Observations & Evaluations<!-- --> | <!-- -->Ben Pettis
Ben Pettis

Observations & Evaluations

May 14, 2022


Faculty Observations & Evaluations

Summary of Comments:

Fall 2022

TA for CA 155 with Dr. Eric Hoyt

  • In the classroom, Ben’s students respond very well to his teaching style—which combines humor, compassion, expertise, a clear structure, and a willingness to work through problems with them. His students feel like they can go to him with anything, and he will respect them and help them accomplish their goals. He creates a safe, secure, and fun space in the classroom that helps facilitate learning. He is simultaneously approachable, professional, and empathic. We need more teachers on this campus like him.
  • Ben is accessible to his students, along with to his fellow TAs who he helps lead and support. And very accessible and an outstanding collaborator to me, too.
  • Ben was a vital collaborator to me in the leadership of CA 155 and the continued improvement of the class. And it was alway a pleasure to work with him.
  • Early in the semester, Ben pitched me on the idea of him teaching a guest lecture on responsive web design (which refers to a method of building websites that display differently depending on the type and size of device the user is on—for example, desktop, laptop, iPad, smart phone, etc.). I had previously resisted covering responsive web design material because I could not figure out how to present the content in a way that would be clear and interesting while avoiding overwhelming the students. Fortunately, Ben found the way. He delivered a brilliant and engaging guest lecture that emphasized big picture takeaways above the usage of specific lines of code (though those were also threaded in for students who wanted them).
  • One specific innovation of Ben’s as a CA 155 TA has been the development on teaching modules that can be introduced by TAs within the classroom and/or utilized by students who are working independently. Last Spring, for example, Ben created a Photoshop “crash course” that can be freely accessed at https://benpettis.com/teaching/examples/examples/photoshop-demo/. The creation of this module responded to a pressing set of needs: many students were absent from class or having trouble concentrating and retaining knowledge while inside the classroom. The Photoshop “crash course” video gave them an expertly designed (and fun!) introduction to a software program that many had previously found to be overwhelming. The students viewed and followed along through the module in large numbers, and the results were evident in the higher quality work that was produced in the Spring compared to the Fall. I should also note that Ben took the initiative on making the crash course videos. It was his idea. He was not required to do it. But he identified a way that we could more effectively teach the 150 students enrolled in the course, and he went for it and put it into action. The result was that many more students were able to succeed on the assignment because they had a resource they could turn to if they had been absent from class or present but too burnt out to pay attention (which has been very common since the return to in-person instruction). By taking this sort of initiative with module design (and the guest lecture), Ben has emerged as a true leader both within the class and the larger graduate program. He generously shares his lesson plans and the tutorials he creates with the four other CA 155 TAs. He also sits down with the other TAs and brainstorms ways that they can integrate these materials into their labs and adapt them to their needs. He is warm and supportive in his interactions with his peers.
Fall 2021

TA for CA 155 with Dr. Eric Hoyt

  • I love the energy he brings to his section and our work together.
  • He communicates course material clearly and effectively to students, and he is always prepared to help them when they have follow up questions.
  • Ben's feedback is always prompt and constructive.
  • Ben was highly accessible to his students. They felt comfortable asking him questions -- whether it was in-person, over Zoom, or via email (which he always responded to quickly).
Spring 2021

TA for CA 250 with Dr. Jason Lopez

  • Throughout the semester he demonstrated strengths in pedagogy, communication, and problem solving.
  • I’ve seen him working on strategies to get students more engaged, which is something that all of us are working on.
  • Ben was extremely available to the students and to our team. The former exemplifies his commitment to his students, and I personally am very grateful for the latter. Running a course like this requires a lot of communication, and Ben was always available to work through anything that came up.
Fall 2020

TA for CA 250 with Dr. Jason Lopez

  • Ben was an extremely prepared section leader. He had a clear vision of the goals of each portion of the section. He created good opportunities for students to think through the material.
  • Ben worked in a timely fashion and submitted the grades when they were due. He gave the students the information they needed to move forward with future work, which is extremely important in this class.
  • While keeping the course materials in mind, Ben managed also to create a space for students to speak their minds. You could tell students were comfortable with Ben and each other, but also kept their focus. Students learned a lot from Ben, and from following his example.
Fall 2019

Instructor of Record for SPCM 200 - Observed by Dr. Tom Dunn

  • Pre-class: quiet (day after Halloween); attendance improved as class went on
  • Began with preview of class and addressed general questions
  • Used a lot of reframing of questions and points to elicit class participation
  • You deliver a significant amount of course content in the conversation about the TedTalk clip. This is advanced teaching at work - bravo!
  • Good mix of concepts and practical advice
  • Nice job thinking and adjusting in the moment to make the most of teaching opportunities
Spring 2019

Instructor of Record for SPCM 200 - Observed by Dr. Tom Dunn

  • You start the class off with a bang – getting people’s attention, presenting the day’s agenda, laying out upcoming deadlines, and raising the energy in the room. This works well! And your students really appreciate how you keep them on track.
  • You teaching persona is excellent: conversational, friendly, knowledgeable, engaging, and encouraging. And you clearly know the course content and assignments inside and out.
  • Your brainstorming activity was quite well done. It had a clear aim, connected to the students’ needs and the day’s topic, moved progressively, included individual and group work, and asked students to report out. Bravo!
  • Students asked questions freely and sought clarification as necessary. You created a welcoming and supportive space to do so and answered questions with genuine concern and good answers.

Student Evaluations

Average Scores and Selected Written Comments:

Spring 2024

Overall average: 6.55 (out of 7) with 63% overall response rate

  • Ben is so genuine and passionate about the course content. He really made an effort to engage students and make meaningful discussion, even whenwe were tired on Monday mornings.
  • He is very knowledgeable and easy to approach when it comes to any complications or questions.
  • He always had a clear structure of how every discussion was going to go! Very communicative and willing to help.
  • Ben was very responsive and timely to every email I sent him! I really appreciated this responsiveness, especially when I was stressed about missing class and an assignment due date.
  • Ben is a great listener and he has a great casual teaching style that makes it easy to engage with course content.
  • I think Ben is a great TA to have. I'd have to rank him highly in terms of other TAs I've had at the UW these past three years. He was knowledgeable in course concepts and was of great help with the more technical side of Adobe Audition. I would defi nitely take another class with Ben as a TA!
  • His energy and pace each week kept me engaged. I liked his use of a shared google document with the class as well as his written instructions on the board.
  • Ben was super communicative over email and always very organized. Always in a good mood and encourages students to participate in a pretty lowkey environment
Fall 2023

Overall average: 6.68 (out of 7) with 59% overall response rate

  • I enjoyed the enthusiasm Ben brought to discussions, it made me want to pay attention and participate more.
  • Ben was very encouraging of the work we did in small groups and seemed genuinely excited to hear our thoughts on the week's topics.
  • I really appreciated the many course content examples and interactive activities utilized, and I think they are very valuable and should not be changed.
  • Ben was a great TA, he was very kind and funny and understood when the class either wasn't fully grasping a topic or wasn't interested and was able to pivot the discussion successfully.
  • the Google Doc concept was really good and I liked it a lot.
  • I really like how you wove the ideas from the lecture into our discussion and talked about the readings as well.
  • The instructor was very engaging and knowledgeable. He was also very communicative and interacted with students effectively.
Fall 2022

Overall average: 6.672 (out of 7) with 52% overall response rate

  • Ben is good at explaining complicated instructions. He also did a really good job of encouraging productive class discussions.
  • I found it helpful that Ben was very confident and knowledgable in what he was teaching and constantly encouraged student participation in class. He would also answer every single questions raised by me or one of my classmates in detail.
  • Overall, I really enjoyed being in Ben's lab as his enthusiastic and methodical teaching style made the course more interesting. He was always eager to help students who may have been confused at times and continually made sure to check in to see if we understood the material. His powerpoint were straight to the point and organized. It was such a pleasure being in his section!
  • Ben did a great job providing clear and concise instructions, while being there to support his students in class.
  • Great!! He knew what he was talking about and so helpful when help was needed. He made all of his expectations clear at the beginning of the year and was probably the best TA I have had at this school
  • great communicator, super knowledgable about eveyrhting he's teaching, and super nice and funny so he made things seem less intimidating and possible
Spring 2022

Overall average: 6.459 (out of 7) with 60% overall response rate

  • I thought he did a really good job conveying all the material and offering assistance when needed.
  • 10/10 ben was a really great instructor and resource!
  • He is so friendly and kind and helps his students a lot in terms of learning and feedback while encouraging them positively.
  • Ben was very accessible and easy to communicate with. He responded to emails and made instructions very clear. He definitely helped me succeed in this course
  • Ben was a great TA and facilitated learning by giving students the necessary resources to succeed.
Fall 2021

Overall average: 6.306 (out of 7) with 44.83% overall response rate

  • Really great energy. Loved the enthusiasm that Ben brought to lab every morning, and his positivity and humor had a profound impact on my learning in the course :)
  • Ben was a great TA and very accommodating to students. ... Ben always gave us time in class to work on things, was helpful, and respected our time.
  • His approach for helping students and he was always very responsive over email.
  • I had Ben as a TA both online last year and in person this year and I still think he's the best TA I've had. In both classes you could tell he cared about the topics and class and he cared about the student's success. Going to discussion or lab never felt like a requirement but an opportunity to learn more.
  • very nice, 11/10 kindness
Spring 2021

Overall average: 6.413 (out of 7) with 49.32% overall response rate

  • The TA was well-organized and easy to contact. It was clear he cared about making sure students had a good experience with the course.
  • I really enjoyed Ben's enthusiasm for the course material, made it feel more worth learning than some classes where the TA's seem to be bored by the material too.
  • Knowledgeable on the topic and easy to approach with questions, also provides helpful feedback
  • He was relatable and clearly interested in the course content. You could tell he wanted to be in discussion and cared about each students well being in addition to their comprehension of course material.
  • When members of my discussion didn't know how to respond to a question, he would rephrase it to increase ingagment [sic].
  • Explained things (and then re-explained things) effectively.
Fall 2020

Overall average: 6.41 (out of 7) with 49.25% overall response rate

  • I think he was super engaging and respectful of each of his students opinions. I always feel very welcome in his class to share any answer even if I am unsure of it and he would help guide you in the right direction if you're a little off.
  • Very enthusiastic and encouraging toward students' contributions to class. Made class objectives and expectations clear which was really helpful when preparing for discussion section each week.
  • I felt that Ben did at great job at initiating interesting discussions and allowed us to think more in depth on the material we were studying. He was also very helpful whenever we had questions
  • Great! Really friendly and good at connecting our thoughts to the class material, the way a discussion ought to.
  • Ben's engaging and encouraging nature made me (and likely other students) feel very comfortable contributing ideas to discussion
Spring 2020
  • Ben was very good. I felt like his teaching and speaking styles were very good and he handled the transition to online very well. He improved my confidence in public speaking and I appreciate his instruction in this course
  • He always made sure that we had all our resources, and he understood that the class is something that most people are not comfortable with. Even though it was a class that you had to grow in, the expectations were reasonable and comfortable as well.
  • When the whole pandemic thing went down, he was very kind and flexible about everything. You can tell that he wants the class to succeed and truly get something out of it.
Fall 2019
  • I believe he wants us to know what the university has planned for SPCM 200. He knows that this class isnt one most people want to take and I appreciate that he attempts to make it more interesting and engaging and try and relate it into our future.
  • Having feedback as quickly as possible is critical in classes like this as if there is no feedback or it doesn't happen before the next assignment and I received a bad grade on the last one I don't know where I went wrong and how to do better. Therefore, how quick feedback in this class was was truly appreciated and critical to my success
  • Ben was very responsive to the class and showed a genuine interest in the class, the students and in being there.
  • Ben Pettis was an amazing instructor that made me feel heard, understood, and valued. Whenever anyone would speak up, he would validate their perspective and continue the discussion with their thought in mind.
  • Ben understands the student experience and translates that to his grading promptness and lecture style.
Spring 2019
  • Considering that our class was at 8 in the morning and a public speaking class is difficult to help motivate students (especially college students) to participate and come to class, Ben did a fantastic job. I had no issues with Ben and the way he taught and if I was to rate his instructing ability I would give it a 10/10.
  • Ben made it very clear and was very helpful with providing the information that was needed and walked us through and helped with some examples. Like when we would look at the sample speeches and grade it ourselves was really helpful to know what we needed to do and what we needed not to do.
  • Instructor communicates all information we need to know. He provides an inclusive environment and grades fairly on speeches. He is very approachable, so it isn't intimidating when coming to him for help. Provided a really good environment for the type of class it is.
  • This overall is a good course. Ben really made this course great though. He was welcoming and fun and recognized that we are students and emphasized [sic] with that. He was the reason there were so many strengths.
Fall 2018
  • Ben was a great professor and had a great sense of humor. He taught this course well.
  • I am glad many students have to take this course. Public speaking not not always the easiest thing to do when surrounded by strangers. Ben did a great job at helping each of us (those who asked) become a better public speaker and achieve a good grade. Pop quizzes suck but they helped me understand and made me read the book, I know other instructors did online quizzes so the students really didn't have to try. Again, I am glad Ben was my instructor and hope he can teach classes in the future.
  • Ben was a great instructor. Class sessions were informative and his feedback on our speeches was fantastic and extremely helpful!