Title: Spring 2010: An Evaluation
Posted: May 19, 2010 (12:43 PM)
Well, I finally know all my grades now, so I can make that evaluation post I promised a few weeks ago. I'll try to make it brief this time since I already said all the stuff about how it affected me and whatnot in my last post.
HIST 299: Global Issues and Historical Perspectives
I hated this class with an undying passion so strong that by the end of it, I sorely wanted to tear someone's throat out. My own if no one else's. This class was ridiculous. The only reason my grade is so low is because I averaged a B- on all three of the stupid papers in that class. Though, perhaps not quite as I suspect I just outright failed the last paper because if it were a B- like the rest, I should have gotten a B or B+. Participation was the other quarter of the grade, but the only way he measured that was whether you made a weekly (or, 14 total) news posts in the discussion forum, since, well, he never actually learned our names.
The papers themselves were the most grueling thing ever. He didn't have a page limit, but to get an A you pretty much had to write like 15 pages of analysis. The point of the papers was to compare/contrast two books that were related to each other. Each of the three papers did two books, and these books were all required reading for the class. I, of course, being so busy with my other classes, could only manage to actually read the books for the first paper all the way through, and even then I got a B- on the paper, so I just resigned myself to fate after that.
Oh yeah, and... The professor's lectures were boring as hell; I think there were only two or three times where I didn't nod off to sleep at some point during the class period. Also, his essays were very specific as he gave us a very detailed and through prompt, and as I wrote the bulk of my papers in the course of a night (again, being too busy with other classes), I likely didn't have enough time to consider EVERY POSSIBLE DETAIL that he would've liked to see.
HIST 300E: South Asia
Ironically, this was the class I wanted to drop at the beginning of the semester. The reading load for this class was intense, but several weeks into the semester he cut it down mercifully because he gathered we weren't actually reading it all and so thought it best to ask. Even then, though, it was still intense, and by this point, I was so far behind with reading for everything that I only read what I needed to in order to prepare for tests, papers and whatever else. Still, I'm quite pleased with myself as I somehow managed to rock tihs class hard. The only grade I got that was lower than an A was for the book review thing I had to write. And as I'd never written an academic book review before, I'm quite pleased with myself, since, well, the grade on that was a B. It was also only 10% of the grade, so a slightly low grade there wouldn't have mattered as much.
HIST 334: the Vikings
This was a class I probably had the most fun with. Its subject matter I found to be inherently interesting, so I never really found it boring. However, towards the end of the semester, I did find it starting to get a bit wearing since there were a lot of things due during the last two weeks (three or four at least... most of them papers). The research paper, which I had to write during the last week or two of that semester, was the most challenging. I will say, though, that I rather enjoyed writing the other papers, especially since she let us be more creative or interpretive with them. Particularly during the last part of the semester, I had the opportunity to write a fake saga and also to analyze the movie How to Train Your Dragon for historical accuracy. (And yes, I know it's silly as hell to choose that movie for the project, so don't criticize me or the professor for the idea. It actually was the class's idea as a whole; she just considered it. Further, she gave it as an alternative to taking the last quiz/test, which would have been much more 'real'). I think she did it just to give us something fun to do instead of having to worry about something unbelieably difficult. Same thing with the saga - she had it as a second option to the more 'real' paper in which you'd have to determine what it was to be a Viking and describe and explain why three individuals in history fit that persona. See, she, unlike most professors, knows we have a lot of other classes to consider as well and so didn't want us to be overwhelmed.
Besides, the research paper and project that went along with it was the genuine academic challenge, and it was a very difficult one at that.
Anyway, other fun things we did in that class involved rune casting one day when we were discussing the subject of runes. And another, about a week before the last week of classes, we played a Viking game (supposedly) called Kubb. Basically the goal is to throw sticks at the other team's blocks and knock them down. After all the opponents blocks are knocked down, you can knock down the king without losing. The game can be quite painful sometimes, though, as the wooden sticks would often bounce and so often found contact with people's shins or knees. One nailed me in the knee real good, and I still feel like the bruise is there even though it's no longer visible, as it hurts whenever I press on it. Though, to be completely fair, I have to press kind of hard now to feel any pain from it anymore, which means it's largely gone. Still, though, I take pride in my injuries for some reason, at least ones that likely won't cause permanent damage.
PLSC 200C: Contemporary Political Issues
I actually fully expected some sort of B in this class, too, but I guess I rocked the final really hard (I actually got a 94) so my grade at the end averaged to an 89.8%, as my professor said. He actually e-mailed me and told me he rounded up to an A- because he felt it better fit my capabilities, so I thank him dearly for that, especially since that class was very challenging (if interesting) to start with.
This was the class in which my group (and by association, me) got punished for our presentation because we inadvertently included research from the book, which he distinctly said he didn't want. Our paper for it turned out well, though, but because of the mistake in the presentation, the total grade got knocked down to an 85/100 whereas it would've been a 95 otherwise.
I also had only gotten about an 89 on the midterm, so I fully expected a B+ or something in that class. I'm very grateful it turned out as well as it did though, especially since the reading for that class was insane as well, though, it would've been manageable if I'd been taken five courses instead of six.
PLSC 325: American Foreign Policy
I had a lot of fun in this class, too. It was unbelievably interesting, and the professor teaching it had spent much of his life working for the Foreign Service, so he had a lot of practical experience from which to draw, and that made things extraordinarily fascinating. The papers were fun to write in that class, especially since they dealt with contemporary (or near-contemporary) issues, and the tests were multiple choice, so even though I was grossly unprepared for the final, I managed to get an A on it because of good guessing. (Well, that's not entirely true... He also curved the tests, so my grade turned into an A after curving. It would've been a B otherwise... same with the midterm).
That's a class I'm really glad I took. Gave me a good perspective of the world, or a better understanding of how the US government interacts with the world, which is... pretty stereotypical. THe class really made me think about this country's direction in some ways. It's just... sad sometimes.
PLSC 343: Latin American Politics
This was another class I'm glad I took. It wasn't as fun as the other two that I liked, but it was still interesting. I feel like I learned a lot about the region, and, like with the previous class, I learned to really dislike a lot of America's policy stances since I really feel like it was largely our fault why many of these countries had brutal dictatorships for as long as they did. Besides that, though, it was interesting to see how the countries themselves think of each other and the world, and also to see how their own politics plays out and why. It involved a lot more than just what we did over there, after all.
The papers for that class were probably the most irritating, though I'm glad I got As on them anyway. The final was a paper, too, effectively, which I found stressing, but glad I did well on it. That's alright, though. Like I said, I feel like I learned a lot about that region, especially Mexico, which was the country our group presented on (and thus the country the paper had to be on as well - though not the final... that was a comparison of democratic development in two countries over a period of 100 years. The paper for the presentation just wanted us to look at the current state of democracy in that respective country).
Posted: May 19, 2010 (07:33 PM)
Nice writeup. Working in education myself it's affirming to see that your likes and dislikes correspond almost exactly with my educational research on how to do a good curriculum and how to teach adult learners.
Right now my thesis is on the use of film and interactive media in the classroom as a beneficial learning tool.