professor
Jessamine Chan

Dec 2010

University Writing is potentially a useful class designed to teach you the basics of college-level essay drafting. But unfortunately, theory and reality don't exactly mesh well, do they? Classes are comprised of one of the following: Copying down notes over theoretical writing concepts on the board, "discussion" of seed texts where two or three people reluctantly say something just to avoid awkward silences, useless peer review sessions where you spend 5 minutes actually talking about the paper and the remaining 25 minutes pretending to chat with your partner so she doesn't give you more discussion questions, and reading out-loud handouts and assignment sheets as a class (really, now?). Essentially, class itself is a gross waste of time but it's not particularly stressful or anything so putting up with it for 2 hours a week is doable. Jessamine is quite nice as a person and brings in snacks every few weeks. She generally tries to be helpful but most of the time, her suggestions are not entirely applicable and the exercises she does didn't really help. I'm not sure if that's a product of her teaching style or the curriculum of UW. In general, I felt that UW just rehashed abstract theoretical writing concepts and it was ambiguous how to actually implement them in our own writing. It was almost like being told to learn a language but only being given a dictionary, which by itself, is obviously useless. What's worse is that she told us on the first day UW is a ton of work but "we'll all in it together." Comforting, no? As for grading, I feel like she may be an easier grader compared to other UW teachers out there, especially if you make lots of progress between drafts and use the Writing Center as she suggests. Basically if you put in a lot of effort and it shows [or at least it seems like you did], then she will take that into consideration, if the final product is decent. Bottom line: Jessamine is a nice person who is willing to help, but the class itself is dull and an irritating part of your day. If you want to chance to potentially have a good grade, stay in this section. [Not an easy A, but at least it's possible, considering the other UW horror stories I've heard] If you actually want to learn something from an inspiring teacher, keep looking. Essentially it's a trade-off between getting a better grade and actually learning something. Don't we all wish we went to Brown...

Dec 2010

Jessamine Chan is good at regurgitating. She is good at presenting what the U. Writing office has given her and explaining what we are supposed to do in each progression. However, she is not a good teacher. She never really helps your essays besides grammatical errors. She can tell you what is awkward about a paper or where it does not make sense, but she cannot help you fix them. It's not because she does not want to but because she can't. I got more help from the writing center in how to edit than I did from her. As a teacher of introductory college writing course, she should be able to teach us ways of looking at our papers instead of just saying "this wrong, figure out how to fix it". Handing out worksheets on revision is not the same as actually teaching us how revise. Those sheets don't know the nuances of our papers and Jessamine doesn't recognize that.

Dec 2010

Unfortunately I would not recommend Professor Chan to anyone hoping to enjoy their University Writing experience. As a student whose favorite disciplines have long been reading and writing, I entered Professor Chan's class with an open and eager mind. For a month, I strove to participate in class, be an engaged listener, and improve on each of my assignments. As the class progressed, however, my enthusiasm and optimistic outlook rapidly dissolved. Although Professor Chan was always exceedingly prepared for class, eager to assist any student seeking help, and very thorough with her feedback on both homework and papers, most of her admirable effort was sadly wasted on the vast majority of her students who "checked out" early in the semester. This was partly due to Professor Chan's inability to engage her classroom, but also to the growing mood of resentment toward the material she was teaching (this latter reason likely plays a much larger role in the negative class dynamic than any of Professor Chan's minor faults). Several of my friends who have enjoyed University Writing have reported that their professors treat the rather frustrating material with a good deal of levity, whereas Professor Chan’s overly serious approach accentuates the inflated rhetoric and artificiality that seem to be inherent to the course. Professor Chan is a wonderfully reliable person to work with, and is very kind and friendly, but I would not want to be her student again. Future students who are assigned Professor Chan will undoubtedly finish University Writing with a firm grasp of the curriculum, but not with fond memories of the course. NOTE: This review has nothing to do with my grade in the class. Grades are very unimportant to me. That aside, I am very satisfied with her method of grading, and even feel that she grades a bit more liberally than I expected.

Jan 2010

I don’t doubt that Ms. Chan is a qualified writer, but she leaves much to be desired as a teacher. Her classes were boring and unanimated, and she struggled to keep the class involved. A lot of the students were interested in writing, but her teaching style was so frustrating as to discourage participation. I felt like she was quick to shoot down ideas for papers, but never did she help anyone develop a new idea. Her grading was tough but fair. Most people got B’s on final drafts. Getting an A is very difficult, but possible. I don’t particularly recommend her if you want to get anything out of University Writing. Also what kind of English teacher asks “I was wondering where you are at in your papers”?