World History to A.D. 600
I took Professor Alexander's History 20 class for a GE. The lectures are very boring and the hour and 15 minutes drags on. Bring your laptop if you want to type your notes. He puts up a picture on the screen then just drones on about the topic, so pick and choose what you want to write down. The textbook is very helpful, since a lot of the material is straight from it. That being said, the discussions are pretty interesting, depending on your TA. You get some pretty good debates about past cultures and philosophies and how they can relate to current events. Also, the paper is fair, they give you ample time to prepare and lots of guidance if you go to office hours. The tests are also alright. You have to memorize a ton of useless IDs (100 or so), and he'll give you about 8 to define. Then there's some essays on the tests too, but you can pretty much guess what's going to be asked. Try to avoid his class if you can, but if you enroll in it, it's not the end of the world. I got an A, you can too.
Spring 2020 - I have the class online because of the pandemic. Dr. Green is a fantastic lecturer and wants you to enjoy the materials. The grades however depend on your Ta because your letter grade depends on three essays only. So, if you meet a harsh Ta it will NOT be an easy A. In my case I have Ha as my TA who is fantastic and lenient!
I would be one of the aforementioned game players (Resident Evil 4, Command & Conquer, Chess; Internet is limited in the Dodd lecture hall I was in) in the lectures. And sleeper. And yes, what basically kept me going to the lectures were the random attendance checks, aptly called "attendance quizzes"; they were worth 10% of the grade, with around a total of six during the quarter. I had little interest going into the class and came out with the amount of interest. Breakdown of grade during F08 quarter: 10% - Attendance, 25% - Discussion (further breakdown of that depends on TA), 15% - Midterm, 15% - six-seven page paper, 35% - Final. Depending on your TA, you could potentially get an easy buffer for your grade with 100% in the first two listed categories (Attendance + Discussion = 35% of total grade). Discussions covered the primary source readings assigned each week; because it's a history class, there's a crapload of "reading." My midterm consisted of one essay (45 points), five lengthy paragraph descriptions for key terms (40 points), and 15 fill-in-the-blanks-without-a-word-bank (15 points); the essay topic, key terms, and word bank is provided beforehand as a study guide. The final is similar but much more tedious. It consisted of FOUR essays (three short ones, meaning approximately two blue book pages, and one long one, meaning talk about as much as you can), six key term paragraphs, and 20 fill-in-the-blanks-without-a-word-bank; again, a similar study guide is provided around a week in advance of the final. During my quarter, the paper was on Oedipus Rex and how one of its themes is related to the society it was written in. If you pay attention in lecture during the period the paper is assigned, you'll get information about the societal aspect of the comparison for the paper. Attend the discussion to get info on Oedipis and you should be able to pretty much formulate a paper in your head. Failing to pay attention during class or ditching discussion will result in research on the society and Oedipus. If your TA's looking for style in the essay, then it might be troublesome. But if the rubric is straightforward with organization, grammar, thesis, etc., then it should be an easy A/B. I managed to get an A in the class through much preparation for the midterm and final and a stupendous TA. I probably spent hours to prepare for those tests, but paying attention in class would drastically reduce the amount of study time. For both history fanatics or students forced to take a history class as a GE requirement, the tests cannot be a kick in the balls/ovaries because they're basically the same as the study guides; the difference is that the tests are official and the study guides aren't. As for Professor Courtenay Raia-Grean, I would say that she's an energetic professor. She's young and she brings in a dog to accompany her. Her voice doesn't bore me; sadly, the subject just wasn't very exciting to me so I slept and/or played games. All in all, this is an easy class to get a B, and even an A. It should be fairly easy if you're interested in history (this class covered the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Mayans, Persians, Chinese, Indians, Greeks, and Romans), but it requires a substantial amount of memorization for the tests for those who aren't interested or don't pay attention.
Ruiz makes lectures really enjoyable. He speaks mostly from memory and oftentimes goes off on tangents. He also cracks a lot of jokes and likes to make fun of students (in a good way). His tests are actually all essays that you can prepare using the textbook/wikipedia, so going to lecture is not really necessary.
RE: GE CLUSTER 20A, 20B: Interracial Dynamics Brenda Stevenson is my hero. First, she's the chair of the history department, which is bada*$. Second, she is a very engaging lecturer and has a great sense of humor. While I dreaded the sleep-inducing lectures of Decker and Ortiz (and the other one, whose name escapes me...really sweet lady but not memorable at all), I really looked forward to Stevenson's lectures, because she incorporated relevant media (movies, music, etc) and interacted with us as much as possible. One of the highlights of my freshman year (and probably of my entire career at UCLA) was when she dressed up as a Black Panther for class one day— afro, trench coat, and a "Free Weezy" t-shirt (maybe a Huey Newton one would have been more authentic, but Stevenson does an excellent job of relating to her students).Third and final, she is writing a book about the Latasha Harlins case— an incident that seems to get overshadowed by the Rodney King riots, but that is critically important to an understanding of race relations in Los Angeles. Judging by the quality of her article (which we had to read for this class), the book promises to be a very good one, and I can't wait to read it. In conclusion, Stevenson makes two quarters of GE 20 totally worth it. (Also, this is kind of irrelevant to her quality as a professor, but she's always working out in the Wooden Center, and she watches E! and other reality TV.. she's just so hip.. I want to be her when I grow up).
I really enjoyed this class because I have always been interested in ancient history (ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks, Roman etc.) and we covered all this and some other civilizations such as the Vedic civilization, the Persian and Neo-Assyrian Empire, Qin, Zouh and Han dynasty among others. The professor went over the political and economic structure of the civilization we were studying as well as their religious beliefs, their culture and what they are renown for. I really enjoyed the class. The grading is as follows: 20% Discussion section 20% Midterm 30% Paper (6 pages) 30% Final 100% of the grading is done by the TA. They grade your paper, midterm, discussion section and final so really, the professor literally just lectures. This class involves weekly reading assignments which can be hard at times because they can be hymns that were part of a particular culture and for us without the art of deciphering such things, it can be difficult to understand. However, the 2nd 1/2 of the class is much more, straight up reading just what people during that time thought (Plato, Thucydides among others) so not complicated but can get somewhat dull. The reading workload at times can be a lot but there are also some weeks where is very little. My TA was very helpful during office hours and will tell you what he wants to see on the tests and paper if you ask him. As far as his grading the best I can think of is Fair (Given it's Ucla). The midterm was graded harshly and low grades were given but the main reason for that is that the professor didn't give us a study guide from which to study so we didn't know what to study in specific. The paper topics weren't hard but can be somewhat time consuming. The final was really easy in the sense that Taback did give a study guide which essentially had the actual final in it. Both tests have 2 parts. Part 1 is short constructive response and part 2 is an Essay. The Study guide for the final had 13 SC response questions, 7 of which would appear in the final and 4 have to be answered in the final. It also included 3 essays, 2 of which would appear on the final and had to choose one of those to write on. To succeed on the midterm I would say study your notes heavily and memorize as much as you can and when you do the essay in the midterm make sure to refer back to the texts read AND to compare what she is asking you to compare. To succeed on the paper, definitely use the primary sources that she is asking you to compare and contrast and go to you TA to see what he is looking for. For the Final, really just study the study guide. DO 10 questions and know every part of them well and outline 2 essays. It will be time consuming but definitely worth it (I got a C on the Midterm but got a B+ in the class which was only possible with a 95%+ on the final). For discussion just make sure you participate and actually contribute to what is being discussed. Overall, I think Taback is a great lecturer and I loved her class. If you are looking a for a GE that isn't too time consuming then this is a good class but I wouldn't necessarily call it an easy A since, depending on your TA, the grading could be harsh or it would be light but The class won't take too much time throughout the quarter, just the reading which if you skim like I did, should only take you about 1 day out of the week (maybe 2-3hrs, depending on how fast you read and how much you actually read). So overall, great course if all the Easy Ge's are taken.