Children at Risk - W3615 - Evaluations



Back to Teaching Page

I took over teaching W3615, Children at Risk, from Profs Downey and Putnam in 2008 and taught the class as a seminar for three consecutive years. This class always attracted a diverse group of talented and motivated students and I was able to learn much from them. In particular I got a much better sense of what students expect from a Columbia-style seminar after my first run-through in 2008. I no longer teach this class, but some of my favorite elements of it are included in my current lecture course - Social Development.


Comments on Instructor Effectiveness

· very laid-back, allowed for the natural flow of discussion which is appropriate for a seminar. (2010)

· Dr. Curley is one of the best teachers I have ever had in college and post college! (2009)

· This was my favorite class taken at Columbia. Prof. Curley was always very supportive of class discussion and encouraged all students to participate. He was very successful at presenting the subject matter, and facilitating our discussions. The course structure was very helpful and wise, as it always kept us on our feet and encouraged us to learn the material but in a less stressful way than other seminars did. (2009)

· Very encouraging, allowing free flowing discussions. (2009)

· I love Prof. Curley! (2009)

· He was obviously very well-versed in the material and a good instructor but took a laid back approach to teaching the class (2009)

· Prof. Curley is knowledgeable and engaging. (2009)

· James was a wonderful professor! The topics and readings were very easy, and I am so glad that I was able to practice giving talks for extended periods of time, as well as quick presentation. He was easy to talk to, and responsive to the concerns and comments of the students. (2009)

· Instructor demonstrated a mastery of materials covered and encouraged alternative views during lively discussions. (2008)

· I think he lost the opportunity to really help us learn about research methodology in working with children and addressing the issues that face them. I would have preferred a more narrow focus in the class or more required participation through writing on the articles every week so that we were really required to learn and absorb how researchers tackle the problems that exist. (2008)

· James is a smart guy and a good teacher but he had some trouble getting students to participate and come on time. (2008)

· Prof. Curley is very knowledgeable and was very helpful throughout the semester. He s truly one of the nicest professors at Columbia (2008)

· Moderately effective (2008)

· Curley was good he obviously knows a lot about the subject and at times we could have benefited from hearing what he had to say more. (2008)

· James is great but I wish he had led more discussions (2008)


What were the best aspects of this course

· Class presentations and instructor comments. (2010)

· The instructor was extremely knowledgeable and very engaging. (2010)

· the whole class environment was very laid-back (2010)

· The weekly readings and breakdown of the subject matter. (2009)

· the presentations (2009)

· We learned so much about so many factors that put children at risk (2009)

· I really appreciated the chance to practice giving talks, write a paper that interested me, and the readings and discussion were very interesting! (2009)

· Curley is very knowledgeable, which helps to guide presentations. Forcing students to give overviews as well as journal discussions allows students to become confident when discussing and more proficient in reading and understanding material pertaining to the field. (2009)

· The discussions were interesting and the assignments were hard but very effective in gaining knowledge about the material (2009)

· Best aspects of the class were doing the presentations on the readings for the week

. It gave individual students the opportunity to incorporate their own knowledge and ideas about the topic while also relying on the readings. (2008)

· Interactive talk allowing us to learn and question more. (2008)

· We covered a lot (2008)

· The subject matter was very interesting I think James should contribute more to the discussion rather than letting students guide it. (2008)

· The breadth of material was well organized. (2008)

· I liked the breadth of the topics we covered and the overall organization of the course. Also Curley s accent. (2008)

· The content- so rich Also the attachments videos (2008)


Comments on readings, materials, assignments, and examinations

· It would have been nice to get some more feedback after class presentations. (2010)

· a lot of readings (a lot of which I honestly did not have time to do...), presentations were a good thing. final paper assignment is very long, and not that clear in terms of format/what we're supposed to talk about. (2010)

· I don't really know how I did on my presentations... (2009)

· I thought the balance of presentations, journal articles, and a final paper allowed us to engage more deeply in a variety of topics. The readings were very interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. (2009)

· The readings were generally very interesting - although they tended to get lengthy sometimes! (2009)

· Doing the presentations were a worthwhile and interesting way to expand on readings and assimilate information (2009)

Pretty good. (2008)

· Evident that instructor engaged in the selection of material that would stimulate critical interactions between presenters and audience. The readings were at times extensive but extremely relevant and dynamic. (2008)

· We should have done more writing analysis of research instead of presentations. Those aren t bad but don t really lead to a comprehensive understanding of the information presented. (2008)

· The assignments and presentations were useful in essence and he gave good feedback but it had to be solicited. Most students did not do very much work on their projects and the presentations were mostly pretty poorly done. (2008)

· Dr. Curley clearly set out the expectations of the course and was available when needed by our class. He was always present in office hours and very helpful with our assignments. (2008)

· All the readings were very interesting preparing Powerpoint presentations and the final research paper was a very good way to learn more in depth about specific topics. (2008)

· There were very few heavily weighted assignments I d suggest cutting down the presentation and having weekly or biweekly short responses to keep everyone doing the readings. The presentations were good for us to practice giving talks but hearing long not very good talks by the other students wasn t that engaging. (2008)

· Readings were good but sometimes too long (2008)


Please comment on ways to improve the course

· nothing really - pretty typical for a seminar class. (2010)

· I wish that we didn't watch powerpoints all class long. I wish we'd had more discussions and debates and maybe done some outreach with organizations that help at-risk children (2009)

N/A (2009)

· Cours is great. Would have liked more info on culture. Some students appeared to be intolerant of other's comments. Not the instructor's fault. It should be stressed that behavior such as that is not tolerated. (2009)

· I wish that there had been more feedback on the presentation and perhaps the paper proposals. It would have been useful to know how I could improve the presentations. It seems that several students did not have much experience presenting. Also, I wish that there had been some kind of check, to ensure that everyone was reading. Another seminar I took asked to pose discussion questions the night before seminar, and that was useful to ensure that I read all the materials, and to facilitate discussion. Concerning the presentations - they should be capped at the specified time limit, and presenters should always pose questions to the class. I enjoyed that especially. Lastly, I wish that we had received a syllabus in the beginning of the semester. It would have helped me organize my schedule better. (2009)

· More input/guidance from Professor Curley (2009)

· It would be nice to have presentations given by the professor instead of by students. For the price of a course at Columbia, the professor should be doing some teaching. Perhaps in future years, journal presentations could still be done by students, with the overview done by the professor. (2009)

· Professor Curley to continue to be Professor Curley. (2008)

· Have students limit their presentations to 1/2 hr to allow for more questions and possibly a little more instructor talk time. (2008)

More research analysis (2008)

· Don t let students share personal information as examples. (2008)

· The course is based on student presentations. Many presentations were poorly put together and often boring since they were based entirely on the readings. i think adding a lecture component or more discussion would better facilitate learning the material. (2008)

· I think the course could have been run more a like a traditional seminar I would cut down the lenght and importance of the student presentations maybe spend half the time on that and half on discusion. (2008)

· Have more class discussions also analyzing the methods of the different approaches to different topics (2008)


General comments

excellent class! (2010)

Great Class!!!! (2009)

· Enjoyed every aspect of the course. (2009)

· more class discussion, less repetition of articles we've all already read. (2009)

· More similar seminar and seminar type classes should be offered (2008)

· As I embark on my graduate studies at Harvard my wish is to encounter professors with the combination of mastery and exuberance for the subject matter as I have enjoyed from Professor Curley. (2008)

I enjoyed this course (2008)

· I learned a lot in this course. I only wish that we were able to listen to Professor Curley lecture more. (2008)

· I loved this course I learned so much. (2008)

· This has the potential of becoming a great class if we had more opportunities or maybe obligations to really engage critically with the literature rather than spending so much of our time passivly listening to student lectures. (2008)


Back to Teaching Page