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Do yourself a favor and take this class!! Chris is hands down one of the best professors I have ever had, and this is one of the most interesting classes I have ever taken- I took it almost 2 years ago and still remember a lot of the material, both because of how great of a lecturer Chris is and because of how applicable the material is to everyday life. His lectures are always interesting, he shows movie clips to illustrate a lot of the topics and he gives extremely light reading (usually one reading per lecture, they take 10-20 minutes to read, and they're usually pretty interesting).
One thing to keep in mind with lectures is that even though he posts the Power Points, you're really getting 99% of the information you need in lecture, so you actually have to go and take notes. The good thing is that his lectures are all interesting and he will repeat definitions, important points, etc. multiple times, so you're never struggling to get down what you need (and there's never too much to get down per lecture- I hand wrote my notes and it was maybe 1&1/2 to 2 pages front and back per lecture, if even that much). Also, even though participation isn't part of your grade, you actually do have to participate sometimes, but he lets you know in advance (usually he'll show a movie clip or pass out papers for something you'll do in class and he tells people by rows what to look out for). Don't be afraid to ask questions in lecture if you need to.
Grade is broken down as follows: 3 quizzes, 2 short papers and a final (he also gave an extra credit opportunity at the end of the quarter). With the papers, he has about 20 topics to choose from that are due throughout the quarter, just pick the 2 you're most interested in and turn them in before their deadlines. He also breaks down what he's looking for in the papers in the beginning of the quarter, so don't stress them too much, he wants you to do well. Last thing is that it sometimes takes a few days for him to respond to emails because he gets so many, so if you have a question about one of the papers make sure you don't send it last minute.
Seriously, TAKE HIS CLASS IF YOU HAVE THE CHANCE.
I really enjoyed this class and Bates is a cool guy. He is intimidating at first but he's really a very friendly, helpful, and entertaining professor. He was helpful during office hours. Although lectures were 3 hours, Bates made them entertaining and interactive so it wasn't too difficult to stay engaged. He also let us out early sometimes (like 30 mins at the most).
The breakdown for grading in the class is 20% in-class assignments (these weren't really assignments but rather small responses that were used to grade participation, so you do have to attend lecture to get this portion of the grade), 20% take-home exams (these were pretty easy and you had plenty of time to work on them, in my opinion), 20% short papers (there are 2 of these trhoughout the quarter, and you get to pick from a variety of topics for these so you can mostly likely find one that's pretty easy for you to write about), and 40% final paper (for this we had to transcribe a conversation and discuss elements of group communication that were at play in the conversation, somewhat time-consuming but not difficult, in my opinion).
My only complaint is that I don't feel like our class time was always used productively. Bates would spend the first 10-20 minutes of class answering questions students had for him about pop culture or sports or whatever else. This was entertaining and fun, and I'd be lying if I said I would rather listen to a dull lecture than this. I enjoyed it and it created a good rapport, but from an objective perspective that probably isn't how our time should be spent and I'd rather have a shorter lecture than spend some of the time doing this.