All Ratings and Reviews for Li Min
I took this class remotely, so I can't say how it is normally. But like other people have said, it's not a free A. I wouldn't consider it an easy GE. The majority of the class (including myself) was confused as to what was happening for much of the quarter. I think the only reason this class was alright for me is because I had a pretty good understanding of Chinese history beforehand.
Grades were based on a scores from 4 pop quizzes, a presentation, discussion participation, a midterm, a final exam, and a final paper. We didn't have any other assignments, so this really is one of those classes that relies on just a few assignments.
As for the professor, his lectures didn't feel useful. He's an archeologist, and the first half of his lectures reflect that quite a bit. Lectures felt pretty unorganized, so after the midterm, I honestly just stopped watching the lectures and relied on the textbook instead. PLEASE GET ACCESS TO A TEXTBOOK IF YOU CAN!! It's probably the only reason I got the grade I did.
For the final paper, I'd 100% recommend asking your TA for feedback before you submit. It helps you know exactly what they're expecting, which was important since we didn't get a rubric or anything. Final paper was 20% of our grade. Other than that, just be sure to put effort into your presentation and try to talk during discussions.
I have mixed feelings about this class.
THE GOOD: This class is very easy if you know what to put emphasis on. That means-- take advantage of the midterm and final study guide. Retrieve past exams from the test bank. Write a decent 7-8 pg paper and get help from your TA!!! The group discussion presentation was not too bad either.
THE BAD: Lectures are very dense, extensive, often convoluted, and extremely boring. He mostly goes into his archaeological research which can be irrelevant to the exams. However, he does try to tie it into the civilizations we are trying to learn. Taking lecture notes is not really necessary. The only important thing to extract from lecture is probably the location of certain places on the map which we were tested on. In addition, there are A LOT of readings in this class. (50-100+ pages a week from the textbook, sourcebook, and other online files). Some of these texts are in confusing chinese-to-english translation, so it feels like one would be much better off if they are already somewhat familiar with the texts if they came from a Chinese background. I failed most of the section quizzes (avg 60%) which were based on the most specific details that I had overlooked in the textbook and/or sourcebook or some of which I believe they had never explicitly mentioned in any of the texts I had read. I did not understand how most people got 90-100% on those because those were genuinely difficult for me.
Overall, I would not say this class is an easy GE. You have to know what you must do to get an A. I feel like if I had not utilized resources such as the test bank or realized that lecture material would not help me much on the exam, I would probably be studying a lot of useless material and not get the grade I had gotten.
>>> 12% Quizzes, 13% Participation, 5% Presentation
>>> 20 possible points; consisted of multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank
Final Paper: 20%
>>> literary analysis on one of several preassigned topics
Final Exam: 30%
>>> over 40 possible points; consisted of multiple choice and short answer
While I recognize many faults in this course, I admit that I enjoyed it. The content itself is interesting and Professor Li is very knowledgeable. However, this course was also a huge source of stress early in the quarter. Therefore, this review is somewhat mixed, as was my overall experience with the course.
Unlike many other courses I took, there were no clicker questions or practice problems to gage how well I understood the material, which made it especially stressful when preparing for midterms. This was only amplified by the fact that the midterm consisted merely of 20 multiple choice questions, so each missed question was a percentage point off the final grade. There also seemed to be a discrepancy between the TAs' quizzes and Professor Li's tests. The quizzes often drew on details from the reading, some of which seemed insignificant when preparing. Meanwhile, Professor Li's tests were, fortunately, very straightforward and tested on major themes from his slides. He never gave us trick questions and drew mostly on the textbook. His lectures were sometimes unclear, as much of the content he covered (mainly archaeological material) was complex and did not appear on the tests. He also used a ton of wordy slides, over a 1000 in total, which made studying for the final very time-consuming.
Despite the course's flaws, there were many aspects I enjoyed. I took this course because I loved learning about China in AP World History, which I took back in high school. This course really expanded on China's history and, impressively, managed to do so in the span of a few weeks. The textbook and sourcebook were both very interesting to me. One of my favorite assignments was watching the film "To Live" when studying the People's Republic, which really enriched the course. The TAs did a great job at selecting readings and assignments. Professor Li's archaeological studies, while they sometimes made his lectures more confusing, were really interesting to me. He has a very comprehensive knowledge of Chinese history and is eager to talk to students after class and during office hours. Last, but most importantly, he and the TAs are very open to feedback and made significant improvements between the midterm and the final. The final exam was significantly longer than the midterm and consisted of short answer questions (including an extra credit question) that allowed students to demonstrate their overall knowledge of the course. The papers seemed to have been graded fairly and the TAs were very helpful in addressing student concerns. Professor Li also created study guides and, if you answered each part of them using his slides, they made the tests a lot easier.
I feel like, if the course hadn't had such a rocky start, I may have gotten a lot more out of it. The course is a mixed bag, not because there is anything wrong with the professor or the curriculum, but because the way its organized made it a lot more stressful. However, Professor Li is very concerned with student success and is willing to work with anyone who is struggling.
I'd recommend this course for those with a genuine interest in Chinese history and/or archaeology. If you just want to get rid of a GE, this might not be the best course, as I often considered it my hardest course over my STEM prerequisites. However, it's a very rewarding experience if you put the time and effort into it. Overall, I'd give this course a 3.5/5, although I feel the last few weeks warrant a higher score.
Super easy GE, i finished the course by W8. Two 3-4 page papers but he drops the lowest and 5 quizzes during the quarter and also drops lowest so I only needed to do one paper and 4 quizzes. My TA only took attendance grades for 8 weeks so once I had enough I stopped going. Quizzes mainly based on lecture and not the readings. If there was a problem on the readings, I usually just hunted for the answer during the quiz instead of reading it before. Copy paste the lecture transcripts into a word doc to find some answers and have ppts up for quiz
To succeed in this class, I suggest the following based on my experience this quarter:
Paying some amount of attention during lecture, especially during the first half of the class (week 1-3) which may be hard because he often talks about archaeology
Reading and comprehending the main textbook
Giving a decent amount of effort and time for the final essay. If your TA will be grading the essay, get as much feedback from them as possible, and shape your essay to suit what they are looking for.
And if there are quizzes given in section that are anything like the ones I took, pay attention to the details in your reading from the main textbook. You'll need some memorization skill.
You will not need to read the sourcebook.
I think the class was curved rather graciously since 86% of students got a 90% or above on the final exam.
This dude is the goat. Clearly passionate about anthropology/archaeology and it really shows.
Going into this class, I was kind of skeptical because archaeology just sounds like digging in dirt yada yada yada. I was gravely mistaken. Yes, you learn about digging stuff, but there's a big focus on human origins and how they came to be and all that, super interesting. Fair amount of reading but honestly not that bad. This class even counts towards the historical analysis GE category, and I 100% recommend this class over some typical boring and dense history class (history isn't my thing).
2 papers, 5 quizzes but he drops the lowest in each category so, like other reviewers here, I was done with this class by Week 7/8 which was great. Just copy his slides and write down what he says on a doc for quizzes as everything is open note, but if you pay attention to lectures you should be fine anyway.
Shoutout to Kristine Chua, best TA! Would always take some time to briefly summarize lecture material and was super kind and knowledgeable. Take her if you can if she TA's for this class (or any other class) again!
Professor Li Min is very knowledgeable in his studies of archeology in Central Asia/ Eurasia. He provides all the powerpoint slides that he uses to teach. Professor Li will oftentimes go on rants while explaining certain topics such as the BMAC communities or Lapis Lazuli, but he does in a way that one can clearly tell that he has an indepth knowledge of the topic. The course grade is based off four assignments; an abstract of the research paper you are going to write, a 15-20 page research paper (expanding on a topic discussed in class), a group power point presentation (expanding on a topic discussed in class - can be done solo and you dont have to present if you decide not to due to your own personal reasons), and a commulative take home final. Enough time is given in between assignments, and the class is not all that demanding. The readings can be a little heavy, but they are provided by Professor Li and no books have to be purchased for this class. I would definitely take another class with Professor Li if I had the opportunity to.
I pretty much agree with the answer stating that it is VERY IMPORTANT to consult your TA about the paper before you actually submit. Different TA's might have very different criteria about what a good paper should look like. I used my usual paper style from other history classes but got a very low grade for this one. Also, certain questions in pop up quizzes are very hard (they are based on very small details in lengthy readings) and require quite a lot preparation. Overall I wouldn't say it is a very easy class, I studied very hard for the midterm and final so I could save my grade.
Professor Li Min is an archaeologist who studies intensively about Chinese history and culture. He is very passionate about what he teaches and that is apparent through the lecture. Sometimes this meant that his lectures were quite confusing and hard to pay attention to because he was incredibly knowledgeable about the subject matter. Nevertheless, it's an interesting class. He would go in depth beyond what the textbook talked about, so I found that studying lecture slides for the final was crucial. DO NOT FALL BEHIND ON THE READINGS! The sourcebook isn't as important but it's really important that you read the textbook because you get quizzed on it in discussions. I found that there was sometimes a lack of communication between the TA and the professor which was confusing at times. I took this class hoping it would be an "easy A" for my GE requirements but this was not quite the case. The class was occasionally frustrating and confusing, especially because of the overload of information during lectures- Chinese history is complicated! But overall a very interesting class, and looking back now I am glad I put in the work and was able to learn so much about my own culture. Li Min is always happy to help, so if his lectures seem confusing don't hesitate to visit him or the TA's in office hours. He provides a study guide before the midterm and final, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS! The study guide is the reason I got an A in this class and thanks to the study guide, it actually made the midterm and final test pretty easy. Professor Li Min is a really cool person :)
I can tell Professor Li is very smart and knowledgable in his field, but he is not a very concise or organized lecturer. He basically just assigned his own book and lectured from it, but the book was WAY more clear than his lectures. For example, we spent the whole first half of the quarter (literally 5 weeks) on "background" information on the landscape of China. Although I understand that this is helpful for understanding the dynamics of state formation in China, he also teaches a whole other class called "landscapes of China" where this would be more relevant. The actual bulk of the archaeological information felt rushed in weeks 6-9 and he never went into depth about the requirements of the book review.
His midterm was take home, which was really nice and I appreciated it, especially considering that his lectures were sort of difficult to follow (he didn't really use slides, just maps and pictures). The final is also take-home so I guess I can forgive him for the structure of the class. He's really nice and wants students to succeed but I wish his lectures were more clear.
Oh yeah, his "slides" were labeled as "Chinese Civilization 50" which is another class he is teaching this quarter so I assume he just uses the same slides and pictures for all of his classes.
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