• Katherine Pan

Review of GEQ1000: Asking Questions

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

Year took: AY20/21 Semester 1


If you approach GEQ1000 with curiosity, you may discover that there is a lot to learn that could benefit our daily lives. GEQ1000 introduces the critical thinking framework and questioning methods utilized by different disciplines in problem-solving.


As part of the general education in NUS, GEQ1000 is compulsory for all students. It is marked on a completed satisfactory/completed unsatisfactory basis instead of assigning a letter grade. I took GEQ1000 during an online semester hence all my classes were held using Zoom. The assessment criteria are as follows:


1. Luminus MCQ Quizzes – 36%

- 6 quizzes

- Every quiz is 6%

2. Forum Participation – 14%

- Minimally 6 forum posts

- 3 forum posts by recess week (7%)

- 3 forum posts after recess week (7%)

3. Tutorial Participation – 36%

- 5 tutorials

- Attendance is taken

4. Final Paper – 14%

- 650 – 750 words essay



Lectures:

GEQ1000 covers six areas: computational thinking, design thinking, engineering, philosophy, physics, and economics. Each discipline will be taught for two weeks by a professor from the home faculty. Concepts taught include confirmation bias, understanding science and its experiments, computational thinking, engineering and modeling, prison’s dilemma, and design thinking algorithm.


All lectures are pre-recorded and uploaded on Luminus for viewing. Lecture transcripts are available for students to download. Weekly lectures are split into multiple short videos that are about 10 minutes long.


At first glance, it may not seem like it would take much time to finish the weekly lecture videos. However, lecture activities are often embedded within, and attempting the activities increases viewing time by two-fold. While the activities can be informative and engaging, there was no incentive to carry them out. I could read the lecture transcript or skip ahead in the recorded lecture for answers. These were much more efficient than attempting the lecture activity. I gradually stopped watching lectures entirely and read the lecture transcript instead. It was faster to scan through and highlight important information from the transcript.


This is how I feel about lecture activities. (Source)



Luminus Quizzes:

A new quiz comprising of 12 MCQs will be released on Luminus biweekly. All concepts taught for each segment of GEQ were tested. Over the semester, the difficulty of the quizzes increases rapidly. Initially, I could easily search for answers using control f from the lecture transcript and readings because answers could be directly lifted. From computational thinking onwards, I had to study and understand lecture content because the answers could no longer be directly lifted.

Unfortunately, control f does not work well from the computation thinking quiz onwards. (Source)



Tutorials & Class Participation:

Tutorials occurred biweekly and no preparation is needed for most tutorials. Exceptions are computation thinking and design tutorials. I had to fold origami and create a prototype wallet respectively.


Despite not watching lecture videos, the discussions during tutorials were easy to comprehend. Every session, we would go into breakout rooms to discuss related topics and our discussions with the class. To score for class participation, attend every tutorial as attendance is taken, and aim to share your views twice for each session.


Initially, my tutor taught us by sharing his PowerPoint slides. In the third tutorial, he experimented with a platform called Miro to improve class engagement. Miro is an online whiteboard for visual collaboration, and its usage made tutorials more interactive. As everyone sees real-time changes to the board, we could upload photos or pen down our thoughts to share with the class.


It was ingenious because the tutorial would not be interrupted by students unmuting themselves. Miro also made it easier for my tutor to consolidate opinions and understand what the class thinks. With this, my tutor could tailor his explanations according to the class majority.



Forum Posts:

There are 2 rounds of forum posting, and we must contribute minimally 3 posts every round. Each forum post is worth 2 marks and additional marks may be given for additional posts. The posts can be replies to a post made by another student or to prompts under a forum thread.


As there is no need to create a forum post for every GEQ segment, I wrote my 3 posts based on a single segment I was better at. Multiple concepts were discussed in every segment. In creating a substantive post, I discussed one of the concepts in-depth and explained how it is relevant in my everyday life or my discipline.



Wallet Design:

Although 6 disciplines are taught, GEQ1000 has only 5 tutorials. My last tutorial was a wallet design assignment for us to attempt design thinking. A partner is required for the assignment and my tutor insisted not to do it alone. It is easy to identify individuals that completed the assignment alone and he wanted us to have the full experience.


The assignment had us design the ideal wallet that would satisfy the needs of our partner. The design thinking process required me to understand my partner’s needs, behavior, and motivation. These aid in the generation of effective designs. Feedback and suggestions were provided by my partner and we created a working prototype of our wallet design for each other.


In total, we spent 3 hours on the assignment. However, most people choose to do the assignment alone and it is possible to finish within 90 minutes if you do the bare minimum.



Final Paper:

The paper assesses our understanding of the various concepts taught in GEQ and evaluates whether we can apply the concepts in our lives or majors correctly. It is to be written in essay format with minimally 650 words to maximally 750 words. The paper is due by the end of week 13 and a draft can be submitted for feedback on week 10.


I was rushing the final paper because I was busy with other submissions. (Source)


Instead of viewing the final paper as an assignment, I see it as a reflection as I consolidated my learning in GEQ. The question paper would provide prompts and guidance on what to write so that we do not write out of point.



Conclusion:

I have observed many students doing the bare minimum for GEQ1000 as it is a pass/fail module. Although students complete GEQ to graduate, I think that the concepts introduced are profound and very useful in daily life.

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