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Slovak Studies Program

Slovak Transatlantic Cultures

Comments in anonymous student surveys:


Kept good teaching and learning environment. Asked us many questions to stimulate our thinking. Kept the work open enough for our own freedom in learning. The schedule for the course could be a bit more clear. Daily discussion. –understandable –funny –fair in judging work & assigning it –reasonable with due dates –the way we built our writing in a slow progress; I like it a lot.
His sense of humor. The way we gradually worked on assignments and received frequent feedback. Friendly; approachable; organized; teaching style engages students in class discussions. Perfecting the editing of papers. Class discussions. I have really enjoyed the course!
The lectures were thought provoking, I feel that much more was learned than described in the syllabus. (Being prepared for class was difficult.) Writing help & practice. Knowledge of material. History b/c it helped w/ other classes.
He knew the info well and created a fun learning environment. In class discussions. It is obvious that he has thoroughly read and analyzed all of the material because he has a lot of ideas that I would have never thought about. He presents these ideas so that they are easy to understand.
Dr. Votruba does an excellent job of making the class about discussion rather than just talking at us. Most of the students just take it for a Gen Ed and don't care that much, but he does an excellent job of making it interesting. I really felt involved in my learning and like I was developing both skills and knowledge. Presented a lot of material but his lectures tied everything together. He is very knowledgeable in the subject and made a course that I had little interest in, surprisingly pleasant to learn about.
Votruba is awesome. He is funny, he knows his stuff about Central Europe. A more organized syllabus with due dates set from the start of class would be appreciated. Prof V teaches in an extremely unique way and I think that grabs the students attention. He also allows for a high degree of independence to the students when they write so that they can take many different perspectives on the topic.
Made excellent use of examples and really helped me improve my writing ability. Sometimes would go off too much on one topic. The writing help and papers. Kept the class interesting and interactive. Interaction.
Made students think & gets the class involved in class discussions. The history & culture aspects were the most interesting & most informative. Knows the subject very well. Dr. Votruba's Slovak Studies website is an excellent reference for clarifying concepts. Great examples used to link immigration to Pittsburgh as we know it today, and Central Europe. He should assign more assignments. I felt at ease with his class – it was fun.
Entertaining, organized, and knows a great deal of what he's teaching. Able to write in different writing styles. Writing practice, historiography. He was very educated and passionate about the topics. He also presented visual aids and had debate with his class to better stress his points –kind of jumps around between lectures. The culture.
Very funny. Keeps your attention. Very interactive. Learning about the history of immigration. I was a little interested in it and this course was a great tool to increase my knowledge. Ability to clarify info with examples. Friendliness. Cooperation.
Our class discussions and readings, particularly the travelogues, were awesome. Start the midterm paper way sooner. The love of his work really shines through during the classes. His overall enthusiasm and passion for teaching are his major strengths. The structure of the course seemed a bit haphazard at times, but I feel like it was intentional.
The extensive research writing provided me with a more critical view when searching for sources.  
He's very knowledgeable on the subject & brings that across to his teaching. Learning about Slovak history and Central European history. He is extremely passionate about Slovakia/Central Europe and always has extra resources available for those who share his interests – I enjoy lecture because he is always excited to talk about his country! I feel the course organization could be a bit better. Interesting for my general knowledge about Europe/immigration.
The course was way more focused on history and conditions prior to emigration than I had anticipated. Having plenty of time to write the midterm and final essay.
Statistics and the Analytics that Prof V included really enhanced my understanding of the regions and situations we discussed. Professor Votruba presented engaging information and kept the class' attention for the entire period. He always connected very specific material to the larger concepts in the course
He has a great attitude and passion for the information he teaches. He's also very helpful in office hours and is very accessible. In my opinion, there are no weaknesses. Although sometimes I think it would be helpful if more information were put on the PowerPoints, only because it would be more helpful when referencing them. He knows everything about East Central Europe & connects it well to the Pittsburgh area. Which is very interesting. Very knowledgeable in general. Sometimes reading/writing assignments were not introduced enough.
–knows the subject very well –engages the class in discussion –can go on tangents –the discussion style teaching Depth of knowledge & a challenging approach to instruction. Many more readings would be helpful for background information. The help and review with writing technique.
He has a lot of knowledge in Slovak studies & immigration and makes class more interesting by using it. Writing practice. –Easy to talk to –Very knowledgeable –Sometimes irrelevant –Strengthened writing
Taught the course well. Made good use of PowerPoint presentations. Did not overuse them. Learned more about Central Europe and immigration than ever learned in high school. Incredibly interesting, humorous, able to relate concepts to students, helps us get motivated to learn, thorough in all topics, very knowledgeable about even the side questions we ask. He provides us with information and encourages us to think in such a fashion that we can not only understand but explain the information to others we meet who ask us questions about Slovak history & immigration. This man is a gem of a teacher. The lectures are incredibly informative. Out of This Furnace, while a little terrifying, is definitely worth reading even if you do not take this course. It is incredibly thorough and can be adapted to suit a class depending on their writing strengths.
–Learning the writing aspects of a specific type of document –Learning about another culture –Attending class and participating in discussions –Preparing for class by completing assigned reading before it was to be discussed in class –Perhaps make one PowerPoint that clearly contains all major important dates –Encouraged participation –Constructive comments on work –Thorough/detailed explanation of class texts & their utilization in research –Discussion/participation –The breaking down of texts in class
Helping the students think outside the box and to consider abstract ideas. History. He is kind and an entertaining lecturer – very fair grader and very knowledgeable. It was cool that he directly translated primary documents by himself for the class. Understanding Central Europe as a whole. We could have more discussions focused as a group rather than individuals.
–Presenting interesting, surprisingly relevant information –Encouraging critical thinking –Engaging students through participation and discussion –Hard to find information on concepts learned in class from outside sources –Showed examples –PowerPoint –Sometimes hard to understand because of organization
–Explaining in great detail –Reviewing over what we have talked about previously His major strengths are having a plethora of knowledge which he can readily explain things with. Learning about places my family is from is very interesting. The course started a little slow. Maybe more overview of course goals and plans.
Discussions are useful in bringing to light interesting things that might not otherwise be noticed. Learning a specifically Central European take on immigration. Good at making students analyze reading.


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