International Political Economy23>
Most Helpful Review
**Note: Due to a system error, the other IPE class by Roberts has the most recent reviews. But this instance has the most recent class grades.
This review will consist of 1) my overall summary of the class, 2) an outline of the class structure, 3) the Bad parts, 4) and the Good parts of the class.
____________________1) Class Summary______________________
I got an A, but I was just one of the lucky ones. The class structure is disorganized and confusing due to how poorly the material is presented. Roberts rambles during lectures, does not explain key concepts clearly, and will rush through important economic and game theory concepts. Reading is moderate, but you will be swamped with weekly assignments that are unhelpful busy work. Essay assignments are relatively “easy,” but they are graded harshly, do not have a clear or consistent grading rubric, and were NEVER graded quickly (i.e. within 3 weeks). Exams were difficult, in large part because you are never told which material to focus on and because the assignments don’t really mirror what the exams are like. All that said, Roberts is a nice guy. He pushed back deadlines when he did not post an assignment on time (which happened A LOT), was understanding of student’s technical errors, and made the class easier when the class did terribly on his assignments. He’s a nice guy who knows a lot, but he just isn’t a good teacher and you will suffer as a result.
Out of all the Poli Sci professor’s I’ve taken, Roberts is the worst. Definitely not the worst in the department, but the worst that I’ve taken. I HIGHLY recommend that you save yourself a quarter-long headache and do not take a class from Roberts.
_______________2) Class Structure________________
Grading had two methods:
* Synchronous-- In-class participation: 10%, In-class Exams: 50% (Midterm 20%, Final 30%), Reading quizzes: 10%, Problem sets: 10%, Research exercises: 10%, Final paper: 10%
* Asynchronous-- In-class participation: 5%, In-class Exams: 25% (Midterm 10%, Final 15%), Reading quizzes: 15%, Out-of-class participation: 10%, Problem sets: 15%, Research exercises: 10%, Final paper: 20% (The Asynchronous method is only used if you score less than a A using the Synchronous method.)
In-class participation consists of showing up and responding to in-class polls.
Exams were open book/note/google, around 30 questions, and mostly multiple choice with about 4-5 short answer Qs thrown in. There was some extra credit on exams and the Midterm was curved because most of the class did very badly. Apparently, Roberts will curve so about ⅓ of the class gets an A. The Final is cumulative, but 80% will be on material from after the Midterm.
There are 2 Reading Quizzes a week that are due before each lecture. Qs are about the textbook and sometimes about news articles/podcasts. 3-4 of the quizzes are dropped from your grade.
Problem Sets usually deal with basic economics and game theory concepts, you are given a week to complete them, and there are 4 over the quarter. One Problem Set is dropped. If you know these concepts you’ll be fine, but if you don’t you’ll have to work with classmates because Roberts doesn’t teach the concepts well.
Research Exercises are a 2-3 page analysis of a news article using the concepts you learned in the textbook. There are 3 over the quarter and 1-2 are dropped from your grade. Beware that the grading rubric is vague, grading can take 3+ weeks, and grading is very inconsistent with few helpful comments.
The Final Paper is a 5-page version of one of the Research Exercises. You will expand/improve on one of the topics you chose for a previous exercise.
Out-of-Class Participation consists of posting a comment/Q in one of the two weekly discussion forums and posting a short 1:30 video on that week’s topic.
Readings: Basically, all you need to read is the IPE textbook by Oatley. Each chapter is 20 pages and you have to read two chapters each week (40pgs). You also have 4 chapters from Rodrik over the Quarter and several Economist articles and Podcasts to listen to each week. Skim the Rodrik chapters and only read/listen to everything else for the reading quizzes since you don’t need to memorize it for exams.
________________3) The Bad and Ugly____________________
Lectures: Roberts rambled during lectures and had intermittent polls and students “answering” questions. This made lectures hard to follow and unclear. When explaining economic and game theory concepts Roberts rushed through key concepts and didn't assign material to explain concepts set-by-step. If you know these basic concepts then you’ll be fine. If not, you’ll be lost.
Quizzes: Reading quizzes are tedious and unhelpful for studying for the exam. Also, Roberts often doesn’t post them on time.
Research Exercises: As I’ve said, they are vague, don’t help you study, and are graded harshly/with little feedback.
Exams: Roberts basically doesn’t give you a study guide or tell you what’s important material. Practice exams and quizzes are not similar to what you will encounter on the Exams. (**Note: know how to do the Problem Set Problems--those problems are tested on.)
Emails: Roberts doesn’t respond to emails very frequently. I would recommend going into his office hours instead.
Deadlines: Roberts can’t keep a deadline, he even forgot he had an upcoming assignment to post at one point. This will cause you a constant headache and stress about upcoming assignment deadlines for assignments that aren’t posted.
Grading: Grading is VERY slow, little feedback is given, and grading is inconsistent. You can get a 100% on one assignment, then 80% for writing the next assignment in the same way. Why? Only some mysterious grader in Europe can say...if they wanted to, which they don’t.
_______________4) The Good_________________
Roberts: Roberts is a very friendly guy who knows a ton about IPE… Of course, he often does a poor job explaining IPE concepts, but he tries. He tries.
Extensions and Grading: Roberts will extend deadlines on most assignments because he doesn’t post them on time. Roberts will also probably drop a couple more grades if you push him to and if a lot of the class is doing poorly (which they usually are).
Extra Credit: Roberts offers extra credit on almost every assignment. He basically has to since everyone dose really poorly on most of the assignments. He also offered a 1% grade bump if you did 10 hrs of out-of-class volunteer work.
Problem Sets: Problem sets actually do have problems you will see in the Exams. Know how to do those problems and you will do well on a good portion of the Exams.
Your classmates: Work with your classmates on problem sets and study guides.. It’s your only hope.
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