Fall 2016

UGC 112: World Civilisation 2

Instructor: Mark Lempke

Most people should be able to get an A- or minimum B+ for this class because Prof. Lempke marks the exams leniently and also, maybe the assignments too. A is a 93+, A- 92.9 to 90, B+ 89.9 to 87, B 86.9 to 83.

For this class, there is a attendance/participation component, 3 papers based on the texts assigned, and 2 exams.

For attendance, Prof. Lempke will give a random attendance quiz in class at the end of the lesson. No, it won’t be about the content, but very simple interesting personal questions such as what was dream occupation when you were a child, who is your favourite prof in UB, name of your imaginary country and draw a flag for it, etc. :p He allows 2 absences this semester. For participation, sometimes there will be group discussions or class discussions about the texts assigned, but mostly he takes note of your participation in discussing the texts. He told us that if you missed 2 classes and spoke infrequently, you could get a B in the participation component. Of course there were some people who didn’t speak at all and some who contributed a lot. As for me, I got 140 out of 150 or 14%. I rarely speak up during group discussions but tried to contribute once or twice every time there was a discussion about the texts. Oh and I attended every class.

For the papers, Prof. Lempke will assign a question based on the texts. We had 4 texts this semester and we had to write a paper, 2-3 pages long for any 3 texts. 15% each paper = 45% in total. He will provide 1 question for each text, such as (not exact questions): “What does this text reveal about the position of woman in society? How did the presence of Europeans change the lives of Africans?” This question is a hard one: “How is the author a product of her time? How does her work show the influence of her position during that period?” He doesn’t give any rubrics for the essay. He told us that there is no right or wrong answer, but we need to draw links from the text and content from the lecture to support our argument in our paper. Personally, I feel that these assignments are really hard for me. It’s like writing a literature essay with historical content. I sort of know what he wants, but it is difficult for me to write it out.  During lectures, sometimes Prof. Lempke will talk about the overarching values or something that is characteristic of that period of time. You need to link what you have learnt during lectures with the content from the text. Like talking about how the context of that period influence the setting or the content of the text. My classmates who have done well also told me the same thing. Don’t understand what I’m talking about? It’s ok, when you try to do it then you’ll know. And you can always try to ask him what he is looking out for in your answers. Maybe write out a draft and show it to him. And always make sure your answer/paper is answering the question. This is really important! Well, I didn’t do well for this component, at least when compared to others; I got 116/150, 118/150, and 119/150  –> 11.6% + 11.8% + 11.9% = 35.3%. But don’t worry, those who I have asked about their marks or overheard got 14% and above on average for each paper and some of them even got full marks. So I think most of you will do fine. I did badly partly because I didn’t seek any help, I kept thinking that I knew what I was writing and I thought I was answering the question. But after I read the comments from Prof. Lempke and my answer again, I realised I actually didn’t. Please don’t make the same mistake as me. 

The last component for this class are the exams. There are 2 exams, 20% each = 40% in total. Same format: MCQ and fill in the blanks, 2 marks each, answer 20 out of 22 questions, omit any 2 questions; short answer questions, 6 marks each, answer 10 out of 12 questions, omit any 2 questions. Exams are quite easy and he also marks it leniently. Some of the questions (not exact) are: “How did the Reformation influenced the Scientific Revolution? What do the voyages of Zheng He tell us about his era? What are the differences in the way Akbar and Aurangzeb ruled their empire?” Yep, so it’s quite straightforward and Prof. Lempke also told us that the length of your answer should be about 3 – 4 sentences long. He gives a study guide for exams; they are all key terms which he said might appear in the MCQ/Fill in the blanks section or in the short answer section, or maybe not at all, depending on how you answer the short answer questions. I think it’s somewhat useful, most of those terms really do appear in either those sections or you have to talk about it when answering the short answer questions. But still, study everything. During the exams, if you can’t remember how to answer some questions, don’t panic, just write down whatever you can remember that can somewhat answer the question. Even when my answer is slightly incorrect, he still gave me 6 marks lol He told us that he didn’t give anyone below 4 marks for a question as long as they tried to answer the question. You can expect to get almost full marks as long as you mention some relevant names/dates/events, etc. He doesn’t give 0 or 1 mark to anyone, maybe if you were writing some insensitive comment. Even if you write the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” you can get a 2. He really said that lol :p For the exams , I got 88/100 and 90/100 marks. That’s like 17.6% and 18%. I think he said the average for the first exam is around 88, and quite a number of people got 90 and above and some even got 100. Not sure about the second exam because it was after the last week of class.

Prof. Lempke doesn’t use a textbook, so don’t worry about memorising chunks of text. He solely relies on powerpoint slides. The most important thing is to take down notes, in fact, take down everything that he says because you might need to use it during the exams. Also take down everything he writes on the whiteboard. Very important! They tend to be key stuff that will be tested. Anyway, if you missed out on what he says, you can ask him or search it online, but don’t need to look into too much details, because he only tests what he mentions during his lectures, any additional info that you read online but is not mentioned in class won’t be tested. Also, he might test from those crash course videos, but not so much. So far he hasn’t test anything on those articles that he uploaded to ublearns.  

I like Prof. Lempke’s class because the way he teaches makes me feel like a learnt a lot without even needing to read a textbook. Like Prof. Bennett, he also uses images of architecture, art pieces and artifacts to explain his points. But he is kind of an introvert, so he is not the kind of prof that will crack jokes a lot, but he is still interesting and knowledgeable; he knows how to answer your questions if you are fishing for more information about a particular event/topic. And some students like to chat with him after class 🙂

But one thing bad is that sometimes he speak a little too fast for us to finish writing/typing down whatever he has to say. This means that we have to go back to do a google search on whatever we missed and this takes time. And sometimes he will explain a lot of names, either of people or places or events and not write it down on the board, and some of us would are confused because we don’t know how to spell them. But after this class, I realised that if he mentions a lot of names, but not write it down on the board, it’s most likely not very important.

My grade for this course: B


MUS 113: Music in Society: Music and Gender

Instructor: Jeremy Leong

Super easy class to get an A-; I think almost everyone should be able to get an A-, but a bit hard to get an A though because of the exams. An A is 90 and above, A- is 85 to 89.9. 

There is an attendance component, 3 quizzes, 2 exams, and a project for this class

Attendance is 10% of your grade. Dr. Leong takes attendance randomly and he didn’t say how many absences he will allow and all that, so skip classes at your own risk. But come to class; especially for the lecture on “Popular Music in the US” onwards, you really have to listen and take down notes because you’ll need it for the exam.

Quizzes are worth a total of 30%. There will be 3 quizzes, but Dr. Leong will take the best 2. 🙂 So 15% each. The quizzes are very easy, it’s about matching the definitions to the term. He will give a quiz review sheet, where you need to study all the terms that are on that sheet. No need to study outside of it. Out of all those terms, he will test any 15. Try to get full marks for the quizzes because if you want to get an A for this class, every mark counts! I got 20, 18 and 20 for the quizzes. So I had 30% for this.

The 2 exams are 20% each. There are 3 sections: MCQs, term definitions, and an essay. MCQs are really easy, the questions are very straightforward; I already know the answer to the questions even before I finish reading it :p 20 MCQs, 1 mark each. Try to get full marks for MCQs because the other sections are not that easy to score marks. For term definitions, you’ll need to fully explain 10 terms. 2 marks each. He told us that we need to explain what the term means and also give some examples. This section is hard because, you won’t know whether your answer is good or complete enough to get the full 2 marks. Like for example, I explained what is country music about and gave examples of instruments, but he still wanted me to give examples of musicians and songs. So for this section, I suggest you write everything you know about the term based on what you learn in class and from the slides. If not, you might only get 1 or 1 1/2 mark if he thinks your answer is not complete enough. For the essay, you’ll have a choice of 2-3 questions to write an essay on. 10 marks. There will be one question that is easier than the rest so do that one and make sure that your answer answers the question :). All questions are quite straightforward; it all depends on how you write your points lor. We had questions on describing the development of a music genre and its impact, or comparing the music between 2 cultures. For the first exam, I got 39/40. Dr. Leong told us that the average is 38/40. Not sure about second exam because that was after the class ended.

*For essays I realize Dr. Leong doesn’t test on the background of the musicians, i.e. essays won’t be about writing the background of the musicians, but more about a type of music or culture, so you won’t need to memorise those super long biographies in the slides. The super long ones might be tested in the term definition section of the exam though. But that is also stated in the revision guide, so you don’t need to memorise all of them. (He will ask you to study 15, out of the 15 he wil test 10 of them.) However, you need to know more about those musicians that have only one or two lines of description because you will most probably need to talk about them in your essay.*

 The project is 20% of your grade: 10% presentation skills, 10% content. It’s about picking 2 musicians/bands/singing groups and researching about their contribution to society such as social, political, cultural impact, etc. Dr. Leong will give you a list to choose from or you can pck outside of it, but you need to inform him. Project is done in groups of 10 lol so for our group, we split into half to work on each musician. He wants us to try to be creative in the way we present. Maybe dance? Act? Draw? For our group we did a skit 😀 The presentation is 25 mins long and there’ll also be a 5 mins Q and A. Anyone in the group can answer the questions. The questions that Dr. Leong ask will be those that require you to think more about the musicians that you have researched on. It’s carried out in a discussion style between you and him. No right or wrong answer; he just wants to hear your opinions. We got 17% for the presentation because we screwed up slightly for one of the musicians. Average is aroud 17-18%.

For Dr. Leong’s MUS 113, it’s about the history of music in US. He doesn’t exactly teach it in a chronological order, but more of by categorising the music of each ethnic group in the US, such as Native Indians, European Americans, African Americans, Latinos/Hispanic peoples, and Asian Americans. Well, many people find such stuff boring to learn about, but I think it’s interesting 😀 Dr. Leong also makes use of a set of powerpoint slides to teach; it has about 100 slides so all the stuff that you will learn for the semester are all in there. Just use it to take down notes. Anyway his class is kinda relaxed because the lessons are easy to understand and the quizzes and project are quite easy. Exams just study for it and try your best lor. And no individual assignments to do! Yay! Teaching-wise he is a bit boring haha because his speaking is a little monotone lol. But still, he’s a nice guy and totally not strict at all. And note to everyone, especially the freshies: please don’t talk too much during lectures because it’s really distracting for those that are around you. Yeah he is so not strict, that often there are students talking among themselves. I think it’s because they don’t like what he is teaching :p Oh and did I mention that he will do a revision before the exam? He will write down whatever he has taught and at the same time he will give some hints subtly so listen for that. He really does give hints, but still study everything.

P.S. I know all your friends will tell you to take Dr Samuel Wong’s class. But give Dr Jeremy Leong a chance leh. Attend one lesson or something. Who knows, you might come to like his class!

My grade for this course: A-

PSY 331: Social Psychology

Instructor: Joshua Redford

If getting a good GPA means everything to you, you should avoid this class, unless you are prepared to work hard. Read on to on find out why…

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So, for this class, there are 3 exams, 30% each, and 10% attendance. Attendance is a freebie; you get the full 10% because Josh doesn’t take attendance 😀 But attending lectures is especially important for this class. I’ll explain more later.

The 3 exams consists of 60 MCQs each. The level of difficulty is also almost the same. Josh will provide a study guide for each exam. But I don’t think it’s very useful as it’s more of a list of what he taught for each chapter. And he will also tell you to study stuff that are not listed there. Sometimes he will also design an online testing system where you can try out some practice questions. For the first exam, the exact questions came out in the exam lol. For the second, the questions were totally different from the exam. For the third, he did provide any practice questions :p

Anyway, his exams are really tricky because the options are really close. But it’s not just that. He can test anything from his lecture notes and textbooks. And he will test about experiments that are mentioned in the textbook or notes. The problem is that there are so many experiments being mentioned, how to remember? My suggstion is that you focus on those that are mentioned in greater detail, and pay more attention to what is the experiment about and what are the results. Also, when he asks about the experiments in the test, he won’t describe it in detail. So sometimes you aren’t sure from which chapter is that experiment from. If there are similar experiments from different chapters/topics, you might get confused and mix them up. He also tests from what he says in class, but they tend to be about examples that are related to the content, not personal jokes or stories. Anyway the exams are still hard and many didn’t do well. I got 41/60, 34/60, 42/60.

Fortunately-but-not-fortunate-enough, there’s extra credit to help. At the beginning of the semester, we were asked to form into groups, max 10 members. Sometimes he will email us some questions for the group to answer, usually about giving real life examples of social psy concepts. If we do them we would get money. Not real of course, but it’s for purchasing different neighbourhoods of Singapore lol $5 for each neighbourhood. Purchasing a neighbourhood gives you 0.25 extra credit for your overall marks and you might also get more questions to do to get more money. And if anyone (or any amount of people) in our group was participated in class often, the whole group would get more money. At the end of the semester, all the money earned was converted into extra credit at an exchange rate of $5 –> 0.25%. The average amount of extra credit is around 0.9. Our group got 1. Max in our class is 1.375. Very minimal. Oh and other than extra credit, he will also curve the exam grades a little. We had an additional 1 mark for each exam. So I got 42, 35, and 43 in the end. Other than the extra credit, we also had an additional 4 marks added to our overall. So my overall mark is 74.5.

But still… look at the final grades. 

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Note: 2 of the students whose F grades were shown here, resigned before the third exam.

I’m not trying to discourage or put anyone down, but if you’re the kind that die die must get B and above, then maybe you should reconsider taking this mod. But I have to say that a lot of us probably didn’t put in 100% effort in studying for all our exams either. If you try this mod and work hard for it, maybe you might get a good grade, who knows? There are some people getting good grades too. On a side note, my friend from Josh’s other class, PSY 427 Adult Development and Aging, also told me that the average overall grade is a C+. Maybe this means that Josh sets difficult exams for all his classes?

Anyway, Josh likes to tell a lot of personal and funny stories and sometimes he also shows funny videos in class. A pretty nice and outgoing guy. However, he is not very good at explaining stuff. He is ok at teaching everything except the experiments. I mean he can’t explain the experiments well enough for us to understand it well. So for me I feel tired listening to his lecture as my brain is trying to understand and absorb what he said. I have to go back and slowly look at the slides and think about what he said. I don’t want to ask him to explain almost every experiment again to me. Sometimes I also hear people asking their friends: “So what is he talking about?” That being said, attending lectures is important because you won’t be able to understand the concepts and experiments in the slides if you didn’t attend lectures. Also, some of the experiments CANNOT be found in the textbook. I had to miss one class because I had an interview, and when I looked at the notes, it’s really difficult to understand the concepts, especially the experiments. If you go to class, at least you’ll understand 50%. If you don’t, it’s 0%. And remember, sometimes he will also test from examples that he mentions in class.

My grade for this course: C