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If your're looking for an easy Lab GE, take GEOG 5, it's a better experience (with less work). I took GEOG 2 online and never interacted with the professor, she does record audio for the power points though. The labs are in person with a TA. The lectures were a little cluttered and the exams were very fact-based (at times they felt like trivia). The textbook is not essential - I skimmed even though I didn't really need to. I did well and enjoyed this class mainly because I love biogeography -- it's kind of my thing.
Discussion posts - 10%
Barrier Quizzes (you take them till you get 100%) - 10%
Final (not cumulative) - 25%
This was probably the worst professor I have ever had at UCLA. She doesn't care about students at all. Students would ask to meet with her out of class but she was extremely unapproachable and would not give any sort of assistance at all. I would rather have to take the whole LS and Chem 14 series over again then have to take this class.
Professor Cusack is just not a good lecturer. She does amazing research, and is very intellectual, however, her slides are not as clear and concise as other teachers of Geography 2. She is not very helpful outside of the classroom either. I thought she was fairly disorganized and unengaged. I would recommend taking Geography 2 with Dr. MacDonald at all costs.
I found this class more difficult than I expected. Her lectures were often disorganized and hard to follow, and the textbook barely followed the lectures at all. However, the tests were easy- particularly the final. More than half the questions were questions taken directly from optional quizzes that were released every week- most students don't take them, so a lot of people didn't do well on the final, but if you studied appropriately you did fine. I was definitely not expecting the A that I received! Also, you don't need to buy the textbook, even though she says it's required.
Honestly, she's a great person and I can tell she is passionate about what she teaches, but this class is just so disjointed. She acts as if we are grad students who have done this before, but seeing as there is no pre-req to be in this class, it's essentially an intro class to land management and soil & water conservation practices. She does not treat it as such. She even said so, when she said she knows how to grade a land management plan because she's been doing it for 5 years and wrote them all through grad school. Well hate to break it to you, but we aren't in grad school. I personally, and I know most other students, have never worked with soil surveys or written a land management plan.
The lectures are definitely instructional and I like how she writes on the board. But she covers about 5% of what we need to know when concerning the soil surveys, the land management plan, and the exams. I learned most of my knowledge through google and hours upon hours of trial and error, and I am not paying to go to a school where I teach myself everything.
Literally students are teaching students in this class. Most of the times I asked questions she just told me to ask someone in the class. There was a plethora of questions about the land management plan throughout the quarter and her main response was "ask someone else" or "google it". Awesome students posted on the discussion thread how to do what and their experiences, and that was super helpful. Eventually, during 9th week, she finally posted a worksheet that explains how to use the web soil survey website that was causing students so much pain. Note, the land management plan was due that week. I checked it out, and realized she quite literally copy and pasted exactly what students said in the discussions. Again, an example of a student lead class.
I am a geography major and Prof Cusack is possibly the WORST professor I've taken at UCLA thus far.
Her lectures were actually quite informative and organized, but none of the material she presented were pertinent to her exams or the class project! The class had 1 proctored online mid-term, 1 individual term project (Soil Survey), and 1 proctored online final (non-cumulative). Additionally, she has set barrier quizzes to access the next week's material on CCLE. She does provide a study guide, but it is extremely vague and not actually helpful in preparing for the exams. You're better off reviewing ALL of your class notes instead and re-reading the book. The worst part of the class was the term project. The expectation for the project was extremely unclear and straight-up confusing! She introduced the project week 3, but much of the information/knowledge we need to complete the project had not yet been taught to us yet. Whenever we would ask for clarification, she would just redirect us on where to find the information or would sound really catty (ie. "as I mentioned several times in class..." or "per my last email..."). Pretty much the entire duration of the project, everyone in the class would ask another student for help. It was a classic example of the blind leading the blind. No one knew what they were doing, or if they were doing it right, and everyone had a different interpretation of the instructions.
I absolutely do not recommend taking this class with this professor unless you are genuinely interested in the topic and are willing to teach yourself how to do a proper Soil Survey.... The only positive I can say about this class is that it forced my introverted-self to make fellow geography-major friends.
Take this GE if you need a LAB CREDIT! The labs are 40% of your grade and very straightforward- some are even fun. We got to go to the Botanic Gardens and the train behind Hitch. As long as you pay attention you'll be fine.
Cusack was a really responsive professor or structured her lessons based on the vibe of the class. Her powerpoints are really long and detailed, which can be hard for lecture. Afterwards, it really helped to go back over them because she includes notes for each slide. Don't bother with the textbook- I opened it only once and still got an A.
The midterm is worth a lot, so don't think you can make it up with the final unless you really cram your brain with material. Memorize EVERY BARRIER QUIZ and online quiz for the tests because nearly 25% are these questions.
Side note: Cusack fits the stereotypical Cali girl voice to a T
DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS, OR ANY CLASS, WITH THIS PROFESSOR.
This class was by far the WORST class I have ever taken at UCLA; not because of the horribly boring material, but because of the professor. To be honest, it seems as if Dr. Cusack is VERY unmotivated and does not want her students to do well. She barely ever answered emails, was very unclear on assignments and was all over the place in lecture. What made this class unbearably difficult was that she made the class read, take notes, and learn hundreds of pages in the textbook for her exams. 90% of the material covered in the textbook she never even talked about in class, so I don't know how it's even possible to accurately learn that much information in such little time. One poor girl in our class voiced her concerns about not being able to learn every single thing in the textbook because it gets confusing since she's never talked about it, and the professor basically made her feel stupid. She said that this would never fly in the ivy leagues; well NEWS FLASH I'm not getting a degree from Harvard I'm getting a degree from UCLA. And if you really want us to learn every single little thing in the book, then maybe you should touch on the subjects in class. I think if she really wants her class to do well and actually learn, she should just test on the material covered in lecture as this will maximize student learning and students can actually take something away from the class. Long story short, I ended up getting an A but it was not worth it since it cost me my sanity. Do not take this class, just don't.