If you are a student at City University of Hong Kong and considering enrollment in How Your Brain Works [GE1352] you may find the information below helpful in forming your decision.
First of all, here some feedback comments received from students of the Sem B 2017/8 offering of the course:
" The course enables me to have some preliminary understanding on how the brain works in every aspect. I get more and more interested in learning how the brain functions that can control and explain my thinking, my feeling, my movement, my decision making etc. The course also provides me with knowledge to clarify some doubtful and superstitious claims and hypothesis. I will not hesitate to recommend this course to anyone who is curious and interested in learning the anatomy and function of the brain. "
" Best course I have taken in my two years at City U and would recommend it to most. The array of professors throughout the course was great in that you got an expert in the field lecturing you on every topic."
Of course we were pleased to receive such high praise :-)
Note: The material we introduce you to in this course is not very difficult to understand, and if you are smart enough to be admitted to study for a degree in any subject at CityU you are smart enough to understand the material in this course. However, there is nevertheless a lot going on your brain, so you will need to learn quite a lot of material. So if you are lazy or are already overloaded, do not take this course!
The marks distribution from the last offering of this course reflects this: Over a third of our students got A grades overall (including students with business majors or other arts faculty majors) but 10% of our students failed, simply because they did not revise.
It is a sad fact of modern life that students aren't merely studying for the joy of learning something interesting, but also feel the need to achieve good grades with reasonable workloads. So how will you be assessed?
Overall, the assessment has two components, continuous assessment (CA) in the form of graded quizzes, and a final exam (FE). Your final grade will be the average of your CA and FE grades, equally weighted. Both graded quizzes and the final exam are closed book and are administered online using Canvas and the Respondus Lockdown browser. If you haven't yet installed Respondus on your computer yet, do so ahead of time. CityU students can click here for a download link for the browser. Both are sets of multiple-choice / fill in the blanks type questions to test your knowledge and understanding. For this course you will not be required to write essays or solve equations or do graded practical work.
The quizzes will take place during a set of tutorial hours marked in the timetable and you will find the link to the quizzes on the canvas site for this course under the "Quizzes" tab. There will be five quizzes, and each quiz will cover material from two to three previous lectures. Which lectures will come up at each quiz is marked in the timetable. So in order to revise for your quizzes, make sure which lectures will be covered and revise using the lecture handouts and lecture videos. If it's not in the handouts then it won't be examined. The course covers a lot of material, and sometimes the lecturer will give you some hints as to what is not going to be examined in order to keep the amount of material reasonable. (For example, I do not expect students to memorize the names of all amino acids or the Goldman equation or specific ion concentrations, but you should all know that the duration of one action potential is in the order of 1 ms)
Quizzes typically contain in the order of 30 questions and we will typically allow 45 minutes for completion, which is plenty of time if you know your stuff but not enough if you try to cheat and need to look up all the answers. When computing your CA grade, we will average the best four of the five quizzes. That means that you can perform poorly at one of the quizzes without it dragging your final grade down too badly.
The final exam will take place at a time determined in due course by ARRO (the academic regulations and records office). The format is essentially the same as the graded quizzes (closed book, online, canvas & respondus) but it is longer (up to 2 hours) with more questions covering all the material in all the lectures.
Experience has shown that students who revise diligently for the course tend to get good and often very good grades, but there are also always a few students who, for whatever reason, fail to keep up with their studies and revision. Note, for example, that it is a general rule of the university that in order to pass the course, you need to achieve a minimum grade of 30% in the final exam. If you don't make that, you will fail the course even if your CA grades were good. This is a very low bar. It implies that you can get two out of every three questions about the material taught in the course wrong and still pass the course. Students only fail this course if something prevents them from revising. Of course, with all the upheavals, sometimes life gets in the way, and despite best intentions you may just have too many distractions. Just last term we had a student whose parents business went under due to Covid drag on the economy and who suddenly had to work many evening shifts to support himself. If, during the course, you discover that your circumstances have changed for the worse and you are unable to keep up then please consider applying for a late drop, and/or registering mitigating circumstances. These are options that you should discuss with the general office staff of your home department. Better to drop a course and retake it later than fail it.