©Marva A. Barnett

Students' End-of-Semester Evaluation Comments
FREN 345/493, Fall 2004

12 students enrolled (8 Arts & Sciences; 1 Architecture; 2 Curry; 1 Engineering)
11 students responded:  1 first-year (a); 3 second-year (c, d, e); 2 third-year (f, g); 4 fourth-year (h, i, j, k); 1 other (b).

Course description:   FREN 345 / 493:  Victor Hugo:  poète, dramaturge, romancier, critique social, artiste
A literary and political giant of nineteenth-century France, Victor Hugo was by age 25 a much-admired poet.  Central to the romantic revolution in theater, he was also a tireless social critic who argued for many causes, including educational reform and abolition of the death penalty.  When not writing novels such as  Notre-Dame de Paris and les Misérables, Hugo was carving out a powerful political career and creating drawings and paintings that influenced some Surrealist artists.  We will study Hugo’s work in all these contexts, discussing the universality of his themes (for instance, passionate love, familial love, justice and injustice, liberty, the role of God).  Our goals:  Appreciate his genius and find perspectives and themes that speak to each of us individually.  Course work includes discussion, written assignments, group work, one exam, and a personal research project done throughout the semester.  Those who take the course as FREN 493 will do a more sophisticated, larger-scale project and a longer oral presentation.  Course taught in French.

NB:  Questions have selected to avoid redundancy.  Students are labeled by letter (a., b., c., etc.) to preserve anonymity while still offering the opportunity to see how an individuals answered different questions.

Summary of evaluation   (Rating scale:  Poor  1  2  3  4  5  Excellent) :
Rate the course overall:  average = 4.7 / 5 (range = 4-5)
Rate the instructor overall:  5 / 5

Would you recommend this course to another student?  All students who responded answered “Yes.”


I expect that I will read something by Victor Hugo in the future, either in French or in English.   Average = 4.73 / 5
Strongly Agree 8    /    Agree 3
Comments: a) Life goal: to read Les Misérables (en français).

I realized my personal goals for this course.  Average = 4.8 / 5
Strongly Agree 9    /    Agree 2
Comments:  a) I feel that my speaking and writing skills improved and that Madame Barnett’s encouragement made me more confident in my ability to convey my ideas in French.

Presenting my work-in-progress and receiving feedback helped me improve my project.  Average =  4.5 / 5
Strongly Agree 5    /    Agree 5
Comments:  a) My classmates had a lot of good ideas and helped me to figure out what to include.  f) I wish I presented earlier in the progress of doing the projet [sic] to steer me the right way.

I learned about Hugo and/or 19th-century France from listening to other students’ work-in-progress presentations on their projects.
Average = 4.45 / 5
Strongly Agree 6    /    Agree 4    /    Neutral 1
Comments: c.) it was a lot of work.  l.) a bit stressful b/c difficult to find outside sources.

The course web site was helpful to me.   Average =  4.73/ 5
Strongly Agree 8    /    Agree 3


1.  How challenging was this class?

  1. It required a lot of time for preparation.
  2. The challenge was doing all the writing in French & keeping up with the work load.
  3. very challenging
  4. very
  5. The most challenging French class so far; lots of work but it is worth it.
  6. very
  7. enough
  8. fairly challenging
  9. Extremely challenging, but interesting.
  10. challenging, but in a good way
  11. very challenging

4. How useful did you find the writing assignments [if applicable]?  How much writing were you required to do in this class (double-spaced pages?)  Please specify such factors as rewrites and response papers.

  1. I enjoyed the assignments—they helped me organize my thoughts & reactions to the material.  At least 4,000 words/14 pages.  It was stressful at times but worth it.
  2. Yes, very good, but could use a writers workshop approach to aid grammar development and correction skills.
  3. probably around 10-15 pages
  4. The writing assignments were good to help me think deeply in French.  I wrote about 11 pages during the year & will write 8 (?) for the final project.
  5. Writings were fair and helpful for improving my French.  I would have liked more time between the 3rd paper and the final project.
  6. Amount of writing was excellent!  I wish we wrote more during term & not at the very end.  Midterm should be a paper.
  7. They were useful.
  8. Pretty useful, more so just to clarify how the readings/materials personally struck us.
  9. 3 compositions, 1 final project (2,000 words).  The assignments helped me to improve my written communication in French.
  10. They were helpful, and not too long.
  11. The possibility of rewrites were helpful in that it increases our grades.

5.Did you receive helpful comments on your assignments?  Were assignments returned promptly?

  1. Yes, her reactions were helpful. Yes.
  2. always!
  3. Yes. Yes.
  4. Yes. The comments were very helpful and returned very promptly.
  5. Yes, comments were plentiful & constructive.
  6. Yes, very:  Rewriting / revising helped me A LOT.
  7. Yes.
  8. Yes. Yes.
  9. Yes.
  10. Yes. Yes.
  11. Yes.

7.What do you feel are the strengths and/or weakness of this course?

  1. I think it is very well organized and interesting and worth the effort.  The only problems is that the topic is so huge and we had to leave a lot out but I still feel we learned enough to have a good handle on Hugo.
  2. weaknesses—very few indeed!
  3. At times I felt some of the material was repetitious.
  4. There is so much to cover in a short amount of time.  But, in order to cover everything we need, we had to do a lot of work, which is understandable.  This course DID cover a lot & did go fairly in depth, which is a strength as well.
  5. You need to be self-motivated but the small class size also forms relationships that made me want to come prepared.  The general concern & effort of the professor was astounding.
  6. Weakness:  too much breadth—not enough depth, esp. w/ Ruy Blas & Les Misérables.  Strength:  Incredibly interesting material well chosen.
  7. I think that the course can be more organized.  But, in general, it was very motivating.
  8. The subject is really great and the course is taught amazingly well.  However, I wish there had been more historical context.  I know though that given the length of the semester, it would be  compromising to the richness of the materials covered to try to add more historyàmaybe another class?
  9. Strengths:  --instructor’s enthusiasm, knowledge; --interesting texts; --helpful supplementary materials (Q de compréhension, online resources, handouts).  Weakness:  --syllabus hard to navigate through; --maybe assign more of written assignments before assigning final project to allow more time to be focused on project.
  10. subject matter
  11. [no response]

8.What specific suggestions would you have for improving the course?

  1. I like it the way it is.
  2. Already discussed w/ Ms. Barnett.
  3. [no response]
  4. Perhaps split the course into two courses to slow down & go more into depth.  Les Misérables could easily have its own course.
  5. Cut out some smaller works such as some poems.
  6. To put Les Mis first then do poetry last b/c that way can tie themes of book to poetry.
  7. [no response]
  8. I opened up a 25th anniversary edition of Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead to find her quoting Hugo within the first paragraph of the preface.  The quote was something along the lines of “If writers only wrote for their own time, I’d break my plume in half and throw it to the ground.”  Though we covered his effect on his own period, I think it would be interesting to highlight the universality and timelessness of his writing, not just in the sense of many of his works being classics, but in terms of the role he saw for his work in the future.  Also, I’m not sure where to fit it in, but I think it would be really interesting and potentially very fruitful to look at more criticisms of his work.
  9. I feel I was juggling several things at once for this course—daily readings, compositions, final project, presentations.  Perhaps organize assignments so that students aren’t always multi-tasking.
  10. organized around themes
  11. There are too many materials tackled during the semester.  Less assignments and poems will be great.

9. Did you find the course enjoyable?  Which aspects?  Please comment.

  1. Yes, very much so.  I had never discovered the artist that is Hugo, and I’m in awe of his talent and perspective and vision.
  2. Yes—good reading.
  3. Yes, Mme Barnett is excellent and the material is interesting.
  4. I really liked this course because not only did I learn something I enjoyed, but I also improved my writing & speaking skills.
  5. Yes.  I enjoyed that I went in knowing very little of Hugo and never felt lost, and I came out knowing a great deal.
  6. Very!  It was my favorite class!  Very well taught!  Very interesting.
  7. Yes.  The discussion.
  8. Yes very much.
  9. The discussions were enjoyable, but heavy work load made class less enjoyable.
  10. Yes, it was fun & a very comfortable atmosphere.
  11. Yes.  The discussions were lively.

10.Would you recommend this course to other students?  Why or why not?

  1. Yes, because even though it  can be a lot of work at times, the knowledge you gain and the appreciation for M. Hugo that is won makes it worth the effort.
  2. Yes
  3. Yes
  4. Yes, you learn so much.
  5. Yes, great course to take if you’ve always had French language classes.  You can actually take something away from this.
  6. Yes absolutely.
  7. Yes. They will learn culture and politics.
  8. Yes absolutely.  For two reasons, the first being the instructor and the second being the material.
  9. Students should have a sufficient grasp of French language before entering the class.
  10. Definitely—great professor.
  11. Yes.  Just a chance to see the wonderful world of Hugo:  a genius.

II) Instructor

1. Did the instructor seem knowledgeable about the subject matter? 

  1. Yes, very much so.
  2. yes
  3. yes
  4. extremely knowledgeable
  5. always
  6. very!
  7. yes
  8. yes
  9. yes
  10. yes!
  11. yes
2.  Did the instructor seem organized, well-prepared and in control of the class?

  1. Yes
  2. incredibly
  3. yes!
  4. yes
  5. always
  6. yes, very
  7. yes
  8. yes
  9. yes—very well organized
  10. yes, all the time
  11. yes

3.  Was the instructor accessible to students outside of class (e.g., during office hours)?  Did s/he seem approachable?

  1. Yes, she was very welcoming & helpful & encouraging.
  2. yes
  3. very accessible, it was a big help
  4. yes
  5. Yes, she encouraged outside contact and was always prompt and helpful.
  6. yes, very!
  7. yes
  8. yes
  9. Yes—v. good. about meeting w/ students.
  10. yes, yes
  11. Yes.  She is very approachable. 

4.  To what extent did the instructor help further your interest in the subject?

  1. I’m now excited to pursue a major in French and see what the UVA French dept. has to offer.
  2. [no response]
  3. [no response]
  4. She was so interested in the subject, she made me interested as well.  Particularly b/c she taught ALL aspects of Hugo’s life.
  5. She fired my interest & got me to go beyond class to learn.
  6. I was interested before—so intensified interest.
  7. a lot
  8. a large extent
  9. She encouraged me to explore other works, make connections to other events, subjects I was studying.
  10. I enjoyed this class a lot more b/c of the professor.
  11. By choosing our own topics; it helped us to be more creative.

5.  To what extent did the instructor welcome alternative viewpoints?

  1. She was very good about seeking everyone’s opinion.
  2. Welcomed, but class format doesn’t allow for deep investigation of alternate approaches or reading.
  3. She was open.
  4. Always.
  5. Very much; she demanded reason but welcomed controversy.
  6. [no response]
  7. enough
  8. A great extent:  She encouraged alternative viewpoints at every turn.
  9. Always entertained new perspectives in discussions.
  10. all the time
  11. most of the time

6.  Did the instructor treat students of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations etc. equally?
     All students answered, “Yes.”

7.  Please comment on the classroom atmosphere fostered by the instructor.

  1. very open, good discussions fostered by thought-provoking questions & required participation.
  2. great at getting everyone involved at all levels
  3. very positive, open to discussion
  4. I loved this class.  We all got along we well and had interesting discussions in class.
  5. Very warm and comfortable.  Demanding & rewarding . . . all at once.
  6. Very nice friendly atmosphere—facilitates discussion.
  7. friendly
  8. Fun, relaxed and comfortable.
  9. Very warm atmosphere.  I felt comfortable speaking in front of class.
  10. Great!  Very open—sharing of ideas.
  11. A very welcoming atmosphere.

8.  Please comment on what you feel to be the instructor’s strengths and/or weakness in this course.

  1. She is very dedicated and approachable.  Her enthusiasm for the subject has rubbed off on me.
  2. Great organization.  Very delicate balance between quantity of work and quality of performance by students well maintained.
  3. [no response]
  4. She’s amazing.  Best teacher I’ve had here at UVA hands down.
  5. Does not push her opinion on you.  Very knowledgeable.  Approachable; genuinely cares for students as people.
  6. [no response]
  7. [no response]
  8. She was always working to create an environment that encouraged the formulation and sharing of personal opinions.  She was extremely knowledgeable and interest in every aspect of the course and its materials.  She worked to create a relationship between students that encouraged debate and discussion because of the comfort level attained through outside  classroom activities.
  9. Strengths:  Organization, preparedness.  Very approachable, cares for students.  Encouraged discussion; did not dominate them.  Open-minded.
  10. Strengths:  Organization, effective style of teaching.  Considers student feedback.  Weakness:  Too much work.
  11. She was very interactive with the students, and she was always opened [sic] to our concerns in improving her course.  Good work done!