Posted by: idm04 | 2014/10/28

October 28th, 2014

I know I said I would stop posting, but I guess I’ll be here a little longer…


This term, I am taking CPSC 110, CPSC 121, SCIE 300, and MATH 307 in the second-degree UBC Bachelor of Computer Science (BCS) program.

Overall, classes are going alright. I kind of wish we weren’t using Dr. Racket in CPSC 110, but I can’t say whether jumping into a ‘real’ language now would be good further down the road. CPSC 110 is also a lot of work. I am not finding CPSC 121 too interesting, because of my previous overlapping coursework (MATH 220: Mathematical Proofs, and PHIL 220A: Symbolic Logic). I probably should have asked if I could skip CPSC 121, but I think the answer would still be no. MATH 307 is pretty fun, but challenging.

I genuinely wish I didn’t have to take SCIE 300, which is a lot of work. If you’re in the BCS program, I personally highly recommend against taking SCIE 300 for the Communication requirement. Unless you have an interest in learning about scientific journalism and don’t mind a lot of work. I’ll post syllabus information after the course is over, but it’s basically way too much work for what you get out of the course.

MICB 421, a previous course I took, was a lot of work because we had to design and carry out an experiment in microbiology from scratch, and then write a paper on it. It’s even more work than SCIE 300, but at least it was worthwhile, and the work was always relevant. On the other hand, in SCIE 300, a bunch of work is just thrown at us, most of which seems pointless/repetitive, and not interesting in the slightest. For example, last week we learned about metaphors and similes. Not interesting nor useful, because most people already know what metaphors and similes are.

However, SCIE 300 isn’t a completely pointless course — I’ve learned some useful writing conventions (although I could have looked them up), and at some point bibliography/reference managers like RefWorks were covered (although I did already know that from MICB 421). That being said, I feel that the little benefits I get out of the course are not worth taking the course.

This is because there are too many tasks in SCIE 300. This course has weekly pre-class and post-class quizzes on Connect; mandatory blog posts every few weeks (you’d think I’d be interested but no, not when it’s not of my own volition), plus mandatory comments on other’s blog posts; a Science Investigation Project which involves collecting and analyzing data, then writing a paper; regular journal entries about the wonderful things we’ve learned; interviewing a researcher and creating a news story with video, podcast, and blog post; in-class individual and group presentations; in-class worksheets almost every single class; filling feedback forms for others’ assignments; and finally, writing a paper on all the things we’ve learned in the course.

Now, some of the things I admit do actually seem kind of fun or potentially worthwhile, like the Science Investigation Project, and the interviewing-a-researcher project. Many students in Science don’t get to work with actual data, and the Science Investigation Project provides an opportunity to collect and analyze data and draw conclusions (ie. do actual science!); and then get real feedback. However, this was poorly executed in this course — I felt that the feedback we received was fairly minimal, and it was way too rushed. For example, we were given about a week to collect our data.

In summary, I believe SCIE 300 is poorly designed and I strongly regret taking it. It tries to cover too much ground, and the majority of the work is not useful. Not sure if the alternative ENGL 301 is better since I haven’t and won’t ever take it, but it seems more practical: some people have mentioned that their resumes/cover letters were much better after taking ENGL 301.




  1. Interesting viewpoint on SCIE 300! Maybe I was looking at it through rose-tinted glasses because I liked the concept. I do think the weekly quizzes could have been different (especially the latter ones) and better in some way, though I wouldn’t know how to recommend fixing them. It is definitely A LOT of work – pretty sure this is a unanimous opinion from those who take it.

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