Course Evaluations

International Relations (PLIR 1010), Fall 2022, University of Virginia


“Dyuti is without a doubt the best TA I’ve had at UVA, and there’s not enough praise I could give him for really making this course enjoyable while also engaging. In lectures, the powerpoints were filled with words, definitions, and concepts, but in discussion with Dyuti, they were brought to life with real–time examples and stories! Each week, Dyuti somehow had an analogy, a simulation, or a story that represented the content discussed in lecture that helped us understand the material so much more. Outside of the classroom walls, Dyuti was extremely responsive in his emails, his feedback on our assignments, and our one on one time in office hours. Introductory courses are my least favorite due to their broad nature, and a lot of this material was already information I had learned previously, but after having Dyuti as my TA, I can say that this has been my favorite 1010 course I’ve taken at UVA. The idea of international relations is so much more intriguing when I think about it in the way Dyuti has presented it to us, and I’m so excited to hopefully take more discussions with him in the future and just hear what he has to say on these topics. Rather than just giving us additional readings and answering discussion posts, Dyuti enlightened us with details and stories of his own life that –– again –– really added spark and life into the otherwise mundane material we got through readings and lectures. Dyuti was personable, engaging, exciting, understanding, and extremely intelligent on all things international relations. 10/10 !!”


“I don’t think any other teachers in my whole life, maybe besides a few, explained concepts as well as Dyuti. He was relatable, funny, made the discussion super enjoyable, and so extremely thoughtful – you could tell he truly cares. He sent me the longest email regarding my anxiety of speaking during discussion (which ended up not being a problem because of the positive atmosphere he created in class) and how I could get through it. He then sent a long follow up at the end of the semester telling me how much I’d improved. I actually looked forward to going to class every week because of how relatable Dyuti was. He would tell us these stories that related to IR that would have me completely enthralled and on the edge of my seat. I learned more and got more out of discussion than lecture because of his fascinating way of explaining things. Overall, Dyuti was an outstanding TA and I couldn’t have wished for a better experience in this discussion section.”


“This was such a great discussion course. Dyuti did exceptionally well in helping to provoke discussion and understand topics more in–depth than the regular lecture could do. Overall, he asked thoughtful questions, provoked discussions among the class, taught the concept in a more relevant way to us, and even went out of his way to host in–class “simulations” of global conflicts to help us better understand the motivations of different groups. Overall, fantastic discussion section. Dyuti was also extremely understanding of personal circumstances, and he was also great at navigating the class through the tragedy that affected us on the grounds. Feedback on labs was rough but fair, and Dyuti explained his reasons well for grading and even engaged the class for their thoughts about it, which is something I haven’t seen any instructor do, but I wish there was more of this discussion. Ultimately, a perfect discussion course. Dyuti utilized various methods of learning throughout our discussions each week, and it really was crucial in my understanding of international relations. Between class–wide polls that shaped the discussion for each specific class (instead of one lesson plan for each class) and small group/large group discussions, Dyuti went above and beyond to ensure each student was grasping and understanding the content.”


“My TA Dyuti was fantastic. It is extremely evident by the way he conducted himself in our discussions that he genuinely cares for his students. He was able to effectively synthesize lecture content and present it to the class, which greatly helped my learning and my classmates. He was also extremely understanding and created an environment that made me feel like a valuable part of the class –– I never felt pressured to speak or perform, but when I did, it was met with praise. Dyuti did everything in his power to accommodate his students and be there for them in any way he could and I do not think that should go unnoticed.”


“This course was extremely helpful. Dyuti focused on our understanding of material and answered any questions we had about material covered in lecture, often with terms and metaphors that would make it easier to understand. His presentations weren’t an overload of new content, but instead simple and digestible key points, which made understanding the material easier. Many of the group activities were formatted in ways where we were able to talk and discuss amongst ourselves about certain questions, before he offered to help us if we needed it, such as an elaboration of the question or guidance on how to go about contemplating the questions. This was very useful because it allowed us to discuss until the point where we needed help.”


Politics of Western Europe (PLCP 3110), Spring 2022, University of Virginia

“Dyuti was a really great TA. I enjoyed every section that we had, and each one was better than the next. He created an environment where he interacted with students on a level that was more comfortable than just him giving a lecture. He would form 4 groups during each section, and would come over and talk with each group. This helped a lot because it gave an opportunity for students to interact with him one a smaller scale than having to only participate in front of the larger discussion section. He would also only call on students who were volunteering; this also cultivated an environment that was more comfortable because there was no stress of whether or not you would be cold–called. This made students more willing to participate. I really enjoyed this style of teaching because it helped me learn more by talking in smaller groups, and then coming back to the bigger discussion where he would give us tips on what we were saying. I learned a lot during this section, and I was very appreciative of Dyuti as a TA.”
“I really enjoyed the dynamic setup of discussions and Dyuti’s teaching style. I really appreciated the Collab polls so we could focus on what most of the class felt was necessary, and the combination of lecture review, simulations, and large and small group discussion kept discussion sections exciting and contributed to my learning in a lot of different ways. The learning environment was welcoming, formal enough to make sure we got the most out of each session yet casual enough to encourage us to engage with the material in a fun way and push us to participate without making anyone feel uncomfortable. I found myself speaking up and presenting a more outgoing personality type in this discussion section than I do in most classes, and even in environments outside of school.”
“How the TA did the class should be the model for how every politics TA should run their course. I learned the most I have ever from a discussion section. He made us think about things in a completely different ways by assigning to work out ideas in small groups and report them to the whole class. Every single student grew in every way that they can in a discussion section.”
“Dyuti was SO helpful in office hours leading up to the essay due dates. He would offer to meet multiple times with you, and would extend meetings if necessary. As for the actual discussion meetings themselves, I really liked how they were structured. He would start off with a brief summary of the readings and main points from lecture which was a great refresher on the material, and then we’d get into small groups to discuss different questions. After that we’d do a whole–class discussion. I felt this structure of discussion helped us to not only learn from Dyuti from his mini lecture, but also learn from each other in small and large group discussions.”
“Throughout the year, Dyuti consistently supported me by addressing my concerns about my anxiety to talk during discussion sections, which no other TA has ever done. He opened a survey before the course started to learn more about us which was welcoming, and was very understanding of all issues or concerns which made my experience in this course much better.”
“Dyuti Saunik knows how to run a discussion. It was my favorite hour of the week! His energy and enthusiasm for politics would have made a math major interested in the topic. Dyuti was straightforward, to the point, and wasted zero time during discussion. He prepared slides and explanations catered to our needs. Also, Dyuti always brought prompts for a political simulation, which allowed us to see the content of the course in a different light. Some weeks I was FDR in post–war Berlin, and others I was a corrupt Italian politician. Dyuti also made himself available and helpful outside of class, promoting my success in this class. All TA’s should take a course called “how to run a discussion” taught by Dyuti. In short, it was an incredible discussion. Thanks Dyuti.”
“Dyuti has been one of the best TAs I’ve had. As a teacher, he’s incredibly understanding, supportive, and personable, but also clearly knowledgeable and easy to follow. His sections consistently helped me understand the class lectures and readings. I always enjoyed his sections and found it easy to stay engaged, despite the late start time. He also seemed to care about his students and whatever we were struggling with, and made it easy for us to offer feedback, suggestions, or talk with him during office
“This course really helped my understanding of a lot of the content. A great supplement for the lecture class. Definitely helped summarize ideas that were quickly touched on in lecture. Dyuti is literally the best TA I’ve ever had! He went above and beyond in providing thorough coverage in areas the class struggled with, was great with feedback, and created a great essay–guidelines document for us, which is something the other TAs didn’t do.”
“Dyuti is probably the best TA I’ve had at UVA. He is so, so committed to making sure that students are learning and feel comfortable in group discussion. He never pressured people to participate by cold calling or anything like that, and after a few weeks in the semester, it felt more natural to participate in the many opportunities he offered. It was so obvious throughout the semester that he really cared about each and every one of us: our progress, our learning, and us as people. He also taught the material in an
engaging way: part of that was the way he explained things, his sense of humor, and his experience living in Europe that he wove into conversations, and another part of that was the design of the discussions, specifically the simulations he has us do. These simulations involved small groups role playing as different entities in a political context, and by the end of them, the main lessons were always clear. I can’t emphasize enough how excellent of an educator and TA Dyuti is.”
“Dyuti would start his lessons by giving a brief overview of readings, lectures, and miscellaneous information about the country that would help our understanding. He then would split us up into teams where we would use the information throughout the week and the discussion in a simulation. Each group would be given their own goals to achieve and often required us to apply the frameworks we would need to use on the exams. We would then return to the large group and share our experience with the group.
Overall, this was super effective because it made me think in the way I was required to for the exams. It also allowed me to meet fellow classmates and develop relationships I would not have otherwise. It also was just a fun way to learn the material, and the time would often fly by in his class. Dyuti’s class should be the example for all UVA TAs.”

Politics of Developing Areas (PLCP 3012), Fall 2021, University of Virginia



“Dyuti was by far the best TA I have had in my time at this university. His combination of simulations, lecture, and discussions really helped to reinforce my learning in what is a very difficult class to wrap your head around as far as some of the course material goes. He was a fantastic TA and he was very responsive to our feedback, always letting us know we could reach out through anonymous feedback on Collab or directly through email. He was also very encouraging on participation, and made it a point to leave encouraging feedback on our midterms.”



“Dyuti may have been my favorite TA so far at UVA. He was approachable, always willing to help students, made discussion sections informative, switched up our activities, and was never imposing, intimidating, or harsh. He was knowledgeable and explained topics clearly; I felt that I took just as much away from discussion as I did from lectures. He also knew everyone’s name and took time to walk around the class room and listen to our small group discussions and answer questions or add inputs, which made me feel seen and valued as a student.”



“This was an amazing discussion, I had it at 5 pm on Thursdays and I looked forward to it every time despite the late start time. Dyuti created a great class environment and he was humble in his teaching style as he constantly asked for our feedback. He adjusted the class based on what we needed in that time and did a great job in facilitating the discussion and in supporting us. He was very understanding and graciously helped to foster our knowledge in the class. I look forward to seeing where he goes teaching-wise and I know he will impact many people’s lives.”



“This course has been one of the best politics discussions sections I have had the pleasure of being in. The format was clean; the mini–lecture followed by group discussions followed by a group summary really helps with understanding the material. It is invaluable for students in the course to grasp the content in detail.”

“In our discussion section with Dyuti, we were able to dissect the material by first participating in small group discussions to assemble our thoughts on provided prompts before presenting our own conclusions to the larger group. This group exercise typically followed a condensed recap of the lecture material which also introduced relevant new resources. Together, these two activities disentangled typically dense content into something concise but clear.”



“Our discussion truly felt like a family by the end of the semester, and it is clear this is a valuable quality which enables quieter students to participate without hesitation. The polls, structured lectures, relatively unstructured group discussions, and most critically the feedback really brought the material together with our understanding. I loved our rare group activities, and I believe they happened with just the right frequency. I honestly cannot think of anything to improve!”



“Dyuti periodically had us do simulations in class, where we would get to take on the roles of people or entities we were learning about in class (example: President, Wall Street Banks, the Military, rebel groups etc.) and act out the scenarios based on prompts. These simulations were engaging, fun, and helpful, because I could much more easily remember and understand my role in a simulation and through the interactions that I had with other students than what a few minutes of lecture would cover.  He did a great job balancing between lectures and presenting information with interactive activities.”


“There was a certain amount of camaraderie in the class that was very respectful of all people having different views about subjects and all being valid. It was always very clear that diverse perspectives were welcomed and encouraged in class. In discussion, we were encouraged to formulate our answers based on our own experiences, knowledge, and understanding of the course’s concepts. Everyone was accepting of each other’s opinions and was able to build off one another’s ideas. Dyuti was not trying to convince us of any one answer to the big questions posed by the class, but rather to think deeply about them.”


“The types of activities we did in class during group discussion and small groups discussion really helped me to further grasp the material. A lot of the activities we did actually stuck with me and I still remember the concepts that we learned about that day. It also allowed me to understand the complex concepts we learned in lectures in different ways and strengthened my ability to articulate my thoughts.”



“Dyutiman Saunik allowed for the expression of different opinions as well as allowed POC students to recount their personal experiences relating to the class. Again, Saunik was the greatest teaching assistant I have had at the University of Virginia.”



“Dyuti was the best TA. He always made the class fun and inviting, while still extremely informative. He somehow was able to make a 7 pm Thursday night discussion great! I enjoyed coming to his section, knowing that it wasn’t a waste of time and I came out with a better understanding then when I walked in the doors.”


“Dyuti was my first TA and I think he set the bar very high for any future TAs I will have. He went out of his way to help us understand the material by preparing slideshows summarizing lectures and then coming up with creative activities for us to discuss in our small groups and the whole class. It was fun working with the groups and our group discussions helped to maintain class enthusiasm towards the topics, which allowed us to really dive into thoughts we were interested in because it didn’t feel like people were competing to say the smartest thing. I remember in our first sessions, the format of teaching was organized a little differently, but it changed throughout the course because Dyuti was open to adapting to our suggestions and was able to observe the way that we learned best. He also allowed us to voice our opinions by offering an anonymous suggestion option on the Collab site, which made it easy for us to say things we might be embarrassed to say upfront. I honestly had a lot of fun in class and looked forward to the activities we did in small groups. Many concepts we learned in lectures have stuck with me solely because of the way we learned them in this class. The information was always presented in captivating ways and by the end of the course, I became much more confident in my abilities to articulate and discuss complex concepts from our lectures. Dyuti always respected diverse opinions and perspectives and encouraged us to share our real opinions on things without fear of judgment. Overall, I wish he could be my TA for every discussion section I have.”