Overall, I have been evaluated as an effective, engaging, and responsive instructor. Observers and students have commented on my enthusiasm, high standards, and preparedness. Further, in 2016 the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland awarded me an Outstanding Teaching Award to recognize my pedagogy. In addition to some representative examples of qualitative feedback from evaluations (below), I have included complete student evaluation reports and two observations (from a colleague and course supervisor) in Appendix C of my teaching portfolio.
The university’s evaluation forms rate instructor on several measures on a scale from 5 (strongly agree) to 1 (strongly disagree):
Out of the four semesters I taught COMM 200, 88% of students who completed evaluations either strongly agreed or agreed that I was an effective instructor. In free-form comments, many students praised the classroom discussions, connections made to their everyday lives, to their major, and to their future as engaged citizens. In an evaluation, one student also commented on the relevance of the course:
My professor was very vibrant and made class interesting. She also brought in a bunch of current issues and events, which was productive. I also feel like the experience we got with public speaking was helpful. It was nice that we [sic] got to pick our topic and develop it throughout the year. Overall, this class was challenging, but enjoyable.
In an end-of-semester reflection, one student commented on the “truly exceptional classroom environment.” Another student mentioned Burke’s parlor in their reflection:
This class has allowed me to engage in thoughtful dialogue and participate in the unending conversation. [Rebecca] [was] an amazing instructor and made the class an amazing experience. Overall, [she] made the class one of the best experience I’ve ever had and the lessons [offered] made me grow as a student.
Finally, students also commented on the clarity of the course:
Everything that we wanted to cover that we listed on the first day of class was covered, and I learned a lot from it.
Student evaluations from COMM 107 over nine semesters also support that I am an effective instructor: out of 97 students who completed evaluations, 75% strongly agreed I was an effective instructor and 22% agreed. I believe this comment from a student evaluation (Fall 2014) encapsulates my approach to teaching public speaking:
Rebecca is one of the most effective professors I’ve had since I’ve been at UMD. She actually relates to the students and teaches in a way that is engaging, understandable, and relevant to us. What I like best is that she allowed us to react to concepts and our peers’ speeches, which enriched the classroom experience for all of us. We were able to get off track with current issues and happenings, but Rebecca always brought us back to the core concepts we were learning and found a way to relate it to our discussion.
Students also commented on my efforts to go above and beyond when teaching. In Spring 2015, one student said,
While COMM107 can be a cookie-cutter class, Rebecca did a fantastic job teaching it by making the class interesting, always engaging, challenging, fun, and supportive. I’ve heard that the content and assignments are standard, but the extra things that Rebecca put into the class are what made it enjoyable for me.
Another student said,
Ms. Alt took the content beyond the dry definitions and the textbook and really showed us the applications and how we could improve as speakers. In addition, she put in supplemental material that helped us understand the main content.
I have also been positively evaluated as a Teaching Assistant for an upper-level course on rhetorical criticism. In particular, students noted my approachability both in and out of class and my timeliness in responding to student questions or concerns. For example, one student noted,
She listened to student concerns and answered questions. She was flexible and receptive. I felt like I got a lot out of discussion section and I really liked the way she conducted the class. She was well prepared for discussion and had us do activities that actually helped us understand the course material and challenged us intellectually.