Winter 2023 - I wanted to write an in depth review about this class because the bruinwalk reviews were old and not helpful to me when I enrolled. This review is mainly intended for Bio majors because the class does count for one of the evolution requirements, even though the course is for geology majors. I received an A+ in this class so succeeding is definitely doable, especially considering this was my hardest quarter by far at UCLA. The way the class operates is there is one midterm, two lab practicals, and one final. You do receive points for the labs you do each week, and there are two one page long paper literature review assignments that you do throughout the quarter. For lab, the most helpful thing to know is that you should learn the genus names of whatever study guide your TA makes for the lab practical. It seemed like no matter how much you ask your TA you never get a clear answer of what you should be studying, so definitely use the study guide as a resource. It is super helpful if you and your class decide to make a shared google photo album with all of the lab specimens so you can refer back to them when you are studying!! Prof Brown is incredibly kind, but does talk extremely fast, so I recommend either writing down notes of what she says on a paper/doc or directly on the slides if you have an ipad. I would get overwhelmed with trying to write down what was on the slides instead of what she said so be cautious not to overwhelm yourself. Also if you are taking this class in winter, DO NOT sign up for lab on Monday, it will not make your quarter nice. You are required to do a make up lab when there are Monday holiday's so do yourself a solid and do a Tuesday-Thursday lab. Also practice the geologic timescale and just commit that to memory. It isn't super difficult to memorize, but you'll get a better understanding of the time periods if you simply practice writing them down each day.
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.
ESS 116. I'm pretty sure I only had around a 80% in the class but to my surprise, I got an A in the class! I'm guessing he curves very generously. I thought it was a pretty chill class compared to my other classes. Labs were very interesting, but his lectures were so boring. Unfortunately his slides online are very barren and you kind of have to go to lecture and stay awake to fill out your printed-out lecture notes to know what will be on the exam. As for the exams, they were ALL MULTIPLE CHOICE - BIO MAJORS REJOICE. So you don't have to memorize very specific stuff since the all the right answers are right there on the exams, so hopefully you should be able to recognize things when you see them. Yeah, I got like a 75% on the midterm, a 85%ish in labs, and I'm pretty sure around a 80% on the final (not sure). I expected something like a B+ but when the A came in, I was pretty happy. This class was my chill class.