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I took this class as a non-sociology major, with no prior knowledge of Chinese history or politics. After taking this class, I know that I can confidently hold a conversation about the state and history of China or how capitalism works in a communist country.
The materials covered are pretty light and you don't have to spend a dime on books. Prof. Lee recently started trying out open book exams, but the questions will be not too straight-forward but are not too hard either. She does drop hints before the exams, so make sure to attend lectures. Speaking of lectures, they are very well-organized and are engaging if you actually pay attention. I did not really find the need to study much for the exams or papers because I just attended the lectures and paid attention. Do that and you can do pretty well in class.
Prof. Lee can come off as a little intimidating but I promise she is the nicest person, and actually cares about your learning. Just make sure to go for her office hours at least once and you will realize. I definitely recommend taking this class, but just make sure to attend lectures and you will breeze through the class.
On a side note, Prof. Lee reminded me of Michelle Yeoh from Crazy Rich Asians. lol.
I personally enjoyed this class. The material was interesting for me, we explored topics such as Tiananmen incident, Chinese cheap labor, the Cultural Revolution, etc. Lectures are well-organized--she tries to make every lecture a convincing, inspiring argument. The professor also gives out two extra credit opportunities. However, I have to say that the requirements of this class can be confusing and redundant. The professor asked us to go to a movie screening about the Umbrella Movement, saying that it was mandatory but attendance can earn extra credits. It's like saying it's both mandatory and voluntary. For me, I had a midterm the next day and I did not quite care about the extra credit, but since she said it was mandatory, I had not choice but to go. She is sometimes too demanding as well. She calls out people using electronics in class and did not like people leaving early or sitting in the back. Besides, the workload is not light. She took lecture attendance twice, and there were two in-class exercises as well. A midterm, a group presentation, a final AND a 7-page final paper.
Take it with Ashelee Yang, she is a an amazing TA and helped me a lot.
Great class if you are interested in Chinese society or history. It can be pretty easy if you already knew a lot about China. If not, just try to memorize the concepts and jargons. Totally doable.
The below reviews are quite critical of the professor, and, for some reason, the TA. While their opinions and insights should be respected, I would both of them with a grain of salt.
Regarding the midterm, where students received an average of 53, which was curved to 73: it was not easy, but it was not completely unreasonable. The fill in the blank section was somewhat frustrating given the number of concepts one needed to be proficient in to do well on the midterm and the lack of hints of any kind. But the biggest culprit for the low average was probably a disastrous class showing on the essays, which constituted about 3/5 of the grade. The questions were not profoundly difficult, as some of them had even been extensively discussed multiple times in class, and a sufficient review of the appropriate reading could have yielded a good result. (Writing about the question related to the professor's work is also an easy strategy.) I scored higher than the average without spending more than 4 hours studying the material.
Students are performing poorly in the class because while sociology is a writing-centric discipline, the professor and TA make it clear that they are extremely interested in good writing (prof is published in some of the top sociology journals and served as an editor in several of them herself), and almost all upper-division sociology classes require proficient writing skills, it's clear that many students in the class are not writing on par to their realistic expectations. A word of advice, then: check out the professor's CV to see what kind of academic they are, because they might bring that scholarly attitude to lecture. In this case, it's clear that writing is important. (There's also a 10-page paper at the end of the quarter.)
Without profiling or jumping to conclusions, it should be noted that many students in this class are international students whose English is not their first language. This can obviously pose problems in a class where writing is important. Futhermore, My observations in section (I am a soc major after all) indicate that some of my peers have not adequately reviewed, or at least gotten the gist of the abstract, of the readings. One can definitely survive discussion by solely reading the abstract, conclusion, and a few paragraph headings.
Oh, and the content, including the professor's own research, is extremely intriguing. You may find a professor who spends a week on one of her articles arrogant, but I would probably do the same thing if I was published in the American Journal of Sociology. The critical and ethnographic lens that the class cultivates and encourages has altered and enhanced my perspective on many China topics.
I dropped this class because I do not want to screw up my GPA because of this class !
This class is learning about China's society and history NOT ENGLISH CLASS. However, the TA asks us with perfect grammar and understand every articles and readings 100% .
Every week, we post up some questions that we do not fully understand and to get some clear answers from the TA. I posted up my question, and he comments "go to the writing center, and your question actually have a "no brainer" answer, and why should we spend time discussing your question ? " (some students too.)
TA is teacher's assistance. He should help undergraduate student even if they are not good at subject and not good at english. But his acts, behaviors are too being rude for people who are not good at. TA deserves to respect every his student.
and professor Lee is not bad, but not good though. She explains about the materials well, but sometimes hard to hear her voice. That's all.
I didn't want to mention the TA's name, but already someone did lol
I'm really surprised that there's only one review on this professor so far on BWalk… Usually the more terrible a professor is, the more people you have complaining.
avoid her if possible. I even somehow wound up with an A in this class and I don't recommend her. That was a lot of luck (in getting a decent group for the absolutely useless group project we had do in section) and doing well on the essay questions while scoring pretty terribly on the rest of her tests. The material was enlightening, but her personality made class pretty terrible. I would take it for the content, but…with someone else for sure.
I totally agree with this opinion. Professor Lee C.K with Chao-yo Cheng? OH PLEASE. AVOID THEM.
They were WORST.WORST.WORST TA & Professor in my life. Please Avoid her. I was really interested in China. But...now.......? "I really hate china because of them." It was the worst experience of my life. !!!!!
The professor is the TA himself, don't take me wrong, Prof. Lee is nice, although the classroom is not allow to use any electronic device, but I think such policy is acceptable, the problem is the TA, somehow everyone i Know in the class hate him, including the way he grade things, including his role in the class make me feel like he is the professor because he looks like the one who dominate everything. the class is good if you want to learn something about China, but if you don't want to learn history, or grammar, then don't take the class because TA is going to catch your grammar every single time. you don't ask question, you lost your participation grade, you don't write essay all based on readings, you lose your entire grade, congratulations!
Soc 181A of winter 2013 here.
I'm really surprised that there's only one review on this professor so far on BWalk... Usually the more terrible a professor is, the more people you have complaining.
The main problem with Lee is that she runs her sociology classes as if they're history classes. It's easy to forget that you're taking a sociology class, especially once you see the tests, which are made up mostly of questions like "When was the Chinese Communist Party founded" (let me add that this was 1) the first question on the midterm, 2) had five multiple-choice responses, and 3) was clearly meant to trip you up at the very start, because the dates listed also included the founding of the PRC, which is the most important year in the chronology probably) and "name two countries whose experience influenced China's turn to market as a way to reform the economy in the late 1970s" (this was seriously mentioned only once on one powerpoint slide, and nobody had any recollection of it being emphasized in any reading).
She likes numbers, percentages, proportions, etc. Her powerpoints are full of little details like these, and the worst part is that she takes the "everything on the slides is fair game" thing to the utmost. Usually when professors say this, they mean "use my powerpoints as a guide for what to focus on in studying," but with her, it's literally "I may not even talk about this in class but skip over it because I'm short on time and it's not really important, but I might still test you on it." Even the TA seemed to have gotten a little fed up with how much she loved dates and numbers, and she said to us at the review for the final to keep all of those in mind for the test. But, on the other hand, she kind of scared us into thinking we had to memorize a dozen different dates and laws/codes for the final, and maybe only a couple were of any use at all. That just makes studying worse, though.
When we asked her about the format of the midterm, at first, she adamantly refused to give out any information at all. Then, suddenly, she had a change of heart and decided she was going to read off a few old essay questions. When people who had been waiting for their laptops to boot up asked her to repeat them, she immediately accused them of being on Facebook or checking their email, and then she launched into this five or ten-minute-long spiel about how we waste her time by coming to class only to do everything but listen to her lectures. In general, she comes across as more snooty and unapproachable than the average professor, and sometimes she can be plain mean or rude to her students. As a result, I never bothered with her office hours.
The midterm was 18 questions made up of fill-in-the-blank, short answer (things like "name three ideas that distinguish Maoist thought as a political ideology"), and multiple choice, and five essay questions, of which you picked three. Most people did significantly better on the essay questions than the first part of the test. The average grade before the curve was 30-something out of 61, and rumor goes that the professor didn't really want to curve it, but it probably would have looked terrible for her if her entire class was literally failing before the final. Also, this should go without saying, but they’re essay questions. You’re supposed to write an essay of a decent length, not just a single five-sentence paragraph. People were complaining about their essay section grades because they would write half a page and get 4/9 or 5/9.
The final was really similar, except the first half was much shorter, and you had to answer four out of five questions rather than just three. Thankfully it wasn't cumulative.
The readings are mostly really lengthy historically-based texts, especially in the first half of the quarter. These are usually really dry. In the second half, you get more of actual contemporary China, so you delve more into texts about its economy and political situation. The readings that she co-wrote on her research are not that interesting and sometimes riddled with grammatical/spelling errors as well. And of course, the material she wrote on appeared a lot in the final, more in the essay section.
In summary: avoid her if possible. I even somehow wound up with an A in this class and I don't recommend her. That was a lot of luck (in getting a decent group for the absolutely useless group project we had do in section) and doing well on the essay questions while scoring pretty terribly on the rest of her tests. The material was enlightening, but her personality made class pretty terrible. I would take it for the content, but...with someone else for sure.
I took SOC 181 A and got An A- and it wasn't easy.
The distribution above is incorrect.
Your grade will be calculated as:
15% 4 in class quizzes
10% attendance, participation
10% Project presentation
(present in front of class)
5% Leading a reading discussion (present in front of class)
93% or above is A.
If you missed TA dis sec, point will be taken out.
If you missed in class quiz, can't make up.
Btw, the distribution of the grade history is incorrect; it is not gonna be 56.2% A and 6.2% A+. It won't be skewed towards A and above. It will be more even.
I asked some of my fellow students who happens to be very bright academically and active in discussion what their grades are? B, B- ...I was a little surprised.
Good Class to take if you are interested to learn about China.
But Don't take it thinking it is an easy A or workable A. I didn't