Biodiversity in Age of Humans
Winter 2021 - I ... am not sure if you should take this class. I know the grade distribution looks good, but the workload is pretty heavy. For online, you had to watch videos/read articles and complete a quiz before every lecture (mix of short answer & multiple choice), complete a Google Form during lecture, and also complete a group assignment during lecture. This is for every class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You also complete Google Forms and group assignments for every discussion. It was also quite aggravating because there were huge gaps in student participation that were ... sort of never really addressed. I ended up doing most in-class group assignments every time, and would sometimes get graded harshly if they were not completed well enough in the 20-30 minutes that they gave us. Some students didn't even turn their mic or camera on, and others did the entire assignment. It was quite frustrating. On top of this, you also have 3-4 "Elective Assignments" throughout the quarter, one big Midterm Project (4 Parts), one video presentation, one final paper (includes writing an entire research proposal), another final presentation, a debate project, and more assignments that I can't remember. Also, they are not necessarily easy graders. This class is run by 5-6 professors, and each of them grade quite differently in my own experience. For the midterm report (part 4 of the entire project, we had 4 days to complete), I knew some people who got above a 95, and then I knew 10+ others who got below a 60... It did seem that there were some huge grading gaps between professors/TA's - however this was never addressed. This is an anecdote, but I put a ton of work into my last final report, met with Professor Ana & my TA multiple times to go over it, followed the grading guide as well as I could, and got an 85. I would say Prof. Ana was probably the hardest grader, so if you get her grading your assignments I’d say work really hard on them. I also have no idea what I learned. The entire class revolves around biodiversity and environmental DNA, but every week was a different subject. Week 2 we talked about evolution, Week 9 we talked about parasites. There's not much consistency in terms of actual information, but it does all originate from the same topic (eDNA). It was quite frustrating the entire class, the workload was just a bit much, and they never seemed very understanding of any extenuating circumstances for students. HOWEVER, the professors were incredibly engaging and obviously loved what they talked about. Basically, the class is taught by like 5 different professors for UCLA and UCSC, and I loved Dr. Wayne. He was really passionate about his work and lovveed when you came to his Office Hours. They did put a lot of work into this class, however they also put a ton of work on their students. If you are a junior or a senior, this is basically like retaking a LS Series/LS23L class all over again, but like… extra. It was surprising because most students were freshmen writing their first research paper, and some of the professors graded quite harshly. I'm not sure if it was because of the last grade distribution, but it was quite surprising. So… yeah. Do with this information what you will. It wasn’t that engaging for me (but I’m not a fan of environmental topics), but so much busy-work it made my head spin. Be prepared to do a lot.
Winter 2022 - This class has a lot of different assignments, but it's fun and really set up for you to succeed. For sure, everyone can get an A in this class. There is lots of extra credit and the grading is lenient. The weekly pattern typically consists of watching a few videos and taking a quiz before each lecture, then completing a group activity during class, and occasionally we have different small assignments due, which are quite diverse - debates, videos, interviews, powerpoint, etc. The class culminates in a short research paper. Overall, I enjoyed the diversity of assignments, found the group activities during class to be engaging, the material we learned was pretty practical, and it was not too hard at all. There was nearly no reading required and the class generally only required like 30 minutes or less of outside work per week.