Product Reviews

Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything

Discover the concepts and methods for clear and strong writing in the 24 accessible and practical lectures of Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything. Delivered by Professor Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University, this course immerses you in the elements of successful writing, from organizing your thoughts to making persuasive arguments to avoiding common grammatical errors. With its engaging literary and everyday examples, inspirational prompts, and unforgettable insights, these lectures make the perfect reference guide for both professional and casual writers.
Average Customer Rating:
3.64 out of 5
3.6
 out of 
5
(50 Reviews) 48
Open Ratings Snapshot
Rating Snapshot (50 reviews)
5 stars
24
4 stars
7
3 stars
5
2 stars
5
1 star
9
"34 of 50(68%)reviewers would recommend the course to a friend."
Customer Questions & Answers:
4 Questions | 11 Answers
Customer Reviews for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Review 1 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Mpls, MN
Comp course from a solid professor
Date:May 20, 2013
"This course was like auditing a well-taught Composition 101 or 102 -- one where the professor actually teaches content every week (vs. the common TAs giving direction and peer-reviews of papers). The professor has a new topic for every lecture, and she seems very familiar with the questions and confusions the average student tends to have. She makes an effort to honor the title of writing about “anything,” and not just creative writing – she includes clear examples of how her topics do apply to very practical writing (instructions, memos). She teaches with clarity and enough zest to keep me awake.
The content is within reach of an older high schooler, useful to the tutor or homeschool parent trying to teach/evaluate writing, handy as a writing review for those of us who are out of school and have had some basic techniques slip between the cracks, and a solid course for those who need to write convincingly in their daily job."
+86points
104out of 122found this review helpful.
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Review 2 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Birmingham
TOUGH TO REVIEW
Date:May 25, 2011
"As one earlier reviewer asked, who is the audience? Dr Armstrong has obviously worked hard to give us an outstanding review of writing fundamentals as well as excellent examples to illustrate her points. However, it's not clear to me exactly what TGC had in mind in positioning this course.
While I've never seen any numbers, my intuition tells me a majority of the purchasers of TGC products have at least some exposure to college education and possess a desire to keep their minds challenged as they move along in life. For that component, especially if their education was in the liberal arts, I would say these lectures probably d have limited interest. My ratings don't apply for those individuals.
Rather, they are addressed to two special groups in an effort to be helpful to those deciding whether to purchase this series. Most college teachers I've met freely discuss the challenges of dealing with freshmen handicapped with inadequate secondary schooling, especially the command of the English language. Here, Dr Armstrong's fresh style and relaxed delivery would appear to be immensely helpful.
There is also a special category in TGC inventory for high school level courses. It needs more selection balance away from math, in my opinion, and this series of lectures could be included there. The level of Dr Armstrong's delivery and illustrations should be easily digestible by motivated high school seniors. It might be a good step in accelerating their progress as they begin college. Thus, parents or those involved in guiding young people in educational matters may give this series thorough consideration.
There's another smaller group (engineers? premeds? etc) I don't want to leave out. These are the ones whose course work was so heavy and concentrated they didn't have the luxury of dipping into liberal arts courses while undergraduates. They also may find this series useful.
As the heading indicates, I've found it difficult to review this series of lectures because I think it's important enough to be properly ranked where it can be most useful rather than to butt it up against much of the fare offered by TGC. Dr Armstrong does an excellent job especially since she had limited exhibits included. I felt her hand motions and the occasional rolling of her eyes as she emphasized a point might be particularly appealing to teenagers. I don't have any underfoot now on which to test that theory.
To sum up, this series warrants serious consideration by specific categories of prospective users."
+205points
225out of 245found this review helpful.
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Review 3 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Mississauga, ON
A friendly, general introduction to writing
Date:October 4, 2014
"As is obvious from the very title, this course is very general. It will introduce you to the art of writing (and reading), and present to you the basics.
What I liked:
* All types/genres of writing discussed.
* The relationship between writing, reading and different types of writing explained and cleared.
* Easy and extremely interesting to follow.
* Various books discussed, and great examples.
* Teaches in great depth how to write essays.
* Lecturer shows us how she, as a university professor, grades her students.
Consider before watching
* The course has a particular focus on writing essays (arguments).
* The course organizes some important ideas, many of which you are probably already aware of.
* Little thinking is required to follow this course (the lecturer does the thinking for you).
* Quotes comprise significant portions of the transcripts of every lecture.
If you plan on watching it, do consider having access to the course guidebook, since it's frequently mentioned in the lecture.
Obviously, i LOVED the course: that's why I gave it 5 stars! The lecturer was professional and provided a well-organized and enjoyable course. You might not gain a lot of knowledge about a specific genre of writing, but I highly recommend this course to everybody: whether you're beginning to write, or have been writing for years, you will enjoy this course.
The other courses I've recommended are simply courses that are more specific about their subject. If you know about the genre of writing you're interested in learning about, TTC offers many specific Great Courses."
+4points
4out of 4found this review helpful.
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Review 4 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Course Content
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Professor Presentation
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Course Value
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Location:Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
Good but could improve
Date:August 17, 2014
"I am a new author and was looking to improve my writing style. This course makes some good points and I was excited about it but I am sorry to say lost my attention in some of the lectures. I have run into this before when very very simple material, at times, is drawn out, over intellectualized and put on a pedestal in a such a way that looses the audience, they simply disconnect. Most people connect best with pragmatic, direct to the point style of teaching. After all life happens outside of a university classroom and that is what majority of people understand and also want to read about, if you have lost their attention you have failed in bringing them into your world and point of view. On the upside I did learn certain skills I did not have before which was good but this is a course that requires your full attention so you can condense what is being said. Have to give a mixed review here."
+4points
5out of 6found this review helpful.
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Review 5 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Boston, Ma
This is one of the best courses from the TC
Date:June 7, 2014
"I speak to a wide range of audience from doctors, scientists, business people, and lay population. I found essentially lecture useful. I find myself before giving a talk reviewing about 1/3. The instructor actually teaches rather than lectures, uncommon for the teaching company."
+19points
19out of 19found this review helpful.
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Review 6 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Content
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Professor Presentation
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Save Your Money
Date:May 3, 2014
"This course was extremely boring and I agree that the professor had a bit of a condescending tone. I also found this to be below my education level-the lectures on topics I covered in 9th grade. I was looking for a course to motivate me to write more and maybe use some interaction with prompts but this made 30 minutes seem like 3 hours."
-2points
7out of 16found this review helpful.
Response from The Teaching Company:By Customer CareMay 4, 2014
I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy the course. I hope you will take advantage of our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and try another title at no additional charge. If you give us a call, our course specialists should be able to recommend something that better meets your expectations.
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Review 7 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:NY
Professor Dorsey and this great course...
Date:April 27, 2014
"Professor Dorsey Armstrong of Perdue University has a great gift. By this I mean she not only teaches by the spoken word of the lecture’s lesson, but by exemplification at a higher level of intelligence and the unspoken word to teach what she says. In this course you will not only learn by her casual and unassuming nature, but also by her example about the written, spoken and unspoken word of presentation to those you might want to influence … when opportunity knocks. So don’t even think of getting just the transcript or audio version of this course!
In a mid course chapter, for purpose of demonstration, she reads Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I’ve read it often before, and heard it reiterated even more often, including notes from a diary from one of my great, great, grand uncles who fought there on these very days, and afterwards hearing his President Lincoln speak it. But never before have my eyes shed tears than when I heard it recited by Professor Dorsey. She has so impressed me with her teaching style and presentation, that I am now enthused to embark upon taking any of her other lectures, even though they might not have been before on the top of my interest list.
John Doyle
"
+15points
18out of 21found this review helpful.
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Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Customer Avatar
majorcustomer
Boston, Ma
Top 100 Contributor
One of the Teaching Companies Best Courses
Posted June 7, 2014
This is a fantastic course. I write for medical, science, business, and lay communities. I found she made a strong point with each lecture. I find myself re-listening to about a 1/3 of the lectures when I have something important to write. Somebody who actually teaches rather than lectures from the teaching company.
+5points
5out of 5found this comment helpful.
Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Review 8 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Content
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Professor Presentation
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Location:Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Save Your Money
Date:April 22, 2014
"Painful. Prof Armstrong lacks the ability to connect with the common individual. She is extremely condescending. I had a hard time listening to all the lectures, but I paid the $50 so I felt obligated. Do yourself a favor and purchase "The Art of Reading" or "Writing Creative Nonfiction." Those two classes are well worth the money and 10 times more enjoyable than "Analysis and Critique." Also, read the review by "QuiteRational." He is spot on."
+2points
7out of 12found this review helpful.
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Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Customer Avatar
Jed3
NY
Deeper meanings and writing
Posted April 27, 2014
I have all the courses you suggested over this course, and I enjoyed them. I am a novelist who writes under a pseudonym and am interested in how writing is being taught in these changing times, different takes on literature, past and present, and the evolution of it all on the college level. I particularly liked Dorsey Armstrong's presentation of the course because, above and beyond her lecturing of the material, she exemplifies it in her subtle enthusiasm without coming across as being pretentious. This theme is a deep threaded element of the entire course that runs throughout it. I would give it a second look!
+9points
9out of 9found this comment helpful.
Comments (1)
Comments (1)
Review 9 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Groveland, FL
This course is excellent
Date:September 22, 2013
"Because today's world offers almost literally everyone the ability to write about anything, what with blogs and self-publishing being so widespread and easily available, it only makes sense to pair the ease of this with the ease of attaining proper writing skills.
This course allows all of us, not just the advanced scholars, the ability to write as though we know what we are doing.
So, thanks to courses such as this, a blue-collar guy like me can stand in comparison with anyone who enjoys wielding the written word.
"
+42points
48out of 54found this review helpful.
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Review 10 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Content
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Professor Presentation
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Course Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Location:Carefree, AZ
Where is the Analysis, the Critique?
Date:September 22, 2013
"There is an axiom that goes, “If the learner hasn’t learned, the trainer hasn’t taught.” Professor Armstrong, clearly in my mind, exemplifies the trainer who hasn’t taught. Of the more than 60 Great Course lectures I have purchased over the years, this one is by far the biggest waste of money and time. To mention that it was quite a struggle to get through the entirety of the course would be a gross understatement. The professor comes across as pedantic and condescending, like the listener must be treated as an obtuse simpleton.
The substance of the lecture appeared to be directed more at eighth or tenth grade students. Why the professor couldn’t seem to find any more modern day writers to use as examples of the points she was attempting to make was annoying. The writers she did choose were very much from another time, and in many cases, another culture. Her effort appeared to be more of a “curve-fitting” exercise wherein the material was parsed, with a sort of forced mutation, in a manner that would illustrate her theme of the moment. I might also add that the themes, or points she was attempting to convey were difficult, if not completely opaque, to discern. I found myself re-playing a number of segments in an effort to find some modicum of clarity. I really don’t know where the analysis comes to the forefront. Maybe I’m a bit of a dullard, but I found the material mostly devoid of genuine analytical investigation, with the examples selected appearing to be from a high school syllabus that was developed 40-years ago.
I came away from listening to these lectures wondering what the professor was attempting to convey. There was little real analysis and one would have to search the course with a highly active imagination to find any critique that was of any value among the professor’s examination of the example writings presented. How this course was supposed to make one a better, more “engaged” writer “on any subject” escapes me completely. Save your money for more educational and thought-provoking courses, of which there are a profusion among the Great Courses selections."
+1point
46out of 91found this review helpful.
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Review 11 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:Nashville, Tennessee
Positively Engaging and Uplifting Delivery :)
Date:August 14, 2013
"Professor Armstrong gets us enthused and anxious to start writing right away. Her delivery is an example for all of us to follow. She is not afraid of the camera and she stays the course brilliantly. Not academically overdone but focused on life's facts. Her visits with the different pearls of a literary past encourage us to explore and improve. Conclusion: we need more Armstrong!"
+28points
32out of 36found this review helpful.
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Review 12 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Course Content
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Professor Presentation
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Course Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Location:Northern, CA
The Most Difficult Review Yet
Date:August 13, 2013
"This is a very difficult review for me to write. I do not have my usual enthusiasm for this course as I have had for other courses. But I have to ask myself if that is the fault of the course or the nature of the topic.
Surely gaining understanding of some of the mysteries of quantum mechanics is more fun than watching lectures on the rudimentary aspects of writing.
A solid review of high school level fundamentals was good for my writing. From what I read in the reviews of this class, most of us could benefit from hearing the basics of writing presented by a professional.
There is the rub. The course really is a "back to basics" type of course. In order to write effectively, we need to get back to the fundamentals. Can such a flashback to 8th grade English class be that exciting?
There is no fun in fundamental! That seems to be what most reviewers are saying. That's the paradox I face writing the review. It might not be fun, but fun is there. I think some reviewers might be missing that.
I too found the lectures annoying. I thought each lecture lacked substance. I disliked the flailing gestures. That is, I initially felt those things until I thought more deeply after each lecture. Each 30 minute class has a handful of very useful take-away points. Some may not be new to you but they are important reminders. When I took the time after each lecture to think about the content, there were always points worth noting.
As for Dr. Dorsey's style, I'll probably catch it from others but her style is being crushed by the subject and the format. Here's a PhD with a specialty very distant from rudimentary writing teaching a middle school level course. Put a racehorse in a pony ride to walk in circles all day.
You can, if you give her the same latitude as you might a male professor (oh gasp!). See glimpses of humor. She's giving us the inside jokes as she grits her way through the necessary tedium.
I think she is probably a riot at a party. But in this course she's doing her best to stay in the lane designated by the material.
It's like kale. Kale is good for us. But seriously, kale? No one buys kale because they love kale. It's good for us. It's super food. Yum yum. Write a review of kale and no one would buy it.
If you want to improve your writing, buy the course. If you cannot bear going through the basics of writing, do not buy the course. If you can set aside ego and allow yourself a very basic review, buy the course. If you want deep advanced lectures on analytical writing, do not buy this course. If you are able to watch a teacher strain under the yoke of what must be pretty boring stuff for her and all the while see that glint in her eye and catch those fleeting wry smiles, buy the course. If you want a rap on the knuckles from Sister Mary of the order of Sacred Sentence Structure, do not buy the course.
Res ipsa loquitur. Kale is good for us. It's best blended well with other tasty things.
I can recommend this course to everyone who sends me email."
+114points
119out of 124found this review helpful.
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Review 13 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Course Content
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Location:Chicagoland
Well Worth It for Students
Date:August 11, 2013
"Very good for student-level writers (high school/college), this course covers fundamentals for improving multiple forms of writing in a range of contexts. I found no evidence of the condescension some reviewers have perceived. Rather, I found Dr. Armstrong's approach straightforward and down-to-earth. I do agree with those who think that the course should be titled or marketed for parents who are looking to improve a teenager or young adult's writing. Not a home-schooler myself, but I imagine it would be a great resource for that."
+23points
24out of 25found this review helpful.
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Review 14 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Course Content
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Professor Presentation
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Value
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Offensive Pompous Professor
Date:August 3, 2013
"This was my first purchase from TGC. One doesn't have to purchase 100+ lessons to understand that this professor delivers her course in a condescending manner. Her performance has nauseated me after six lessons. The title begins with analysis. I do not see much of that presented. Everybody will realize by the time you get to where she professes her "Know Your Reader" lesson that she has no idea who her audience is, thus relieving herself of all credibility. Her micro expressions and bodily gestures distract from the message. I recommend that TGC adds content to support the title or the opposite, and find a new professor who has mastered self-control and word selection."
-15points
10out of 35found this review helpful.
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Review 15 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Content
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Professor Presentation
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Location:Pittsburgh, PA
Definitely not the best
Date:July 19, 2013
"I found this course pretty hard to get through, but not because it was challenging. A lot of the other reviews state that it's a little too sophomoric and I wish that I'd have listened to them. The material is rather basic and reminded more of my 10th grade English class than any college course I've taken. I've found myself really liking the presentation style of a lot of the lecturers in these courses, but the person delivering this course comes across as condescending and self-centered. I'd recommend that anybody interested in improving their writing skills look somewhere else, unless you want to hear over and over (and over) again how excellent "A Modest Proposal" is."
-3points
10out of 23found this review helpful.
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Review 16 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Location:St Paul,MN
For me it was a solid 5
Date:June 5, 2013
"I am just an old retired guy who worked in
the trades all his life. My life was filled with wood and steel. It was so wonderful to open up my mind to writing and literature.
I enjoyed this course. I found Dr Armstrong's lectures easy to listen to and follow along.
She has inspired me to read more and to choose my words carefully. I loved her last line in the last lecture. ' Take in as many words as you can , but give some back'
Thank you for a very enjoyable time.
"
+46points
46out of 46found this review helpful.
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Review 17 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Content
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Location:Taunton, MA
Overcame my block!
Date:May 25, 2013
"I was in the middle of writing my first novel when I took this course. The first chapters were stumping me and Professor Armstrong's lectures helped me step back and reevaluate how I want to set the book's tone. She inspired me to read other works with more insight, so I did. I took a break from my own writing to simply become a better writer. I did the exercises in the book and simply reveled in the process of writing. Well, I got the beginning written and am started on novel #2. I go back and listen to the lectures from time to time just to refresh myself.
I recommend this course to anyone looking to be a better writer and reader."
+37points
37out of 37found this review helpful.
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Review 18 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Content
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Professor Presentation
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Course Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Location:Vancouver
A Hodge-podge of examples of bad writing
Date:April 8, 2013
"Despite coming across as patronizing, Dorsey is an ok lecturer. However, the content seems like it was chosen at random, like Dorsey just ruffled through a bunch of her notes from the past couple of years as a prof, and "organized" it into a lecture. I'd skip this course, unless you want to watch Dorsey suck up to her dean, delve into irrelevant mediaeval minutiae, and chide you on high school level grammar mistakes."
-12points
16out of 44found this review helpful.
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Review 19 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Content
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Professor Presentation
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Course Value
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Location:NY
Another Bad fluffy course
Date:January 4, 2013
"Do not buy this course. Save your money and buy 'Art of reading' course instead."
-34points
12out of 58found this review helpful.
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Review 20 for Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
Overall Rating
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Course Content
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Professor Presentation
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Course Value
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Location:Reno, NV and Palm Desert, CA
Basic for Seasoned Writers
Date:December 30, 2012
"Dr. Armstrong has engaging presentation skills. I usually listen to each lecture at least twice since I listen while exercising and often miss key points, but many of these lectures only required one session.
My hesitation to give it a better review arises from my perception that, for a seasoned writer the information was very basic. Several lectures were useful to me as a poet/fiction writer, but quite often I felt as though the professor was addressing college students, rather than adults who, I presume, compose the bulk of the teaching company audience.
I would recommend this course to college level student for help in preparation of assigned papers/theses."
+32points
37out of 42found this review helpful.
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