Based on 18 User s
Dr. Vaughn literally taught me nothing. Her lectures were extremely disorganized and not engaging at all. She would just rant on and on about some random tangent every single lecture. She would always come to lecture with about 60 slides prepared and only get through 40 of them... Then, we had to watch EXTRA lecture videos on CCLE AFTER lecture so that she could finish her stupid powerpoint presentation. Every time it was Vaughn's turn to lecture, I just put in my airpods and pulled up YouTube.
I am going to try and go against popular opinion here on Professor Vaughn and focus on what she did well. While her lectures were often very hard to follow, she did prepare us well for what we be on the test. Going into the final, I was nervous for what she would ask, but she gave us plenty clues and made study slides for us which was a blessing. Her reading guides were difficult and her readings were long and often hard, but they made us better for it. Don’t let some of the reviews on here scare you away from taking this cluster. It is hard, but doable. Professor Vaughn was very helpful and approachable.
Another review explained the structure of this class. This seminar is very fun and interesting to learn about especially since it has to do with social issues that are often overlooked. Get started on your paper/lightning talk and preparation for facilitation ASAP since they count for a good chunk of your grade. Extra credit was offered in the form of optional submissions like submitting whatever you have as your rough draft and a few extra credit questions on the weekly quizzes. Also, do NOT leave your weekly readings until the last minute since they may not be insanely long, but they are dense and you might want to use some of the ideas presented in the texts in the seminar discussion. Very nice professor and very accomodating after three quarters of zoom burn.
During this cluster I really liked the topics that Dr. Vaughn taught. However, I found her slides to be the most chaotic and her teaching style reminds me of a discussion that's one sided. It is difficult to differentiate what is her explaining her opinion or what is concrete material you need to know for the midterm/final so it's easy to just zone out as she rants.
So, class first:
This cluster is actually pretty fun, and if you're a life science major, then some of the topics you cover in your core LS classes pop up in this course, too. The workload SEEMS like a lot when you first look at the syllabus, but in reality we have only one final essay that we work on literally the entire quarter. The essay is just a longer version of the speech you have to give in your discussion groups, and then you just add a paragraph or two and turn it in for your final grade. Super easy! There's also a test for the final but it's open note. I didn't study, and instead compiled all the slides into a mega-file and used CTRL + F whenever I was confused, and I ended up getting an A on the final. Overall, I really recommend this course. Fun, easy, and actually interesting.
Now, the professor:
There's actually four professors for this course but I'm only leaving a review on this specific professor because she was the bane of my existence. She was literally in a different country the entire class and her lecture slides were the most chaotic, illegible dumpster fires of a slide. You had to be checked in and paying complete attention the entire lecture because half of the time she was talking about things that weren't even on the slide she was showing. She talks about her own projects and research a lot, which is cool, except we're not being tested on HER research, so why bring it up? I get trying to expand further on certain topics that we're learning that connect to her research, but I found it muddled my understanding rather than aided it. I really disliked going to her lectures because she never stayed on topic, always seemed to drift off on these tangents, and then, like I mentioned earlier, her slides were so messy that even if you did zone out, you couldn't refocus and figure out what was going on. Everyone I knew in that class struggled to pay attention to her lectures, and were very critical of her teaching style.
Also also, a lot of her lecture material is on the final. For some reason. It was like they knew we didn't pay attention in her classes. So, despite her being only one of four lecturers, her lecture material made up about 40-50% of the test and exam material.
I will say that she is very nice, if that matters.
P.S. If possible, get Chandler Beck for your TA. Super cool guy! Literally is super understanding and friendly.
Hi! I hope this review is still applicable next year. For the third quarter of the Cluster, everyone splits into smaller (~20 student) seminars taught by either a professor or a GTA. They occur once a week and last for three hours. On Zoom this quarter, 20% of our grade came from Discussion Board Posts due before class and post-lecture quizzes (which opened after class and closed on Friday night), 10% from Perusall (we had multiple articles assigned each week but only had to annotate one on Perusall), 20% participation, 20% facilitation (you act as a "resident expert" on the readings for one week and give a 5-min presentation), and 30% from a Lightning Talk (5-minute presentation) and Research Report (4-5-pages) about a biotechnology we chose. The class was also structured so that you only had to complete 7 discussion board posts, quizzes, and Perusall annotations (you could miss 2 weeks and still get full credit), which helped lessen the load during midterm and finals weeks. I'm not sure if this will still be the structure for in-person, but I hope that it can give a general idea about what the class is like. The first hour was usually spent listening to that week's student facilitations, the second discussing them, and the third listening to Dr. Vaughn give a mini-lecture on the readings. (Her mini-lectures are similar to her lectures during the first and second quarters, and some of the information even comes back, which is interesting.) The quizzes were generally clear and quick (10-15 minutes), so I wouldn't stress, and she offers a few extra credit questions. In terms of grading, Dr. Vaughn was very fair and responded to questions during office hours and over email. We also had one assigned book ("Radiation Brain Moms and Citizen Scientists" by Aya Hirata Kimura), but we only discuss it week 7 (so you don't need to order it as soon as the quarter starts). TIP: start it a little earlier so you don't have to read the whole thing during week 6! Overall, I learned a lot of interesting information about how identity factors into food, and I would take this seminar again.
This cluster has three professors Michelle Rensel, Rachel Vaughn, and Aaron Panofsky. Vaughn's lectures are entirely too difficult to understand based on the structure of the slides and how little information she clearly states; most of her lectures are references to research and no clear bullet points. Rensel and Panofsky are easier to understand. There are about 6-8 readings a week and not short readings either, it's too time consuming for someone with more than one class. In the first quarter there's also something called the "GMO Game", and this is really why I don't recommend the class. This "game" is overly complicated and not explained thoroughly. You and members of your discussion have to plan out meeting days and a whole bunch of extra stuff. In my personal experience this class takes a toll on your mental a little bit especially as a freshman. If you don't need a cluster don't take one just to GE classes that can help satisfy major requirements, and if you do want to take a cluster READ THE SYLLABUS!
I usually went into Professor Vaughn's lectures excited to learn, and left more confused than before. Her lectures and slides are very loosely organized, and don't provide a lot of concrete information. Fortunately her portions of the exams were more straightforward. She tends to assign longer readings that are generally relevant to the class material, but do take some time to finish.
I think the Dr. Vaughn often tried her hardest to be a good professor, but she was often all over the place and her lectures could be hard to follow. I felt that they weren't coherent, and the exams were only doable because she would hint at what would be on them.
The class itself is a lot easier compared to the other clusters because we have less reading. Her lectures go all over the place and don't follow a set outline, so it's very hard to take notes. Vaugh's lecture slides are very disorganized and don't summarize the important information. She also isn't the most helpful because her slides often have important questions for us to consider. She often asks for volunteers to share their answers, but the lecture hall is big, so it's often hard to hear the answer and she doesn't tend to repeat them. She never really shares her own perspective or answers to the questions she poses. Despite that, I still really enjoyed this class since I took this cluster for the topic rather than for the extra GEs. Many people make the mistake of taking clusters just for the extra GEs but end up hating clusters. They're a lot of work, so only take it if you're genuinely interested in the topic or willing to put in the work for it.