Based on 10 Users
She really wanted to help but she really didn't help.
Do not get fooled by the previous average grades.
She graded harshly!!!!!!!!
This class is 50% about the history surrounding the Atlantic ocean (pirates, slavery, geography, etc.), and 50% about how we look at history (Atlantic history vs. imperial history vs. global history, etc.).
Professor Pestana is a good lecturer and she is very helpful during office hours.
The workload was light for a history GE. We had 30 pages of reading each week, 3 short papers (no more than 4 pages), and no homework.
During our quarter, the essay prompts were kinda vague and many people did not do well.
As a south campus major, I enjoyed this class and would recommend to anyone who needs a light history GE.
Pestana is a good professor who is clearly very knowledgeable about history in general. Her lectures tend to stray a little bit from what's taught in section. The midterms and Finals are essays and she absolutely loves it if you explain yourself as clearly as possible. Seriously just dumb everything down so that a middle schooler could easily understand it and you'll be fine in the class.
As the department chair, Professor Pestana is definitely an expert in both the content for this course and history in general. What's more important is that she masters the teaching skill to make her lectures compact, effective and engaging in a short time frame. Her lectures incorporate lots of interesting details and unique perspectives on some familiar historical events and Professor Pestana usually organizes the lectures coherently, constantly linking facts, events and significance and connecting different periods included in this course. She posts slides for every lecture onto CCLE and encouraged us to take effective notes instead of writing everything she talks about down; I do found that the notes I take and the slides become excellent complement to each other (Especially as the slides provide an outline to follow the notes and can sometimes remind me what's omitted in my notes). For those with no US History background in high school, the optional textbook could be a good resource to refer to, but again it is purely optional. As a student with no high school US History background, I didn't use the textbook and I think doing the weekly readings (both lecture readings and discussion readings) thoroughly could be enough (and the readings, both first-hand and second-hand ones, are the only resources we can use for essays; no outside research needed and allowed). The grading consists of a paper due week 3, an in-class mid-term ( ID questions and an essay), a take-home final paper, and 20% participation. For the mid-term, a large amount of questions are given and the real exam questions are all selected from this range; I personally like this method as I got more control over my performance on the exam and it really consolidated my knowledge and enriched my perspectives for this period of history. The final paper includes some interesting essay options that requires us to think holistically (especially think throughout the whole period) and critically on certain events or historical views. All the papers in this course are short and managable if you know what's going on, and they really helped me to practice on how to write more concisely. Attendance was not taken for lectures, but participation in lectures is cardinal to a decent performance in this course. Attendance and Participation in discussions will be graded, and the participation mark are never hard to get. My TA, Christian, made us to post questions and thoughts on discussion readings weekly, and this will be a good way to earn the participation grade if you are not so willing to speak in sections. Christian was also a extremely nice TA; He was clearly enthusiastic about history, and he posted his discussion slides onto CCLE which were also very useful. He gave really thorough and effective feedback for papers, and his office hours are also really helpful. The only thing I might complain about this course is that it was an 8 a.m (don't know whether it's the case every time); however, it was definitely worthy to get up early for the lectures and the course overall.
First, I am a South Campus major who is mediocre at writing. This is a fairly graded, but very involved class. This class isn't really reflective of the professor. Even though she does give lectures that are somewhat interesting, the class isn't about lectures. It is about all the reading you'll have to do (and it is usually around 30 pages a week, broken up into several articles from 5-17 pages long). Go to lectures if you want, but they weren't very helpful to me.
What is very important is reading and going to discussion and OH (both for the professor and the TA) as often as possible. This will help you understand and analyze the readings for the papers. Other reviews say she grades harshly, but I don't think so. She is looking for a defensible (not correct or even strong, just arguable) thesis, a conclusion, and that you actually understood the articles and the time period/location they are placed in. Talking to the TA will be your best bet for getting through these with a good score.
One more thing about the professor, if you are struggling to come up with a thesis, SHE WILL HELP YOU COME UP WITH ONE. I cannot stress how helpful she is, she literally dragged my dumb ass to a thesis over the course of 90 minutes and probably saved my grade (I took it P/NP, but would have ended up with an A if I didn't chicken out).
Also, if you can, try to get into Emily Bolender's discussion section, she is super helpful and supportive, gives good feedback, and gives extra credit if you dress like a pirate for discussion on pirate week!
TL;DR: Read everything (and before discussion), skim the lectures and attend OH and discussion.
This is a review of Dr. Pestana, specifically. I took this class with the assumption that it would be based largely around essays and discussion participation, and that it was. There are three essays, with the first two being worth 25% of your final grade depending on what the professor says. The last, a final, is worth 30%, with the remaining 20% being your discussion grade. Be active in discussion, and engage with your TA! That discussion grade can make or break your final grade.
Dr. Pestana’s prompts were vague, unhelpful, and difficult. Those who did “exactly what she wanted” were rewarded with higher grades, but you’d have to be borderline lucky to accomplish this. She’s also very picky on theses. One or more of your essays will be graded by your TA, and TAs tend to be a lot easier on the grading than the professor herself.
Lectures were arguably unnecessary for those familiar with course materials. The length was manageable, but the content was dry. I wouldn’t waste your time fretting about lecture knowledge, as you will rarely be asked about lecture content. Focus on the primary and secondary sources, because those will be discussed in discussion and cited in your essays.
This class is a pleasant way to start the day. Professor Pestana is laid back about attendance ("you're all adults here") but does not tolerate any use of electronics (she will pause mid-lecture until all phones are put away). There are two papers and a midterm essay exam but are all graded quite loosely. Participation in section is important, and Professor Pestana will sometimes come to section. Students with prior U.S. history experience in high school definitely have an advantage, but Professor Pestana's lectures cater to those with non-U.S. educational backgrounds. I would recommend keeping up with all the readings throughout the quarter, because you will need to cite from them in the final paper.
Professor Pestana was engaging, knowledgable, and interesting. The class had very little work and the papers that were assigned in week 4 and week 10 were short. The TAs and Professor Pestana all worked to help students succeed and were always open, actively engage students by asking and answering questions in section and some lectures. As a non-history major, this is a great GE and I would highly recommend it whether or not you have a strong American history background.