All Ratings and Reviews for Jeremy Smoak
This class was really interesting and the lectures were pretty interesting to follow along. The professor was clearly knowledgable on the subject and obviously wanted his students to understand the material. The group project at the end of the year was pretty interactive and refreshing to do. Definitely would recommend this GE to anyone who is even remotely curious about the origins of writing. I am also selling the course material ("The Story of Writing") for $10. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
This class was pretty easy for me and reading about history is not my thing. We had to do I think two papers, a group project, and weekly short writing assignments. All of them are pretty easy and the readings are not hard to follow. The TAs are really nice and flexible (attending office hours is encouraged). The tests were also easy. It was mostly memorization I believe. The professor tells you what is going to be on the final and gives “review terms/questions” for you to make your own study guide. The group project is the most challenging task of the whole course since you come up with a writing system with 3 other people.
Easy class in general. The tests are okay, you just have to memorize a whole bunch of things like who did this, what is this artifact, when did this happen, etc,. Other than that, the tests are straightforward and easy. Smoak as a lecturer is okay, I thought his material was interesting but I could also see how some people thought it was a snooze fest. He assigns a lot of readings but honestly I didn't read a single one, all you have to do is pay attention in class and you should get an easy A.
This is probably my favorite class that I’ve taken at UCLA. The professor is very knowledgeable and is able to explain the topics thoroughly. Being that he lived in Jerusalem for a number of years, I would say that he is certainly an expert on the material. He gives you thorough study guides for the tests, and does not expect you to know anything that he did not mention in class. There are two writing assignments, but they are not bad at all. Being that I’m not a writer, I was very concerned going into a writing to class that it would be too much of a workload and that the essays would be too hard. This was certainly not the case. The professor was more than willing to help any students with questions, and was very helpful when discussing the essay in office hours. I would 100% recommend this class, as well as any other class taught by this professor.
The organization of Professor Smoak was kind of difficult to deal with to be honest. He doesn't post the lecture slides online and most of the lecture during class is commentary on the minimal notes put on the slides that he does present, so it was difficult at time trying to figure out what to take notes on and what to ignore. This class is writing-intensive (as it is a Writing II course) including two main papers, weekly reading responses, and an in-class midterm and final.
For the weekly reading responses, they're mostly graded on completion and answering the prompt (I got 10/10 on most of them just writing boring responses). The weekly reading itself is another reason I'd dock the class on being disorganized. I didn't really know how the reading pertained to the class. He assigned weekly reading under the schedule but it wasn't mandatory so no one actually did it.
As for the in-class tests, the midterm was pretty hard and the final was super easy. His midterm had multiple concepts that weren't listed on the study guide (note: he tests on quotes where you need to know specific words to finish sentences/fill-in-the-blank which were pretty hard, so read the passages he puts on the study guide very carefully). I think he realized that the midterm was harder than he had anticipated, so the final was super easy (I got an 88 on the midterm and a 98 on the final, which was much shorter and a lot easier).
For the papers that we had to write, this would probably be my biggest gripe with the class. Professor Smoak and the TA's don't really help that much in writing these papers unless you go out of your way to ask them in office hours to elaborate. During section and lecture, they will tell you what they want to see in the essays, but will hardly give any helpful examples to follow. The prompts for the paper are broad and definitely confused me in the writing process because they had so many facets that I had to narrow down into a single thesis/paper. I eventually went to the TA's office hours to ask for help on this paper and while my writing itself didn't seem that much better/different, I guess it mirrored what HE specifically wanted to see, so I ended up clutching an A.
I absolutely loved taking this class with Prof. Smoak. He was funny during lecture and the lectures were engaging. This is probably the best class I've taken at UCLA so far. It does help a little if you have some prior knowledge to Christianity or Judaism, which could probably be a problem for some people. Since it is a writing class your TA probably plays a big factor in whether or not you like/do well in the class. I had a great TA. The workload isn't heavy: a one page reading response every week, 2 papers, 1 midterm and 1 final. The midterm and final were pretty easy (the final was easier) and not worth much of the grade but mostly meant to help you get information about your paper. Paper #2 is a research paper and required a lot of effort, but it was still interesting.
I have no idea why he has such a low score. Smoak is one of the best professors at UCLA. He's engaging, relatable, funny and just all around great. I'm taking another class with him next quarter even though I was just taking the first one as an elective. He's that good. He gave us very comprehensive study guides for both the midterm and final (worth 30% each) and there's an 8-12 page research paper due at the end of the quarter which he assigns on the syllabus. I haven't received my grade yet but if I don't receive an A its my own fault. TAKE THIS CLASS, YOU WON'T REGRET IT!
This class has a pretty light workload. Each week there is a 1 page double spaced reading response that you turn in each discussion section for a grade. There are only 2 tests and the 2 essays that you have to write are both pretty easy. However, the TAs grade harshly and the writing portions of the tests are graded harshly as well. This isn’t an easy class to get an A in, but the workload is totally doable.
Selling the textbook “Jerusalem: One City Three Faiths” for $8. (It’s $10 if you want to rent it at Ackerman). Email me at email@example.com if you’re interested
It's an interesting topic to learn of. It is friendly towards people who are not familiar with Christianity and Judaism. It is a little less friendly for the most of us who are not familiar with the geography in the Middle East. While geography isn't tested on, Smoaks refers to land around Jerusalem during lecture in a way that implies we should know about the geography. His lectures are not boring and it's somewhat important to attend them. Your TA kinda decides if you're going to enjoy this class or not. I had a terrible TA, he graded our papers hard and was condescending in section. I strongly felt that if I had a different TA I would have stressed less about this class. There's 2 papers and weekly reading responses with the second paper about your research on a building in Jerusalem.
The professor was passionate. There were guest lecturers throughout the quarter (hit-or-miss). The midterm and final were doable, but study a few days before because there was a lot of material to cover.
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