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It is interesting to see the differences of opinions about Professor Avila. Having taken a Chicano Studies course and a History course with him I find that most people are quick to pass judgement on this professor because they have received either a superior grade or an inferior grade based upon their normal standards. Having received both an inferior grade in a class which I thought was excellent (Chic. 180) and a superior grade in a class which was subpar (Hist. 164), I think that students shouldn't be so presumptuous about Prof. Avila. History 164 was a huge class and any professor would have had difficulty keeping in contact with all the students.It also covered such a vast amount of information that there was a necessity to speed up lectures, go beyond the time allotted for class and even cut off questions that were redundant.
To future students Professor Avila is a difficult professor but he rewards enthusiasm and initiative. He wants you to be as excited about the topic as he is. From what I hear and from my experience all the Chicano Studies courses that he teaches are excellent.
Furthermore, providing examples and explaining significance are vital. His assignments (even the essays)are like doing thorough I.D.'s. That is why some people think he does not allow for individual thought. Essay's have to be an argument and a lot of examples. You can have your own argument but you better provide many examples and tie them back all to the significance. Most students are too lazy to do the reading so they don't go in depth into any argument, whether brought forth by Avila or themselves.
Lastly, although lectures seem fast with a lot of information they are essential. Be proactive during the lecture by asking a question relating to significance and have the professor repeat what he said. He will oblige your request from what I have seen.