Excellent professor. She is young, intelligent, and very very personable to the students. Prof. Vy makes a deeply conscious effort to not only help her students with their writing, but to learn it herself so that she can help every individual to the best of her abilities - which are very strong (she's been published before, and continues to be). Does a good job with the various essay progressions by including in-class and homework activities guided towards the final product. I can't say this last part enough: REVISE. The only grade in the class comes from the final portfolio, which includes the best draft of all 4 essays along with some light supplementary material. It really doesn't hurt to rewrite some of the earlier papers all together - especially since you have the entire semester to do so. Prof. Vy seemingly remembers each word of your draft, so if you revamp the thing all over after she said it needed a lot of work - and it is at least a good effort - you're going to see an increase in your grade. She's a tough grader, but that helps to an extent. I would say 90% of everyone's papers landed somewhere in the B range in the end, with a few sprinkled in the A. C's, at least as I am concerned, would be hard to come by, especially if you meet with her (always likes to see kids in office hours) and show some effort to improve your writing. Enjoyable class.
Although Vyshali is a nice person and a published writer, I did not enjoy taking her class. I didn't mind the workload of University Writing, and the class sessions were bearable, though generally uninformative. As the previous reviewer stated, the worst part was in the portfolio system. I received provisional grades throughout the year that I was fine with (generally in the B range) and expected that with significant revision (which i certainly did), I would be able to receive an A or A- on the portfolio. To my dismay, I received a C+. Her letter to me, in which she commented on my portfolio, is equally bizarre. I still cannot reconcile her comments that "...you are a very strong writer... You have an amazing ability to manipulate the English language... Your sense of the creative shines through in all your writing over the course of the semster..." with the grade I was given. When I asked her to have a second professor read my portfolio, the only thing the second professor said was that he/she felt similarly. I suspect that there either was no second professor, or that he/she gave it a quick skim at best. Ms. Mannivanan's only real suggestion to me throughout the year was to "speculate" on things. She told me I had all the research, but that I didn't speculate enough. And I tried. Oh, how I tried. But really, I disagree with her suggestion completely. If I have proven my points through sources (sources certainly much more knowledgeable, than me, a college freshman), which I did, then what good is my measly opinion? If you are a student who is interested in writing formulaic pieces and being completely stifled in your writing, take Ms. Mannivanan. It's sad that a freshman writing class could make one want to never write again, but luckily I am a confident enough writer that I have chosen to simply disregard her grade and keep on writing. If you are interested in receiving a horrible grade for being a "very strong writer," then take the class from her. Personally though, if I could do it over, I would take the class from someone else.
i did not like Vy's class becuase of how she administered the portfolio system. She would give us preliminary grades on our essays which were usually very good. However, if we did not make radical revisions to our essays (which many times were given provisional grades of As or Bs) Vy would give us lower grades later in the year. An A in the provisional grading stage went down to a B- later in the year. She forced us to come to office hours and many times her advice was vague (her favorite comment was "grapple with this more") or nonexistent. She is a nice person and some of the class exercises were fun but she is tough grader and bad at commenting.