it seems odd that this student didn't think it was at all helpful. I put it together at the request of students in prior classes and it should help to follow along with the various subtopics and lists I present.
This class is not an easy class, and I knew that going into it. I'm a student willing to work for my grades, and this course certainly requires it. Dr. Hagle told us upfront this class was going to improve our note taking skills in preparation for law school. There is little question that it did given that he uses no visual aid and close to 90% of the material is only presented orally in lecture. With that said, I have see upside and downside to his approach to teaching.
The upside largely stems from Hagle's extensive knowledge about his subject matter. His content is thorough, and I learned a great deal about the federal judicial process. As someone not interested in law school, the course was targeted potentially a little too heavily towards those that are, but I understand. My current plan is pursuing a PhD in political science, so I think I would appreciated a stronger incorporation of theories of justice rather than the more technical courtroom procedures. I understand I'm in the minority on this view.
My largest criticism actually stems from Dr. Hagle's extensive knowledge of the subject matter also. More specifically, he struggles to communicate his knowledge in a way which realizes the discrepancy in understanding between him and his students. The culture of the classroom is that you are expected from the beginning of the semester to know background on the information on which the professor has built a career learning. (This was fortunate for me as I actually did have experience working with courts in high school.) A particularly striking example of this discrepancy to me and other students occurred when a student asked a question during lecture. The question was asking for repetition or clarification on material which had been emphasized. When hearing the question, Dr. Hagle reluctantly obliged to repeat the content he already viewed he had emphasized poignantly enough. I understand the frustration of wasting class time, but time management is not a problem in the class. Many lectures get out early. This momentary impatience can set a tone for the rest of the semester that questions are not invited, and that the learning of students is an inconvenience to the professor. This obviously discourages motivation to learn much to the dismay of the students and the professor. I largely view Hagle as a professor who wants his students to succeed, but I think he can improve if he makes a more conscious effort to show the students in his class during class that he is invested in making sure they are understanding the material he is presenting. The content is sound. The delivery places great burden on students to sink or swim on their own.
I appreciate that this student took the time to be more specific in his or her comments. That can make them more useful, especially the critical ones, than over the top generalities (such as in the prior comment). That said, I must disagree with a few points this student made.
First, it is certainly true that the course is mostly aimed at those interested in law school. At the start of every semester I ask the class how many are planning on law school and every semester the response is overwhelmingly in the affirmative. Even so, I then tell the students that the course information (court structures, what judges do, etc.) is also valuable to those not attending law school. Although the course isn't designed as a first year course, it is basically an intro course for aspects of the judicial system. I understand this student's interest in judicial theories, but that would be more appropriate for a more advanced course (though I do touch on judicial philosophies to some extent). There's a bit more of judicial theories in my Con Law course and if the students is interested in "justice" there are likely courses in Sociology or other departments along those lines.
Second, the basic point about being able to communicate what I know in a way for students to understand is a fair one. Of course, that point applies for every course and every instructor. The course material isn't really that difficult on the whole, though there are a few subtopics that are more complex than the rest. Every course begins with some assumptions about what students should know coming in. For this course I expect that students have a working knowledge of our system of government from high school or prior college courses. In other words, I don't assume that students are a blank slate when it comes to information about legal and judicial matters. Certain prior knowledge isn't absolutely necessary for this course, but if student doesn't have much background information he or she will need to work a bit harder to catch up.
Third, I recall the incident this students mentions, but I would characterize it differently. It's true that I don't like to repeat myself just for the sake of doing so. I realize I speak quickly but I make an effort to slow down and repeat things that I want the students to get word for word. I don't recall the point I was making at that time, but I did slow down and repeat it. Almost before I finished repeating the point a student who I didn't think had been paying attention asked me to repeat it a third time. This caught me off guard and I did let my frustration show, but I still repeated it a third time in a shortened form. It's unfortunate if this student and others took that to mean that I don't like to answer questions in class. I very much like students to ask questions about the material or to have me clarify something and I do just repeat points when asked.
Fourth, and following up on the point, it's unfortunate if some of the students in this class got the impression that I don't want to help them learn the material because of a single incident. I do a lot to help students learn the material. Though it isn't always appreciated by some students, the course outline, the extensive study questions, the practice quizzes, the "study" days, etc., are all aimed at providing resources and opportunities for students to learn the material. In addition to office hours, make myself available pretty much anytime via email. Unfortunately, few students take advantage of some of these opportunities. I tell students the first day of the semester that I want them to come to class. Doing so for this course is particularly important given that it is lecture-based and I don't lecture directly from a particular text. Even so, I also tell them that if they come to class that they should BE in class. By that I mean that they shouldn't be playing on their phones or using their laptops for noncourse activities. The person who wrote the prior comment suggested I should be audited. The last time I was as part of the regular review process the colleague who attended my course sat behind a student who had a golf website up during the entire period. One of my main goals in this and my other courses is to get students ready for law school. That means being able to take responsibility for doing the work necessary to learn the material. I can and will help them if they want to be helped, but I can't do it for them. The student who wrote this particular comment seems to be one of the ones willing to do the work. Those who aren't can make the process frustrating.
I think the lecturing style of Professor Hagle is not conducive to learning, however he is available to help and answer questions when necessary.
I'm glad this student recognizes that I'm available for questions, but which he or she had been more specific regarding what it was about my lectures that was unsatisfactory.
Professor Hagle is one of the hardest teachers I have had in the political science department. He has high
expectations and wants you to meet them. I enjoyed his lectures and I think he is a huge asset to the political
science department. Though his course was difficult, I never felt like it was unfair. He always answered promptly to emails and was always willing to help out with options for extra credit and such. Great professor!
I appreciate this. Most students who take my courses are interested in law school and it's good for them to experience a course with fairly high expectations.
I really liked how straightforward this course was because of how well Professor Hagle laid out the format and expectations from the beginning. Given what I had heard about his classes, I actually expected it to be more difficult, but the study questions were extremely helpful in preparing for exams since the tests dont just focus on the main ideas like most classes do. I also appreciated that Professor Hagle spread out the content in a way that allowed there to be less material covered just prior to exams and the paper due date which made everything more manageable.
This isn't my most difficult course, but it is fairly demanding. I agree that the material is fairly straight forward, so it isn't that difficult if one is willing to do the work (readings, study questions, practice quizzes).
Many of the assigned readings came from the National Review. I just wish that there was a little more diversity of thought with the opinion pieces– to me it clearly leaned conservative.
Yes, some of the articles were from the National Review, and some were from the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the National Law Journal, the Associated Press Online, the Washington Post, and so on. In fact, there are several more articles from the New York Times than the National Review. Aside from that, just because an article appears in a conservative (or liberal) outlet doesn't mean that it's necessarily political. Plus, sometimes the point is to provide a different, sometimes political, point of view.
Overall this was one of the toughest courses I have ever taken, but I learned a ton and it was interesting for my future aspirations. I would recommend this professor and this course to anyone!
Glad you enjoyed it!
This class, and Professor Hagle in general, is fantastic. It is one of the most mature classes that there is. I don't really have much for criticism, but if I had to think of something it would be to slow down a little, and also let us out a little later (as crazy as that sounds). I can't count how many times I had to leave something out on notes because it so fast paced (which is fine that is what happens in college) except when we get out of class 15 minutes early and we realize that if he would have taken a little more time to really get the point across a little better. Aside from that, great class and one of the best profs I have had, and that speaks volumes about him.
Thanks! As to the speed of the course, this is the first of a couple of comments for this semester that mentions this. I do speak quickly, though it doesn't seem so to me, especially when I get excited about the material (which is most of the time). This class is also lecture-oriented and I don't rely on a single text. That means students have to get the notes from the lectures. I leave plenty of time for questions or discussion, but if students don't ask any questions then I usually just end class early so I don't get too far ahead.
i learned so much in this class, i'm glad i decided to take it.
the only thing i had trouble with was keeping up with taking notes in lecture--you can get talking pretty quickly so it might have been helpful to occasionally have a slide on the board with the listing out the points of each category/topic/method you're going to cover since that's usually how you structure lecture. i managed pretty well, just a suggestion!
aside from that, i thoroughly enjoyed this class and learned a ton of valuable information. i only wish i had taken a class with you earlier so i could've had the chance to take more than one before i graduate.
thanks for a great semester!!
Glad you enjoyed it! On the syllabus I list nine topics for the course. In my notes I have several additional layers to each topic. I mention these as I go along in case it helps the students to organize their notes, but I tell the students that the outline is more for me given that's how I have it in my notes. The material is more important for the students rather than where it fits into some detailed outline. I only use PowerPoint twice during the semester because I'm mainly a "chalk and talk" guy, and really almost all talk. That's partly on purpose so students get some practice in note taking. Still, if students aren't used to having to outline notes for themselves it can be a challenge.
Not sure what this means. It could be the student started to write something and then deleted it so it came back as N/A. Maybe that's what the student wrote, though I'm not sure what that might mean.
Great course; I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in how the justice system functions.
Definitely a great instructor. He makes goals and concepts clear to understand. He takes the time to make sure that the information is useful by citing relevant examples for understanding. Would suggest any course taught by him.
Thanks! Yes, one of the things I work on is finding examples to illustrate the points. That also helps to slow me down a bit, and hopefully helps to generate some discussion, but given some of the other comments apparently not enough!
Professor Hagle does a great job in making sure that we understand the material. The study guide he provided has been very helpful in keeping me on task.
I really enjoyed taking this class.
Glad you liked it! Also glad you made use of the study questions. There are a lot of them, but they exactly follow my lectures, so even without an outline or class notes on ICON (see comment below) a student should be able to follow along. One bit of advice I give students is to at least look over the study questions before each class so they know what material I will cover. I'm not sure if anyone does this, but it would likely help with taking notes, etc.
He talks way too fast sometimes and makes it very difficult to keep up. I like the lecture format and material but just wish he would slow down sometimes
Like I said, a lot of comments long these lines this semester. As I noted above, I know I can talk fast, but it shouldn't be too fast for students to take notes. Without suggesting that I shouldn't slow down a bit, I do wonder if some students just aren't getting enough practice with their note-taking skills in other courses so mine comes across as more of a problem.
I found the content of this course very interesting, but the paper and exams inadequately represented what I have learned. Instead of being tested on the material, exams revolved around how well you can take a test. The paper was not assigned in order for the students to show their mastery of knowledge regarding a topic or show a level of understanding. The paper, as he stated multiple times, was to see how well our writing styles could adapt. I understand a professor stating they do not want contractions in a paper, but the list of what we were and were not allowed to write held a greater focus than the actual content.
Lots to unpack here. The first is the notion that the assignments didn't adequately represent what the student learned. That may very well be true, but that's not the right question. Rather, the question is whether the assignments adequately represent what I want the students to learn. Students sometimes have a belief that a certain level or amount of learning for a course is sufficient, but that level may not represent what I've told the students they need for a particular course or grade in that course.
The idea that the tests are about how well you can take a test is a mostly empty complaint. I give multiple choice tests and they are tough questions, not just the easy kind students may have seen in other courses. The law and legally related material rely on specifics. Although there are times when courses or questions can focus on the "big picture," in my classes I tell students to know the details and some don't like that.
As for the paper, I do emphasize the student's writing skills. That's something that almost every college course should do given how important good writing is to most professions, and particularly the legal profession. The rest of the course is about the substantive side of the paper, so spending half a class period on developing a good writing style doesn't seem too much. As for the flexibility, I make that comment because not everyone has been given the same advice on good writing and I've sometimes gotten complaints along those lines. I now tell students that you often need to adjust your writing for your particular audience. You certainly wouldn't write in the same style for, to use a legal example, a judge versus a client. In any case, I make a checklist of specific list of things to do and things to avoid in their papers. The list is fairly simple, and should be easy to follow, and yet many students just don't put in the effort to do so.
I understand the course is supposed to be difficult, but there should at least be some form of class notes available on ICON because the professor speaks quickly and moves on to the next topic the exact moment the previous one has ended. Because of this, if you were unable to type fast enough and missed a point he was talking about, and you dont know anyone else in the class, you are basically never going to know what that point is that you missed
As I noted to a comment above for this semester, taking notes is a skill that students need to develop. Doing the readings, reviewing the study questions, and then coming to class to hear the lectures and knowing what to take notes on is something they have to be able to do themselves. I understand that some classes might provide class notes to the students and that may be appropriate in some circumstances. I just don't think it is for mine.
As for missing a point in class, it shouldn't be too hard to lean over to the student next to you and ask about the point--or even to raise one's hand to ask me, which, you know, would help to slow me down. More generally, I also tell students to get a contact in the course in case they miss class and need to get the notes for that class. It seems like meeting new people is a good thing.
It would be helpful to make the outline structure a little more structured but otherwise love the course.
Glad you liked the course. I made comments on the structure issue above for this semester.
I really enjoyed this class. The only criticism I have is that it was sometimes hard to follow along with you and the study questions. Sometimes you would spend a lot of time on one and then barely anytime on another. Other than that I really enjoyed the course!
Glad you enjoyed the course. Like the general topics for the course, the study questions can sometimes be very simple factual things and sometimes very complex points. That means that they don't always need the same amount of time.
If the study questions were organized by topic or material where the answers may be found would be helfpul.
Actually, they are. The study questions follow exactly in the order the material is presented in class. Although the list of questions are not specifically divided by into sections by topic (they are just in one long list) if one is familiar with the readings or following along in class when I move from one topic to the next in class it should be easy to determine the topics, etc. Also, given that that class is lecture-based and not everything I discuss in class is in the readings, it's not a matter of finding the answers in the readings. This is all something I talk about at the beginning of the course.
I understand not wanting to wait for everyone to finish writing but way too fast @ certain points to write down let along comprehend.
Because this course is lecture-based the students must take more notes during class than in my other courses. I do tend to speak quickly, but I try to be aware of that and slow down. Still, it's not always a matter of getting down every word I say and I also encourage questions as a way to slow down the pace. Then again, if no one is asking questions I just keep rolling along.
One complaint would be for lists inside list. Some times I got lost especially if they didn't match up or we picked up a class period later. I would say for lists maybe online or board.
I certainly understand this concern. There are nine topics I cover in the course, but several of them are very long and I divide them up into sub and sub-sub topics, which I call lists. I mention the lists so students can try to follow along and group the material accordingly (and to keep my notes organized), but I also tell them not to worry about the lists, as such, but to just get the points. I don't ask them to "name the 4 whatever" in some list on test questions, so it shouldn't be something they worry too much about.
I am a visual learner this course has been very difficult for me (straight A Student) because learning & understanding such involved material is difficult when ou're only hearing it & not being able to see anything. Overall, I was disappointed in this course's style, which was very frustrating for me I would have learned much more if there were consistent visual aids.
My first response is that the student should have told me about this at the start of the semester and not waited until course evaluations. I tell students right in the syllabus, covered the first day of class, that if they have a problem with the course to talk to me about it and not suffer in silence and this is a good example of why.
As to the substance of the student's complaint, I tend to be a "chalk and talk" guy, and much more talk than chalk. The course description on ISIS indicates that it's a lecture-based course and I discuss that the first day of class. As I mentioned in my response to the first comment for this semester, in this course the students must rely on lectures more than they do in my other courses for the material. Thus, the format of the course shouldn't have been a surprise to this student. That said, a good portion of the material is in the various readings and there were times when I did use the board for various sections.
As with the rest of your/Prof. Hagle's classes, I've very much enjoyed myself. I have and will continue to recommend to everyone these courses, especially this one because the material is broad, but very informational for the average citizen. There were many times I wished the material had focused more on Iowa and that we were tested more extensively on Iowa.
An additional qualm I had was the variety of articles on the course website. I used several for my paper, but they, for the most part, were one-sided, or there wasn't a philosophical response available. I feel that inhibited my understanding in certain situations. The lack of political (abstract term, not politicking) responses available lessened the degree to which I could use this course to improve my comparative reading skills. It would have been nice to have been assigned conflicting arguments then work through the logic. However, (yes, I know I started a sentence with "however") I still feel very strongly that this was a helpful and insightful class.
My final complaint is the political (as in liberal/conservative) tone of portions of the class. I found this most often with the readings online. It is not overbearing, but because the tone is politically unbalanced, it makes my question the legitimacy and academic value of the readings. It is difficult to tell if an article is intellectual or a product of political pablum. I understand as a poli sci class a certain degree of personal opinion will factor in, but I think it is affecting the objectivity of the class more than it should. This is just a minor complaint because I'm trying to be constructive.
One of the longer and more thoughtful written evaluations. As to the Iowa issue, much of the material doesn't have a specific focus in terms of states (e.g., diversity jurisdiction, types of court opinions, judicial philosophy). I do talk about Iowa when we cover court structures and judicial selection, but there's no doubt the focus is more on the federal system.
The second and third paragraphs go together somewhat, but make slightly different points. For this course I use a mix of standard texts, several magazine and newspaper articles, plus other material. Most of the articles to which this student refers are related to the long section on Supreme Court nominations (which is also the topic for their papers). The articles do contain a mix of sources, liberal and conservative. The former include sources such as Time and the New York Times. Of course, if one doesn't see those sources as liberal then there's an apparent balance problem right from the start. In class I talk at great length about the politics of various situations and am careful to present both sides. I also clearly note the sources that are conservative in the readings (e.g., National Review). I can see where a student who is focusing primarily on the conservative (or liberal) sources might feel there is an imbalance to them, but these sources provide additional insight into the politics of the nominations.
Along those lines, I only make available materials that have a particular point to make that I believe to be of value in evaluating a particular situation. Students don't have to agree with that point, but should know it exists. That said, if they don't agree with the point being made I can see that they might characterize it as "political pa blum." I don't assign readings just for their political perspective. Still, these are good points for me to keep in mind as I select readings and present them in classes.
A power-point would help a lot. The material is abundant and the lectures fast, some written guide would help to catch up with the pace of the lectures.
This is a fairly regular comment for this class given that I don't lecture from a particular text and students have to take a lot of notes in class. Of course, for this class that's one of the skills I want them to work on. Power-point presentations might be helpful but they also tend to focus too much on a few bits of information rather than the broader picture. Plus, the extensive set of study questions for this course are in the exact order in which the material is presented. Thus, they provide a very clear guide to what material I plan to cover or do cover on a given day. The lectures can be fast, but that often depends a lot on whether students are asking questions (which necessarily slows me down and lets me expand on some particular point).
This course was very well organized. I found the material interesting. The course was challenging enough to keep me engaged, but not so challenging as to be overwhelming. Professor Hagle is a good instructor, and my advice to any future students of his would be to take good notes and do the study questions.
I'm glad this student liked the course. This isn't my hardest course, but the note-taking is extensive as I don't follow a particular text for the course. As this student indicates, doing the study questions can be very helpful in terms of making sure a student is getting the material and as an outline for the course.
#21. I put "c" because while I would recommend this course to other students I would only do so to political science students that are interested in law. Otherwise I wouldn't.
This student is referring to question 21 on the questionnaire where I ask whether they would recommend me to other students. The student seems to be referring more to the course, but that's fine. My three main courses (Judicial Process, Criminal Justice, and Con Law) all get this comment about being for prelaw students or some variation thereof. The vast majority of students in these courses are interested in law school, so I certainly talk about that, but I also talk about how the courses are also valuable to those not planning on law school. Still, if you aren't interested in legal and judicial topics and their political aspects then this probably isn't the course for you. By the same token if you aren't interested in, for example, politics and the presidency then you shouldn't take that course.
On the exams, avoid questions like both a & c and such. This makes it extremely difficult to select the right answers and should be more presice and only have 1 answer.
Well, all the questions only have one correct answer, but sometimes it is of the "both a and b above" form. Some are also of the "all the above" or "none of the above" form. These can be more difficult questions, but they also are a way to determine how well the students know the material. I use multiple choice questions, but they usually aren't the really easy kind and some do ask students to make fine distinctions--which is something fairly common in legal and judicial topics.
I enjoyed the course. I think it was mostly lack of effort on my part which made it cumbersome. I would recommend the class but emphasize the importance of self-discipline and keeping up.
Yes, I talk about this in the class, particularly in relation to the extensive list of study questions. For this and my other courses I provide a long list of study questions (600 or so). They indicate what I want the students to learn from the course and can also serve as an outline. Students who do them usually find them very beneficial, but others think they are "impossible." They certainly aren't impossible, but trying to do 300 or so study questions the weekend before the test might be. I encourage students to do them as we cover the material, but, not surprisingly, many don't.
The study questions were very helpful.
Ah, speaking of which . . . . My guess is this is a student who did them and kept up.
I felt that the test questions at times provided two answers that were correct, and the class material did not give me the proper tools to know which would be "better" in the professor's opinion. There was a times a lack of correctness to the material and the professor's viewpoint/opinion was too much a part of the exam questions.
Well, this student may have felt that there were sometimes two correct answers to the test questions, but there weren't. The questions on the test vary in difficulty, as they should. Some are quite easy, but others ask the students to make fine distinctions as a way to gauge how well they learned the material. There is always a reason why an incorrect choice for a question is incorrect. The reason why the correct responses were correct and the incorrect ones were incorrect was always in the course materials, mostly from the lectures but sometimes from the readings as well. No students came to see me about their first test results this semester but if any had I would have been able to point out where we talked about each of the items covered in the test questions. I also went over a good portion of the test results in class and I showed where students went wrong on various questions.
I'm not sure what this student means by "a lack of correctness to the material." It may be that he or she just wants easier questions on the test, but that doesn't mean that the material is vague--or at least no more so than any other area of social science. Not surprisingly, some of the material in the course does get into politics, but students are not required to accept any particular viewpoint, but they do need to recognize the various points of view.
On the whole, I think this student would have benefitted from having stopped by to talk to me after the first test. I might have been able to help him or her get a better understanding of the test and its questions.
I am a senior, (have had many professors), Prof. Hagle is without a doubt the worst experience I have had at this university. He talks in a monotone voice with no visual aids for an hour and 15 minutes. He does not engage the class and his grading scale is terrible. I would NEVER recommend any class with him to anyone EVER.
Yikes! You never like to get evaluations like this, but some people won't like your style no matter what it is. Part of the problem I have with comments such as this is that without knowing the student who wrote them I don't know what experience he or she had in the course. In other words, was this someone who attended regularly, paid attention in class (i.e., not on Facebook or texting), did the work necessary, tried to participate, etc.?
There aren't much in the way of specifics in the comment, but if I was the worst instructor this person has had at the UI then he or she has been pretty lucky. I'm not saying that I'm a great teacher or that the UI has a lot of bad ones, but I'm certainly not among the worst.
I don't talk in a monotone. I know folks who do and I'm not one of them. I had a very good public speaking teacher in high school who really drilled into me the need to vary one's tone and inflection, etc. Still, the material doesn't necessarily lend itself to grand oration and if the student thinks it's dry to start with it will be a problem.
As for visual aids, I do use some, but I don't use a lot. I'm basically a "chalk and talk" guy. That can be a problem for students who are used to classes where everything is laid out for them in a series of PowerPoint slides.
The student's comment about "engaging" the class could mean a couple of things. It might be just a general complaint about not connecting with him or her. It could also be that I don't use an interactive approach to the class. The latter is certainly true. There are a few instances during the semester where I have a class exercise of sorts, but the course is mostly lecture-based. That means a lot of note-taking. I like it when students ask questions, and encourage them to do so, but, as one student pointed out to me, given that I don't lecture directly from the texts they don't always have the time to formulate questions on the spot as I go through the material. They can, of course, ask questions later, but that doesn't help to break up the lectures.
As for the grading scale. It would have been nice for this student to have specified why he or she thinks it was terrible. I use a straight 10% scale with several opportunities for extra credit. It's certainly not the easiest scale--people do have to work to get a good grade--but it's not terrible. (Hardly surprising that I don't think it's terrible, but. . . .)
This along with Con Law have been by far my two favorite classes I've taken here at Iowa. I was a little on the fence about Law School but now I'm certain it's what I want to do. Speaking with you during Office Hours revealed just how knowledgable you are about the law and politics and I find that admirable and inspirational.
One thing I would like to suggest is perhaps more leeway in selecting what to write about for the paper. [The topic] was interesting, but I felt as though I would have wrote a better paper had I been given more freedom to choose.
Thanks! (Heh. One has to wonder whether this student and the previous one were in the same class!)
The comment on the paper is interesting. In Con Law (and Criminal Justice) students get a fact statement and have to all write on the same topic. In this course the topic is more general. Students must address three general questions in their paper, but can select the overall focus themselves. As an instructor I generally like to have the students write on the same topic. That can be a little repetitive when grading, but it allows me to make better distinctions as to how well the writer has done with the material. It also prevents someone from being "punished" for selecting a weak topic. I think the thing do to here will be for me to talk a bit more about the range of options available when I make the assignment.
In regards to #19, the study questions are helpfull but they cover SO much information. I found myself stressing over answering every single study question that it was hard to narrow down what would be most important & relevant for the exam. I understand you want & expect us to learn a substantial amount but the amount may be too much - a lot of study questions that I don't know if they even really help much w/ studying, but as to just making sure we caught every little thing talked about in lecture.
I'm glad this student understands that I want students to learn a lot about the judicial process. The problem is in the expectation for what an exam means. Sometimes an exam is intended to be comprehensive, to focus on the "important and relevant" material. I tell students that that's not how I see the tests in this and my other courses. Their goal is to learn as much about the course topics as possible. I have to assess their level of learning and the exams are one of the ways I do so. Not everything important in the course will be on the test, though I must admit that the questions on the test do tend to hit "important" items more than less important ones. Still, the questions on the test are intended to sample the student's depth and breadth of knowledge about the course material. I tell students that they shouldn't "study for the test." Rather, they should try to learn as much as possible, and that's why I provide the extensive list of study questions. There are a lot of study questions, but they can be manageable if a student does them on a regular basis rather than waiting until the weekend before the test.
It can be difficult for students to get past the notion of "studying for the test." It's related to the notion that students are in the class for a grade rather than to learn something about the material. Basically, it's a matter of goal substitution. The goal isn't--or shouldn't be--to get a good grade. The goal should be to learn a lot and the grade will follow. I talk about this in class, but it's easier said than done.
This was a very tough and challenging course for me, but Professor Hagle was very fair. You can tell that he cares about his students learning the material. Additionally, the writing tips he provided for the paper were very helpful in this AND in other courses of mine.
I would suggest that Professor Hagle strongly recommend the supplemental readings--maybe even make them required. They were really interesting & helpful to understand the course.
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!
I felt that the articles on ICON were bias & un-academic.
The paper had us answering a Normative "should" question which can't be done analiticaly.
The articles the student is referring to are a collection of newspaper and magazine articles (and web versions) that deal with various aspects of the judicial process, particularly judicial nominations. The sources are varied in that some are clearly liberal and some conservative. What this student considers "bias" can be better described as a point of view. I selected the specific articles to demonstrate the different political points of view regarding what was happening. As such, they were appropriate even if the student didn't agree with a particular point of view.
As for being un-academic, the articles certainly didn't have to be written by academics to have value. In fact, the reporters and pundits who wrote them probably had a better understanding of the politics of the situations being described than any academics at that time. Plus, the point was to show the politics behind the process as experienced at the time and the articles did just that.
The "should" of the questions I asked students in the paper assignment was an opportunity for them to state a position on the topics and make a case for it. That can certainly be done in an analytical fashion regardless of its being a normative matter.
Prof. Hagle is very knowledgeable about the course material! It was great to have him as a professor.
I thought this was a good course. I would complain about the obscene amount of attention to tedious detail but I felt fairly warned by the syllabus, style guide and other course info provided. My one complaint is that 2 tests is not enough. The 1st test comes too late for a student to realize whether or not they are preparing adequately. There is no check up to give students an expectation of their performance early on. I would do smaller midterms or add quizzes.
As I tell the students, details count. Many courses (including some of my own) focus more on "big pictures" and "broad concepts," but there are many times when the details matter. This is particularly so in the law where a misplaced word or comma can change the meaning of some statute or regulation.
I understand this student's concern about wanting more tests. Others in past semesters have suggested more tests and I've given it some thought. One problem is that tests during the semester take up about a week of time (one day for the test and one for handing back and discussing the results). There just isn't enough time to do that given the material I want to cover. Some courses have test times in addition to regular class time. I suppose I could look into that, but there's no tradition of class formats of that type in Political Science. The way I handle the first test helps to minimize the problem the student mentions. In addition, the study questions and practice quizzes should help to ensure that students are getting the material.
Hands down the best, most prepared & interested professor I have had in my college career. I enjoyed coming to class Tuesdays & Thursdays.
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!
Sometimes went a bit too fast in lectures, hard to get all the information & follow the lecture w/o a visual aide.
I do more lecturing in this course than in my others and because the material isn't based on a specific text the students have to take more notes. If they have done the background reading they will have a better idea of what information needs to be written down, but it's still a lot. Even so, I suspect that part of the problem here is a changing reliance on "visual aides" (mostly PowerPoint, I assume). As much as such aides can be useful, notetaking is still a skill that will be helpful to students.
You go through the material too quickly. It would be helpful if you would repeat key terms/definitions more than once.
Also, you tailor this class almost exclusively to pre-law students. Please provide material that is not such a strong focus to future lawyers.
Aside from my reply to the previous comment, it's a good idea to push students a bit. I wouldn't want to go so fast that the students can't get the material, of course, but it's a good idea to challenge the students.
I always ask the students the first day of class how many are planning on or thinking about law school. About 90-95% of them always respond that they are. Even so, I go on to say why this class (or my other "prelaw" courses) is valuable to those not planning on law school. Although the material in this course will be useful to future law students, it isn't specifically tailored to them. Knowing about court structures, the politics behind judicial nominations, etc., are valuable bits of information for anyone interested in the process.
I appreciate the intent to prepare students for law school, however some students have no intention of going this rout. I myself am in education and would have appreciated focusing on a deeper understanding of legal & judicial process rather than focusing on skills necessary for law school.
I did learn some important aspects of law & judicial process, though. Thanks much.
As I mentioned in response to the previous comment, this class isn't actually tailored to the needs of future law students (even though the material will be useful to them). There's also a distinction between the substance of the course and the skills that I think this student misses. What I think of skills that are valuable to law students (ability to take good notes, attention to detail, strong writing skills) are things that any student should develop. Similarly, and as I mentioned above, information on, for example, court structures, is something that will be helpful to future law students, but should also be useful to anyone with an interest in this branch of government.
More sign posting during lectures and giving us time to catch up while taking notes would be beneficial.
I had a lot of similar comments for the larger section of this course the previous semester. I think I will provide more of an outline in the coursepack (or on ICON), but I'm not sure how to get around the notetaking issue. (See the previous semesters comments and my responses for more on this.)
UPDATE: HA! After getting this and comments below about "sign posting" and such it finally occurred to me that the study questions are a VERY good source for this. The questions are listed in exactly the same order as how I present the material in class. Thus, if a student has read through the questions before (or has them with him or her in class) it will be clear what material I am covering, when I am switching topics, etc.
Slow down a little--give some time in between switching topics/ideas. Possibly repeat key points. Make an outline of key ideas for students.
See above and the previous semester's comments re the slowing down. I actually do repeat material I want to make sure they get, but one problem here is that some students, not necessarily this one, really just want to know what's on the test. I, in contrast, want them to learn as much as possible so it's all "key" (and I do tell them not to worry about some things I talk about if it's "getting into the weeds" on some topic.
--too many review questions, they are pointless. Perhaps a "review list" of a couple of things to emphasize in our studying
--return papers quicker
Well, like I was suggesting in my reply to the prior comment, some students really only want to know what will be on the test. The extensive list of study questions I provide for this course is a comprehensive overview of what I what them to learn from the course. I can understand that students may prefer only a handful of broad concepts, and I actually approach my Public Administration course that way, but in the law details matter and they need to know more than just a couple of things. The study questions certainly aren't pointless. Students who do them will certainly know what they should get out of the course (i.e., what they should know for the tests). Plus, given that a few students complain about how many there are every semester in each of the three courses I use them I tell them to not do them if they think there are too many. It's a resource for them to use or not as they choose. Basically, being willing to do the study questions means the student has the willingness and work ethic necessary to succeed in law school (which is what the vast majority of students in my classes are planning on).
As for the papers, they are always returned no later than the last day of class so that they know where they stand going into the final test. That usually means the students get them back three or four weeks after they turn them in (and fall semesters one of those weeks is usually Thanksgiving break). That's not a particularly long time given class size and if I have papers from more than one course to grade.
So much material is covered in class, motes are extremely hard to take slow down!
Well, as I noted in one of my responses from the previous semester, this semester I seemed to be constantly getting ahead of my expected pace. That didn't mean that I was talking faster, but the students weren't asking as many questions as usual, even for this course. (As I mention in other responses, because I don't lecture right out of a book for this course, students don't always know the specific material I will cover and then have less time to think about any questions before class.) Given that a lot of comments for this and the previous semester concerned how many notes the students had to take I have to wonder if students just aren't as used to taking notes as they (i.e., students from prior years) used to be. I taught this course for several years then took a break from it for several more. I don't recall as many comments mentioning the notetaking from several years ago and I even presented more material then than I do now. Lots of students use laptops in class, which is supposed to make it easier to take notes, but I wonder if it really does. Of course, taking notes on a laptop in class certainly interferes with the students' ability to check email and facebook during class. :)
I'm glad to see you found some Black shoes to go with your Black jeans.
Readings are a waste, books are a waste of $. Come on Prof. Hagle, we're poor college students!
Loved the class, se ya next semester.
Ha! The first comment relates to some comments made for POLI:3113/30:106 for Spring 2009 about my wearing white (tennis) shoes with black jeans. Although I still think it looks okay, I did stop wearing them together. :)
The readings for this course are largely background materials. Although I cover the material in class, I don't lecture or take my notes directly from any of the books. Thus, it's understandable that some may feel the books are a waste. The books are directly used for the paper assignment, though the amount depends on the particular topic the student selects. I do consider the cost of books. I always have the library put all the books (required and recommended) on reserve for my courses and for this course I tell the students that they might not want to buy all the main books.
Great, hope this student got into the next semester's course.
Thanks for another great class. Thoroughly enjoyed it and I feel very prepared for law school. Definitely one of the most useful and engaging classes I've had. Keep up the great work! :)
I was disappointed that this class was/is advertised as a discussion when it's actually a lecture.
The class is very interesting & the professor used good examples to illustrate points.
The paper was difficult because there did not seem to be enough direction on what to write about.
I double-checked the short description on ISIS and it does say lecture/discussion. I do tell the students at the start of the semester that it will be mostly lecture, but I certainly encourage students to ask questions to generate some discussion (in addition to a couple of in-class exercises that do so). Unfortunately, because my lectures don't follow the books directly the students often don't have time to think about the material to ask as many questions in class, so it ends up being more lecture and less discussion than I would prefer.
The paper assignment for this course is less specific than for a couple of my other courses, but I do specify the general topic and students must answer three specific questions in the course of their paper, so it's not completely wide open.
Good course but information covered way too fast--difficult to take notes--would be helpful if there was some sort of powerpoint outline.
Because I don't lecture directly from the assigned readings the students have to be more careful about taking notes. Those that aren't used to taking a lot of notes have more problems as a result. Even so, it's still quite a bit of notetaking for those used to it. I only use PowerPoint for a couple of classes during the semester in part because I don't want students to rely too much on having me do their notetaking for them. If I create a PowerPoint outline I would certainly be asked to make it available to the students on ICON or elsewhere and then it needs to be more specific and then. . . . I'm not unsympathetic to this complaint, but I seen notetaking as an important skill that prelaw students should have.
Study questions were extremely helpful.
Some material was presented quickly, but I was usually able to clear up my questions after class or during office hours.
As much as a few students complain about the amount of study questions I provide, they are do-able if one doesn't wait to the last minute and they certainly cover everything that I want the students to learn from the course.
I'm glad this student was willing to ask follow up questions after class or during office hours. I try not to cover the material too quickly, but something that might not seem to need extra time to me or other students could still be a bit of a problem for any particular student.
I appreciate how thoroughly material is explained. The study questions are a great tool for organizing class material.
Wow! Two people in a row who liked the study questions!
I didn't think the readings you assigned were necessary--in 30:160 [Women and Politics in Global Perspective] we had to read the assigned readings to understand the lecture. That was not the case in this course.
Nope, and I wouldn't want it to be. I explain the first day of class that the readings are mostly background materials--basically another way of getting at much of the same material that I present in class. It's possible to get what I want folks to know from the lectures, but doing the reading would give students a deeper understanding of the topics. Plus, the readings need to be the source material for the paper assignment. In one of my other courses student must do the readings to know what's going on in class, but I just do this course differently.
Keep on keeping on. Great course.
Power Points would be helpful.
I mostly addressed this a couple of comments above. Even so, given that I describe the course to the students as a potpourri of topics I think they should know about the judicial process (particularly for those heading to law school), it might be worthwhile to have a bit more of an outline beyond the nine basic topics I list in the syllabus. I'll have to think about this a bit more.
At times I wish Prof Hagle would slow down b/c he covers so much in a given class period. Personally I wish there was a discussion class or even another day of class so I could get all the notes.
At least a couple of times during the semester I tell students that the way to slow me down is to ask more questions (and generate discussion). Unfortunately, because I don't lecture from a particular book they don't know the specific material I will cover, which means that they are less likely to ask questions (or at least that's what some students have told me). Of course, if they had done the background readings in advance then they would know the general topic and might be able to ask more questions, but as other comments suggest, a lot of folks aren't doing the readings. I'm posting these comments a bit late and I've already taught the this course again (F 2010) and a problem I had that next semester was I kept getting ahead of where I needed to be during the semester. No one was asking questions or doing much in the way of discussion, so several times I let the class out early. We'll see if I get any comments about that.
A much more in-depth class than I was expecting, but a good one regardless.
Glad you liked it.
I thought Professor Hagle's teaching style was ridiculous and detrimental to this entire class's learning. He shows little to no concern about his class & their understanding of the material. He was not approachable at all for outside help. He spoke down to people at times & seemed if his first priority was self promotion. I am very disappointed that he is an instructor here[?]and even more I regret taking this course. I hope these considerations are taken into account for his future.
Tough criticisms. As I mentioned in the multiple choice section for this semester, I had problems with a couple of students in this class. I don't know who wrote any of the comments, but one student in particular may have written this comment or the next one. This student seemed to feel that he or she was simply entitled to get an A based on a set amount of effort. That effort included having another student in the class take notes while he or she read the newspaper in class.
Most of these comments are pretty over the top, but I will make a few quick replies. For various reasons some students do find instructors, me included, unapproachable. That said, I do have office hours and am happy to answer students' questions then, at other times, or via email. If it's a question I think the student should know, I may try to "lead" the student to the answer by asking a question in reply rather than just telling him or her the answer. That sometimes doesn't go over very well. I'm not sure what the student means by the self promotion comment. The last few semesters I've been able to talk about my experiences while working at the Department of Justice. I usually do so to help illustrate some point and to demonstrate that something has a practical value (i.e., it actually happens or is used or whatever).
I felt the instructor discouraged class participation. When some questions were asked, he dismissed it & made students feel belittled. Far too much emphasis on silly things like the course packet that contained common mistakes we should all be familiar with. Lecture was unorganized. Teacher rambled &then would collect himself & say "Did I mention everything." Question packet was helpful but a more organized outline would be nice. Instructor sits on a high horse & is annoying. Forgets not everyone is poli sci or law school bound. Don't belittle other majors.
Another tough set of comments. I'll take them in order.
I like students to ask questions. I mentioned in the multiple choice section, however, that in this class students often don't ask questions because they haven't seen the material before given that I don't lecture from a main text. One question that I do get more than I would prefer is the "will you repeat that" request. I tell students from the first day that they don't need to get everything down word for word; that I will often present the material as a list of things, but that they shouldn't worry about the list per se. I tend to slow down and repeat things when I really want them to get some particular point. Even so, when I get a "repeat" request at a time when the point is minor or we've moved on I think my frustration shows on my face, which occasionally gets me comments like this.
On the "silly things" comment, the student is referring to things I mention regarding the paper assignment. I agree that they are things that students should be familiar with. Unfortunately, they are often not (or students ignore them), so I have to mention them.
As for "unorganized," I tell the students that the course is largely a collection of topics related to the judicial process. The topics are grouped into nine major areas. Some areas are very broad and are in turn a collection of other bits of information that I want to make sure the students learn. I warn the students at the outset that this can sometimes make the course seem unorganized, which would likely seem to make my lectures seem so as well. It's certainly true that I sometimes discuss a topic in an order different from that in my notes, which means that I want to double check to be sure that I hit all the points (particularly points that are covered in the study questions). I could stand there and read my notes, but then I would get complaints about that too.
I'm not sure what prompted the "high horse" comment.
I do, in fact, realize that not everyone in the class is law school bound or a political science major. Although about 95% of each class is interested in law school, I make a point of mentioning the value of the class to those who are not. Even so, one goal for the course is to help prepare those planning on law school, so others might not see the value in some of the information in the course. Although students sometimes ask me whether they need to be a pol sci major or to have had other pol sci courses before taking this one (they don't), the issue of majors never comes up. There are no prerequisites for this course, and I don't assume that students have had any particular course before this one. I probably do expect that students have a basic familiarity with our government system, including the judicial branch, at least from their high school government or civics classes, but that shouldn't make any non-pol sci majors feel left out.
I learned a lot in this class and because class material & notes were so important, I didn't miss any classes. The course packet w/ the questions is intimidating but helpful for the exams. The readings were good because when I didn't understand a concept, the reading usually explained it well. Class participation was not encouraged and I felt no one really did except for the occasional questions. No participation made the class a little slow. The only other problem I had with the semester is the Professor didn't seem to care about the students' success. The first day of class made it seem like we were all doomed--and that was not the case. Overall, great class and I learned a lot.
Because I don't lecture from a main text in this course it's more important for students to come to class (or at least get the class notes). I'm glad this student realized this. I often mention specific readings in class, but student's can often get by without doing them. It's good that this student was doing them. There are certainly a lot of study questions, but doing them regularly (such as after each class period) will help and make them more of a review for the tests.
Although this student also mentions the lack of class participation. I think, however, that she (I'm guessing from the handwriting) is thinking about something different from what I mean when I ask it on the multiple choice part of the evaluation. The course isn't structured for things like group activities or overall discussion of hypotheticals or something along those lines. When I think of participation I mean when students ask questions about the material. Asking, for example, about further explanation about one concept or another, how something relates to a current new story, or something along those lines. That said, there are a couple of times in the course where I get (or try to) a class discussion going with a couple of exercises.
The comment about my not caring about the students' success seems a little odd as she seems to back away from it in the next sentence. She may mean that I overemphasize the difficulty of the course the first day. I can see why a student might feel that way. Although this course is not as difficult as 30:116, I do emphasize that it might not be as easy as some other courses they have had. My past experience has been that students were often caught off guard by the difficulty of the material and tests. By warning students of this in advance I suppose it's possible that other students will be put off a bit.
I'm taking 116 also this semester I will have much more to say on that evaluation.
I'm assuming he or she did. See the written section for 30:116, F 2008.
The only additional comment I have is that sometimes I didn't know how to spell names in court cases or legal terms so that made trying to look them up later a bit challenging. I would recommend spelling some that seem more challenging.
We run across a fair number of legal terms and case names in this course, and I regularly tell students to look something up in their law dictionaries (which is a required book for the course). I do spell out many words, but my view of what needs spelling might be different from a student's. This is something I'll need to pay more attention to.
enjoyed the class. thank you!
Several comments this semester mentioned either how much material we covered, how many notes they had to take, or something along those lines. Although I replied to the individual comments below, I gave the matter some additional thought. As I mention in reply to the first comment below, what's partly odd about these comments is that I cover less material in this course now that I used to. Even so, it's true that in this course I don't lecture directly from the assigned readings. Rather, I treat them as background material. Students sometimes complain about this or suggest that they didn't even have to do the readings to do well in the course. I suspect part of the problem to all this is that these students may have lost (or are losing) the ability to take notes. Taking notes doesn't mean having to write every word down and I'm no longer sure students understand that. The background readings serve to enhance the lectures. If students have done the readings before class they will better understand the lectures and will likely not find it as necessary to get every word down.
Some students express concerns along these lines as a desire for outlines, summaries, or visuals. This doesn't have to take the form of a PowerPoint, but my guess is that it often does. I recently read how a professor at another university detests PowerPoint presentations. His reasons were varied, but they generally fit into the idea that such presentations do not serve students well. One problem is that you can't always summarize a complex set of ideas into a couple of bullet points. I think this is part of the problem for this class. I often make some particular point and then proceed to expand on it, make some side comments about it, and generally try to flesh it out to improve the students' understanding of the central point. In taking notes on the lecture (again, notes, not a transcription) students may be losing the ability to distill the material into something they can use. Heavy reliance on PowerPoint or similar methods only serves to increase the students' reliance on someone else doing the synthesis for them. Although certainly easier for the students, and likely to generate fewer complaints for the professor, it doesn't seem to be in the students' best interests.
The course will be very helpful in the future, yet the information covered in class is gone through too quickly it is hard o get everything written down. I believe it is also unnecessary to laugh when you are asked to repeat something since you go through everything so fast It will make people not want to ask qust6ions!
This comment is similar to several from the prior semester. What's odd is that I cover even less material than I used to when I first started teaching this course. It seems these comments have intensified since I returned from two years working at the Justice Department. Could student expectations about the amount of work (and note taking) have been lowered that much in just two years?
I reply to the "repeat" comment in a couple of items for Fall 2007.
1. Power Point presentation would be helpful
2. Tests are rediculusly difficult b/c they split hairs over almost identical concepts.
On the second point, yes, some questions do split hairs to determine how well the students have learned the material and whether they can distinguish between concepts that are almost identical.
Visuals would help w/ organization & ease of note-taking.
More students have asked for this in the last two semesters. It's possible that note taking skills are less important given the proliferation of PowerPoint and other presentations, but my recent experience working in the Justice Department provided plenty of examples where being able to take fast and accurate notes was critical to getting needed information out of a meeting.
Sometimes you talk too fast You could repeat long sentences. 1st test was very hard.
Not sure what the point of all the reading is.
But you rock. Seriously.
Just stop wearing the white shoes/black jeans combo.
In this course I treat the readings as background material for the lectures. As a student in a prior semester mentioned, one could probably do very well in the course without doing the reading. That may be true (except for the paper assignment), but the readings will provide more details and a broader context to the lectures.
As an undergrad I had several professor who had, um, wardrobe issues. That made me sensitive to matters, but I have to admit that every time I wore my black jeans I did wear my white tennis shoes. I certainly wasn't going to wear brown shoes with black jeans! My black shoes also seemed to dressy for the jeans. Guess I'll have to get some black tennis shoes to add more variety!
Slow down and/or repeat yourself on multi-point or subcategory parts of the notes. They are usually very long and take too much time to write them down and stay caught up.
I do usually repeat the things I want students to get word for word, but, as I mention above, it's interesting that I'm getting so many of these "slow down" comments in the last couple of semesters.
Regarding the selected readings
--need to relate into class
--emphasize reading more
--have test ?'s follow some of the readings
--have quiz in class b/c shows understanding of materials.
Everything else perfect!!
As I mentioned in reply to a comment above, the readings are mostly background material. If I don't talk about them in class I don't usually ask about them directly on the test. I think this student's point is that if I'm going to assign readings that someone actually reads, he or she should have the opportunity to demonstrate that knowledge more directly on the tests. That's an understandable point.
I do provide a short practice quiz prior to the first test, but it's purpose is more to show examples of the multiple choice questions I will ask. The study questions tend to serve as a proxy for some type of quiz as they will cover and provide a review of sorts for the class material.
Spoke too quickly all the time, I can't write as fast as the professor spoke. Sarcasm is not a good learning tool for me.
One theme that seems to be emerging from all these "too fast" comments is that it seems the students expect to get everything down word for word. I wonder if that comes from too many summaries and PowerPoints where everything is reduced to simple phrases. When I make points in lectures I try to give plenty of detail, but don't expect students to write down everything I say. As I've mentioned in reply to similar comments, I wonder whether this shows a reduction in students' overall note taking skills. Either way, I think I'm going to have to talk about this more at the start of the semester (in addition to any changes in presenting the material).
--don't be condescending when you're asked to repeat
--you speak too quickly we are trying to write & listen at same time. If you are going to test on small details make sure you go slow enough so we have chance to get them
--structure notes better use outline form
I certainly don't intend to be condescending when asked to repeat, but, as I've commented before I probably show disappointment when I think some is going to ask a question about the material and it's just "will you repeat that."
All the material I present is in outline form, but I suspect this student is asking for something along the lines of a PowerPoint.
Test was way too picky about small things. Prep questions were too broad for the material covered on the test. The hypothetical situations on test were far to complicated for the purpose of the question (understanding the material) ie jurisdiction or diversity. Too many questions on test for the amount of time allotted. Over all midterm test was far to hard for material covered.
Well, the hypotheticals on that test were almost the same as the examples covered in class.
The first test had only 35 multiple-choice questions on it. Over half the students finished in 45 minutes or less. Only one or two students stayed the full 75-minute period.
I think you should let kids know that they don't really need to buy the books. I think you should just have plenty at the library. I only used my books for the paper once I realized nothing from the books would be on the test. Those books cost quite a bit.
I spend a good part of the first class period talking about the books, which ones are most important, etc. As part of this I do tell students that the books are mainly for background reading. I also put all the books on reserve at the main library for students who don't wish to buy the books. I realize that books cost quite a bit these days and I look for ways to keep the costs down. Even so, maybe I could emphasize this a bit more.
Adding a discussion section to accompany this class might be helpful.
Until only recently I thought that the only classes that could have discussion sections were the ones with 150 or more students. Even if a class of this size (about 95 students) is allowed discussions sections, a once a week discussion section would require cutting out about a third of the material and I'm not sure the trade-off is worth it.
Enjoyed the class, lots of interesting material presented well. I look forward to being able to explore the readings over summer.
The teacher was awesome, but the tests were a little harder than I would have liked.
I think the topic of judicial selection is important and deserves a lot of attention. I do think, however, we spent too much time on it even considering it was the focus of the paper. Specifically, I felt like the lectures over the nominations of particular justices was a little unnecessary considering so much reading material, both assigned and optional , was available.
But I still very much like this course & the material covered. I just would have liked covering some of the later/other topics at all/in more detail.
This comment is interesting in that it takes a different view of the readings. Specifically, that because material was in the readings I didn't need to spend so much time on it in class. I do spend quite a bit of time on this topic mainly for the reason the student suggests. The paper was worth 30% of the course grade. I'm not sure if I spent that much class time on the topic, but maybe I could cut it back some.
The only suggestion: you talk very fast and sometimes present a lot of material in a short amount of time. When somebody asks to have something repeated you kind of scoffed like "uh you should have been listening." Sometimes it was utterly impossible to get everything down. Maybe some vague outlines on the board or online would help with this.
Again, more of the same. Even so, given the number of students who mentioned this I need to think about doing something one way or another about it.
I wish the readings were more helpful in learning the material covered in lecture.
This was a good course and helpful, and I liked the fact that it was challenging. I think a test in middle of semester with less weight would have been nice instead of the larger 2nd test.
I also thought the course was a little biased toward a conservative point of view, which is fine, but doesn't leave much room for discussion.
Maybe have other example outside of the O.J. case--he is old news.
We did have a test in the middle of the semester that was weighted less than the second test. Maybe this students wants a third test.
A number of the readings do come from conservative sources (and many come from liberal sources), which may have prompted the "biased" comments. Even so, I'm not sure why that should cut down on the opportunity for discussion.
On the OJ comment, now that we are 10 years on from the murders and trial the students are certainly going to be less familiar with the details. Even so, and even if OJ wasn't in the news from time to time which brings much of it up again, using an older and very famous case for examples shouldn't be a problem (assuming that I provide the necessary details so students understand the points I'm trying to make by mentioning the case).
Thanks Professor Hagle,
The class was amazing and I learned a lot. The pace was sometimes a little too fast but it kept us on the ball. I sometimes had problems getting all of the info. down b/c of how fast we moved--if you used visuals or even posted a cheat sheet of key terms that would be extremely helpful! :)
Yes, we do move right along in this course. I also don't lecture right from the books or readings, so that also means that students have to make sure to take good notes. The materials generally doesn't lend itself to visuals and I don't like to just put summaries or bullet points on a screen, but fooling around with the media would certainly slow me down. There is an extensive set of study questions in the coursepack and many of the questions refer to key terms. Many of these terms can be found in the course materials (in particular the law dictionary; I often tell folks to look up one term or another in their law dictionary), but they student may want a glossary of some sort to make it easier. I'll have to think about that one.
I wish that you would have been more willing to repeat yourself in class. Sometimes you gave information very quickly and then didn't give us time to write or the opportunity to ask for a clarification.
This is the second person to comment on the pace (and there will be a couple more to come). I don't speak (or cover material) any faster in this class than in 30:158 (which is most like this course in terms of the type of material). The difference is that in this course I don't lecture directly from the readings. That means the students need to take more careful notes. I do tend to slow down and repeat things when I want them to get something word for word. The material and the lecture format doesn't lend itself as much to discussion, but I am glad to take questions asking for clarification. In fact, I welcome it because it then gives me a chance to slow down. That said, I will admit that it's disappointing when I call on someone expecting some question or comment about the material and all I get is "will you repeat that?"
--Enjoyed your class. I'm pretty sure I could have ignored the readings and still gotten an A.
--Study questions were very helpful in preparing for exams
I say right at the start of the class that the readings are mainly for background reading. The only ones that are absolutely necessary are those that pertain to the paper. Even so, the readings provide additional details and a broader context to the lectures.
I really learned a lot from this course--before it started I had absolutely no knowledge about the Supreme Court & now I know much more about it than the average citizen. REALLY glad I took the course
This students doesn't mention any plans for law school, but the first day of class I mention that the course is important for those not going to law school so they can understand a lot of the things in the news about courts and such. This comment seems to echo that point.
On the whole I found this class valuable, but I have a few comments. Your presentation of materials had a rather clear conservative bias. Also, the review questions were somewhat helpful as a study guide but do not very accurately reflect what is test; they emphasize the wrong minute details. Finally, you lecture very quickly & seem opposed to repeating things, which leads to holes in notes.
As with the other student who mentioned a conservative bias, I would have liked to have seen some examples. There's really only one section (of nine) where we get into this type of politics (and only one part of that section). Some of the source materials for that section are from conservative media, which I clearly indicate as such. Those sources certainly have a conservative point of view, but does that make me biased because I use them in class--along with material from several liberal sources?
Because of this student's comment on the study questions I went back and checked them against the first 10 or so questions from the first test I gave that semester (the only one the student had at the time of the evaluations) and every question on the test was covered in the study questions.
The material presented in this course was useful but presented in a manner that sometimes was not. Rather than lecturing by showing an adequate understanding of material, the professor often read the lectures quickly from his notes making it difficult to comprehend & take notes. Sometimes he would express annoyance when students asked to repeat or explain. Fixing those problems would make the lectures more effective and enjoyable.
Mostly a repeat of the quickness/repeat comments posted above.
I'm sure that I got written comments for this semester, but I can't find them. I'm sure I put them somewhere for safe keeping until I was able to post them, but in the move to DC and back I've forgotten where. I'll post them when they turn up.
This was the first time I had taught this course in nine years. That meant that I needed to do a lot of updating of the material. Although most of it was done prior to the start of the semester, some of it had to be done during the course and this might have caused some confusion (though no one specifically mentioned it).
The study questions make it very clear what material we ought to know.
You usually do a good job of illustrating your concepts with real-life examples.
For complex concepts like diversity jurisdiction, spend more time on hypothetical scenarios.
This person signed the evaluation. He's had other of my courses and I know that he works hard on the study questions. There are a lot of them, but they do make sure that one is well prepared for the tests.
After taking 30:116 and 30:158, I'd have to say that this was the easiest. I'd recommend this class to sophomores and juniors primarily. The plus of 30:153 was that the paper topic gave us an opportunity to be unique and write more about what we wanted to write about.
I agree about the difficulty level, but I suspect that so many people did well in this class because they had one or more of my other courses and were willing to work to get the good grade.
I assign papers based on fact statements in the other two courses this student mentions. That means everyone is writing on the same topic. There are pros and cons to this, for both teacher and student, but this person seems to have liked that the assignment in this course was more flexible.
I am thankful that the "depth" of notes we took, & thus our success in class, was up to us -- meaning you placed responsibility upon us (or -- no "easy notes online") (smiley face)
I take a different approach to each of my upper division courses. The emphasis is on the lectures in 30:153, and the readings are mainly background material. I expected more complaints about how I didn't stick to the books more (see below for one comment on this). This student, however, seems to have gotten the basic point of this approach. Namely, that students have to show up for class and take good notes. One informal complaint I heard was that when I stopped to ask for questions the students couldn't think of any because they were too busy taking notes or because they hadn't had time to think about the material enough to form any questions. I think that's true for some material, but shouldn't have been the case for material that was covered in some form in the readings.
This course was very helpful in giving a taste of what to expect from law schools from [what] I can see thus far. I feel more confident, along with my Con. Law course, to enter law school next semester.
While the general lecture was fairly balanced the choices in readings and books were not. They were definitely slanted to the right.
It's certainly true that several of the readings I selected, mainly for the section on judicial nominations, came from sources that could be considered to the right. Of course, there were also several readings from sources that were to the left. The main nominations we covered were those of Bork and Thomas. Given the intensity of the politics surrounding those nominations, I wanted to make sure that students got both sides of the story, which means assigning some materials that "slanted to the right." My goal is to smooth everything out for a fair presentation in lecture, which this student thinks I managed to do.
Another part of this comment may come from what I see as the Fox News/CNN situation. Many on the left argue that Fox News tilts to the right. It's certainly to the right of CNN, but is it to the right of center (or a great deal so)? Think of an ideological scale with 0 as the most conservative and 100 the most liberal. Suppose that you are at about 70 on the scale and so is CNN. Most people consider themselves to be fairly moderate, so a person who might objectively score a 70 might only think of themselves as, say, 55. A news outlet that mirrored your views would be similarly viewed. Thus, an outlet that strives to present a more balanced view (e.g., Fox News) will correctly be viewed as to the right of a more liberal outlet, though incorrectly placed on the overall scale. I made this argument to an acquaintance and she readily admitted that she prefers her news on the more liberal side (i.e., CNN), which means she at least recognized that she wasn't starting at the midpoint on the scale.
Good class. Paper was very helpful in learning the material, but outside of writing the paper the books were worthless.
This is the type of complaint I was expecting given that I mainly use the books for background material. Doing the readings before lectures will provide a foundation to most of the topics I cover in class, but in this course I certainly do not lecture from the readings. This is quite different from my approach in 30:158 where I do stick very close to the book (and where I get complaints about doing so--can't please everyone I suppose).
10 times more fair than most polisci professors!
Good course. It was done well. However, there was a little too much emphasis on the state of Michigan.
In this course we cover a lot of material on the federal courts. For the state courts we naturally cover a lot of the specifics about Iowa courts, but I also talk a lot about Michigan courts to point out some differences among state courts. I pick Michigan mainly because that's where I'm originally from and where I was licensed to practice law, so I know quite a bit about those courts. I've started to work more info in concerning the Illinois courts given that a fair number of our students are from that state. On the other hand, Go Spartans!