Summer Learning: What Worked and What Needed Work


When asked to evaluate their SummerFest courses, 82 LLI members had plenty to say about what they liked and what needed improvement. The good news is that most rated their course content, presenters, and overall satisfaction between 4 and 5, the top marks. But some provided ratings between 1 and 3, and a few indicated 0 (no rating). As usual, the comments were often insightful and specific. Here is a sampling of what the respondents thought about their SummerFest experience. 

Course Content

The classes for SummerFest were well received, with 75.6% rating their course a 5 and 15.9% a 4. A few members were less enthusiastic, with 4.9% giving a 3, 2.4% a 2, and 1.2% a 0.


  • A fascinating and thought provoking class.
  • Excellent and varied content.
  • Wonderful class for our age group.
  • Even if you “knew” everything, it was very worthwhile hearing and participating in discussions.
  • The content was good and more than I expected.
  • Course content fascinating–also ideally arranged for the four-week time slot.
  • Content was highly relevant, carefully selected, and presented clearly and concisely.
  • The course was well described, but the content went beyond my expectations.


  • Lacked cohesion. I was not really clear about the goals and objectives of the course.
  • I felt uncomfortable with the number of people….I am new to LLI and just felt awkward.
  • At a high level, the content of the class was appropriate to the subject. At a lower level, it wasn’t.
  • This is certainly a good topic for a course. Just not this course, which was below LLI standards.
  • Felt I knew much of what instructor said.
  • There were some reading materials at the end; maybe they should’ve been there sooner.

Food for Thought

  • The material would easily fill a seven-session course.
  • I would like to see the course continued, delving more deeply into specific issues discussed in this four-week overview.


Presenters also generally garnered high marks, with 79% rating the presenter 5 and 11.1%  giving a 4. Another 7.4% chose a 3, while 1.2% rated the presenter 1. One person rated the presenter 0 but gave the course content a 5. 


  • It’s a complex subject, and I think the presenter made a good effort to explore a few aspects of the subject.
  • Presenter was completely knowledgeable, and where she was unsure, she stated so.
  • Fine presenter with a comprehensive working knowledge…. Good blend of theory and actual experience. 
  • The presenters were different each week, and they were fabulous.
  • [The presenter’s] level of knowledge and her ability to share it with us and teach us about it was great.
  • None of the course material was beyond me. It is clear that [the presenter] took great care to serve the LLI audience in particular.
  • Instructor was not only a great presenter, but she was a great listener. [The presenter] elicited participation from the students, showed she knew them individually, and responded to each of their comments with great intelligence.
  • He answered our questions fully. 
  • Presenter’s voice level good, didn’t need mic.
  • Visual aids were incredibly helpful as well as visually appealing. 


  • The presenter is very knowledgeable about the subject but has difficulty imparting all his knowledge.
  • His slides were hard to read. 
  • Seemed ill-at-ease and sometimes ill-prepared. Difficult to follow due to frequent self-interruptions. 
  • The presenter didn’t seem very comfortable in the “teaching” mode. But his genuine interest and good intentions came through. 
  • Presenter lost sight of her goals.

Overall Class Satisfaction

Again the ratings were mostly positive, with 76.3% granting a 5 and 16.3% a 4.  However, 3.8% rated course satisfaction at 3, 2.5% at 1, and 1.3% at 0. The 0 was given by someone who rated the content 4 and the presenter 3. 


  • [T]here is nothing like the in-person interaction with fellow classmates and the presenter. 
  • The class manager and technology manager were both great!
  • The books chosen by the presenter were informative and challenging and led to some interesting discussion among class members. 
  • Utubes [sic] helpful.
  • Of all the amazing classes I have been privileged to take, this one is in the top three!
  • I like the idea of having one or more movies for us to watch before each class. Gave us a good basis for discussion.
  • I would love copies of all of the notes and a repeat course.  
  • Weis theatre was a very good venue. People could space themselves.


  • It wasn’t an enjoyable subject, but it was an important one.
  • Leaders of discussions need to prepare questions and topics to discuss after presentation. 
  • I think some small group discussions would have been helpful.
  • Not enough time between registration and start of class to cover all the reading material.
  • I was disappointed that one class member did not attend without dropping out, which would have opened up a spot for someone else to join. 
  • First class at Bard where I had to pay for content, which surprised me.

All Comments Appreciated

The Curriculum Committee carefully reviews all the evaluations with the goal of improving the class offerings. These comments are shared anonymously with the producers and presenters. Thank you to everyone who took the time to express their opinions.