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Most Helpful Review
So you’re a fan of Bad Religion and think that Greg Graffin will walk in wearing shorts, sandals and holding a 40? To say you’d be wrong would be like saying “slippery when wet.” This guy is the most hard-edge academian you can find.
Here’s what you get every lecture: complete suit (slacks, jacket, freshly ironed shirt with a tie that compliments the belt), thick rimmed glasses, an oddly soothing but monotone voice, suit case full of lecture notes to be read verbatim and sans any semblance of human emotion and spontaneity, an occasional impromptu joke of the day (read via cue card) and a brief 2-3 minute interaction with the class. This is probably the best part of the lecture cuz he actually sounds like a real human being and all… you know, like the one without a central processing unit and monotone robot voice.
So I guess things aren’t looking so great now… Graffin is pretty boring. Very boring. He reads off his slides in a monotone voice, makes horrible jokes and has only one known mode of talking: verbatim from cue cards or notes.
Not only that, but his tests are all multiple choice. Sounds good? Well maybe for the first midterm which is usually the easiest. Everything after that is gonna get progressively harder; though you could still get an A easily in the class. For the most part, his exams are decent. Good mix of straight memorization and a good portion of actual “learning” questions. Be forewarned though, he can get very hard and tricky, but its doable. You just gotta stay on stop and scrutinize the smallest things from his boring power points.
His slides aren’t the greatest, but sometimes they’re entertaining. He likes to use a lot of pictures and stuff, but if you didn’t go to lecture to take notes, the slides would be quite meaningless. Take notes on things he goes on and on about, as those things are important. But short of that, you don’t need notes, really.
I guess Graffin is one of those professors who’s very dead-set in his way. He does things in a specific way and tries pretty hard to make the subject interesting. Most of the time it doesn’t work, but at least he tries. I’ve taken his LS1 class and ESS 116 class and they’re both easy as long as you do a bit of studying. To be honest though, I’m not sure how he does his grading. Neither are his TAs (I’ve confirmed with them that they have no idea how the hell he grades) but it seems to be fair and aimed at giving you the best grade. So I guess if you totally tanked one exam, it’s not gonna screw you over. I guess that’s a nice thing.
I should applaud myself for giving such a fair review to this guy. I do in fact, hate him. Not in the way I hate broccoli or liberals, but in the way that I hate earning a B+ and wanting an A. Let me clarify; despite his short comings, it ends up that he actually tries to be a decent professor and he’s not out to screw the students over. So despite his boredom, monotony and lame jokes, despite the fact that he doesn’t hand out free concert tickets or the like, I have to say he’s a decent professor. Not in that he’s an easy professor, or a great lecturer, or even a funny one, but in that he really does give you a fair shake.
Will you absolutely love the stuff he’s teaching? Probably not. Will you laugh in class? Probably only as pity for his horrible jokes, but at least 1% of the time the joke will actually be kinda laugh-worthy. Will you learn something in his classes? Probably… maybe not a lot but enough. Will you come away feeling conflicted about this professor? Yea, definitely. But considering how many horrible professors there are at UCLA and how many of em are actually out to screw you, I guess this guy is not too shabby. Hey, this guy may not set the lecture hall on fire like he does L.A., but perhaps a whisp of smoke or two.
Most Helpful Review
He is very knowledgeable. However, this isnt an easy class that everyone says it is. His lecture notes consist a bajillion pictures that don't tell you anything. You will have to go to lecture and stay awake to take down nearly everything he says regarding each slide. It doesnt help that he has a soporific voice. The midterm/final is brute memorization of lecture notes..to the knitty gritty details that you would think is not important.
I recommend that you do well in your labs. Depending on which TA you have, labs can be super easy or really subjective and hard. The labs will maintain your grades if you dont do well on the tests. This includes the lab final. Do well on it. You will need it.
All in all, the class has a very generous curve. I got a 75% on the midterm, ~90% on the labs, ~95% on the lab final, and a 60% on the final. I managed to get an A. Basically if you have an average of about 80%, you get an A, but its NOT easy getting to that 80%..I studied my butt off for the lab final and thats what maintained my grade..because obviously I failed the midterm and final.
Unless you have photographic memory, its not an easy A. Good luck.