STUDENT CRITICISM FROM PAST SEMESTERS

RATING SCALE : 10 = HIGH or excellent ; 1 = LOW or miserable
Class evaluations are done on-line via email. Complete data is available on request in Prof McFarland's office. Response rates were about 60% until Spring 2016, when Prof McFarland devoted a small amount of classtime at the end of the semester for everyone attending that day to submit an evaluation, at which point responses rate jumped to 87% ! One question invites a summary valuation of the professor :

Overall, the instructor's effectiveness in teaching was________________ (10=best; 1=worst)

For Spring 2017, responses for all 2 courses were 8.36 and 8.83. The average of these numbers is at the right. Details below.

Prof McFarland retired at the end of the Spring 2017 semester, but may teach Math 250 post-retirement in the Fall of 2017

Average rating for all classes
Spring 2017 8.59
Fall 2016 8.55
Spring 2016 7.46
Spring 2015 7.64
Fall 2014 7.43
Spring 2014 6.86
Fall 2013 8.21
Spring 2013 7.06
Fall 2012 7.26
Spring 2012 7.900
Fall 2011 7.885
Spring 2011 7.800
Fall 2010 7.85
Spring 2010 8.475
Fall 2009 7.756
Spring 2009 7.729
Fall 2008 8.500

Anonymous student comments on end-of-semester class evaluations

At the end of every semester (including this one), students will have an opportunity to fill out a class evaluation, including unstructured comments. Prof McFarland has copied below ALL the unstructured comments submitted by his students at the end of the Spring 2017 semester.
Our UW-W class evaluations, as well as private websites such as Rate my Professor, have attracted comments which vary from ravingly positive to dismally negative for the same professor (!) with reality somewhere between. Comments on private websites will more often use refreshingly youthful language,


Math 250 section 1 Spring 2017. Overall evaluation score 8.36 out of 10
Question: What things did you like best, either about the course or the way the instructor taught the course?
ALL Student responses:

  • Didn't go too fast, went through each problem thoroughly
  • He gave good examples of the problems.
  • He gives students the direct questions from the exams as homework questions so you are prepared for what he will ask.
  • He seemed to care and help out every student in the classroom as apposed to ignoring those not doing so well.
  • He taught the course very well, actually found ways to make calculus not super boring. Was good at doing lots of examples and walking through problems slowly step by step to make sure we understood.
  • He was very enthusiastic about what he taught.
  • His feedback to students was terrific and he was genuinely concerned with how students did in the class.
  • I like his ability to communicate exactly what he thinks.
  • I liked how the professor, really got to know the names of all of his students. He took time out to fully memories and was there to meet the students' needs. The day before any in-class exams, McFarland would extend his office hours so that his students could ask him any final questions. Overall, professor McFarland was an amazing professor and really cared for his students.
  • I liked how the web quizzes/tests were similar to the test/quiz in class.
  • I liked that the instructor was interactive with the class and he was very enthusiastic about the subject.
  • I liked that what was on the exams was problems taken from the text. I also liked how the professor included everybody in class discussions.
  • I liked the course work and the way he structured tests and quizzes.
  • I liked the way the exams and practice quizzes were set up. I also enjoyed the way he taught
  • No graded homework
  • No homework, multiple examples for each concept
  • Professor was very thorough about what he taught
  • Rarely did he make anything clear. He was obviously passionate about the material, but he could not explain it in a way that I could at all understand. His test questions are very confusing due to the way they are worded. The class website was not on D2L, but on a website he made himself which is extremely hard to use/follow. All around this class was very confusing.
  • Taught very clearly and was transparent about the subject
  • The extra information
  • The instructor was very intelligent and knew a lot about the subject and the other the other subject the connected to the course. The online web based quizzes were very helpful and an easy way to prepare for the paper tests and quizzes.
  • The instructor's website was beneficial
  • The people sitting next to me helped me more than the actual professor.
  • The professor was very interesting.
  • The questions shows in class.
  • The syllabus was accurate throughout the course.
  • the in class examples were well explained and included the students to participate
Question: What should the instructor change about the course or the way the course is taught?
ALL Student responses:

  • At the beginning the math page was difficult to navigate
  • At the start of class in the beginning of the semester it would be helpful if he gave out handouts for students to follow along with just at the start.
  • Change the format of the tests.
  • Give more practice problems that we can go over the next day in class.
  • Grade on additional things besides just tests
  • Have in class review before the in class exams reviewing the purpose of each section and a reminder of the different processes learned.
  • He needs to speak up, and he can be very confusing in how he explains each topic to the point of frustration.
  • He should actually teach and explain what he is doing and why, and how you get the answer. He shouldn't use shortcuts because some students don't know how he got it. We need to show our work, so he should show us his work, and each step to get to the answer. He also tells the class stories that have nothing to do with math or what were learning in the class, though he somehow thinks he's relating it to math, it is very boring and unrelated to the subject.
  • I have no changes to the course. The instructor is doing a great job.
  • I liked everything about this course.
  • Maybe teaching different ways to do certain things.
  • More clear lessons
  • N/A (2 Counts)
  • Nothing (2 Counts)
  • Nothing.
  • Post grades to D2L. It was tough not knowing my grade all semester.
  • Potentially have the homework worth some sort of points so the whole grade isn't exam based.
  • Speak up a little louder
  • Spend a little more time on each subject to make sure it's understood better
  • Spend less time on each example problem in order to cover more.
  • Switch to D2L for all of the online resources, rewrite a lot of the tests.
  • The instructor should consider the idea that sometimes circumstances out of the control of the student arise, and it would be appreciated if extensions on deadlines were allowed. Instead the instructor was less than understanding when life events occurred and a student was unable to submit an assignment on time, and indicated that it was not an acceptable reason for an extension. Treated the class as a business and was very cold personally.
  • Professor spoke so softly in class that it was difficult to hear what he was saying even when sitting In the front of the classroom.
  • make more online assignments required
  • nah
  • Nothing really
  • nothing
  • nothing


Math 177 section 1 Spring 2017 . Overall evaluation score 8.83 out of 10
Question: What things did you like best, either about the course or the way the instructor taught the course?
ALL Student responses:

  • Chess
  • Chess is fun
  • I enjoyed gaining a greater knowledge of the game of chess and the strategies that inhibit it.
  • I enjoyed talking about the rich history of chess. I believe that Dr. McFarland's superior knowlege of the game and its history did make the class interesting and fun to attend.
  • I just enjoy chess.
  • I liked playing chess every day.
  • I love the game of chess, so I am biased, but I enjoyed the class thoroughly.
  • I loved that he was always very involved with a lot of the games we were playing.
  • Interesting learning about chess.
  • It was information I didn't know at all.
  • It was nice to get to play against people who were good, and improve throughout the semester
  • It was nice to meet other people on campus who are interested in chess.
  • Played chess
  • The class environment was friendly and condusive to learning.
  • The professor clearly cared about the subject.
  • The requirements were clear.
  • There was always a game of chess to be played.
  • We got to play chess
  • n/a
  • nothing
  • Fun to play people in class, I don't get much face to face chess playing time because most of my friends either don't want to play me because I win almost if not every time or they don't know how to play. I enjoyed learning some openings I didn't really know and about the middle game.
  • I liked how we were put into matches where the beginning was already determined, which gave a better understanding of what to do in those situations.
  • If was fun just playing chess more often, it had been a few years since I played. I picked up some new ways to play and learned some stuff about the history of it as well.
  • It was exciting course. We got to play chess.
  • The instructor did a wonder job teaching the material, and allowed for outside thought to be heard and considered. He made the course very enjoyable, and treated all of his students will respect.
  • it was a very hands on course. by being able to play and not just be taught it really got me interested in and outside of class. the instructors sense of humor also never failed to brighten up the class and cheer me up.
  • loved the course, made me a better chess player
Question: What should the instructor change about the course or the way the course is taught?
ALL Student responses:

  • An updated class website would be a small improvement to the course.
  • Consider talking about the history of checkers
  • I think he should focus less on the endgame and more on the middle game and the tactics. Chess is 99 percent tactics, especially at lower levels.
  • I think it would be okay if people rematched each other. For example, I lost to Evan by not too much, and although I doubt I could beat him, I certainly would have liked another chance too. Evan specifically beat everybody who was good in the class, so by the end he was just getting matched with people who didn't even stand a chance
  • I think it's just fine as is.
  • I think that posting the pairs before class would make matches start and go faster instead of some of the late starts we had matching people up. Though I do realize that student absences can really mess this up.
  • I think that the importance of the history needs to be more stressed for the exam. Also, I do not think it is fair that, at best, only half of the class can get an A. How he grades the course is completely not fair. It needs to be changed
  • I was not a fan of how the final test was graded, I feel as though it was an unfair assessment of how we did in the class. Incorporate record as bonus on final
  • More Chess
  • N/a
  • Nothing
  • The course felt very geared toward beginners. There's nothing wrong with that, as I understand that people are at different levels of experience, but when all is said and done, I don't feel like I personally learned enough to justify a semester-long course. Perhaps add another element to the course for people who already know the basics?
  • Go a little more in detail about each defense and what the pieces are trying to do, EX, almost never trade your fiencetto'ed bishop or in XYZ defense you want to control the light squares. Just overall more stradegy about how the defenses work and what to do and what not to do. Also it would be interested to learn how to beat the defense or learning how/when/why to push pawns or make trades. Again, just a little more stadegy would be nice to learn! Overall fun class to take.
  • Not much, either you're interested in chess or you're not.
  • Nothing should be changed.
  • Nothing that I can think of
  • Nothing. (2 Counts)
  • more girlsl