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  • Arnest Lim

CHS Common Curriculum Course Reviews (Part 2) - HSH1000, GEA1000, FAS1101

Updated: Aug 31, 2023


As with the previous semester, the end of this one brings with it CHS Common Curriculum Course Reviews: Part 2 Electric Boogaloo. This article will close the door on most of the pre-allocated courses for Year 1 CHS students so without further ado, let’s get started.


Disclaimer: All of the following courses were taken in AY 21/22 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.


HSH1000 - The Human Condition

Lecturers: Prof Loy Hui Chieh, Dr. Cathay Liu, Dr. Sureshkumar Muthukumaran, Dr. Uyen Nguyen

Tutor: Dr. Uyen Nguyen

TLDR: What does it mean to be human?


Description of course

  • Combining elements from philosophy and literature, HSH1000 is the "Humanities" Integrated Course that also fulfills the GE Critique and Expression pillar.

  • Lectures cover both contemporary and pre-modern texts as well as the analysis of their themes and literary devices, all while getting students to question the essence of being human.

  • Biweekly tutorials are 2 hours long and held on campus, serving as platforms to discuss and gain a better understanding of lecture content.

  • Students from the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Cross-Disciplinary Programme (PPE-XDP) are exempted from this course.

  • Alternative courses:

  1. University Scholars Programme (USP) students - USP-Humanities and Social Sciences courses

  2. NUS College (NUSC) students - NGN2001 (Global Narratives)

Assessment

  • Tutorial Participation (15%)

  • 5 Group Discussion Summaries (25%)

  • Group Competition (creating a meme that demonstrates understanding of course content) (5%)

  • Peer Reviews and Surveys (5%)

  • 6 Online Quizzes (25%)

  • Final Quiz (10%)

  • 2 Final Quiz Reflective Essays (15%)

Pros

From the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, often considered the world’s first story, to the writings of Chinese philosopher Xunzi, HSH1000 covered a wide variety of texts that the general student population are unlikely to come across in our everyday lives. I think it’s good that this course provided a closer look at these literary and philosophical works as a way to expand students’ horizons.


As per it’s name, this was a course seeking to explore the “human condition”, which meant that many of the ideas discussed was something that all students could find applicable, not necessarily to their major but to human interactions as a whole. This applicability is lacking in some other CHS Common Curriculum courses so it’s great that HSH1000 possesses this quality.


Cons

I think most of the cohort will agree that HSH1000’s quizzes are overly complex. While they certainly get you thinking, too many of the questions are reduced to simply arguing semantics, which I find to be incredibly frustrating.


In such situations, I question whether these quizzes are really a good gauge of whether students have properly engaged with the course’s content or if they’re just testing our ability to catch minor differences in sentences. Perhaps that has to do with the nature of HSH1000 but it definitely doesn’t make the learning experience better.


Personal thoughts

I had quite a lot of fun with HSH1000, mainly because the things I learnt from this course were totally new to me. While the quizzes can be a tad tedious to work on, I felt that the intriguing texts covered in the course made up for it, especially the fictional ones, and served as a breath of fresh air amidst my other courses. I don’t foresee myself reading anymore philosophy or literature courses in future but overall, I still generally liked HSH1000.

The most fun part of HSH1000, the group meme competition (featuring my group’s product).

GEA1000 - Quantitative Reasoning with Data

Lecturers: Dr. David Chew, Timothy Lim, Sudarshan Narasimhan, Samuel Yeun, Ng Chong Kai, Lin Shiming, Dr. Amanda Soon, Kelvin Horia, Desmond Lau, Foo Jen Han, Isaac Koh

Tutor: Foo Jen Han

TLDR: How to excel at making sense of data.


Description of course

  • Formerly known as GER1000, GEA1000 is a Common Core Course that fulfills the GE Data Literacy pillar.

  • In place of lectures, short prerecorded videos are utilised to impart basic data analysis knowledge and skills, as well as how to make use of software to analyse data.

  • Biweekly tutorials are 3 hours long and held on campus, with tutors recapping lecture content and giving students time to discuss pre-assigned questions with their groupmates.

  • As the only course for this GE pillar, many of your tutorial-mates will be from faculties outside of CHS, as they too need to complete this course to graduate.

  • Alternative courses:

  1. Students who have declared a primary/second major or minor in Data Science and Analytics - DSA1101 (Introduction to Data Science)

  2. Students who have declared a primary major in Data Science and Economics - DSE1101 (Introductory Data Science for Economics)

  3. Students who have declared a primary/second major or minor in Statistics - ST1131 (Introduction to Statistics and Statistical Computing)

  4. Students pre-allocated GEA1000 can drop it and read any of the following - BT1101 (Introduction to Business Analytics), DSA1101, ST1131

  5. NUSC students - GEA1000N (Quantitative Reasoning with Data)

Assessment

  • 6 Online Quizzes (10%)

  • Tutorial Participation (15%)

  • Group Project (30%)

  • Mid-Term Test (15%)

  • Final Examination (30%)

Pros

Data analysis is something that students will encounter many times throughout their university career and as the only course in the GE Data Literacy pillar, GEA1000 and its teaching team has their work cut out for them.


For those like myself who had prior statistics knowledge but hadn’t touched it in years, this course served as a good refresher. However, for those with less experience in the field, GEA1000 had the tall order of introducing them to data analysis.


Thankfully this course was able to achieve this outcome by providing students with the right amount of insight into the world of data without overloading us with complicated concepts. Since GEA1000 isn’t a particularly complex course, the content is fairly easy to pick up after a while and to this effect, the short videos and notes are good tools that aid in the learning process.


Cons

Canada’s Mount Thor, famed for having the greatest vertical drop in the world, is often regarded as the world’s steepest cliff. But even that pales in comparison to GEA1000’s bell curve. Having unlimited quiz attempts was a huge boon for students but it also placed an unnecessary amount of stress on students, as losing just one mark for any quiz could potentially knock you down an entire grade.

This has been a problem ever since this course was known as GER1000 and just like its predecessor, GEA1000 has many quizzes and test questions that are phrased very oddly. Rather than actually testing statistics knowledge and adding to students’ learning, these questions feel like something out of an English comprehension exam, giving off the vibe that the teaching team are merely using these questions to “weed out” the As from the Bs.


Personal thoughts

I found GEA1000's content to be important, especially since most (if not all) majors will require data analysis skills. Even though I had dabbled in basic statistics pre-matriculation, I still appreciated the refresher provided by this course and felt that I learnt a lot from it.


While many students might seek to simply exercise their S/U option on this course, it can’t be denied that GEA1000 has taught us a lot about Excel functions and introduced us to the wonders of the Radiant software, tools which I firmly believe will serve us very well in future.


FAS1101 - Writing Academically: Arts and Social Sciences

Lecturers: Dr. Lee Ming Cherk, Dr. Zhou Ziqian

Tutor: Lauren Yeo

TLDR: University-level academic writing 101 for FASS students.


Description of course

  • FAS1101 is the Common Core "Writing" course for FASS students and has existed even before the inauguration of CHS.

  • In place of lectures, short pre-recorded videos are used to introduce students to academic writing for the Arts and Social Sciences.

  • Weekly tutorials from weeks 2-13 are 2 hours long and held online (changed to on campus next AY), with tutors sharing academic writing tips. Students will also engage in simple exercises and discussions in order to improve our own essays.

  • Students required to read ES1000 (Foundation Academic English) and/or ES1103 (English for Academic Purposes) must pass those courses first before reading FAS1101.

  • While most students will be pre-allocated FAS1101 in Year 1, students in the Language Preparation Programme (LPP) will only read this course in Year 2.

  • Alternative courses:

  1. USP students - UWC2101% (Writing & Critical Thinking)

  2. NUSC students - NTW courses (Thinking with Writing)

  3. UTown College Programme (UTCP) students - UTW1001%

  4. Ridge View Residential College (RVRC) students - RVX courses

  5. FoS students - SP1541 (Exploring Science Communication through Popular Science)

  6. Special Programme in Science (SPS) students - SP2271 (Introduction to the Scientific Literature)

Assessment

  • Research Proposal (15%)

  • Overview Essay (25%)

  • Final Essay (45%)

  • Class Participation (15%)

Pros

Most students would already have some academic writing experience but likely wouldn’t be producing “university-level” work. Enter FAS1101, a course that covers very technical aspects and tips for structuring your essay, all of which goes a long way in helping students ensure their essays are up to par. For those with less essay writing experience, this course will prove especially useful.


FASS students, which FAS1101 is specifically catered for, are probably going to spend the next few years of their university life writing a good number of academic essays so this course certainly serves as good preparation for us. Also, students are given the entire semester to work on their essay and since each assessment component builds on top of the previous one, FAS1101 actually has a fairly manageable workload.


Cons

Simply put, FAS1101 isn’t particularly interesting because all students are doing is working on just ONE essay topic for the entire semester. Moreover, students are taught the argumentative essay format but many social science disciplines don’t necessarily feature argumentation as the primary essay feature.


In fact, that seems to be more geared towards the arts majors, demonstrated by how most of the course content packages are arts-related (history, linguistics, philosophy, etc.). I think it would be nice if FAS1101 could focus more on other kinds of essay writing so everyone can both learn something new and also something more relevant to their home disciplines.


I also think that some of the content package videos that are meant to help students decide on their essay topic aren't very good. Moreover, there are just too many of them to sit through and students are better off simply going through the readings. Personally, the crime & deviance topic initially interested me but because the videos were so unbelievably dry and long, it totally turned me off from the topic.


Ironically, something I was less interested in (history), ended up having the most interesting videos. I know some of these videos are even older than LumiNUS but I think it would be great if they could be made more engaging.


Personal thoughts

Having written an Extended Essay as part of the IB Programme, I was no stranger to writing academic essays. Even so, I still found FAS1101 to be quite an important course as it gave me greater insight into how to make my essays fit for a higher level of education.


However, I do think my experience with the course could be better if students were exposed to different kinds of writing styles rather than just sticking to one. That said, FAS1101 is not really a tough course and with consistent effort, meeting assignment deadlines and producing quality work is no tall task.

 

And there we have it, the first batch of CHS students have completed our first year of study. Things haven’t been easy, with many of these courses being workshopped as we go along but nevertheless, let’s continue persevering through this new learning experience and I’m sure there’ll only be better things to come in future.


For more information, please access the following links-


CHS Common Curriculum Course Reviews (Part 1): https://www.nus-cnm.com/post/chs-common-curriculum-module-reviews-part-1





NUSC Courses: https://nuscollege.nus.edu.sg/learn/


UTCP Courses: https://www.nus.edu.sg/celc/undergraduate-courses/residential-college-rc-programmes/ideas-and-exposition-courses/



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