Top Course Tags
Lots of Writing
A Few Big Assignments
Always Do the Reading
This class was tough.
Writing courses at UCSC are broad, in the sense that you can choose what topic your course will be about. My writing course was about "reading the news", and it was a very fun class overall, very involved, and lots of interaction with the professor. Would recommend.
We learned how to read the news with different eyes. We were taught how to look for bias, what was an opinion article or a serious "unbiased" article. And the most important thing we learned was how not to plagiarize, we were taught how to use databases to gather information, and analyze the news in structured way.
Hours per week:
Advice for students:
To succeed in this class, you must enjoy reading. Reading the news for pleasure is a must as well, and being able to form your own opinions from articles you read is also important. These, and a lot of writing is what this class is designed for, but you will walk away with better analytical and writing abilities.
Not too easy. Not too difficult.
McKercher is an extremely passionate and knowledgeable professor. He is more than happy to take as much time as it takes to optimize the writing skills of his students, as well as their creativity with relatively challenging papers built on extensive research. Even if you are a proficient writer, you will stand to improve from his class simply by going to his office hours. On top of that, one skill I definitely learned was how to research efficiently and accurately rather than waste my time on Google. He teaches you how to navigate academic databases that have just as much if not more veritable information than the search results on the first page of Google or Wikipedia. Overall, his course did wonders for me in improving my writing style. I've become more creative yet factual and logical, which also improves one's argumentation skills when discussing current events among friends, as I do quite often. Of all the professors I had in my first year of college, McKercher is definitely unparalleled in his skill, passion, and guidance. Although, he is a bit scatterbrained and goes of tangents, but unlike most professors his tangents tend to still be relatively pertinent to the discussion at hand. All in all, great professor, if you're up to his challenge and genuinely want to improve your writing and if you are interested in history, do yourself a favor and take his class.
As I mentioned above, the key skills McKercher teaches are developing a creative process, or at the very least a stream of consciousness when writing, and developing the ability to research effectively using academic databases. The research tools he gives you are very, very helpful and unmatched by google. Using academic sources via EBSCOHOST and online encyclopedias from Gale are extremely helpful in constructing and undoubtedly factual, logical, and well-founded paper, which is the essence of academic writing. Knowing how to research well is a priceless skill, and even if you don't develop a creative process in this class, you will undoubtedly become a better researcher, which, surprisingly, is a skill many students lack until they take a rigorous writing class like this. As for the creative writing processes that he teaches, it depends on the student. I learned that free writing and old-school bubble map style brain-storming, as well as bullet-point note taking were the best ways to construct my essay and coherent arguments. You may develop a new creative process from this class, or you may already have your own creative process in which you incorporate the research skills you develop in this class. Again, it depends on the person.
Hours per week:
Advice for students:
Do NOT procrastinate. I did procrastinate on a couple papers and I ended up staying up all-night before the due date. Work as much as you can on your creative process, including research, brainstorming, and rough drafts so your final draft is optimized to be an excellent paper. Do not save anything for the last day. Most of your papers will be quite lengthy. Most of my papers were in the neighborhood of 10-12 pages, not including works cited. Do the required readings for each paper (he will have a few readings he will want you to incorporate into your paper), and finish your paper at least a day before it's due so you have time to revise. Many of these papers are long so you definitely want to have ample time to reread and correct any mistakes or improve any of your arguments if need be.