*Quantitative analysis of my recent teaching evaluations is above. Below is a selection of written student comments.
CARLETON UNIVERSITY: DEPARTMENT OF LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (2013-2015)
LAWS/HIST 3305.D - Crime and State in History
"Professor Harden has been one of my favourite, but also one of my toughest, professors so far at Carleton. He expects a lot of work from his students that I'm sure many full-time students don't always have time to complete, but the work we do both in and out of the classroom is incredibly relevant, interesting, and engaging. I enjoy Joel's informal style of teaching and really appreciate the humility, human connection, and honesty he brings in to his lectures. I also really love the discussion element in classes and wish more upper-year history/law courses were similarly structured to this one!"
"Joel as an amazing teacher, he is like a walking encyclopedia, he has an amazing knowledge of what he teaches and helps others to become active participants when they are reluctant. By far the best class I have ever had."
"Great class, great prof, he really loves teaching. If anything he was too charitable towards the students. Course material was interesting and engaging. I appreciate his love of good writing. Hope I can have him as a prof again in the future."
"You implement a very different teaching style that is most likely the best way to legitimately get everyone involved in learning about the issues you arise as well as actively engage everyone in discussion. People won't like it because they're used to just typing notes but why type notes you'll forget when you can actually discuss things and learn from others and learn of your own opinions."
"This class was not what I expected, how the style of discussion and lack of "lecture" works. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed the class, including small discussion groups to facilitate communication with peers. This has been one of the few classes where I knew no one going in, but have managed to meet and interact with people during class time, which generally does not occur. I think this style would be even more effective in a slightly smaller environment."
"I love your style of teaching because you make the learning environment a fun place to be. I really have enjoyed the course and I really look forward to taking other courses with you. You definitely made my list of my favourite three professors. I honestly wish other professors would use some of the same teaching styles. Thank you for always being open-minded and considerate, it's very refreshing."
LAWS 4800.B (Environment and Social Justice)
"It's refreshing to be in a fourth year law class with a professor that not only loves what he's doing, but he takes the time and understanding to relate and build relationships with all his students. Being a poor formal academic writer, I only wish there was longer notice for the [weekly written] responses. I feel since I rush to complete them, my best work is not portrayed. I love the course and I have learned a lot thus far. I truly believe Carleton needs more professors like [Joel]. Thus far, he is overall the best prof I've had and he makes 8:30am a lot easier."
"Excellent fourth year professor. Created one of the best learning environments that allowed for individuals, not just myself, to engage in course materials in the most comfortable way possible. This course went above and beyond expectations and I would recommend the professor and the class to anyone. Great job."
"Outstanding professor! Professors like this are the reason why I love the Law Department at Carleton so much. He was very compelling and challenging in how he allowed us to see and comprehend the various sides to each major debate. Professor Harden was dedicated to making sure students understood the material and providing a relaxed learning environment."
"I really enjoyed this class! In addition to imparting valuable course material, I feel like the class structure really helped me develop my own opinions and ideas and cemented the ability to create a strong argument from these ideas."
"I think this class is informative and interesting. The class discussions are always interesting and they motivate the students to participate even if they normally wouldn't. Going around the table in the beginning of class is a great way for the facilitator to engage with the students. The class/teacher discussions limit the intimidation some students may feel when they are in a school setting. Although we do not write notes or learn from a lecture-style presentation, I think the readings, weekly assignments, class discussion, and videos are a more effective way of understanding and analyzing topics. The activity we did in the first few classes with the blank sheets of paper was a great way for students to interact in small groups, to develop answers to the questions asked and to present them to the class. I would encourage even more interactive group discussion activities."
"Professor Harden is a great professor who challenges his students to think beyond what one normally does in his class. He challenges his students to recognize the arguments against their own position, and seriously think critically about what the opposing side says. His class is a useful source for essay writing and he develops a classroom where people can easily voice their opinions and be active participants. He is a great teacher, and the class was overall one of my favourites. He marks a little strict for a fourth year class, but other than that, a great class where the professor challenges you to do more, and be actively engaged at all times."
"What I enjoy about this course is the relevance to everyday life and how the focus can be on practical application. While the writing assignments can be annoying, they are helpful. It forces me to think about the readings and hone my writing skills. Also, the relaxed class atmosphere makes me feel comfortable speaking in class."
"Professor Harden is a great professor who challenges his students to think beyond what one normally does in his class. He challenges his students to recognize the arguments against their own position, and seriously think critically about what the opposing side says. His class is a useful source for essay writing and he develops a classroom where people can easily voice their opinions and be active participants. He is a great teacher, and the class was overall one of my favourites. He marks a little strict for a fourth year class, but other than that, a great class where the professor challenges you to do more,and be actively engaged at all times."
FYSM 1502.B - Security and Social Movements: Protest, Democracy, and Social Change
"This class was one of the best classes I've ever attended. The course load was good and the assignments were very fair and spaced out in a relatively good amount of time. The fact that class was only about 20 students made it easy to conduct debates and really connect with the other students and prof. I enjoyed how interactive that course was due to the amount of people and loved what the topics were throughout the course."
"Joel is a wonderful professor. The FYSM class is an interesting class that will hopefully continue for years to come. Joel is very understanding, accommodating and is always willing to meet outside of class, which is wonderful. He does a great job teaching FYSM1502 and hopefully students in the future will be able to take the course!"
"The best professor I had this year. I strongly recommend expanding his class, his role in the department and first year seminars in general."
"I'm extremely lucky to have had a professor like Joel Harden in my first year. This class was probably one of my favourite classes of the year and a large part of that was due to Joel. The passion in which he teaches the various topics are evident and he provokes each and every one of his students to think critically about them. His teaching methods were highly effective in facilitating an effective and open learning environment. Thank you for being the kind of professor that makes your students want to be better. You always pushed me in the right direction and were always available to answer any questions if there were doubts. I know I came out of this class a better person and student because of you. Thank you for that. I truly enjoyed this class and I'm glad I got to experience an amazing professor like you."
"The University would be stupid to ever let him go, or to try and change him in the way he teaches. He may potentially be the most important teacher to first-year students to prepare them for the future. First-class instructor."
"A great class that was very beneficial for me because it allowed myself to work on social skills, and build a knowledge towards current and past social movements. The FYSM format was very well designed and this was my favourite class that I had in my first year of university."
"Joel's class was definitely my number one this term. I always looked forward to learning about the next weeks topic and I put a lot of thought into each reflection, as did everyone else. Joel was encouraging and provided a safe and open space for learning. I believe I speak for everyone when I say that all the classmates felt comfortable in the class and happy to learn. Subject that I found difficult were made easy and we're put into modern context so it all seemed very relevant. I would recommend FYSM classes to anyone entering university."
"It was the best class. Joel allowed us to interact with every person in the class and we covered so much material that I actually remember and absorbed. I loved how we had the little assignments each week, instead of tests where we would have had to memorize the material. It was a very open class where we can state our opinions with no judgement. If we did not know specific things we have the opportunity to learn from our classmates and Joel. Joel was very god at getting us to look deeper and find different perspectives of problems."
"It was a really good course. the course material was not as i expected and some topics that were discussed I hated, but I loved how the class was run and it made my first year better. I also suffer from anxiety and the prof was super understanding. I would take this course again, however I wish some of the course material was a little different."
"Pretty much a near-perfect performance from Professor Harden. He truly has sparked my interest not only in the course and the program, but in a new type of learning as well."
"This course is not [what] I expected when I signed up for it. Initially, I thought that I hated it, however, I am really glad I stayed in it. I am learning vital information about history, politics, and activism from a modern perspective. The only struggle I have in this course is speaking up. I am very shy in class discussions and did not realize [participation] was worth so much. However, I have yet to skip/miss a class. I find that the way information is taught is easier to comprehend and to critically analyze and I am happy that I took this course."
"This was one of my favourite classes. At first I was hesitant to take this course but I am so glad I took it. Since it was not a lecture-style platform, the class was able to interact and communicate with each other face-to-face in a smaller group format. I was able to learn from the different viewpoints and thoughts my classmates expressed. The mood in the classroom was, mostly, very impassioned and energetic for a Friday afternoon. Joel did a great job at listening to each student's feedback and commentary as well as enticing other quieter students to join the debates. When the conversation hit a standstill, Joel always knew how to create more controversy and begin a new discussion ... Joel is a great instructor and this class has helped shape my viewpoints, ideologies, and opinions on a variety of social justice issues. I have been able to learn about different topics and to discuss them with my peers. Joel's kindness and upbeat attitude definitely contributed to the warm and inviting classroom atmosphere. As I'm sure all my other classmates would agree, if this class was offered every year; I would [enrol]."