Student Evaluations

Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness

University of Illinois Center for Teaching Excellence Instructor & Course Evaluation System

Below is a representative sample of student evaluations. The numbers in the right columns represent average scores on a 5-point scale for the following two items: Rate the Instructor’s Overall Teaching Effectiveness (left column); Rate the Overall Quality of This Course (right column). Bolded text in the list indicates courses where the Center for Teaching Excellence recognized my course with a rank of Excellent (top 10%). For graduate teaching assistants, as with my ranking for English 209, only the score for Overall Teaching Effectiveness is considered when determining excellence.

English 101/ Introduction to Poetry (Spring 2009) 4.3-4.2
English 102/ Introduction to Drama (Spring 2007) 3.3-3.0
English 115/ Introduction to English Literature (Spring 2012) 4.7-4.6
English 117/ Shakespeare on Film (Spring 2006) 4.2-3.8
English 200/ Introduction to Literary Study (Fall 2006)      4.5-4.6
English 209/ Survey of British Literature to 1798 (Fall 2005)         4.3-3.9
BTW 250/ Principles of Professional Communication (Spring 2006) 4.3-4.3
BTW 271/ Persuasive Writing (Spring 2009) 4.4-4.5
BTW 363/ Writing in the Disciplines (Spring 2013) 4.67-4.0


Solicited Student Evaluation Comments

Introduction to Poetry (Engl. 101):

  • “I thought she was really down to earth and really connected to us as people”
  • “She was very approachable and understanding. She was very good at explaining things and treating us as adults. I actually enjoyed going to class and discussing the poems”
  • “A major strength is her ability to put info and certain terms on our level so we can understand more.”
  • “The everyday class participation was great. It was such an encouraging environment and all interpretations are accepted. This class is one of the few I enjoy participating in.”
  • “I really liked the discussions after the student presentations, so maybe you could have students do two instead of one.”

Introduction to English Literature (Engl. 115):

  • “Strengths would be the ability to keep class discussion going in a class that isn’t so talkative. Also, you asked really great questions that sparked discussion and actually made us think.”
  • “Great at explaining. Good speaker, very precise with phrasing and topics of discussion. Also did a fantastic job of facilitating discussion” and “I LOVED this class. I learned critical thinking and more about the world. (history/current events/etc.)”
  • “Cares about students. Tries to make the material relatable and explain it in a way that makes sense.”
  • “I think that your biggest strength is your ability to explain topics and themes. If there is any confusion that is easily resolved and then it turns into a great discussion!”
  • “Strengths: created a great environment for discussion, very clear explanations, tough but fair grading, very approachable” and “The class discussion was most beneficial to me because it allowed me to bounce ideas off my classmates.”

Introduction to Literary Study (Engl. 200):

  • “Alaina speaks openly about a variety of topics, and is careful not to let controversial things heat up.”
  • “She is the perfect combination of a strict teacher, but making the class enjoyable at the same time.”
  • “She is confident in the material and has a variety of viewpoints and resources to offer and is extremely patient and understanding.”
  • “I really liked this class. I liked the teaching style. You supported and encouraged students. You never made me or any student feel ‘dumb’ when participating. I appreciated that because I am a little shy at times”


Unsolicited Student Evaluation Comments

Introduction to Poetry (Engl. 101):

Email from student, 4/20/2011:

Hi professor, my name is XX. When I attended the University of Illinois, back in the spring of 2009, I was a chemistry student in your introduction to poetry class. That class was very helpful in my writing, and it helped me to think outside of the box more often even when I write essays now. Since I write so often now, I find myself thinking back to all the help that you gave me in your class. I want to say thank you for what you did and thanks for all the skills that you gave me to take away from your class. Your teaching style and drive to get involved with how your students are performing in the class have made you not only one of the most memorable professors I have had, but also my favorite.


I still use your advice and read my essays after I write them. I was the only one in my chemistry class to get an A on my last writing assignment because of that.

Introduction to English Literature (Engl. 115):

Response to final exam extra credit question “how do you feel?” to which students may provide any kind of answer and receive credit (they get extra points if they can tell me that the question comes from Star Trek IV):

“I feel that after taking this course I am more educated. I took a British Literature class in high school, but did not feel like I learned nearly as much. We read different novels and discussed them, but did not have a theme to relate them to. Having a course theme forced me to think deeper about the novels. I feel like this class forced me to develop my critical thinking skills. I realized while writing a political science paper (I’m a political science major) that I was using skills I learned in this class to write my paper. Now when I read or write something, instead of just trying to find meaning behind it, I try to figure out why that meaning is important. I was not sure in the beginning whether or not I should take this course, but now I feel like it was definitely the right decision.”

Principles of Professional Communication (BTW 250):

Email from student, 5/17/2006

Thank you for a great semester.  I enjoyed your class and found it very relevant to the actual business world.  The most beneficial part was the last unit on industry analysis and resume construction.  Using these tools, I just received an internship for next spring with PWC.  I attribute my position to your teaching effectiveness and the quality of the course as a whole.  Your personal experiences in interviewing and in the business world also proved very beneficial to emphasizing major points in the class.  Good luck in the future and thank you once again.