By Michael J. Legeros

"One or two?"
  - Bugs Bunny

Be honest, it's more fun to slam someone than sing their praises.  To
whine about something instead of saying something nice.  And, I'd ar-
gue, it's also more *genuine*.  As both a long-time movie reviewer
and by-day technical trainer, I have observed that negative feedback
is (a.) far more likely to be communicated and (b.) way more likely
to be more specific.  No duh.  While cleaning out one of my file cab-
inets this week, I happened upon the following student evaluation
comments circa 1992, when Yours Truly was a 28 year-old Teaching As-
sistant at North Carolina State University.  The class was an intro-
duction to the campus' UNIX-based computing system; the students were
from the schools of Engineering, most of 'em Freshmen.  "What did you
like most" and "what did you like least" were the questions asked of
"my instruction."  In large, the forms fed back the expected; praise
for energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge of subject matter (plus the er-
rant "good critic"); condemnation for pacing, patience, and grade-re-
lated matters ("I have no idea if I'm passing or not").  Still, there
were *some* gems, mostly on the negative feedback front.  They're re-
printed below.  I don't mind sharing these lumps...

What did you like least about my instruction?

  o "Jokes"
  o "Sarcasm"
  o "Bad jokes"
  o "Extreme sarcasm"

  o "Handwriting"
  o "Mood swings"
  o "Shrewd remarks"
  o "Regular injections of humor"

  o "Too cocky"
  o "Takes too long to do stuff"
  o "Attitude toward people who are late"
  o "You have a sister, but didn't bring her to class"

  o "He looks like Skippy from 'Family Ties'"
  o "We do so much work under your instruction"
  o "The way you prance around in those short shorts"
  o "His appetite for keeping tardy people after class"

  o "That stupid board; you gotta use something, though"
  o "Inability to cope with others that are more superior to you"
  o "Assumes everyone is acquainted with computing environments at
  o "You have a tendency to be boring, but it's really not your fault;
     the material is boring"

 plus one *positive* comment:

   o "Sense of humor allows him to relate more like a friend than a
      teacher; Mike should be a counselor, or a shrink, or a patient"

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros


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