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Although I’m not one to write reviews on instructors, I am submitting one to provide future students a better insight as to who Oscar Mayorga was to me.
As a student who actually believes in the importance of learning and improving, I resonated with Mayorga’s critical nature and appreciated the IDEA that he wanted students to LEARN. However, even though I went into his class with an open-mindset, it was clear that rather than “guiding” students to be a better writer and more knowledgeable on interracial dynamics, he seemed to push one strict answer, one style of writing, one perspective—onto students. And, as such, anyone who didn’t follow his answer, style, or perspective would be penalized, aka lower grade—no matter how much time and effort you put.
One thing to note if you do take his class is that participation is ESSENTIAL. In the beginning, he tells his students that he wants to help those who struggle with participating by having his class be an open space. As someone who falls under this category, I felt relieved at this statement and hoped to push my boundaries in his class. However, his discussion section made me feel the MOST discomfort ever when it came to participating—in my whole education journey. Whether it was through his body language or very emotive lectures, I just felt out of place (although this could just be a personal issue). When he asked questions, as long as I could remember, he replied with a curt “no” or “that’s just factually incorrect” until he finally hears the answer he wants. As such there were a lot of awkward silences and I was on the constant run, trying to read his mind, even though discussions should be a space where we can open up about our differing perspectives.
However! If you’re smarter than me, and actually write what he wants to hear, you’ll do A-OKAY in his class. The stress? It’s just one quarter, one class out of the many you’ll be taking. So if you do happen to get him don’t worry!! You’ll be fine… :) You got this!
I would like to preface this review as one for Cluster 20B. With that being said, I believe it is important to leave this review for anyone taking the cluster course as TAs are going to make or break your grade.
Oscar makes it very clear that he is a very objective person and thus will not be the nicest of people. To a certain degree, I did respect Oscar for this very thing however, as the quarter went on it became very clear that his words did not align very well with his actions. In the view of many students that I have discussed with, it is clear that Oscar does play favorites and thus is very biased. I suggest that if you do want to do well in this class you should get on his good side and ask as many clarifying questions as you can.
Participation is a MUST as it got to a point where when students would not talk during the class, they would get yelled at to the point where he made a whole class leave because no one would want to participate. Oscar is not a flexible person and again lectured the class about wanting to be excused from class for another midterm.
Grading wise I think is the most unfair. Although writing is both objective (grammar, spelling, content) and subjective (writing style), I feel that if you do not write in the style that Oscar is looking for, you won't get the grade you want. Any kind of feedback that I would get from Oscar would be all writing style and rarely any on the content of my paper. I received a decent grade on the big paper, but more importantly, I received absolutely no feedback on why I lost points. In a class where he emphasizes that it will be mostly about learning it seemed far from that.
This brings me to clarity. Oscar is very specific in what he wants and communicates it rather well. However, you will get absolutely no security in what you are doing until you get your final grade because what you think is good might be the very opposite in his eyes. I feared for my grade in this class and it put a lot of stress on me to do well on the final more than it should have. Unless you are one of his favorite students, you will not feel safe in this class.
I hope this was helpful.