Spring 2015

COM 225 Interpersonal Communication

Instructor: Carolyn Hurley

A little tough to get an A for this course considering the fact that you can only lose a maximum of 24 marks throughout the semester (376/400). Any more than that, you fall into the A- range. Fortunately, 1) If you treat your assignments and tests seriously, you can get an A- easily. 2) Dr Hurley provides her classes with opportunities to get extra credit, such as participating in research surveys by UB. There were 2 research surveys, and I got a total of 5 marks added to my overall score. However, I don’t think these extra credit opportunities come by very often, or maybe you wouldn’t even get a single one in a semester, so do grab the chance if one comes your way!

It is easy to get a 30/30 for her application assignments; I got 30/30 for all the application assignments except the first one. My class lost some marks in the first assignment because we misinterpreted her instructions. Not that we like to blame others, but Dr Hurley’s instructions are unclear at times. For example, she wanted us to submit our assignment with no extra spacing between the paragraphs.

Anyway, to get full marks you need to: 1. Answer all questions thoroughly, provide examples whenever you can (or if there are 2 parts to an assignment, use the information/ examples that you have written in the first half of the assignment to answer the second half) 2. Pay attention to your grammar 3. If you are unsure of the assignment’s or the questions’ requirements, do ask her in order not to lose your precious marks!

Tip: Many a time, you will be required to engage in an interaction with someone not from your COM 225 class or are unfamiliar with. This will be tough for people who have few friends outside of COM 225 class, or are too shy to interact with someone you rarely talk to. Well, you can “lie”. You can write the assignment based on an interaction with someone whom you are already friends with currently, just change a few facts here and there such as your friend’s name and the situation and you’re good to go. Dr Hurley won’t know. However, make sure you choose a name that isn’t in COM 225 class 1 and 2, because, Dr Hurley remembers the names of all her students in her COM 225 classes!

Class participation aka in-class exercises is the easiest component to get marks, no right or wrong answers, just come to class everyday (because you don’t know when she will give you in-class exercises, which are sometimes done individually or in groups).Very easy one. Unlike in-class exercises, you have take in-class assignments seriously. Your group (assigned by Dr Hurley) will have to watch a short clip (usually a snippet of a TV drama and then answer questions based on the clip. Almost everyone gets a 13/15, nothing more, nothing less. Not sure why. But still high enough to give you the chance for an A.

There are 2 tests for this course, 100 MCQs each. I feel that they aren’t too difficult. She likes to give scenario-based questions and then ask which theory or term is applicable to the scenario. As the content for Interpersonal Communication is quite common sense, you should be able to get quite a number of questions correct. Sometimes she also likes to give silly options as the answers to the questions so that the correct option is very obvious. Anyway, if you get full marks for all the above components except in-class assignments which you will get 13 marks each 2 in-class assignments, you would have already lost a total of 4  marks. So you have to get an average of 90 marks for the 2 tests in order to get an A. Not very easy, but easy to get an A-.

I find that Dr Hurley is really friendly and helpful. Other than being very nice, friendly and helpful in clearing your doubts, Dr Hurley is also helpful in other ways. For example, if you can’t find enough group members for the in-class exercises or are too shy to approach others, Dr Hurley is always there to help! She will notice it and ask the class for you 🙂 how many teachers will actually do that? She also can take jokes very well, whether it concerned things in general or about the scenarios in our in-class exercises. So far we’ve not seen her getting offended by any of our jokes even though I think some of them might be a little sensitive, or probably it’s just me. So, feel free to joke around! She also shows a lot of funny videos in class, which serve as an example of the concepts she is teaching. Best of all, these videos won’t be tested during the tests. Dr Hurley also attempts to make us relate more easily to the questions in the test paper; by using our names for the scenarios! I think it is interesting as I am always looking forward to seeing my name appear in a test paper and in what type of scenario. Oh, and did I mention that she will give study guides for both tests? Only study the topics/sections that are mentioned in the study guide, those that are not included are either not tested or so easy that there’s no point focusing on it.

My grade for this course: A-


COM 217 Communication in Organisations

Instructor: Nicole Kashian

So far, in my 2 semesters in SIM-UB, I think this is the easiest course to get an A. Although there is a group project (consisting of many components) that amounts to 35% of your overall mark or 350 marks, it is very easy to score. My group got around 320 marks or 32% and I know of many other groups who score better than us. Basically, the group project consists of 2 individual article analyses (which you need to contribute to your project later), a literature review done as a group, training manual, and oral presentation. What is a training manual? Well, it’s like a guide that will teach the manager of an organisation how to handle or mitigate a problem in the organization, say, workplace stress. And your whole project will be based on this organizational problem. Nicole probably knows that this is our first time doing a major project and thus she grades our project very leniently. No group lost more than 10 marks for each component of the group project, so try not to lose too many marks. For example, for the group literature review, there are already people getting 98/100 and 97/100. To do well in the group project, just make sure your work fulfills all her requirements. That’s enough. No need to churn out work that is worthy of publishing.

There are also in-class exercises for this course, just be present in class and hand in your work at the end of each day. Right or wrong answer,  doesn’t matter.  🙂  Actually there is also an individual presentation, which you have to show something to the class that is applicable to what you have learnt in a particular topic of the course. This is worth 50 marks. Do present properly and make sure you can be understood (Nicole took off 2 marks because she “couldn’t understand” what I was saying, which is strange because she was sitting at the corner in the first row!).

There will be 3 tests, the last one will be during the final exam period. Try to get no more than 8 questions wrong because the tests have a heavy weightage, 1 question wrong = 3.4 marks gone. The number of questions that Nicole will give varies, but the total marks stay constant; 160 marks for first 2 tests, 170 marks for the final. But if you are aiming for an A-, feel free to get more than 10 questions wrong. Anyway, her tests are not that easy, you won’t be able to do well without studying the textbook thoroughly AND paying attention to the videos she showed in class AND examples from real life that she gives on the Powerpoint slides.

No notes are given for her course, so, happy copying! Initially, Nicole refused to upload her Powerpoint slides to ublearns but she eventually did after many students asked her to do so. She used to speak and teach at a fast pace too, so fast that we haven’t even finish copying half of the content on the slide, she already started on the next. But after we gave feedback to her she has slowed down a little. Also, as she is a new lecturer and has only been in Singapore for less than a year, she tends to have some difficulty in understanding our accent, even more so if you tend to speak softly, mumble, speak too fast, etc.

Overall, I still think Nicole is a nice lecturer. She will always go around the class, asking if we had any problems with our project/in-class exercises. On the day when my group had to hand in our training manual, she actually stayed in school till 8 pm just for us (everyone else handed in before 5 pm).  She likes to smile when she is teaching and her laughing is damn funny, our whole class will laugh along even though we don’t know what happened. She also gives a lot of extra credit opportunities too, but they are not easy. For example, one of them was that we had to find a video that is applicable to a particular concept. Another one is during the oral presentation of our project, the best 6 groups/presentations will get a minimum of an extra 6 marks, maximum 15 marks.

This course may be easy to get an A, only if you can tahan its boring and unfamiliar content. Think leadership and conflict management, decision making stages,  the different styles of managing an organisation. As such, the class is usually very quiet. Most of them are also not paying attention, preferring to surf the Internet. Poor Nicole always tries to engage us in class participation by asking us questions and getting us to speak up, but most of the time, no one does. Not because we don’t want to answer questions at all, but we also never work in a large organisation before, how to give examples? Anyway, my opinion is that the first half of the content (mainly theory) is boring, the second half is more interesting because it talks about the different approaches that organisations can use to manage conflict, how to handle stress and burnout in the workplace, socialisation processes etc.  I think it is good to know about such things as we will enter the workforce in the future and encounter these issues too.

My grade for this course: A


SOC 294 Basic Statistics for Social Sciences

Instructor: Radhi Raja

Whether you get an A or a B or varies from individual to individual. There will be 3 tests, each weighing 30% of the overall score, 10% attendance and in-class assignments. I’m not sure how Dr Raja gives marks for attendance, but you have to do some questions at the end of class every lesson and hand in as in-class assignments. Once you finish, can leave already, no need to wait till the class ends. Again, answer right or wrong doesn’t matter 🙂

Personally, I found the content very easy to understand and her tests are very easy. But for some reason a number of people cannot handle it leh. In the first 2 tests, there will be 40 MCQs and some worked out problems, final test all MCQs. The worked out problems are the easiest to score because as long as you can remember all the formula, you can do ANY question. I’m serious. Not like in PSLE, O Levels or A levels where you need to rack your brain to think which step need to do first or which step don’t need. In SOC 294 just remember the formula and the exact same steps to do a particular question. The MCQs test more on theory, like how to increase the Power of a study, characteristics of a normal curve, and definitions. You must read the textbook in order to know all these as Dr Raja’s notes only cover the ‘surface’ of such theory. Quite easy one, when you open your textbook and read, you’ll be able to tell which are the important information you should focus on. I think those who don’t do well in this course either make careless mistakes easily or have problems understanding/remembering the content. For me, I memorised all the formulae, and for the theory I just read and understand, if cannot remember then too bad lor, but lucky I can remember most of it. Then during the test I checked my answers twice for all the questions that I have attempted.

Dr Raja’s teaching is ok only; when she teaches a large number of students, she doesn’t explain the concept in detail, feel like just touch-and-go. As a result, me and many others found it hard to understand the content. I realised she can explain better if you ask her individually. But I rarely ask her, because the textbook already explains everything very well.

To sum up, Even if you fail math at A Level like me, you’ll have a chance at an A for this course. But if you get a B or even a C don’t come after me ah.

My grade for this course: A


ESL 408 Written English II

Instructor: Letchimi Veeron Karuppiahya

I think it is generally difficult to get an A for ESL courses no matter which instructor you get. However, it is possible to get an A-,  especially in Ms Letchimi’s class.

In ESL 408, there will be 2 take-home essays worth 20% each, 1 mid-term essay, 10%, 3 quizzes, 10% in total, 1 research paper, 20% and class participation/attendance, 20%. Ms Letchimi is very flexible with her essay prompts. For example, for our essay, we were required to write about our personal definition of a word of our choice, say, time. I heard of other ESL lecturers imposing more restrictions and demands on what their students can write or cannot write. Having Ms Letchimi as my lecturer also made me realize that my grammar is not as good as I thought; she would pick out every single mistake that we made in our essays, unlike our English teachers we had in previous schools. However, she will mark more leniently for the mid-term essay because of the time restriction. I got a range of A-/B+ for my 2 take-home essays and A for mid-term essay. Quizes are the easiest to score in this class, consisting of both MCQs and open-ended. Ms Letchimi marks the open-ended questions very leniently too. You should read both your textbook aka the Longman Writer and her Powerpoint slides in order to do well. Her APA quiz is open book, so do bring your textbook /E – book and print her slides so that you can refer to them while doing the quiz. Important to take note: Please don’t buy the 8th edition of Longman Writer. It does not have the “Research Paper Writing” section, which you will need in ESL 408, regardless of the lecturer.

As for the research paper, don’t get too stressed over it. You’ll be doing it step-by-step, from choosing a topic and crafting a research question and thesis statement, to doing research and writing out the research paper. If you feel you need to change your topic, change it ASAP so that you’ll have more time to do your research narrow the scope of your topic. When writing the research paper, you’ll have about 10 sources (Ms Letchimi only wants a max of 10 sources, min of 6. However you can exceed the number and have 11 or 12 sources). What I did was that I did an outline of 3 paragraphs supporting my thesis, 1 against paragraph my thesis and a rebuttal paragraph to show why the against is less significant than the supporting points. I then looked through all my sources and highlighted the important points in different colours, a different colour for each of the 5 paragraphs. Anyway, you’ll be required to present your outline in class. I like the fact that Ms Letchimi requires ask to submit a draft of our research paper (at least 70%) complete), because I think as students, we all love to do our work at the last minute. I only did my research paper draft on the day of the deadline itself, in 7 hours LOL. But because of this, my research paper is almost complete (I think about 90%?) and I used another week to tie up any lose ends and submitted it in the last week of the semester. After that damn shiok. Because Ms Letchimi will book the computer lab for her classes so that her students can print and complete their research paper! Then after I submit my research paper got nothing much to do mah, except studying for final exams for other modules. But I relax abit, chit chat with friends, watch video, play the swivel chair. I sit at the last row so no one knows or sees what I’m doing, as long as don’t be too noisy can liao.

I feel that Ms Letchimi isn’t too strict on class participation. I only spoke an average of 1-2 times per week. But I didn’t do badly for this class, maybe my research paper helped to pull my grades up.

Anyway, with Ms Letchimi as our lecturer, I find ESL 408 class very enjoyable. Long datelines to complete our essays, no stress (except for the time when everyone was rushing to complete their research paper draft), flexible essay prompts, slacking for the first 2 weeks of the semester. She may look stern, just like I heard someone in my class whispered “Eh, I think this teacher strict leh”. But she is actually amiable. Ms Letchimi also jokes with us at times and, aiyo, sometimes she very cute one! I forgot what she was teaching/talking about, I think something like how the same word can have different meanings and she gave an example, such as the name used to describe a female dog. Then she immediately said “No no don’t say the word out!” It was timely, because one of my classmate was about to say that word or spell it haha. She will always say this whenever we almost mentioned any vulgar words.

A lot of my classmates chose to swap to Ms Letchimi’s class because they heard a lot of good things about her, so, don’t swap to other classes if you get Ms Letchimi as your ESL lecturer!

My grade for this course: A-