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  • Arnest Lim

CHS Common Curriculum Course Reviews (Part 4) - HS1501, HSI2001

Updated: Nov 18, 2023


Another semester has come to a close, so let’s get started with another CHS Common Curriculum Course Review.


Disclaimer: All of the following courses were taken in AY 22/23 Sem 2 and the structures of these courses MAY BE DIFFERENT in subsequent sems. All views expressed in this article are my own so please only take this review as an unofficial guide. More detailed information can be found in the links at the bottom of this article.


Check out other course reviews right here.


HS1501 - Artificial Intelligence and Society

Lecturer: Prof Yu Chien Siang

TLDR: The basics of all things AI.


Description of course

  • Taught by the Department of Mathematics, HS1501 is the self-explanatory "Artificial Intelligence" (AI) Common Core Course.

  • Lectures are 3 hours long and held online, introducing students to the various roles of AI in modern society. Some lesson time will also be used by the lecturer to run through different software that makes use of such AI.

  • Take note that this course is incredibly oversubscribed as most CHS students will want to read this to clear the AI pillar. I would strongly suggest that you rank this first in each CourseReg Round.

  • Alternative courses:

  1. HS1502 (Conceptual Introduction to Machine Learning)

  2. IT1244 (Artificial Intelligence: Technology and Impact)

  3. University Scholars Programme (USP)/NUS College (NUSC) students - NST2046 (Deus Ex Machina: Generative AI and Society)

  4. Math-Computer Science Double Degree Programme (MA-CS DDP) students and/or students reading the School of Computing’s Artificial Intelligence minor/Computer Science second major/minor - CS2109S (Introduction to AI and Machine Learning)

  5. CHS-CDE DDP students - EE2211 (Introduction to Machine Learning)

Assessment

  • 2 Quizzes (10%)

  • Mid-Term Test (20%)

  • Team Project Paper (20%)

  • Team Project Video (10%)

  • Individual Project Slides (10%)

  • Exam (30%)

Pros

HS1501 covers a wide breadth of content, providing students with a good introduction to many different aspects of AI such as the economics of AI, Industry 4.0 as well as AI and the law. Apart from covering certain AI-related software like Toonify, Teachable Machine and TagUI, the course also touches on applications of AI in various fields. This will prove useful in helping students brainstorm for their group project, wherein students are required to write a project paper and create an 8-minute video on a topic of their choice relevant to AI.


It’s undeniable that students will be able to learn something new about AI through their project process and it’s a good way for them to develop their own opinions about AI. In a way, this also gives students greater ownership of their learning as they do further research on their chosen topic. Moreover, the project video allows students to show their creativity, as they must find a way to pack their research into 8 minutes while keeping it easy to digest and understand.

Did you know that AI use in art dates back to 1972 with the AARON computer programmes developed by late British artist Harold Cohen? This was but one of the many interesting trivia that I uncovered whilst researching for our group project.


Cons

Unfortunately, having interesting content doesn’t matter if students aren’t incentivised to learn and this is exactly the problem with HS1501. The course’s quizzes and tests are designed poorly, with many of the questions not in the lecture content and being almost trivia-based. It often feels like students are being tested more on their ability to use Google and ChatGPT than on actual understanding and application of content. This makes this a course that students can't get better in through practicing but rather only through memorising trivia and facts, and also makes the bell curve extremely steep as majority of the cohort will get the correct answers just by using AI search tools.


Moreover, a group project as time-consuming and heavy as what we did for HS1501 should be worth more than 20% of our grade. Instead, more than 50% of our assessment weightage is placed on the quizzes and tests, which as I said earlier, barely test our understanding of the course content. I think it would be preferable if more emphasis is placed on the group project rather than on these trivial questions.


Personal thoughts

HS1501 is by no means a difficult course and the content is accessible by all, focusing more on socially relevant aspects of AI rather than anything technical. However, speak to anyone who has taken HS1501 and you are likely to hear that they want to “S/U this course” or that they didn’t learn much from it. There is no incentive for students to actually listen to and absorb anything from lectures because so much of what’s tested isn’t even from lecture content. Instead, search engines become your best friend throughout this course. In fact, I can confidently say that if you go into any HS1501 test or quiz without using ChatGPT, you will be disadvantaged.


It’s disappointing that this is the case for HS1501 because I genuinely feel like the course content has the potential to be interesting. Sadly, this leads nowhere due to the poorly designed assessments that disincentivises students from learning. It’s a shame too because the teaching team is very responsive and engage with students regularly. I hope that in the coming semesters more will be done to improve the running of this course so that students will be able to take away more.


Overall, did I learn anything from HS1501? Well, yes, I gained a better understanding of the different ways AI can be used in society. At the same time, I feel that I could have achieved the same outcome by using Google, making this course not very useful in the long run.


HSI2001 - Scientific Inquiry & Health: Good Science, Bad Science

Lecturer: Prof Eric Chan, Dr. Yau Wai Ping, Dr. Linda Hong

TLDR: Applying scientific inquiry concepts to distinguish good science from bad science in the context of health sciences.


Description of course

  • As one of the many courses that CHS students can read as their second "Scientific Inquiry" Integrated Course, HSI2001 is offered by the Department of Pharmacy.

  • Lectures are held twice weekly on campus and are 2 hours long, with the bulk of lectures covering how different errors and flaws can drastically change the outcome of clinical trials.

  • Certain lecture slots will also be conducted in a tutorial format, where students will apply what they have learned to various case study discussions.

  • Students must have passed either HSI1000 (How Science Works, Why Science Works) or SP2274 (Engineering a Life-like Cell) before they can read this course.

  • Alternative courses:

  1. USP/NUSC students - NST courses (Making Connections: Sciences & Technologies)

  2. SPS students - SP3275 (Science for a Sustainable Earth)

  3. CHS-CDE DDP students - IE2141 (Systems Thinking and Dynamics)

  4. CHS students can read any of the following -

  • HSI2002 (Inquiry into Current Sporting Beliefs and Practices)

  • HSI2003 (From DNA to Gene Therapy)

  • HSI2004 (Cell Based Proteins for a Sustainable Future)

  • HSI2005 (Our Science Stories and You)

  • HSI2007 (Deconstructing Food)

  • HSI2008 (A Brief History of Science & Why Things Often Go Wrong)

  • HSI2009 (What is a Planet?)

  • HSI2010 (New Worlds Beyond Earth)

  • HSI2011 (The World of Quantum)

  • HSI2012 (From Ancient Cosmologies to Big Bang)

  • HSI2013 (The Science of Music)

  • HSI2014 (Science, Medical Technology and Society)

  • HSI2015 (The Emerging Nanoworld)

  • HSI2016 (The Art of Science, the Science of Art)

Assessment

  • Group Proposal and Reflection/Participation (30%)

  • Mid-Term Test (30%)

  • Final Examination (40%)

Pros

HSI2001 is probably one of the least science-heavy courses within the Scientific Inquiry II pillar, with minimal scientific background required. The ethics of animal experimentation, statistical biases and pitfalls as well as the key tenets of clinical studies are but some of the useful and eye-opening content covered in this course, being applicable to the world beyond studies. Though this might sound daunting, students aren’t bombarded with scientific jargons and it’s taught in a way that’s accessible to all. This makes the course an ideal choice for anyone who isn’t as scientifically-inclined.


Moreover, it's good that despite only having lecture slots in the timetable, some of the classes are conducted in a tutorial format, where students apply what they’ve learned to case study discussions. This gives students more interaction with not just their peers but also their lecturers, who will actively engage students during these tutorials-based classes. This helps to enhance the learning experience as students become more in touch with the content.


Finally, unlike many courses where group projects can last until the end of the semester, HSI2001’s project finishes by week 3. This immensely reduces students’ stress since they can now focus on preparing for their mid-terms and finals rather than worry about another project during the last few weeks of the semester.


Cons

Although HSI2001 is a relevant and enriching course, it is not particularly interesting and can get quite dry. Each lecture goes over a lot of ground that can get quite technical, for example, when lectures covered analyses of clinical trials. Though the general idea of the course is not entirely skewed towards the sciences, these terms are certainly not something that people would be exposed to outside of science.


Also, while extensive scientific knowledge isn’t required for this course, HSI2001’s tests do have questions that directly test your understanding of some of these terms, so students really need to get comfortable with some clinical jargon.


Personal thoughts


This particular pillar of the CHS curriculum might be worrying for some, as the presence of a prerequisite makes it impossible to exercise the S/U option on all available courses. Moreover, for many FASS students like myself, it posed a real challenge as the scientific knowledge required was generally higher than what was needed for HSI1000. Originally, I just wanted a course that fit my timetable and was not very science-heavy. But after this semester, I can safely say that HSI2001 was definitely a good option.


Even as a social science student, I found this course to be applicable to not just my area of study but also the real world, and I daresay that unlike some of the other Scientific Inquiry II courses, I foresee myself actually using what I've learnt here beyond just a purely scientific context. Things like the association-causation-correlation debate reach far beyond the sciences into general knowledge, and honing one’s ability to discern false information from the truth is an important part of life.


Overall, HSI2001 is a low workload course that I would highly recommend to any CHS student wanting to clear the Scientific Inquiry II pillar.

 

For more information, please access the following links-







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