Fall 2015

COM 337 Communication Theory

Instructor: Hui Kam Lin

Very hard to get an A because you’re bound to lose marks here and there; most people tend to get grades around the A- to B range. Partly due to the fact that she has an unusual grading scale. 

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The group project is the most important component of this course; it has a weightage of 30% of your overall grade. Basically, your group needs to come up with a campaign (fictional, of course) to promote the goals of a non profit, local organisation, in the form of a written report (200 marks) and a presentation (50 marks). For example, maybe one of the goals of the Autism Association is to promote the acceptance of autistic individuals. In the written report, you are required to give an introduction to the organisation, talk about one of its goals and the challenges that the organisation faces in achieving its goal, come up with a plan and ideas for the campaign, explain the persuasion theories that will be utilised in your campaign to help the organisation to achieve its goal, and lastly, a conclusion and any campaign materials (posters, schedule, video links or screenshots,etc.). There are four options as to how you can carry out the campaign. The first option is to create five advertisements that will be placed around areas for public transport, the second option is a roadshow with three posters, the third is a competition or a community effort and three online advertisements, and the last is a competition or community effort and two YouTube videos.

Whatever option your group chooses in the end, you must link your campaign ideas well with the persuasion theories that your group has chosen as this requirement takes up 90 marks out of 200. For example, if your group chooses to talk about Elaboration Likelihood Model, maybe you can say that your campaign posters make use of attractive graphics and statistics, thus attracting people through both the peripheral and central route of persuasion respectively.

The ideas that your group has come up with also must be practical. A good way to test it is to imagine yourself as the public; will you notice the campaign? Will you change your attitude towards autistic individuals after watching the videos/viewing the posters, etc? The ideas must also be easy to understand so that when Ms Hui marks your report, she can easily understand how your campaign is going to be carried out.

The group presentation of the campaign is around 20 minutes. There is also a Q & A session that lasts 5 – 10 minutes where the audience (the class) will ask questions about your group’s campaign and your group needs to answer. Ms Hui didn’t tell us the criteria for grading our presentation and the Q & A. Anyway, our group just tried to make the presentation slides look visually attractive, and also coming up with an Instagram account for our campaign, a campaign website (photoshopped lol), and also how our ideas would materialise and posters would look like at the campaign venue.

Finally, there is a peer evaluation where all group members discuss how many marks  to give each of their group members (max 100 marks) before writing it down and signing it. Be careful of what you give, because if you give 75 to your group member, that means that your group member will only get 75% of the marks that the project will get, i.e. if your project gets 70 marks, your group member only gets 52.5 marks. This equates to only 15.75% out of 30% of your overall grade. Ms Hui told our class that some groups need to change their group members’ marks if not they will fail the project. Anyway, my group got 68 marks (converted to out of 100) for our project. Highest in our class was 84 marks.

Next, there is an individual application assignment, 250 marks, which takes up 15% of the total grade for this course. So complicated, almost like writing a research paper! Basically, we pick one of the interpersonal communication theories (such as social penetration theory, communication privacy management theory, etc.), write a literature review about the theory using at least five journal articles or books, and come up with 10 – 15 questions to determine if the theory is applicable to close friendships in real life. So what do you think we are supposed to do with the questions? Interview two groups of friends, total four people lor! Not only that, but must be between age 15-18! Since I can’t find anyone in that age range, I interviewed my juniors who are one year younger than me. Still out of the age range, but it’s ok, I have tried. We are required to record the interviews and submit the voice recordings too. After that, we need to analyse the data (the interviews) and discuss the findings from our data, like whether it supports the theory or is there anything new or different. Our class usually got around the range of 175 – 210 marks and I got 190. Anyway, as doing such an assignment is something new for most of us, we made a lot of mistakes, such as not knowing  what is the difference between”findings” and “discussion”. Findings are actually the analysis of our interviews, while discussion is analysing the relation between our findings and the theory. Also, another mistake that many of us made is that our interviewees gave information that were not specific enough or too little info -> which means that we had very little data to work with to try and compare with the theory -> not much to write for the findings and discussion -> lesser marks. The last thing is, try to use more than the minimum amount of journal articles required so that you would be able to compare what are the main similarities among the articles (you can find out instances where the theory would be very applicable in general) and differences (maybe the theory works differently in more specific situations, maybe close friendships in school? Outside?).

Next, there are 3 tests, 10%, 10% and the last one 15% weightage. The first test consists of MCQ and True and False questions, 30 marks in total, second test only MCQ, 20 marks in total; because teacher told us that many people did badly for T/F questions. If you really really have no time to study, studying the notes would be ok because the answers to most questions can be found in the notes, only 2 or 3 from the textbook. More info about the notes later. The final test is 4 essays choose 2, total 30 marks. The questions are like scenario based or application based such as a foreign student going to US to study and how can he improve his communication skills when he interacts with the American students there, or how does digital media affect our personal and social environment. When you write the essay you must incorporate the relevant theories inside (the name of the theory will be stated in the question), and don’t write some general knowledge essay lol. I got 23/30, 17/20, 22/30 marks for the first, second and third test and apparently all my marks were around the average.

For the first two tests, there will be an in-class activity on the same day of the tests, before the test itself. The two in-class activities are 10 marks each, 5% each and together, both make up 10% of your overall grade. The first activity was a speed friending activity; Ms Hui gave us 1 minute or 5 minutes to talk to someone new, and we were supposed to write down what we found out about our new friends. Later, we had to apply our experiences during the activity in the context of some communication theories. Something like a reflection. The second activity, which took place on the day of the second test, is that, as a group (pick our own), we were required to watch some advertisements, pick one and apply the communication theories that the advertisements used in persuading the audience. I got 9 and 7 marks for the first and second activities respectively, total 8 out of 10%. Most people got 8.5%.

Hang in there, the last component for this module is class participation! It’s 10% of your overall grade. Basically, you get class participation marks by participating in in-class activities (different from those mentioned above). These in-class activities are usually done in groups, but sometimes individually. As long as your name is written down on the paper consisting of whatever your group has discussed, and submit it to teacher, then you will get 1 mark, or rather, 1%. There are 10 activities in total = 10%. For whatever reason, if your name is not there, then you won’t get that 1 mark. But that’s not all. Every three times you are late or absent = minus 1 mark or 1% from your class participation. A lot of people kena lol, already never come for in-class activities, some more still get minus marks. But fret not, you can earn back your class participation marks by participating in class discussions, i.e. volunteer to answer the questions that Ms Hui pose to the class. I’m not sure how many marks you can regain, but I know that if you have 10 marks already, even if you participated in the discussions, you WON’T get extra credit. I know because I come for every class.

Initially, I was not used to the way Ms Hui conducts her class. She likes the class to actively participate in discussions/answer her questions; if everyone is quiet, she will get disappointed. She often says that our class is the biggest, so there should be more participation from us. Ms Hui will teach and ask the class questions, such as asking us to talk about a personal experience that is similar to the theory that she is teaching. And if you give one word answer to her questions or just a short sentence, she will keep prompting you to give more details, which can be slightly daunting for people who are shy to share their personal experiences of their personal relationships with others. Anyway, her teaching is ok, she just gives hypothetical examples to let us understand the theory better or uses our classmates’ examples, no personal stories about herself or any funny examples. The most important points in the textbook are all in her notes, and her tests also test on these important points. However, there isn’t much explanation in her notes, so if you don’t read the textbook, you won’t understand what are those points all about.

Also, before I took this class, I heard people saying that Ms Hui is biased towards girls and is less friendly to girls and tend to give higher marks for the guys. I noticed that she likes to chat with male students haha, but that’s it, I don’t think she is that biased as to give higher marks to guys just because they are, well, guys.

By the way, after reading this review, don’t you feel that this module is a little heavy? Well, someone brought up this issue to Ms Hui when she asked the class for feedback. Guess what? She told us that she had already tried to lighten the workload for this module by teaching and testing fewer chapters, taking away fill-in-the-blanks questions, and some other adjustments which I can’t remember. Wow, previous batches must have had it tough! Still, I thought it is a miracle that I survived this module!

If possible, try to avoid taking any class that Ms Hui teaches. on the whole, I feel that she is ok; but in general, there is more work to do in her classes as compared to other teachers. I saw her COM 101 syllabus and there’s a lot more work to do as compared to Amanda’s COM 101. You might be better off taking classes taught by other lecturers as it might be easier to score better grades too. For example, my friend who took Amanda’s COM 337 said many people got an A in her class, including herself.

My grade for this course: B


COM 398 Journalism

Instructor: Khadijah Binte Seron

It’s possible to get an A- for this course, but not too sure about getting A though as Ms Khadijah did not reveal to us our marks for most components of this course. We only know our marks for the quizzes and part of the marks for the tests. Thus, the marks stated for all the other components will just be an estimation. As long as you listen to her lectures, improve on your writing labs and assignments based on her feedback, looking at the writing samples that she provide and try to write in a similar way, I feel that it should not be too difficult to get an A-. Ms Khadijah also told us that it is easy to get an A for her class, not sure how true is that lol. Anyway I know 4 people who got an A-. You need to get 85-89% to get an A-, and 90% and above for an A.

Firstly, there are three assignments which you have to do. The first assignment (10% of overall grade) is about analyzing news articles for their news values. For this semester, Ms Khadijah wants us to pick articles about GE2015. She taught us about the different types of news values, then we have to categorise the articles based on it and analyse those that have no news value or are not news worthy. Like those that seem more appropriate for a tabloid. Don’t be scared, super easy to do. Probably she will give the full 10% if there are no serious errors. The second assignment is about writing a review, either about food or product. Also 10% of overall grade. I chose to do a review on food as I think it is more fun lol and I still don’t understand how to write review for products even after reading her samples. This assignment is harder because you need to describe the food in a way appeals to the five senses. In short, a lot of descriptive words are needed. We had to produce a draft copy for peer marking and all of us sat in a circle to ask questions about the main problems in our draft. Everyone seemed to make only minor errors in their assignment, probably everyone will get 8% and above? The final assignment is done in a group of 2-3 people and it constitutes of 30% of your overall grade. For this assignment, we are supposed to write about a story about an issue that is not commonly noticed or is relatively unknown (like doing investigative journalism), such as illegal cigarettes trading, lives of adults who are mentally impaired, foreign brides, etc. These are probably not super good examples but you understand what I mean right? You have to interview at least 2 people for this assignment, so make sure your topic is feasible to work on. Anyway, Ms Kahdijah helped us a little for this final assignment, such as giving suggestions on what else we can include in our story and how we should structure it. Since she told our group that our story is quite good, I’ll assume we got 26/30 for this.

The second component of this module are the writing labs. Every week, you need to write 1 story. For example, in the first week, you’ll be writing a press release, second week normal news story, and so on. Over the course of the semester, you will also have written a feature story, broadcast news story, radio news, online news, covering an event and write a story about it. Pick your best five stories, 20 marks each, total 20% of overall grade. Remember the first time you submit your stories, it is a draft and you can revise it over and over again till the end of the semester. She only gives marks after you submit them as a portfolio. And since only five stories are needed to form a final portfolio, you can choose to do any five stories and leave out the rest. But I suggest that you try to write at least six stories so you have more choices to choose from as some stories might be difficult to do, such as broadcast news and feature writing. Also, If you really cannot finish writing your labs, just submit a half done work. After all it’s just a draft and what matters is the final work you hand in. I don’t think she realises if you submit work late; I submitted late before but nothing happened lol. After she marks your drafts and gives you comments, you should see her to clarify any doubts that you have about your work. Do see her as she will also tell you some of the other errors in your draft as her comments on ublearns tend to be only about the one biggest error in your draft. You will lose 2 marks for every major error you make such as structural errors, no contact details, 1 mark for minor errors. You can see her for a maximum of three times for each story, but since our class only has 12 people, she didn’t impose this restriction on our class. And try not to wait till the last session of class to see her for feedback on your drafts, because everyone else will see her on the last session too and you’ll need to queue. I was the last in the queue and only managed to see her at 6.30 pm. I tried to correct all the errors that I have and improved on my drafts, so I think I might get 90/100 = 18%?

Btw, did I mention that you have to interview at least 2 people for each story and also include their contact information? However, many of my classmates took the easy way out by interviewing their friends or themselves lol. Technically, of course this is not allowed, but there is no way that Ms Kahdijah can find out. I think this is also how my friends managed to get the contact info. As for me, I interviewed some strangers at an event and also arranged a time to interview someone in my neighborhood. But I didn’t get their contact details as I think it is already very nice of strangers to allow me to interview them and they probably won’t give me their contact details. I only asked for their name and I made up the contact details. Initially it was really scary to interview people. I kept thinking when was the right time to approach people for an interview and what questions to ask and how to ask questions to prompt them for more details. Anyway, if you pick this course, thinking you will learn interviewing skills, you’re mistaken. Ms Kahdijah did give some tips on how to interview people, but they aren’t very useful as the tips seem to be more applicable if you are a real journalist in a western country. Singaporeans are shy in general and they might be busy, so just cut straight to the point and introduce yourself as a student and ask them whether you can have their opinion on whatever issue you’re working on. Say that you are doing this for a school assignment.  I’m sure there are many ways you can approach strangers for an interview, but this is how I do it. Some people will turn down your request for an interview, so don’t be disheartened. There was one guy who told me “No, no, no, no, no”.

Next, there are 3 written tests (pick 2), total 10% of overall grade. I’ll talk about the tests first. Out of 3 tests, Ms Kahdijah will pick the best 2 for each individual. 25 marks for each test. Actually the tests seem easy to do, but it is hard to score good marks for the tests! The test formats are the same for all the tests and there are three sections: writing a press release, correcting grammar, current affairs. For writing press releases, there will be a sample passage given, usually an incident report from the Singapore Civil Defence Force and you are supposed to write a press release based on it. For grammar section, there will be two passages and you are supposed to rewrite 2 sentences from each passage that have grammatical or spelling errors. And they are real news stories :roll:.  For the current affairs section, she will test you on either local or world news or both, and you have to read up the news based on a specific date range that she tells you. They are fill-in-the-blanks questions. She told us that she will test headline news. In my opinion, world news is easier because the world news that she chose to test on are really headline news, unlike the local news that she tests on, not exactly headline news. My class tends to lose marks in the grammar section and the current affairs section, especially when there’s local news. I got 16/25 and 20/25 for my first 2 tests. I found out that others in my class tend to get around 13- 17 for their first test and 16-19 for their second test. Ms Kahdijah didn’t reveal the marks for our third test, so I’ll assume that I got 7.2%.

There are also 3 online quizzes on UBlearns, they are quite easy, but there will be about 2-3 difficult questions in the second and third quiz. Why difficult? It’s because we have not heard of the questions or the answers to it before! But overall, the quizzes are easy because the answers can just be found from her PowerPoint slides and the textbook, or even all of them online! Just copy and paste part of the questions online and hit the search button! Alas, I only realised this when I was doing the third test. I got 15/15, 11/15, 16/20 for the first, second, and third quiz respectively. So, 8.4%.

**Actually I think you don’t even need the textbook for this class. All the assessments in this class don’t even require content from the textbook

Class participation is 10% of your grade, just come to class and avoid getting late more than 6 times or absent more than twice.

To be honest, I feel that this module is quite slack. No need to study for quizzes and tests, assignment 1 and 2 are also not too difficult and can be done in a few days even though she gives us  about 3 – 4 weeks to do. For assignment 3, just interview a few people and write the story. I know some groups just look for similar stories online and took the information from there and write without interviewing anyone. You have at least a month to do. Writing labs is weekly, but each is only about 1 1/2 pages long and you don’t need to do all 9 stories. I’m sure you might have friends telling you that journalism is difficult, but they tend to be written communication students or journalism students who don’t understand what is going on in class and don’t consult teacher for help. It’s not too difficult to get an A- for this class if you can follow samples and see her for feedback. If you don’t, you might not do as well because she dosen’t spend much time teaching how to write each story or what you should or shouldn’t write. To gauge whether you can handle this module, think about your past experiences in your ESL classes. Are you good at following sample essays and writing one of your own?

Teaching wise, nothing special about Ms Khadijah’s teaching. She just teach with PowerPoint slides. However, she dosen’t upload her slides so you have to copy everything. But after a while, my classmates stopped copying because they said they could find the quiz answers online. Anyway, although Ms Kahdijah allows us to see her for consultation for our writing labs, I feel that sometimes it isn’t super helpful. Like she just explains very briefly what are the problems and her explanations are kind of confusing. And she dosen’t let us take down what she says during the consultation! Also for the samples, she just upload them without explaining anything about the samples, such as for example which section is attribution, talking about the event, closing, etc. That’s why sometimes it’s hard to follow her samples. There was once where she got angry when our class didn’t  follow her samples and write something that is not what she wanted. Ok so for the assignment on food review, we followed the samples and after viewing some of our drafts, she said we should not be writing _____ (I can’t remember what she said).  Then our class said “But you told us to follow the samples”. Ms Kahdijah replied “But samples also have their flaws”. Aiyo Ms Kahdijah, how we know what to follow and what not to follow, or which part is good or bad when you didn’t tell us anything? Just throw us into the deep end of the pool only. Of course we try to write as similar to the samples as possible lah. This problem applies for the writing labs as well.

Ms Kahdijah also told us that she likes small classes because it gives her a cosy feeling. She also told us she treats our class better than the other larger class. Not sure if that is true, but I know she is friendly to our class, but super friendly to certain students. Anyway, if you want small classes, try to pick the 3.30 pm – 5 pm slot!

So, adding up all the marks: 10 + 8 + 26 + 18 + 7.2 + 8.4 + 10 = 87.6

My grade for this course: A-


COM 125: Introduction to the Internet

Instructor: Abel Choy

Very, very easy to get A- or even an A. Similar to COM 398, Mr Choy also doesn’t reveal to us the marks for our group project, blog posts, and final exam marks. But I know this module is easy based on personal experience and also after finding out marks from my group mates and some of my classmates. All of them got an A-, except for 3 people who got an A. Anyway, Mr Choy has got to be lenient when giving us marks as the requirements for the blog posts, group project and group written report are very vague. What do I mean by that? Read on to find out!

For this module, you’ll need to write 13 blog posts, one per week, but there will be some people who will procrastinate and do four or even five or six blog posts the week before the deadline. Please don’t do that as the submission deadline for the blog posts tends to be the week before your final exams for all your other modules. Imagine trying to rush to complete your blog posts AND still needing to study for your finals! This happened to me, so yeah don’t follow in my footsteps. Bad time management and a heavy semester 😦  Oh before I forget, blog posts are 15% of your grade.

So basically, you need to write a blog post that corresponds to whatever topic he is teaching in that particular week, such as Internet security. You can write on anything that is related to that topic, but take note of the quality of your content (6% out of 15% of your marks), communication style (4.5%), and whether it benefits your readers’ learning (4.5%). Vague right? He didn’t even come up with a kind of rubric to show what kind of work is considered good quality or bad quality, etc.  When I first saw these criteria, I really do not know what to write. Hence, I just find something that people might not know and is interesting to write about and add pictures and videos to my post. For example, on the topic of social media, I talked about the definition of social media, its prevalence in the world, and also talked about social media usage in Asia. I’m bad at thinking of how to explain or come up with information, hence my blog posts usually have interesting and relevant pictures, infographs related to my topic, videos for explaining concepts or showing examples, and less text. Write in whatever way that you want, as long as you feel that you meet the above criteria for your blog posts, it should be fine. Everyone has a different way of writing their blog posts anyway and a different way of interpreting the criteria so Mr Choy probably wouldn’t penalise anyone badly. I click on many people’s blogs and no two are the same! Some are super lengthy, some boring, some with many pictures, etc. Anyway, here’s his feedback after reading some of our blog posts: 1. Try not to make your posts too lengthy, especially if it’s just all text. Even short posts with few paragraphs are fine. 2. Add some pictures. 3. Don’t overdo on gifs. 4. Write about something that readers can learn from. This probably means no diary or journal type of posts where you talk solely about what you learnt in class or opinionated posts where the whole post is about your opinion. I feel that you can start of your blog post with your opinions or what you learnt, but don’t put too much focus on it. Instead, you can use that to build on your post by saying something like “based on what I’ve read”, ” I found _____ interesting, went to do a little research on it and found out that…”

Btw, other than the final deadline, there will be a first round of evaluation about 1 month after the semester starts, where he will read whatever you have written and assign you a colour code based on how well you manage to keep up with the pace of his class, i.e. Are you still writing on the week 2’s topic when it is already week 4? Green means good, orange is slightly in danger, red is very serious. Not sure if this first round of evaluation will affect your marks, but better try to keep up. At that time, I’ve only written up till week 2 and it was already week 5 I think, so I got orange lol. Next, there’s the mid-term evaluation when I realised he only came in to check which week/topic we have written up till. He didn’t click on my posts individually to read it. Then for the final deadline, he only read my posts from week 6 to 13, he missed out on my week 3 – 5! Seriously, not sure how does he give marks to our blog posts! Also, there’s also a peer evaluation to be done by your project groupmates where they need to rate each member’s blog posts based on a few factors such as whether it is useful in learning, whether the video that they made is interesting (Yes, you have to make a video for one of the posts!), easy to read or not, quality of content and research, etc. Again, I’m not sure how much will the evaluation affect our marks for the blog posts. I estimate that I got 14% for blog posts.

Now, here’s the group project. There is a presentation component (20%) which is due earlier than the written report (15%). For the group project, as a group of 4-6 members, we are supposed to research on a specific topic about the Internet, give a presentation and write a report on it. Any topic. Some groups chose topics such as YouTube, Dark Web, Internet and politics, Bitcoin, etc. For the presentation, 10% are allocated for the quality of your presentation’s content, 8% for engagement and clarity of communication, 2% for Q and A. It is 20 – 30 mins. That’s all the criteria that we know. Mr Choy didn’t tell us what we should include in our presentation so my group was kinda lost on what aspects of our topic we should present on. When we asked him he just said we present on whatever we want to share with the class. Still clueless after asking him. Finally, we just categorised the information found from our research into intro, body, and conclusion. My group talked about products with networks that could transmit data, so we gave an intro on it, talked about Internet of Things, current examples of these products with networks, the future of these products, and a conclusion. Personally, I think our presentation was quite boring lol because we only had a short demonstration of our topic, and after that we just kept presenting (talking). Furthermore, we weren’t very enthusiastic in our presentation too and we had not so attractive powerpoint slides unlike other groups :(. I watched other groups’ presentation and here are some of the good aspects: They showed videos that they made themselves and are funny/interesting/informative about the topic, made videos showing a story and they acted in it, invited the audience to participate in a demonstration, or the topics that they presented on were super interesting such as the Dark Web and used many real life case studies and examples and even their experience of using the Dark Web. Not sure if it’s true or not, but it certainly made the whole class pay attention to them. Really. Anyway, none of the groups did Q and A; Mr Choy didn’t even say anything about it, how are we supposed to know how to carry out Q and A? We come up with possible Q and A, or wait for 1 minute after the end of presentation to see if anyone wants to ask questions?

As for the written report, not much criteria is given either. When our group asked Mr Choy what we should include in our written report, he just told us to include whatever we found from our research and whatever info we want. Quality of content takes up 4.5%, clarity of report writing 4.5%, and evaluation 6%. Evaluate the topic? How? We don’t know, but we didn’t ask him any more questions because he always gives vague answers. Our group followed the exact same structure as our presentation for our written report (no wonder our presentation isn’t interesting, it is structured in a boring written report style) and just add on a whole lot more detail since the word requirement is 1500 – 3000 words. That reminds me, show mainly interesting information or facts and just enough technical info for your presentation to allow the audience to understand your presentation, and more technical details and facts in a formal way for your written report. And Mr Choy says that our written report can include images too! I think our group did better for the report than the presentation. I estimate that we get 16% for presentation and 13% for report.

There is a mid term test and a final exam, both 20% each, all MCQ questions. 50 questions, 2 marks each. Mid term test is super duper easy; while I was looking for my paper, I cannot believe the amount of people who got 88 marks and above. About 3/4 of the class leh! At least 2 people had 100 marks too. For mid term, just study all the sentences in the notes, diagrams are not important. And if Mr Choy tells you specifically that he will test from a certain online article or on a certain concept please study them because many questions will be tested on these (about 6 – 7 questions for each concept/article). He will also come up with a revision guide, he will not test everything listed in the revision, but most of it. I got 92 marks for mid term = 18.4%. Final exam is a totally different ball game, I think the paper is set by another person! Or maybe he got split personality! He can test on anything and everything! For final exam, if you don’t study the diagrams, you’re doomed. If you can only understand what you’re studying in lecture notes form and not phrased in a chim way like in the final exam, you’re doomed. If you don’t study all the chapters from week 1 to the final week, you’re FINISHED (bold also not enough, must type in capitals). Basically, this final exam caught most of my classmates by surprise. 1) Mr Choy didn’t tell us that he would test all the chapters, and a huge portion of the questions were on the topics tested during mid term. 2) Some people didn’t pay much attention to diagrams. 3) Questions were phrased in a totally different and chim way that initially I didn’t understand what they were asking about. 4) Some of the questions asked things that were not in the notes. 5) Mr Choy came up with a revision guide for us but it was useless because he didn’t really test the concepts listed. Ok, actually this is not that surprising, just that it was worse than mid term. So how to do well for final exam? Just study everything including the diagrams. If any option for the answer seems unfamiliar, don’t pick it, it is most probably wrong. Choose the answers that are familiar. If you really don’t know, just guess. If a question seems chim to you, remember that it is something that you have studied before and don’t panic. I think I got 7 questions wrong, so 84/100 = 16.8%. Anyway, I seriously wonder how many people didn’t study the topics that were tested before.

As usual, class participation and attendance takes up 5% each, total 10%. Don’t ask me what will happen if you miss a few classes, I really don’t know lol. For the class participation component, just do a show and tell to get the other 5%. It will be on the last few lessons. Give a short presentation on a mobile app or web service/app or something related to the internet. Sone people even talk about an online game that they play. Present and get 5% for class participation. Don’t present get 0% lor.

I think Mr Choy is an interesting lecturer. The way he teach seems more like he is a speaker giving an engaging talk. Nothing bad about that, just that he’s different. He is nice and friendly too! He also tries to crack many jokes to make us laugh; but unfortunately, most of them are not funny at all! Or if they are funny, the jokes are so silly that they become funny. Some examples: Who created the Web? Spiderman. Oxymoron – A moron sprayed oxygen on himself. A computer virus named Melissa – A hacker had an ex-girlfriend named Melissa, so he named the virus “Melissa”. PowerPoint in projects – Too much power no good because you’ll lose the points. Dark (Duck) Web – quark quack. Most people don’t laugh at his jokes, so sometimes he will ask “Eh, my jokes not funny ah? Why no people laugh one?” haha.  Lastly, I really hope Mr Choy will provide more specific details and requirements for projects and blog so that students won’t be so confused and lost when doing them.

Not related to his jokes, but telling you this so you won’t get a shock: Sometimes there will be group discussion activities and 1 person from each group must present. No marks lost if you are absent from these discussions. 

So, after calculating all the marks, I got around 88.2 marks for this course.

My grade for this course: A-


UGC 111 World Civilisations I

Instructor: Heather Bennett

Though you need to get at least 94 to get an A, it is still very easy to get an A, even after considering the fact that people might not do that well for the exams. 90 – 93 for an A- . Most of the components of this course are very easy to score like entry and exit quizzes, attendance, participation, discussion questions. Since you all had already done so much reading thus far, I’ll start talking about these components first before explaining about blog posts (Yes, blog posts again. I had to do blog posts for three classes!) and exams.

Note: Prof. Bennett might change her syllabus slightly according to the class’s needs. Also, she always seeks feedback from on us anything and everything, and acts on it quite fast, which you will see later (Look out for the word “Initially“). However, this is still relevant for anyone who is going to take UGC 111 under Prof. Bennett or wants to compare their experiences with mine!

The entry and exit quizzes are done at the beginning and at the end of class, respectively. Initially, the entry quizzes consist of five questions; every question is 0.2 marks, so each quiz is 1 mark. The entry quizzes test on the content of the previous lecture, which can be found in her powerpoint slides. Exit quizzes are just your reflection and feedback about the lesson on the day itself. Yup, you have an opportunity to provide feedback to Prof. Bennett every lesson. If you have nothing to feedback on just type “no” or “nothing”. Complete the exit quiz to get 1 mark. There isn’t a set number of entry and exit quizzes, but all the marks you get will be converted to out of 5%. Initially, the entry and exit quizzes also count for your attendance (5%). This means that your quizzes are worth a total of 10% of your overall grade! Attendance is determined by what time you submit your entry quiz. If you submit your entry quiz before class starts, you get 1 mark for attendance. Sometimes you get 1 mark if you submit it at 8.40 am, sometimes no. Depends on what time she starts her class. If you submit it late, you only get 0.75 marks. If you are absent, 0.

However, there was a loophole. She would upload the link to her quizzes (on google forms) a few hours before class start. This meant that people do not even need to go to school and they could get 1 point for attendance, people who will be late can also get 1 point for attendance. Also, some people complained that they came to class early, but completed the quiz late (due to checking the notes for the answers). Thus, they were considered as late.

So, Prof. Bennett decided to change the attendance system a little, and decided to take an attendance photo once the clock hits 8.30 am. If you are not there, you are considered late, regardless of whether you have already completed the entry quiz or not. If you still didn’t complete the entry quiz the whole day, then you’re absent. She allows two absences. Also, entry quizzes have been changed; we are now supposed to write one or two sentences about the crash course videos that we have watched for the day’s lesson. Do it and you’ll get 1 mark for the quiz! Anyway, she gave us 3 extra marks for our quizzes if we ask or answer a question on the class forum for the exams! I had the full 5% for attendance and 5% for quizzes.

Class participation is 15%. Freebie 15%. According to Prof. Bennett, attending class on time, participating in group/class discussions, taking down notes, or even just eye contact and paying attention are counted as class participation! I got 15% for this.

Next, we had to submit discussion questions for the sources that we were supposed to read for the week. Discussion questions are 15% of the overall grade. The class was split into two groups so that everyone in each group will submit questions for the sources that will be taught during the first and second lesson of the week, respectively. Initially, we had to submit two questions about the source through google forms. Each question is 1 mark. And they need to be questions that can generate discussion, like “How are the characters and context in “The Epic of Gilgamesh” similar to ancient Mesopotamia? Why do the Persians adopt aspects of foreign culture?” You need to understand the sources before you can come up with proper questions. However, some people do not understand the source or came up with the wrong kind of questions, thus they ended up losing marks.

So Prof. Bennett revamped this discussion question thingy. She uploaded the sources to Google Docs and we only need to comment or ask a question about the sources ONCE. But quite a number of people do more than that, or maybe even engrossed in the discussion. Haha, I thought many people won’t enjoy UGC. We were still allowed to submit discussion questions though. Like the quizzes, she gave us 3 extra marks for this component if we ask or answer a question on the class forum for the exams! I got 15% for this too.

The highlight of this course are the blog posts! In groups of 2 or 3 or even individually, we are required to write three blog posts on anything, as long as it is before 1500 BCE. The criteria for the blog posts were came up by the class and Prof. Bennett, which include: Smooth flow of ideas, Hook/thesis/gimmick to draw in reader, Thought-provoking, Sparks discussion, Good command of language, Readable, Concise, Credible sources, Properly cited, Visually attractive, May use media (photos, videos, gifs, etc.). Each blog post is 5%, 100 marks each. Posting five comments on any blog posts is also worth 5%.  So, 5% x 4= 20%.

I feel that it is very easy to score 90 marks and above if you follow the criteria above. But sometimes, after “overturning” all the web pages to find information and pictures/video for my blog posts, organizing the information, planning how to make the info flow, I find that I’ll become giddy with all the info. As such, sometimes I felt that I might have written my posts in a way that fits all the criteria, but actually it didn’t. So, I strongly suggest that when you are writing your blog posts, find someone who is not involved in your blog post to read it and tell you what they think about it. Prof. Bennett gives around a two-day grace period so that you can still edit after the deadline. After that, she will start marking it. I was in a group of 3 and each of us wrote one blog post, or probably not because their standard of writing wasn’t good so I had to edit their posts heavily. In the end, we got 93, 100, 93 for our blog posts + 5 comments = 19.3%

Based on Prof. Bennett comments, for the first blog post, apparently I splashed too many pictures in the middle, so it kind of broke the flow of the text. Also, since each of us found our own sources and paraphrased the information here and there, the information that we have cited or used in our post does not match the information that we extracted from the sources that we found. Furthermore, the title that we picked wasn’t interesting. For the second blog post, it was “truly well done” lol. I think it’s because we chose to write on a natural disaster in history and there were a lot of information, pictures and even videos. Our second blog post was very organised too: Before the disaster, during, after. For the third blog post, I wrote about the rise and decline of a city and also talked about its politics, arts, culture. I think I was too ambitious and tried to fit too many information about the city’s history, politics and warfare, which made the first half of the post long and draggy. Unfortunately, the next half on the city’s arts and culture was quite short as I could not find much information on it. Prof. Bennett commented that I could have moved on earlier to the arts and culture section as the content on arts and culture would be more thought-provoking. Anyway, after the end of this course, I realized that Prof. Bennett doesn’t really place much attention on the warfare, trade, politics of any civilisation that we have learned, but more on the culture, society and religion instead. Maybe it’s due to the description for UGC 111 in UB’s course catalogue:” Introduces students to the development of world civilizations from prehistory to about 1500, and concerns the peoples, forces, and ideas that have shaped the way individuals have experienced (and still do experience) the world. Features global perspectives, focuses on the origins and development, geographical context, and the interactions of world cultures.” Now that you know my mistakes, please don’t follow them. Oh and btw, when citing sources for your blog posts, try not to use too much info from Wikipedia and info from websites that are not too credible. Avoid taking too much of your info from ancient.eu too. Instead, try looking at academic websites or websites written by people who are educated in the field, or even google books. Don’t underestimate the importance of books, I found a lot of important information and pictures from books to use in my blog posts!

The last component for this module are exams 1 and 2! Both have a weightage of 20% each, and are open-book. We are allowed to bring in hard copies of whatever information that we think we might need for the exams, such as notes, primary sources, extra info from website. But if we need to use online info, we need to acknowledge that in the exam and give credit to the website. Each exam consist of three sections: 15 MCQs, 15 marks, choose 3 out of 5 short answer questions, 15 marks, and 1 essay out of 5-6 topics, 30 marks.

You have 2 hours to complete; so do write faster and know your content extremely well so that you know which set of notes and which paragraph to take your answer from when answering the short answer questions and essay questions. Trust me, it will get quite messy flipping around for the answers in a huge stack of papers. I encourage you to annotate your notes, highlight, underline, or write notes. Like maybe during class discussions, you heard a useful explanation of a concept, or an explanation of something you don’t understand, write it down. Also, since the essays are tested on a common theme that could be applied to many of the civilisations that you study, it is useful to draw links across topics and civilisations, or maybe think of common themes that she might set for the exams. For example, she has tested on the following topics before: Gender, Social Hierarchy, Death, “How then shall we live?”, Change and Continuity, reflections on how lessons learnt in History and the civilisations we studied can be applied to our current society, and a topic about how different environments have the same culture, yet different. There are more but I can’t remember. Anyway, she told us that from the next semester onwards, there might not be anymore exams. So… good for you!

I got 13/15 + 13/15 +29/30 = 55/60 or 19.04% for my first exam. MCQ, short answer questions, and essay. I didn’t expect that I would get this high so she probably marked our first exam very leniently. Prof. Bennett told us that many of us do not know how to write a thesis or to compare sources. People also tend to use too many background information when the focus should be using primary sources in the essay for comparison. For my second exam, I got 15/15 + 12.5/15 + 22/30 = 49.5/60 or 16.5%. My examples and explanations weren’t clear and weren’t sufficient in the essay, which was why I lost marks. Partly because I found the sources for the second exam more challenging to understand than those for the first, and maybe I was complacent after the first exam lol.

Prof. Bennett is a nice and friendly teacher and she always provides opportunities for you to give her feedback. She also one of few teachers who makes use of technology/social media to teach, such as using Twitter and Padlet for discussions or for students to ask questions, setting up a website on wordpress for UGC 111, Google forms quizzes, Google Docs discussion, etc. Sometimes, she would also play music in class using the songs that the class suggested. I also like the fact that she gives a lot of flexibility in allowing us to write anything for the blog posts and also gives us many choices of topics during the exams. Prof. Bennett doesn’t upload her Powerpoint slides though as she thinks that we won’t be paying attention to her lessons if we already have the slides beforehand. But eventually she did because some of us told her that she speaks a little fast. Oh and please come for her lectures, because her powerpoint slides are quite brief and all the extra details will be explained during the lectures.

Something important to take note: Prof. Bennett is a little bit of a feminist, so please don’t use any words that are sexist, such as mankind, caveman in your quizzes, discussion questions, exams or whatever. She WILL take away marks!

My grade for this course: A.  I got a final score of 96.94%, despite losing quite a bit of marks for Exam 2


NTR 108 Human Nutrition

Instructor: Sonal Manek

Most people got grades ranging from B- to B+; very hard to get an A and A- . Probably because you need to have a good memory to memorise each of the nutrients, the deficiencies and so on in order to do well in the tests, but people just tend to mix them up.

Here’s the grading scale again…

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 2.15.43 pm

There are three tests in total, each 50 marks, 50 questions. Study everything, really. Sometimes you might be asked what is the deficiency if you lack a particular nutrient, percentage of energy required by athletes, at which stage do humans need the most energy, and more. But the good news is, you only need to study from Dr Peter Horvath’s notes; your test questions are set by him. After taking each test, I realised that whatever that is tested can be found in his notes. So you don’t need to study the notes from your Singapore-based lecturer, which in my case, is Ms Manek. Ms Manek also told us that her notes are meant to serve as a textbook for us so we don’t need to buy it. Anyway, this means that everyone who is taking NTR 108 in a particular semester will be taking the same set of test questions, but different versions, unlike what many of my classmates think. They thought that different class will have totally different test questions. Anyway, I got 36, 38, 38 for my tests. Average for class was 37, 39, 42. I forgot the median, but based on what I learnt in my statistics class, most people got slightly higher than the average marks listed here.

You can also get up to 7 bonus points in this course by attending class on the day of the quiz, asking a question on the discussion board, which will be opened before the exam, and completing the course evaluation at the end of this module. Please remember to do the discussion board thingy, many people forget! I suggest you to do it immediately while you still can remember it, because the discussion board will close three days before the exam at about 10 am.

Actually I’m not sure if Ms Manek’s teaching is boring, or the content itself is boring. She uses real life scenarios/examples to explain concepts, but so far nothing funny in her class. This is the first class that I had trouble paying attention; I’m someone who leaves my phone in my bag so that I can give my full attention to the lecturer. However, I often found myself reaching into my bag so that I could use my phone during her lessons. For the first time in my life, I rather use my phone than to listen to her lectures. Furthermore, at the beginning some people were pissed off because we didn’t expect that she would use Dr Horvath’s notes to teach, and use the diagrams from her own slides. She also didn’t inform us about this. Hence, for the first few lessons, everyone had to keep flipping their notes back and forth to look for the slide she is currently teaching on. To make matters worse, she would skip slides here and there quite often. For the first few lessons I also gave up trying to follow her lessons; for 2 hours we need to flip here and there to follow her lesson leh. Furthermore, her lessons are also not interesting. She also doesn’t seem to realize that people didn’t enjoy paying attention to her class and continues to smile at us and teach happily lol. Initially, everyone had that bored look on their face and were using their hand phones throughout the lessons. But after our first test (which Ms Manek said we didn’t do well), I guess we tried to pay more attention.  To be honest, although her lessons are kinda boring, Ms Manek is quite nice and she is approachable if you have any doubts about the content.  I’ve since forgiven her for the initial cock-up. However, many people in my class didn’t like her and were dying to leave class early. For example, my class didn’t want to attempt the quizzes in class, they just wanted her to give all the answers so they could get out of class ASAP. Also my class were really open in answering her (in the form of ‘yes’ or ‘no’) that they didn’t want to stay for her class and were happy if they didn’t need to come to her class. Very bad leh. But sometimes Ms Manek will end the class late by 5 – 10 mins also, which means that everyone is hungry (especially if they didn’t eat breakfast), and hungry people are angry people lol

My grade for this course: B-