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?
"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)
"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?
"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."
"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)
"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?
"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)
"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)
"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)
"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?
"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 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."
"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)