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The graded material for this class includes the following: 2 exams (worth 20% each), two papers (one worth 15% and the other 25%), and participation (worth 20%). There were two books for this class, the main textbook and then another book that we were supposed to read for discussion. You probably need to actually have both of these unfortunately.
The first exam was based on lecture and reading material. You might be able to get by without reading but there were a couple questions on the exam that weren't in lecture, so I would recommend reading. I don't think there was anything too tricky about the exam, it included term definition and a couple short answer questions. The second exam, at least the quarter I took the class, did not require knowledge of course material at all. Like I didn't do any of the readings the second half of the class and it didn't matter. It presented you with a graph and you had to answer some questions about it. We were given 5 graphs ahead of time to study and ask questions about and then one of those was used on the exam.
The first paper was pretty straightforward and required us to analyze a graph (based on polling data) that they gave us. I was a bit confused on how to structure the paper but went to office hours and a TA was able to clear it up pretty nicely. The final paper required us to use a bit more creativity; we had to come up with a potential slogan and message for a presidential candidate. You're provided with clear instructions on how to do this well so it's not too difficult. I believe the final paper our quarter was different than the previous so it might change.
Your participation grade comes from discussion. You are only allowed one unexcused absence from discussion. Just showing up isn't enough to earn you participation points; the TA actually keeps track of how many times you talk. Some of the discussions were based off of reading, so you probably need to at least partially do the reading so that you can contribute. Part of our participation grade also comes from three short, 600-word essays we had to turn in during discussion; these were about our upbringing, beliefs, etc, so were pretty easy to write.
Professor Vavreck is the best! I've never seen someone so enthusiastic about the Constitution.She is so well-versed in the topics of this class, it never ceased to amaze me. Her presentations were always well organized and always seemed to be exactly timed to fit the length of the class. When she spoke, I almost felt as if she were giving a performance rather than a lecture, as it was so entertaining and well thought out.
I really enjoyed this class, and as a poli sci major, it gave a good background for upper div classes. It was basically like taking AP Gov in high school with a little more detail and explanation. The professor was a super good lecturer and I was always engaged, but after attending office hours, I felt that she could be patronizing and a little condescending. Though she totally had the right to be, being a highly acclaimed author and super respected in the political science world. Overall, she is a great professor. The workload was not intense, weekly readings and light assignments consisted of your grade, and the tests were all short answer and reasonable if you studied. I think it is a great course that everyone should take to have a knowledge and background in American politics.
I can't say enough good things about Professor Vavreck. She is so passionate about the subject and is always open to talk to students! Great class. The exams were not difficult if you read over the slides and understood graphs slightly well. The final paper was very interesting to write and was not a burden at all. Highly recommend taking this class with Vavreck if you have the chance!
Professor Vavreck is by far on of my favorite professors at UCLA. She is a boss lady who has her life together; she co-authored one of the textbooks for the class and has connections with CNN, NY Times, etc (we had tons of guest lecturers). She is enthusiastic and passionate about her field. The class was mostly contemporary. Slides are posted and the exams are pretty easy. The first midterm consists of vocab and 2 short answer questions. The final consists of interpreting graphs, which she gives you in advance to analyze. The readings are lengthy but she does a good job at summarizing the main points in class, so don't worry. There is a practice paper that is worth little and lengthier final paper that involves designing a political ad. Overall, easy A.
While the content of the class was very interesting, Professor Vavreck often would fail to follow the syllabus and wouldn't update it. She was supposed to release the prompt for our "practice paper" one Tuesday and because she forgot to mention it in class she pushed the entire release and due date a week which for some reason made her decide to push the final paper prompt release another week later. Therefore limiting how much time we had to work on the final paper. You have a midterm and second midterm exam which both are fairly easy. The first exam consists of vocab words and then two essay questions. The second exam is focused on being able to interpret graphs. The test bank has the first midterm and it follows the same format and general questions. I am selling the book for this class text me at 559-287-9333 or email me at email@example.com
Professor Vavreck has been my favorite professor at UCLA so far. She is an extremely organized professor that uses very clear and to the point slides, with examples that relate to your every day life. She was very enthusiastic every class and is also funny. There are two midterms in the class and two papers but the class itself is very easy and if you took a class like APUSH in high school you should be good. Overall I recommend the class because it is an easy GE and you will love Vavreck she is great!
Take this class if you want an easy GE! It was mostly stuff I learned in APUSH/AP Gov in high school, so I hardly had to go to lecture and the two midterms were still easy. The two papers took some time but weren't so bad. Vavreck was a very enthusiastic and knowledgable professor. Overall I put in pretty minimal effort and got an A-, was engaged in most of the material we covered, and would definitely recommend this class.