Empty Chairs in Lecture Room

SELECTED UNDERGRADUATE TEACHING EVALUATIONS

 

We've all seen RateMyProfessors.com and have enjoyed a hearty laugh over the more acerbic or comically exaggerated comments posted there. In my own case, I discovered that there were relatively few reviews posted and that the comments that were posted weren't particularly reflective of the end-of-semester evaluations my students submit. I put together this page as a way of creating a more detailed public portrait of myself as a teacher and a more complete representation of what my courses are like (from the perspective of those who have taken courses with me).

In selecting which comments to post here, I looked for responses that conveyed a sense of (1) what I am like as a teacher (2) what it is like to be a student in one of my classes and (3) what I generally expect in terms of student performance. This information is provided for both current students--who may discover embedded within the comments some general tips for success in my classes--and prospective students--who may find the comments helpful in deciding whether or not to enroll in any of the courses that I teach. The overall intent of this page is the circulation of information, not ego-inflating self-flattery. To this end, the comments were selected based on content rather than tone.

I have divided the comments into categories, each of which corresponds to a question I imagine a prospective student might have about me or a class that I will be teaching. In this way, the individual comments posted here can be thought of as answers my former students might provide were prospective or current students to ask them these questions. Because some comments are course-specific, I have provided a link to the course from which the evaluation was taken. Comments on my graduate-level courses can be found on another page; the comments below refer to undergraduate courses.

All evaluations were submitted anonymously, and I have no way of tracing their individual authors.

 

Why should I take a Victorian literature class with Dr. Gould?

"I can also say that this 19th Century British Literature Studies class is the best class I have taken at USF. It taught me so many valuable things about connecting research with novels. I will take the skills I have learned here and use them in all of my future classes." (Course: Novels and Periodicals, University of South Florida, Spring 2013)

"Victorian literature has always eluded me--I'm a completely concrete, literal thinker, so when, say, it is foggy in Bleak House for six pages, my first thought is, 'Oh, that's a lot of really bad weather.' Needless to say, try as I might, I just have never 'gotten it.' Dr. Gould made a seemingly dry, dull, and overrated (to me) genre of literature come alive and make sense, as well as hugely interesting and relevant."
(Course: The Victorian Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2009)

"The class met for 3 hours on a Monday night, and I never looked at the time. It was stimulating, enjoyable, and I feel I got quite a bit out of it. Dr. Gould is very demanding, but in the best way possible." (Course: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2012)

"This was the best class I have ever taken, from any institution. Dr. Gould was very informative and excited about the material, which trickled down to the students. The CREATTE structure was wonderful and pushed me to participate in the Undergrad Research Colloquium (which I otherwise would not have thought about). Expectations for the class were always clearly outlined from day one, which made my learning experience much better." (Course: Novels and Periodicals, University of South Florida, Spring 2013)

"I was shaken out of my dogmatic slumbers (dogmatic primarily because of my modernist affinity) as far as the books we read are concerned. As far as the professor's pedagogy, I found him unique. He asked us questions that guided us to think critically about the text, but those conclusions, to be sure, had to be well-supported. Due to this course, I have forever changed the way I read a novel." (Course: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2010)

What do former students say about class discussion, participation, and class preparation?

"I learned a lot from the class. It was my favorite one this semester, and I always looked forward to coming. I like how you don't grab students by the hand and drag them to conclusions about the texts but let us get there on our own. I feel like I learned a lot more that way." (Course: The Novels of Charles Dickens and George Eliot , University of Iowa, Fall 2005)

"I was well-prepared for class and constantly contributed to discussion. I completed all the books! By being involved, I was also better able to learn." (Course: The Novels of Charles Dickens and George Eliot, University of Iowa, Fall 2005)

"I was decently prepared for the class. A few of the weeks I did not complete the readings and thus was useless for a portion of the discussion." (Course: The Novels of Charles Dickens and George Eliot, University of Iowa, Fall 2005)

"Teacher entirely encouraged freedom of thought, no didacticism, no need to parrot, which led to my own gears being greased pleasantly." (Course: The Novels of Charles Dickens and George Eliot, University of Iowa, Fall 2005)

"I feel that this class provided me with a great deal of opportunity to develop my discussion skills. I greatly improved my ability to make concise statements in order to illustrate a point." (Course: The Novels of Charles Dickens and George Eliot, University of Iowa, Fall 2005)]

"It's refreshing to have a professor as passionate about his subject as Professor Gould is. It makes the class feel like it's actually worth taking."
"Thanks for giving me my money's worth." (Course: British Literature, 1780-1900, University of South Florida, Spring 2010)

"Probably one of the most entertaining literature classes I have ever taken. His lectures are amusing. It's impressive that he stimulates so much interest from the class. he makes the three hour time period enjoyable."

Course: British Literature, 1780-1900 (University of South Florida, Spring 2010)

"The course is demanding, but well worth it. I always feel like I learn something every class, and Dr. Gould keeps the class engaged in the lesson." (Course: The Victorian Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2009)

"All the problems I had in this course are the result of poor work habits--I mean this sincerely. Gould is an excellent instructor." (Course: English Literature, 1780-1900, University of South Florida, Fall 2006)

Are quizzes designed to punish slackers, reward those who do the work, or to encourage attentive reading?

"The only thing I had a problem with was the quizzes. There could have more of them, and they could have been worth more to reward those of us who actually read."  (Course: The Novels of Charles Dickens and George Eliot, University of Iowa, Fall 2005)

"Quizzes forced me to read the texts; discussion questions helped me to look at the texts critically." (Course: Thomas Hardy and E.M. Forster, University of Iowa, Spring 2006)


"Damned pop quizzes." (Course: English Literature, 1780-1900,

University of South Florida, Fall 2006)


"Gave quizzes every class so we all kept current on the reading, which made for livelier discussions." (Course: The Victorian Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2007)


What about assignments, papers, and exams? What do those generally look like?

"Somewhat rigid as far as class procedures. Prefers 'regurgitation' of his analysis on take-home midterm." (Course: The Victorian Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2009)

"Great syllabus, great class. All the material is very well picked. It all ties together lending to a greater understanding of literature as a whole. The exams are tough, especially since there are three parts to them but if you pay attention in class, read the material and take notes there is no way you can fail. This course challenges the students to do their best." Course: English Literature, 1780-1900, University of South Florida, Summer 2013)


"Assignments were challenging without being impossible. Students were encouraged to think for themselves, express self-generated ideas." (Course: Thomas Hardy and E.M. Forster, University of Iowa, Spring 2006)

I think the format of the midterm and final is dangerous because there are so many texts during the semester and remembering the titles, authors, and direct quotes of each text is asking a lot from full-time English majors." (Course: English Literature, 1780-1900, University of South Florida, Fall 2006)

"The format of the exams was pretty good. I didn't have much complaint there especially since we got examples. I wasn't a fan of the ID quizzes, but those helped too. Good overall." (Course: English Literature, 1780-1900 (University of South Florida, Fall 2006)

"Dr. Gould helps stimulate incredibly insightful discussion, and has designed assignments that were very helpful in furthering an understanding of the course material. It was very challenging, but I would recommend Dr. Gould's course to anyone in search of a stimulating and thought-provoking class. To finish this class feels very rewarding." (Course: Honors Seminar: Victorian Adaptations, University of South Florida, Fall 2010)

Yeah, but what about the grading? I mean, how hard I am going to have to work in his classes?

"Gould is a very knowledgeable and interesting professor. He never has a problem holding the interest of the class; however, his grading is very harsh and nit-picky. He knows what kind of answers he expects, and nothing else will do." (Course: English Literature, 1780-1900, University of South Florida, Fall 2006)

"Very clear expectations, helpful suggestions. The assignments have improved my manner of analysis." (Course: The Victorian Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2009)

"In addition to being extremely prepared, he is extremely thorough in how he grades our coursework and how he covers material in class." (Course: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2008)

"Impartial grader, brilliant, funny, basically the coolest ever." (Course: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2008)

"I really liked the class expectations when it came to grades. Professor Gould raised the bar when it came to writing papers, and it made me appreciate all the hard work I put into mine." (Course: Literature of the American South, University of South Florida, Spring 2007)

"The most difficult English professor I have had in my three years here, but I have also learned the most from his class. I like the exam format and how precisely the scoring is laid out on the rubric. Does not have the problem with grading objectivity that some professors seem to have." (Course: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2011)

"The class was far more strenuous than most other lit. courses, but I found it refreshing. I feel like I am actually walking away having gained something." (Course: Literature of the American South, University of South Florida, Spring 2007)

"Dr. Gould really knows his stuff. He is extremely articulate. The class is very difficult; however, if you pay attention and attend class meetings, you will learn a vast amount of knowledge. . . . I recommend this class to anyone, except those who are lazy and looking for an easy A." (Course: The Victorian Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2007)

"When more is expected from students they will achieve more. Dr. Gould led a difficult course which was entirely satisfying. I loathed to miss a discussion as they were always engrossing." (Course: The Victorian Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2007)

"I loved the class. Instructions were clear, homework challenging, yet not impossible. The discussions were interesting and full of insight. The exams were very, very difficult, but everything that was asked on them had been covered in class discussions." (Course: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2010)

"Dr. Gould's course was both interesting and engaging. He expects a lot from his students, but his instructions are always clearly explained. The exams are difficult but do reflect whether or not the material has been learned. He wants his students to succeed." (Course: English Literature, 1780-1900, University of South Florida, Spring 2010)

What sort of help can I expect from Dr. Gould outside of class?

"A lovely teacher. All students should be so lucky as to have a professor who is not only so genuinely enthusiastic and intelligent but also (secretly, in his heart-of-hearts) committed to promoting and helping his students think and write better." (Course: Thomas Hardy and E.M. Forster, University of Iowa, Spring 2006)

"He is also very reachable outside of the classroom. He promptly responds to emails, questions, and concerns." (Course: English Literature, 1780-1900, University of South Florida, Fall 2006)

"He's very helpful during his office hours, very prompt with email, and it is evident he is very on top of things." (Course: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2008)

"Outside of the class, he consistently goes the extra mile to help his students, even at the risk of personal inconvenience. He carries his status as teacher both inside and outside the classroom." (Course: The Victorian Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2007)

"Dr. Gould can be intimidating--in his expectations and his demeanor--but I think he means well." (Course: Introduction to Graduate Study, University of South Florida, Fall 2010)


"Dr. Gould was such a fantastic teacher this semester. I can safely say that he is the most influential and attentive professor I have ever experienced at USF. He went out of his way to help me with every single paper I wrote this semester. He dedicated hours of his time to help edit my papers and discuss my research with him. I only have amazing things to say about Dr. Gould. He is truly an excellent professor." (Course: Novels and Periodicals, University of South Florida, Spring 2013)

"Dr. Gould expects a lot but also makes his expectations clearly known. He is also willing to answer questions--in and out of class." (Course: Introduction to Graduate Study, University of South Florida, Fall 2010)

"The material wasn't always easy and since it was a summer course it was very fast paced, Professor Gould was always available to answer any questions we had." (Course: English Literature, 1780-1900, University of South Florida, Summer 2013)

So what's the bottom line on Dr. Gould as a teacher?

"Read some good books; wrote a longish paper; learned the immaculate joys of 19th-century fiction. What more can one ask for? I'm kinda sad this course is over." (Course: The Novels of Charles Dickens and George Eliot, University of Iowa, Fall 2005)

"The syllabus was very clearly written, class discussion was lively, and I like the fact that the class challenges students to become more attentive readers. I would definitely take a course with Dr. Gould again." (Course: The Victorian Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2009)

"He makes sure his students know what it means to be a successful college student, as opposed to a mediocre one." (Course: Literature of the American South, University of South Florida, Spring 2007)

"He is professional without being intimidating." (Course: Thomas Hardy and E.M. Forster, University of Iowa, Spring 2006)

"Dr. Gould is a very professional teacher. His expectations are higher than most I've had in the English Department. However, I think this is a commendable attribute. He has pushed me harder, and as a result I have produced better work." (Course: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2010)

"I found Dr. Gould's class very interesting. He is very knowledgeable and passes on that knowledge to us. He is also very challenging, which is a good thing of course. I took him and the class seriously because he took our education seriously." (Course: English Literature, 1780-1900, University of South Florida, Fall 2006)

"Gould treats the material and class with such attention to detail it is as if this were his own personal master's thesis. Fantastic course design. Open-minded, reasonable grading, and a genuine push to learn. I did not really know how to read before this class." (Course: Literature of the American South, University of South Florida, Spring 2007)

"He's an extremely tough professor. I wish I had known he was so tough before I signed up." (Course: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2008)

"He is by no means an easy professor. He challenges you to think on your own, not just repeat what "a literary scholar" has already said. Dr. Gould is the type of professor that students who want to maximize their college-level education take." (Course: The Victorian Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2007)

"Professor Gould is tough but extremely helpful. He is honest in his expectations."  (Course: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2008)

"Hilarious, brilliant, tough. Amazing professor who expects the best from his students." (Course: Novels and Periodicals, University of South Florida, Spring 2013)

"I love this class. Professor Gould is a great teacher. The enthusiasm he has for all the material is infectious. He opened up a whole new world of literature for me. I'm very glad I took this course with Professor Gould." (Course: English Literature, 1780-1900 (University of South Florida, Summer 2013)

"Professor Gould's true talent is stimulating the interest in literature. He has the ability to make even the most boring texts come to life. He is very good at synthesizing the ideas of a text. His lectures are lively! It is obvious he wants his students to succeed. He takes pride in his work and is extremely knowledgeable." (Course: English Literature, 1780-1900, University of South Florida, Summer 2013)

"Expects much of his students. Difficult but fair."

"Keeps you accountable for your education."

"This has been the hardest but best class of my undergraduate career." (Course: The Nineteenth-Century British Novel, University of South Florida, Spring 2012)

"He has a nice office. And he likes to dress up. In vests. As in, he invests his time with students." (Course: Honors Thesis)

"If one word could describe Dr. Gould, it would be sprightliness. Like the fabled forest god, Pan, he weaves his word into soft petals which lightly o'er the waters glide. And from his piping larynx cries truth only heard once a cosmic year. Singular grace, devotion, propriety and magnanimity were bestowed upon this gentle soul, and from his ardent, argent assiduousness pour forth erudition and lucubration yet unheard in English letters." (Course: Honors Seminar: Victorian Adaptations, University of South Florida, Fall 2010)