Student Viewpoint was once published by the Associated Students of the University of California at Davis (ASUCD) – before being replaced by websites like RateMyProfessors.com. That replacement was unfortunate because the student evaluations on the internet tend to be of the unrepresentative love-you-or-hate-you variety, more indifferent students having no reason to offer their ratings. In any case, the following ratings and comments were taken verbatim:
Fall 1998: A+
Professor Dean Simonton, an extremely knowledgeable and engaging person, attained excellent reviews from his students. Possessing great energy, he made the course a truly enjoyable experience. His organization of the course was outstanding and he was consistently well prepared. Professor Simonton’s style of presentation made the material especially captivating. However, some felt that the lectures were too fast paced. Students wanted more opportunities for discussion. They found the class very challenging but extremely valuable and interesting. Professor Simonton was animated, displaying his genuine love of his field of study. The course assignments were useful, especially for students pursuing psychology research. Professor Simonton gave the opportunity to explore many issues through the term paper. Students wanted more feedback on the rough drafts. He made himself accessible to his students and was very willing to help them in office hours. This class was exceptional. Professor Simonton’s great sense of humor and good command of the subject resonated well with his students.
“Dean is enthusiastic and entertaining. But he speeds through the material sometimes. Slow down a bit. Overall though, a great course.”
“Dean is very friendly and takes great pride in his class. His lectures and his outfits are always well planned.”
“I also enjoyed coming to class and observing what the lectures were going to be based on his T-shirts.”
Fall 1999: A+
Professor Dean Simonton met every one of his students’ expectations last fall. His students remember him as one of the best instructors they have ever had. Professor Dean Simonton demonstrated his knowledge, enthusiasm, and love for psychology. The structure of PSC 175 – Genius, Creativity and Leadership – also received positive remarks in the students’ responses to the course. The outline of lecture was clear and well organized. The content of the lecture material was informative and interesting in breadth, which included music, history, and philosophy. The class thought Dean Simonton perfectly answered their questions. Comments such as “always available for consultation” and “treats his students as colleagues” filled students’ descriptions of his office hours. This professor makes it evident that he is here to teach the other students, not to lecture at them. This class was exceptional, especially since there was only one exam and one paper. Some students would have preferred having a midterm also. Out of all this students gained the memorable experience of being a student of Professor Simonton.
“This is a good class and is fun to come to.”
“I like how you know ahead of time how to get good grades.”
“He treats us as colleagues, and lets us know he is there to teach us, not at us.”
“The assignments seemed slightly unexplained but then much detail was put into the grading.”
PSC 185: History of Psychology
Winter 1999: A+
Professor Dean Simonton’s History of Psychology course got rave reviews. All of the students praised Simonton as an astoundingly effective instructor. He displayed a thorough knowledge of the subject matter. 97% of students noted that Simonton’s course was meticulously organized. 100% of students also felt that Simonton presented material with unprecedented clarity. The professor openly welcomed questions and would further explain concepts if students did not fully understand them. Simonton was readily available to students outside of class and encouraged them to approach him. All of the students recognized Simonton’s fervent and contagious enthusiasm. The course assignments were valuable and helped students get the most out of this course. The readings were relevant and of appropriate quantity and difficulty. The examinations were fair and reasonably difficult. Simonton’s grading system was fair. The students felt that they learned a great deal from this course. Simonton was an amazing instructor and he made his class a rewarding experience for those who took it. Students felt very fortunate to have studied under Simonton’s tutelage.
“This was the best class I ever had! I feel inspired.”
“Dean Simonton is the best professor at UC Davis.”
“I am very glad to have taken this class and have learnt more in these 10 weeks than in my other 3 years in the field of Psychology. Thank you very much Professor Dean Keith Simonton.”
Winter 2000: A+
Dean Simonton is a favorite of psychology students. This time he was teaching the History of Psychology when students sang him praises. He is a qualified teacher of this subject, as even one of his own books is used in the course. Simonton excited students about the major figures of psychology but failed to show “the progression of psychological thought and inquiry” as planned. Still, most students greatly looked forward to attending Simonton’s lectures. Class had an informal setting that was created by Dr. Simonton’s simple approach and creative twists. Sometimes, Simonton would wear a T-shirt that pertained to the topic of the day. Though the class was laid-back and not considered difficult, students did have trouble getting a grasp of the material. Dr. Simonton spoke very quickly and showed slides in the same manner; students were not able to take notes, look at the images, or absorb the lecture very well. Simonton’s jam-packed lectures also left 25% of the class dissatisfied with the time spent on student participation. Though lectures weren’t perfect, Simonton successfully challenged and motivated his students to learn.
“He has a down-to-earth way of relating to his students while still challenging them.”
“He know his stuff and incorporates his ‘specialty’ into the course material allowing students to see a different side of psychology.”
“Excellent professor, but he talks so fast (hard to write everything).”
PSC 151: Social Psychology
Spring 1999: A+
Professor Simonton’s Social Psychology course was very highly praised. Students unanimously agreed that Professor Simonton was an outstandingly effective instructor. He held an amazing command of the subject matter. An articulate and interesting speaker, he displayed a fervent enthusiasm. Professor Simonton explained concepts clearly. Students easily understood his lectures. Coming prepared to class each day, he presented a well organized and an optimally structured course. Many enjoyed opportunities for discussion, yet they would have liked more time for questions. Professor Simonton was responsive to students and available for consultation. He displayed a great concern and willingness to help them. Course assignments were valuable and worthwhile. Exams were reasonable and graded fairly. Students felt challenged and motivated to learn. Overall, they emphatically believed that they learned an immense amount. Students found class to be an absolute pleasure to attend.
“Hail Caesar! The professor was very enthusiastic and enjoyed speaking after class about a variety of subjects.”
“Simonton is an approachable professor. Very helpful and kind.”
“Dean is an exceptional teacher – I really enjoyed the class.”
Note: At the time these surveys were conducted, 185 was numbered 120 and 151 was numbered 145. The Department of Psychology renumbered almost all of its courses beginning the 2000-2001 academic year.