The following are unfiltered, unedited, written student evaluations from courses I’ve taught at Western Michigan University. Evaluations are listed by course, starting with the most recently uploaded. Student evals are voluntary, often typed on their phones, and are only posted after students have received their final course grades.
ENGL 3660 Advanced Fiction Writing, Spring 2016 (10 students, 6 evals) “No Excuses Bootcamp”
What are the major strengths of the instructor/course?
  • She is a writer, and knows a lot about the craft. I was glad to learn from her.
  • Professor Valentine uses her time well. She makes sure to not waste the students time with lecture and instead teaches her students useful writing habits.
  • Writing exercises
  • The creative freedom to write about anything and still have that work analyzed and critiqued while fitting the author’s vision. The small class size also helped give individual attention to students and made for a more focused environment. The instructor was very personable, approachable, and made communication a top priority.
Please comment on the grading procedures in the course.
  • The grading procedures were clear.
  • The majority of the points in this course come from original and final drafts of stories as well as regular attendance and participation. The other comes from attending and writing about a public reading. I thought this way of organizing points was fitting for this course. There was a very extreme emphasis on attendance, which was not a problem for me, but I could see how other students might have a problem with this. However, with a class size that is so small where we analyze each other’s work, it makes sense to require students to be present as much as possible.
What other comments do you have?
  • I really liked the flashback exercise we did in class. I also liked the subtext exercise we did, I thought it was pretty hard. But thats good because we need to be challenged. I think the most valuable thing this class taught me though was to one:not be afraid to fuck with my characters, and two:how to edit. I didn’t know how to edit. Learning the processes behind it really helped me feel less stressed about my final portfolio, and made me feel better as a writer. I think that the “public flogging”, was also really helpful. Not only to participate but to watch as well. There wasn’t anything that really didn’t work for me in the class. I feel like I grew as a writer.
  • My biggest takeaway from Aimee’s course is the importance of rewriting. The course was designed in a way such that four original works would be edited into a final portfolio. Aimee made it clear that her idea of editing was more than syntax and name changes. She expected changes in chronology, narration, setting, even themes. It was a challenge to change work I’d already felt confident in. When I was really rethinking my work though, I made huge improvements. It was a valuable lesson, one not to forget.
  • Many of the craft lessons were helpful in making me think deeper about my writings. I specifically liked the raised stakes, house on fire, and shape of a story lessons. The raised stakes lesson forced me to expand on my ideas and make my stories more in-depth by taking risks. The house on fire lesson made me really think about my characters’ values which gave me a better idea to show who they are as people in my writings. The shape of a story lesson showed me the different ways in which I can format my stories by having the character be at different stages in their life at the beginning, middle, and end of my writings. I also liked receiving in-depth critiques about my writings that were formatted in a pros and cons type review of my work. I learned what I do well which gave me confidence in my abilities as well as areas of improvement which really helped me look over my work to make edits. I also liked providing the same feedback for other writers so I can show them the parts that work and the parts that did not work as well for me as a reader. Something I used to struggle with in the past was going back over my work to make changes. I used to think I was messing up a finished product. However, after this course, I was able to see my work in a new light and actually enjoyed picking my writings apart to see which parts I could improve on and which parts I could eliminate.
ENGL 3660 Advanced Fiction Writing, Fall 2015 (18 students, 8 evals)     “No Excuses Bootcamp”
What are the major strengths of the instructor/course?
  • Very intensive
  • Honesty and critical responses.
  • Aimee was really great at making time available to us to review our writing, to give us advice, and to help in any way she could. She was fun and down to Earth, which made the class really open and was conductive to class participation. Being a student herself, she understood how important our classes were and respected our time. I really enjoyed her “No Excuses” Workshop Class. I felt I really improved my writing skills and have a better idea of what goes into creating a peice of writing that will even be considered for publishing.
  • Being forced to write four stories and highly edit. She really knew what she was talking about and was great in giving us details on how to write well and do’s and dont’s of writing.
  • Great classroom workshops! Good vibes, really learned a lot.
  • The instructor was very knowledgeable in the material. The course was designed to work on weaknesses as they arose throughout the semester. Each week, my writing was analyzed, critiqued and exercised.
  • The instructor is very detailed when giving out instructions to the class. The instructor is also very helpful, and willing to put the same amount of effort into the class as the students are.
Please comment on the grading procedures in the course.
  • Skip class and thou shall not pass. I’m not sure this is entirely effective; I think that quality of writing should matter when it comes to grading, as bad writing is almost a complete waste of time when it comes to accomplishing course objectives. The suggestion I made could close this gap because with more guided workshop submissions, you could get a better idea of who is and isn’t learning/paying attention.
  • Grading was normal.
  • It would help if grades were put in elearning
  • Grading is solid. As long as people attend class, put effort into their writing and show enough concern to go back and revise their work, they will pass. Obviously, better writers get better grades.
What other comments do you have?
  • Loved this class, loved this professor!
  • I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to buckle down, work on my book and submit it to a group of writers that care because we were all in it together and reading each other’s works.
ENGL 2660, Writing Fiction and Poetry, Spring 2015 (18 students, 15 evals) “Letters & Literature”
What are the major strengths of the instructor/course?
  • Got me to open my mind more and taught me how to communicate better through my writing.
  • Aimee was very helpful for me, I struggled with writers block and she was able to help me through it.
  • I like how confident she is and how helpful her answers are. I think she knows so much about creative writing and she isn’t afraid to share her knowledge.
  • Brought new ideas, exercises, and a refreshing amount of creative intellect. While also having an instructor who cares about the students and her drive is to create an institution that lets the younger writers strive. Thanks for a good class!!
  • Taught important skills. Fun!
  • creating an environment conducive to writing creatively and openly, without forcing us to conform to too many strict rules.
  • Aimee is overall just a super cool chick. Sharing my work to others, especially reading it out loud, is not something I have ever been comfortable with, however, she created an environment in which doing so was easy. This was my first workshop course, and I was a little bit nervous about it. But, on the first day, she made it clear that I was surrounded by writers like myself, and I knew that I was going to enjoy it. I was right. Although she was our professor, she also seemed like somebody that I would be friends with outside of class, which made asking her questions and communicating with her incredibly painless. She’s without a doubt one of my favorite professors, and I’m a little sad that the class is over.
  • The workshop setting is great, especially for someone who’s never had that experience before
  • The instructor is honest. I was afraid I was going to get someone who always would nod their head.
  • The flexibility in this course is nice. She is not out to get her students…she wants everyone to learn and that’s what she cares about the most. I can tell she is very passionate about writing which I appreciate.
  • She was interesting, funny, fun to be in class with, communicated well outside of class.
Please comment on the grading procedures in the course.
  • Grading procedures were always caught up with.
  • I wasn’t actually really sure, other than attendance. I suppose the other thing would be just turning in work and the final portfolio.
  • As normal as any other writing class.
  • Fair!
  • Maybe it’s because I never really read the syllabus, but I wasn’t really sure about the grading procedure.
  • Grading was solid and consistent, easy to guess what kind of grade I’d be getting on any given assignment
  • Well established
  • I absolutely hate that I have no idea what grade I have in the class and it ends in two days.
  • I would’ve liked more frequent grades, so that I could keep track of my progress in the course.
How has your writing developed/changed since taking this course?
  • My writing has changed because I used to over think on my writing and it has taught me how to expand my mind and let it go different places.
  • My writing has grown from the past.
  • My writing has gotten SO much better solely because I never hand-wrote anything before coming to class.
  • It has simply became more opened. I’ve expanded on different ideas and different regular writing techniques.
  • I have grown as a person and much as a writing.
  • I’ve become less worried about making my writing “consumeable” and more concerned with accurately expressing myself, not worried what other people think.
    I feel like I have a stronger idea of my strong and weak points in my writing. I’ve found that I’m probably a stronger poet than I am a fiction writer, and feel I have improved in both areas. I know I will take the knowledge and feedback I have gained in this class and use it to continue improving as a writer.
  • Yes, I believe that my writing has greatly developed within this course. It allowed me to express my creativity more than I though I could.
  • I feel better about sharing my writing, and most of the feedback I’ve gotten makes me feel more confident in some of the writing choices I make
  • Better than what it was. I think taking this course pushed me to think on what I was writing.
  • I am more creative with my writing , and less scared
How did the “Letters & Literature” focus of this creative course make you think differently about writing?
  • Because the activities that were assigned to us were always different.
  • As one who does not write many letters, I enjoyed the uniqueness to the style
  • I understand the importance of writing and being relaying emotions and information through letters
  • It allowed for a better understand of communication for me, whether it was within actual human social interactions or to interactions of characters or even to a smoother idea of narration within my stories. It was rad.
  • It taught me about myself and how to grow as a writer and person.
  • It gave me a renewed appreciation for writing letters, and it showed me the prevalence of letters in literature, which I was previously unaware of.
  • It allowed me to draw parallels to the reasons why letters are a great means of communication and writing development.
  • I found out that I really enjoy writing letters, which is going to come in super handy for my long distance relationship this summer
  • I thought it was an interesting theme, but I wanted different ones.
  • It made me think about communication in writing more
  • I enjoyed the letter focus, it was a good medium to communicate ideas/concepts through in my writing.
ENGL 2660, Writing Fiction and Poetry, Fall 2014 (13 students, 10 evals) “Letters & Literature”
What are the major strengths of the instructor/course?
  • She is very likeable, and displays knowledge of writing and literature. I got better at writing and started corresponding with more people via the written word.
  • Interesting topics. Made me car about the mail (outside of amazon purchases) again for the first tim in a long time. Also made me realize the importance of specific language
  • very humorous. experienced writer and reader. taught me a lot.
    Understanding what the class was struggling with in terms if writing and teaching how to overcome that.
  • The class room environment was inviting so that people weren’t afraid to share their stories.
  • Positive, enthusiastic, good leader, good presenter, explained things well, evoked new creative ways of writing
  • Attitude. Fantastic attitude on the subject, and motivational because of it.
  • The instructor of this course immediately made our class feel comfortable and confident that the class would be enjoyable, as long as we worked hard. Aimee’s spunky personality mixed with her obvious work ethic made me feel excited to learn from her.
  • She is an absolutely wonderful professor
  • I thought she was great at explaining the technical parts of writing as well as the overall experience. I really liked that she has been published and is a writer herself. She adds a lot of insight into the world of writing because of this.
Please comment on the grading procedures in the course.
  • Grading seemed fair, wished feedback on reading responses was available
  • Grading is fair with opportunities for extra points.
  • 5 poems for final and midterm and 2 short stories for final
  • a majority of the grade simply comes from participation. The rest comes from the final work you turn in at the end. Very easy to do well with simple participation and just trying to do your best.
  • I’m not exactly sure how the grading process works in this course.
  • I thought they were good and straight forward.
How did reading author letters and writing letters of your own help you, in this special topic creative writing course?
  • Didn’t have a big effect
  • Letters to a fiction writer was very interesting to me and enjoyable to read and taught me a lot about writing. Writing letters and stories and poetry gave me something to disconnect from the world with and this about my own thoughts and the writing and thoughts of one other.
  • It made me think about how writing a letter itself can be a story.
  • Made me think of new ways of doing things
  • the letters and readings brought a specific branch of writing into my life that never would have been a part of it without this course. I had next to no interest in the subject of letters until this course. Definitely has sparked my interest as of now.
  • I enjoyed reading and writing letters. I liked reading other author’s letters because it allowed me to read so much advice from successful authors, a lot of which spoke to me personally.
  • a great deal
  • I really like the letters portion of this class. It was kind of nostalgic and was a different way of looking at literature. I did like writing letters and adding poetry because it does get our poems out there. It was a little nerve wracking at first but ultimately it was a great experience.
ENGL 2660 Writing Fiction and Poetry, Spring 2014 (17 students, 10 evals) “Writing Through the Senses”
What are the major strengths of the instructor/course?
  • Aimee is a great teacher and very entertaining. While I did not need this class to graduate I am glad I took it because I think it helped improve my writing.
  • Making the subject matter more interesting than it actually was. Also always making the class enjoyable to be in.
  • Aimee is hilarious. This was my first writing course, and I feel like I learned so much. She taught us how to be super creative, have fun, yet still make words into meaning.
  • It was a class where I was able to do a lot of self-discovery, and I loved it.
  • There is a lot of writing and reading which are key elements to good writing. I also thought the sense experiments were helpful in making me more aware of my surroundings and using that in my own writing
  • It’s never awkward and everyone has a chance to get feedback on their work
  • Your teaching skills are interesting, and you get students to interact and engage in class.
  • Aimee has loads of passion and excitement for the class which makes it really fun! I feel like as students we’re duds sometimes and don’t really give much feedback but that’s our fault.
  • High energy and very fun professor. The class was always interesting and if not, she tried her hardest to make it so and keep people engaged. All around great teacher.
  • She seemed friendly enough, though i never really talked to her outside of class. She went over the materials well enough.
  • She’s fun, energetic, exciting, and engaging. I really love how enthusiastic she is about the class and that she can get her point across easily.
Please comment on the grading procedures in the course.
  • Wish I knew more about how I was doing during my time in class.
  • Very fair
  • They were clear.
  • Haven’t really known my grade in this class all semester, grading could be given at mid term or something.
  • I think I understand them fairly well, the instructor went over them the first week of class well enough.
What other comments do you have?
  • This class is enjoyable for people that love to write, however I’m not one of those people. I figured it would be helpful for me but being my last elective before I graduate I didn’t take the work as seriously as a normal student would. The instructor always was enjoyable to listen to and learn from even though I wasn’t always into the work we were doing. I’m glad I got to experience this teacher before I graduate.
  • Want to take another class with Aimee again!
  • Very interesting
  • I like turtles.
  • The presentation could probably be dropped or at least moved up sooner in the semester. Other than that I like the senses theme and approach of the course, good job Aimee 🙂
  • Keep up the great work as a teacher!
  • The class and instructor were amazing, I wish I could have had more classes like it, and I’m kind of sad that it is coming to an end.
ENGL 2660 Writing Fiction and Poetry, Fall 2013 (18 students, 14 evals) “Writing Through the Senses”
What are the major strengths of the instructor/course?
  • Always on schedule and lenient when it comes to conflicts of time for assignments outside of the classroom.
  • Her communication skills. Excitement for the course and class each Monday and Wednesday. It made us want to be here.
  • She was very helpful and detailed on what she expected from you as a student. She as well made the course easier by allowing her to see the homework in advance and class discussion where always interesting.
  • energetic, came with great feedback, always positive and constructive.
  • Being able to explain the requirements of each assignment thoroughly. Relating writing and science. Giving out helpful feedback of work.
  • Major strengths about the instructor of this course was that they were passionate about the subject area while still being able to properly teach it. Classes were always interesting, and kept me engaged from start to finish. Instructor taught course with an interesting angle that really helped to improve writing skills.
  • Prof Valentine is incredible passionate which makes her very inspiring as a leader and instructor. I strongly recommend this course
  • She helped me open up my mind as to my writings.
  • She knew her material well and gave very good explanations on her material.
  • Learned a lot and got great feedback every week.
  • Aimee just did a great job of getting her points across without being to lecturing. The idea of talking and writing through the senses was genius. I could not have had a better first creative writing college class. The feedback was very helpful and in general I felt like she cared about me as a student.
  • A writer who is both skilled and gifted as a teacher is how I would describe Aimee Valentine. Her infectious enthusiasm about writing, learning, and taking in the world in new ways changed not only my writing but the way I live. If I had another course from her, I’m sure my ability to write superlatives would be improved so I would be even more convincing about her teaching strengths. Oh yes, the amount and quality if work she puts into reviewing student writing is admirable. Thank you Aimee.
Please comment on the grading procedures in the course.
  • Only thing throughout the course was that I wasn’t sure where I was throughout the semester. I didn’t email and ask though.
  • very fair
  • Grading was based on the quality of work and a student’s display of at least trying on a writing assignment/homework/etc… It was also based on in-class participation.
  • The grading procedures of this course were fair and constructive.
  • It was fairly straight forwards
  • It was fair
  • They’re a little abstract, and for most of the time I didn’t know what my grade was.
  • Very effective I think for a writing class, I liked that it was a sort of “you get what you put into it” kind of mentality
  • They’re fine.
What other comments do you have?
  • I thoroughly enjoyed this class, much more than the classes for my major.
  • Great teacher, and very understanding and helpful.
  • i really enjoyed writing and felt free to write about anything. Aimee made class fun to come to, and i never wondered how much longer do we have in this class. i wish she taught other poetry or fictional courses, i would definately sign up with her again.
  • This was one of my favorite classes and definitely the most relevant this semester.
  • y professor really helped me improve on skills I already have and have wanted to expand. Very good class for all majors to take!
  • So much homework every week! Maybe a few less combinations of weekly homework due.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed this class and professor. This class has encouraged me to work harder in my collegiate career, and has been a positive factor in helping my decision to double major here at western. I really enjoyed the way the professor taught, and I felt that with each class session I truly did learn more. I would definitely be interested in taking another one of her classes.
  • I loved the class!! Loved her. Shes so smart and fun =]
  • Great class, great teacher
  • Thank you so much! I really enjoyed this class and it taught me A LOT about writing effectively! 😀
  • I would hope that she goes on to teach future courses even if I cannot partake in them. She is a great asset to the WMU staff. Also it was worth the long walk to brown on early Mondays for this class.
  • I feel lucky that our lives overlapped.