Heather Samples

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

May 2006

A good UW teacher, if a bit of a hard grader. Normally, UW teachers are only in it for 2 years, but Heather will be teaching for 3 (which means you might get to take her class, which is why I am writing this review). Good attitude in class and out, very helpful comments on work that you submit (rough or otherwise), and if you have the chance to be in her class I really recommend it.

Oct 2005

Just stick to her opinion and you'll be fine. Take about race especially she loves that. We actually had a very diverse class but it always boiled down to the same opinion in the end and any interesting debate would get uncomfortable very, very fast because it was too entirely obvious what ideas or who she would align herself with. It was just uncomfortable seeing her direct the emotional flow so much and totally shut certain people down, even if we thought the person in question was ill informed and didn't agree with him, instead of actually addressing any substantive issues we'd just shut the dissenting opinion down. I was happy with my grade because like I said I followed the "monkey see monkey write" formula as soon as I figured out what she wanted, but I talked to other unhappy people in the class and it seemed like the grading was uneven (my writing sucks in comparison to 2 or theree other kids but for some reason I got better grades). I think I know who left the last review and much as I disagreed with your opinions, yeah it was uncomfortable to watch how those opinions were treated. Instead of trying to make you understand a lot of times we'd redicule that person.

Aug 2005

A typical conservative southerner, Heather Samples does not approve of dissenting opinions. She is a proud, pompous, and arrogant graduate student who was out of academia years; and is the ultimate freshman nightmare. If you take this class, forget about academic freedom. She proudly acknowledges her inability to stick to the course plan, misses all timelines, and simply doesn't care about these at all. Don't be surprised if she sends a mail at 5:15am saying the class will not meet. You should attend the party at her home in Brooklyn on night before LitHum finals or your grade goes down. At the end of course, Samples asks students to post evaluations on CULPA, and before handing out course evaluations in class warns that these will 'stick to [her]' for seven years. The superfluous humility of the student evaluations from her first semester are questionable and dubious primarily because some of them were posted before grades are available, and also because in her second semester all of those praises proved baseless lies. Her classes have too much discussion on specific essays, and little, if any at all, on the writing process as a whole. We spent less than 30 minutes of class time in the whole semester with the 'Bedford Handbook' and the 'Craft of Research' two books that are commonly referred on campus as Bibles on writing and research. Taking her class at most tries to prepare for freshman writing; not for rest of the college life. If one intends to do research in senior year or later in grad school, this can be the disaster. Bottom line: stay away from Heather Samples. If you can't, practice saying 'yes'.

Jan 2005

Whether discussing essays in class or working on our own writing, Heather Samples held us to the highest intellectual standard. Every day(bright and oh so early), I looked forward to class discussions because I knew they would be led in a way that encouraged participation while always proving productive. The amount of material we thoroughly covered in a given class never ceased to surprise me. The day our class discussed Andre Aciman's "Arbitrage" stands as a perfect example. Everyone came to class with ideas and left with better ideas. At first I wondered exactly what enabled such productive discussions, because Heather did not seem to run conversation- we were encouraged to talk about what we wanted. I truly realized the extent of HeatherÂ’s contribution to discussion and class as a whole when we worked on the CCP and broke into individual groups that were supposed to guide the class through a short discussion. Heather subtly directs and orchestrates discussion with mastery and precision despite this being her first undergraduate teaching experience. With this as her starting point, her potential as a teacher is truly staggering. With respect to essays, I was always impressed at the level of care Heather invested in making corrections and understanding not only what was on the surface of an essay but the ideas beneath. Heather returned my first draft with suggestions, I turned through the pleasantly marked up pages thinking about how helpful the comments were to my paper. The true prize, however, was the typed page at the end of the essay with HeatherÂ’s highly detailed overall analysis and suggestions. Besides her sharp mind, Heather understood the tangle of work and life that is college. While I never attempted to get an extension, I know other students were able to work things out with her when necessary. Even more than my other teachers, Heather was available and made a point of encouraging us to contact her with email or over the phone regarding any aspect of a specific paper or a course in general. In a class prone to painful tedium for often unclear rewards, Heather manages to avoid the pitfalls presented by the University Writing course. Many of my peers in other classes reported quite negative experiences in university writing under the yoke of uncaring grad students. At the end of the semester I realize how truly lucky my classmates and I were to have Heather Samples as our teacher. In this course, work gets done in the name of learning- not just for some empty grade.

Jan 2005

You want Heather Samples to be your University Writing teacher. Seriously - I hope I don't miss anything in this review, because this class ended up meaning a lot to me. Her class was my earliest one this semester, but somehow it was the only one I never missed. I always found the standard hour and fifteen too short for this class. We just always got into these great discussions, whether about the nature of writing or American exceptionalism. It was always a matter of "all right guys, gotta go now." On the first day of classes, Heather's was the first class on my schedule. I'm lucky I had her. She's ridiculously well-read and extremely intellectual, but she never comes off as pretentious in any way. Outside of class (VERY accessible), conferencing essays oftentimes turned into broader conversations about a huge range of topics. I really enjoyed those conversations. I don't know how other UWriting classes are, but I found that Heather's gave me a really valuable opportunity to assess various aspects of my life in a way that no other class ever has (for me). We've all written many an essay, but in this class, I found that I was not writing so much about other works as about how they relate to my life. Heather is a huge fan of using the personal as a starting point for writing, which is an opportunity rarely afforded throughout high school or most college classes (I assume). I found myself applying texts to my life, finding out what they say about me, where I fit into them, and vica versa. You'll find Heather encouraging you to put something of yourself into every essay, and starting with that point of view, I was able to write much more freely than I've been able to before. Heather did an amazing job of facilitating my development throughout the semester. It's not hard for me to imagine how dry this class could have been. Fortunately, Heather was able to make it something that turned out to be really important, I think. She cares about teaching, and she treats it as a huge responsibility. She's one of the few teachers I've ever had who I feel put as much into the class as I did. She's totally fair in terms of grading, and within the classroom, she definitely accomplished everything that needed accomplishing. I really loved going to class, though it was at 9am. I now find myself thinking about things a little differently, observing my surroundings with a more critical eye, perhaps. I had countless experiences during the first semester where I was like wow I hope I have an opportunity to write about this. And even in terms of things that happened in my life beforehand, Heather provided me with an opportunity to reflect on things I had never been able to before. Finally, Heather always made me want to work hard, and I really appreciate that.

Dec 2004

A really fantastic and amazing teacher. With such a drab and potentially loathsome curriculum, Heather transformed our classroom into a place of creative and fascinating learning. Even though she is well-read, articulate and lightyears beyond the first years she teaches, Heather never once exuded an air of pretentiousness or condescension. Instead, she is extremely accommodating and easy to be around. She's not a teacher who makes up for the lack of years between her and her students by putting up a front. Class is based around discussion of materials, with gentle direction from Heather, and you find yourself surprised at the end of the hour and a half how much material has been covered in such a digestable and easy fashion. University Writing took the spot as my earliest class at Columbia this semester, but Heather really worked hard to make sure the material stayed both inviting and invigorating to keep us awake. As a result, our class had a stellar attendance rate, with only a few students missing class throughout the term due to illness, etc. Her teaching style distinguishes itself on stressing the craft of writing as well as the argument behind it. Writing an essay for her consisted of caring both about the claim you're making and the way it's presented, something that had not been one of my priorities going in but certaintly showed its worth at the end of the term. She stresses the importance of the discursive community, making you aware that your goal is to be fully cognizant of the audience and how they would feel about your writing. Heather made herself accessible outside of the classroom more so than the rest of my teachers, sending out mass emails frequently and encouraging us to call her cell if problems came up while we were writing essays or reading material for class. Office hours ended up being a great discussion time relating the reading material to the discursive community or a chance for Heather to recommed further reading. Columbia should consider itself lucky to have a fabulous teacher who is not sucked down by the quagmire that could be University Writing. Heather instead takes complete control of the class and reading. By doing so, she creates a class that will change the way you think and approach your academic life.

Dec 2004

This is the best university writing class ever. For those with tender sensibilities, the language can get a wee bit salty from time to time but Samples is one of the coolest and best instructors you'll find. She is easy going, explores everyone's ideas at length - even the ridiculous ones, selects the most interesting texts possible and makes comments that actually help you to become a better writer. Samples is always dead-on when she grades essays and she's young enough so she understands what it's like to be an undergraduate in our position. If you bust your ass, she recognizes the effort. SWITCH INTO THIS CLASS IF YOU CAN! Seriously.