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The transition from cool, calm, and collected Makdisi to spontaneous and energetic Grossman was definitely noticeable at first, and took some getting used to in the first week. However, Professor Grossman is a great lecturer in that he has a "thesis" for each lecture (or rather, each text), but he develops it with the participation of the students. He doesn't just boringly state it. Not only does he show you his logic in the argument, but he also always takes into account student's perceptions of various features of the texts. He WANTS you to come up with something different and not necessarily take for fact everything he has to say. He enjoyed it in class when some students made some observations that no one else had before.
Professor Grossman is a very open professor concerning your grade. Everything is on MyUCLA and he even asserts very heavily in class that there should be nothing mysteriuos about your grade. The TAs provide extensive feedback on your papers, and Grossman is always available for office hours. In fact, during the last week of class he had office hours every single day for hours. He truly cares about students getting the most of the class.
The class is set up so that the majority of your grade is made up of papers (which is good, because it makes you focus on your writing). 20% first paper, 30% second paper, 35% final paper. The other 15% of your grade comprises of 2 pass or fail quizzes, (if you fail one then you get an F for that 15% of your grade, and if you fail 2 then you fail the entire class). I know this sounds scary, but the quizzes are SO. SIMPLE. They are not designed to fail you whatsoever. He even provides sample quizzes on the class website so you know what they're like. If you just show up to lecture and listen, then you'll be able to answer the quiz questions just fine. The only people who I know failed one of the quizzes are people that I know did not attend a majority of the lectures nor did they do the reading. However, even THEN, the Professor allows you to make it up with an oral quiz, where he goes through lecture by lecture with you asking you questions. In sum, he gives you a lot of chances to pass, so there's no reason why any average, attending student would fail this portion of his/her grade.
The class was great, the TAs were great, and the absence of prompts force you to come up with analytic ideas on your own. All in all, it was a very enjoyable class, and the lecture style makes the time go by really fast, and the amount of participation m akes the lectures memorable and very educational.
I recommend this class, and I don't think you'll regret taking it with Grossman.
I have to agree with the evaluation below me. Although I can see why people think he's extremely stimulating/spontaneous (he is, but in the sense that you can't fall asleep simply because he's DEFINITELY not your average monotone lecturer...) ... but honestly, this characteristic is not as good as it sounds. It's hard to follow his train of thought because it's pretty much a train wreck every single lecture, invariably interrupted with random anecdotes and completely ridiculous tangents, most of them which become the substance of his quizzes! I don't know ... I have to say, while I got an A in the class, this guy made the class somewhat tortuous for me. I couldn't wait for it to be over and honestly at one point didn't even care what grade I got .. as long as I got the class off my back. Grossman gets an A for effort, but that's about it. Take him if you think you can tolerate his million tangents that you HAVE to pay attention to in order to pass the quizzes and thus the class.
He is an embodiment of what is wrong with the UC system and the faults here at UCLA.
He is so darn DISORGANIZED!!!!!!! His speech and presentations of lecture are so fragmented and scattered!! The foundation of his lecture is the Socratic method where he doesn’t answer a single darn question nor say simple declarative sentence or statement about the material! He creates power point presentations yet barely moves past the 3rd slide because he’s going on tangents left and right! Whatever irrelevant thought comes to his mind, he’ll skyrocket off of. I’ve heard more about his opinions of sitcoms like Friends, his slapstick failure of jokes and autobio of his British/Jamaican family that I did about the info that he’d quiz you on!
He doesn’t issue midterms or finals. He does however, have a total of 2 pass or fail quizzes worth 15% of your grade. If you fail one, then you lose the 15% for your overall grade. If you fail both, you FAIL THE CLASS, PERIOD!
When I consulted him in office hours, he didn’t make anything clearer. Instead, he issued rude or offensive comments including ‘You should already know this!’ or ‘Maybe you didn’t get it because you weren’t paying attention. The way you presented your question was fragmented.’ Gee! I’m sorry for being an undergrad and not having a Ph.D in Victorian and Contemporary Lit!! Gee! I’m sorry for being present every darn day in the front row and contributing what I could piece together from your scattered, caffeine high lecture! Masked behind the tag of a professor, one can tell he can’t teach when he’s referring to himself in 3rd person (Prof. Grossman) and addressing the class like an elementary school audience; ‘Prof. Grossman’s going to be so mad if you don’t do a good job on the essay.’