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Before spring registration, students share their favorite fall classes

UNC students attend class from home on their laptops on Monday, Oct. 2, 2020.

As planning for the spring registration process begins, students are looking for classes to take over the next semester. Here's a look at some students' favorite courses from the fall semester, and how well those classes worked online. 

Lexie Sparks: MASC 101

First-year environmental sciences major Lexie Sparks said her favorite class was Marine Science 101: The Marine Environment, taught by professor Karl Castillo.

“I really appreciated how passionate the professor was about the class, and I have been interested in marine biology since I was a little girl, so I was excited to finally be able to explore it further,” Sparks said. 

She said Castillo’s comfort with the online platform and his well-organized Sakai page made the class straightforward and manageable. 

Castillo said in an email that although he considers teaching the class remotely a success, he believes students can miss out on certain aspects of the curriculum.

“In class, they will touch the sampling equipment, visit our Aquarium Research Center and the wave tank room, and experience ongoing research in labs within the Marine Sciences Department,” he said in the email.

Castillo said he will be teaching Marine Sciences 441: Marine Physiological Ecology in the spring.

Ritika Desai: BIOL 202

Ritika Desai, a sophomore neuroscience major, said her favorite class was Biology 202: Molecular Biology and Genetics with professor Lillian Zwemer. 

She said she appreciated Zwemer’s accommodating attitude and use of of online resources to make learning as easy as possible.

“I find myself adopting new perspectives and problem-solving strategies,” Desai said. 

Zwemer said many of the strategies she used this semester were thought up by the biology department as a group over the summer. 

She said even though she had to cut some of the content of the course to accommodate the fall semester’s shorter schedule, the online format of the class can be just as good — if not better — for some students.

“I think for a certain type of student, like a student who learns a certain way, it’s a very good fit,” Zwemer said. “But I think not every student learns that well.”

She said in an email that one of her main priorities this semester was to build a sense of community among her students by holding weekly group office hours where students can ask questions and engage with each other in a relaxed environment. She encouraged students to send her pictures of their pets or the people in their lives to share with the rest of the class during these sessions.

Camilo Corrales: ECON 325

Junior business administration major Camilo Corrales said he recommends Economics 325: Entrepreneurship: Principles, Concepts, Frameworks and Fluency, taught by professor Chris Mumford.

“We’re able to create our own website with all of our information and just basically start working on projects that help us build skills for entrepreneurship in the future,” Corrales said.

He said he doesn’t feel like he learned any less than he would have from an in-person class. But he said the mechanics of the class, such as organizing group projects, were complicated by the remote delivery. 

Abby Kadlec: MEJO 244

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Abby Kadlec, a junior studying advertising and public relations, said she particularly enjoyed Media and Journalism 244: Talk Politics: An Introduction to Political Communication. She said reading and discussing politics during an election year enhanced the experience of the class. 

“It was a really helpful way to go through the process of the election, and it was just really interesting,” Kadlec said.

Professor Ferrel Guillory, who teaches the course, said students were able to discuss presidential debates, nominating conventions and how COVID-19 affected the election. 

He said that even though he misses seeing his students face-to-face, there were certain advantages to teaching the class online.

“One of the good things is I could get guest speakers easier than I could on campus,” Guillory said. 

He said guests included political journalists and political analysts, who came to offer their insights to students.