Review Comment

[PSYC W2450] Behavioral Neuroscience

May 18, 2014

Taylor, Kathleen
[PSYC W2450] Behavioral Neuroscience

I am the Aplysia sea slug. Professor Kathleen Taylor is the squirt of water that makes my gill withdraw. In other words, you might not want to take this class, or any for that matter, with Professor Taylor. Here's why:

1. She is not a good lecturer -- Taylor makes rather slapdash, arbitrary powerpoints and unenthusiastically slogs through them in class. You get the feeling that she made them years ago and quickly scrolls through them the night before the lecture to refresh herself. This makes for boring and uninspired lectures.

2. She is not well organized -- Unlike some professors who graciously post their powerpoints before class, allowing students to take notes right on it, Taylor often didn't upload hers until weeks after the lecture. She's also not so great about the weekly quizzes students are required to take. A couple times this semester she sent emails explaining that she had goofed on making the quiz and that now the deadline has been changed, or that we don't have to take one this week, blah blah. No one's perfect and these things aren't really a big deal, but it is a bit frustrating/distracting when the course is so inconsistent.

3. She doesn't really care -- Well, this explains it all. Taylor is not very invested in her courses or students. As a result, her powerpoints, course, tests are poorly designed; talking to her after class or going to her office hours (if she hasn't canceled them) is an uncomfortable experience; she doesn't try to find the answer to a student's question if she doesn't know it at first (she'll just say "as far as I'm aware…" or outright "I don't know" and leave it at that); et cetera.

Having said all that, this class is not very difficult. If you keep up on the weekly quizzes, do the writing assignment systematically and on time, and actually learn the material (rather than learning Taylor's powerpoints) you will do fine. So, if you are the type of person who intrinsically enjoys the subject matter, and who is able to not let all of the above crumminess affect you, then you should maybe just go ahead and take this class and get the credit. BUT, if you're the type of person for whom it is difficult to keep separate a very cool subject and its totally meh and annoying professor, maybe don't take this class. Your interest in the class will likely wane as your frustration with Taylor grows, and it will probably be difficult to do well.

Overall, this course with Taylor kinda stinks. Also, the below review is accurate, I would say.

Workload:

10-questions-in-10-minutes weekly quizzes on CourseWorks that are easy to forget about. 3 midterms & 1 final, the lowest of which is dropped. Straightforward writing assignment. The final is multiple choice and significantly easier than the midterms.

May 09, 2014

Taylor, Kathleen
[PSYC W2450] Behavioral Neuroscience

So I just finished taking Taylor's course in Behavioral Neuroscience and I am extremely disappointed. Having taken Science of Psych and Bio (kind of unusual, I know), there wasn't much new material and she tried really hard to be funny when explaining the material and it just wasn't.

Don't bother purchasing the ridiculously priced book because it added nothing new and you won't open it. I actually tried reading it for the first test but realized that even though she threatens everything in the text will be covered, nothing except her class lecture info is on the exams.

Also, she's extremely difficult to get in touch with. She tells you to email her about any quiz concerns but never responds. I even asked her in class and she told me she'd get to my email but didn't until I prompted her again during reading week, almost a month later. Also one of the TAs messed up slightly on the exam grading and didn't give full points back until I persisted about it for a while which was frustrating because it wasn't any student's fault.

Finally, to clear up any misconceptions that we commonly have with all these types of poor reviews on CULPA, I'm not complaining because I did poorly in the class--it's not too difficult to get an A, but honestly this class is so frustrating and probably boring at best. Not sure what her Science of Psych course is like, but if her attitude/teaching style is the same as for this course, I'd recommend Lindemann a thousand times over her.

Workload:

Three tests plus final, final is optional if you don't skip any of the first three tests. Weekly 10 minute quizzes on courseworks (sometimes they're tough, sometimes they're not). Research review paper (1000 words).

May 09, 2013

Taylor, Kathleen
[PSYC W2450] Behavioral Neuroscience

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

A class like behavioral neuroscience is difficult because it straddles the narrow line between intro courses (Mind, Brain and Behavior or Science of Psych) and the year-long neuroscience sequence. Professor Taylor has little to add. The function of the course is dubious - how does this course differ than the others offered?

Unfortunately Professor Taylor relies on trite explanations and only requires memorization out of her students. The class doesn't require any thought - just a humongous number of flashcards. I for one am not sure that is the purpose of a college education.

Moreover Professor Taylor is downright rude to students. When I requested an accommodation for the final exam (it would fall during a Jewish holiday) during the first week of the semester as the registrar required Prof. Taylor was just upset that she would have to construct an additional exam. Rather than being understanding she failed to live up to the university standard despite being prodded for months. Only when I had an administrator reach out to the registrar directly was there any response. While I understand the inconvenience in having to accommodate an exception in a large lecture class, Prof. Taylor was incredibly disagreeable to work with.

Workload:

Weekly quizzes online. Three exams and an optional final. You are required to take all the exams, if you are satisfied with your grades you are not required to take the final. If you take the final, the lowest of your four grades will be dropped. There is also a short written assignment (around two pages).

As mentioned above I do not believe in the value of examinations that solely require rote memorization. There was little to no intellectual stimulation in the class.

The writing assignment (translating a journal article into a popular piece) was more stimulating - but as Professor Taylor herself put it - not a big deal. It was very much a late high school assignment.

January 12, 2012

Taylor, Kathleen
[PSYC W2450] Behavioral Neuroscience

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I took Behavioral Neuroscience with Professor Taylor last spring and absolutely LOVED the course! As a neuroscience major and someone who had only taken Science of Psych at the time and is currently taking Neurobio, I think Taylor's course was the BEST intermediate psych elective to bridge the difference between pure psychology and higher level biology course.

It was much more detailed than descriptive psychology concepts I learned from intro courses. This is where I got my first taste of GPCR's, cAMP and IP3 pathways. Futhermore, I got in depth explanation about different neurotransmitters and how they are imitated or hindered by drug use. But no need to get intimidated if this doesn't sound familiar because the nitty-gritty detailed stuff was never really tested. I often studied with non-science majors who found Taylor's lectures and the textbook to be equally as fascinating and performed really well on exams too. Like people have mentioned in other reviews, Taylor's exams are VERY straight-forward. Just attend lecture because she drops major hints about questions that she will ask. Graders are very lenient on partial credit too.

About Professor Taylor overall, she is very organized, straightforward, and the best dry humor. Her sarcasm may not be everyone's stlye, but she lectures in such an interesting and anecdotal way so that it's memorable! She's also very good about performing in-class demonstrations, showing videos clips, and is even offering students the opportunity to dissect a real sheep's brain!! What more could you ask for?

Workload:

3 exams + 1 final all worth the same points, with one section that can be dropped. Should attend lecture for test hints and in-class demonstrations. Textbook reading should be supplementary, but sometimes necessary to reinforce lectures.

September 05, 2011

Taylor, Kathleen
[PSYC W2450] Behavioral Neuroscience

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I despised Professor Taylor and this class. I got an A+ by scoring 95+ on all 3 midterms and didn't have to take the final, so don't even think of dismissing this review as a bitter reaction to a blow to my GPA.

If you are serious about neuroscience and have done well in Science of Psych and any course that covers the basics of the nervous system, I expect you will be as pissed off as I was to be wasting your time reviewing things you learned well enough in previous classes, but this time less clearly and buried in the middle of unbearable lectures that reliably start 10 minutes late and contain more tangential personal anecdote stories, common sense statements, and circumlocutions (she starts almost every sentence with the phrase "There's this idea that"...) than actual course content.

As previous reviewers have stated, Taylor feeds you the exam material with a spoon. She makes it obvious what topics she wants you to be able to regurgitate and if you do just that, you will have no problem with the exams. This may seem like a plus, unless you actually expect to be challenged and to learn concepts with the degree of rigor that will serve you in higher-level courses and/or graduate school.

The textbook used in Spring '11 (Kolb and Whishaw, An Introduction to Brain and Behavior) was completely inane. This was the first time this text was used and Taylor admitted that it wasn't as rigorous as she liked, but thought it was better than the previously used book, which was much heavier on detail. Pretty sure I would have much preferred the previous book. I hope she finds a better alternative for next spring.

If you are able to take an alternative course to fulfill a Psych/Neuro requirement, I seriously encourage you to at least shop that other class in case you find Taylor as infuriating as I did.

Workload:

3 midterms, 1 final. Only 3 exams count toward your grade, so if you are satisfied with your cumulative midterm score, you don't have to take the final (highly recommended - this way you can use reading week/etc to study for other classes you might actually find valuable). One written assignment where you have to write about a scientific journal article in layman's terms as if for a newspaper/magazine - not much work, but doesn't help you learn much either. One or two chapters to read a week; not too time-consuming.

May 14, 2011

Taylor, Kathleen
[PSYC W2450] Behavioral Neuroscience

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I loved this class. Behavioral Neuroscience is Prof Taylor's area and she is able to incorporate her own research and other research she encounters in her field into the course. I enjoyed going to lecture, even though the course was at the ungodly time of 9:15 AM. Where this course runs into problems is in the tests. The tests are almost completely free recall: fill in the blank, essay, diagrams, etc, though there is some matching. The tests are therefore much more difficult than say the Sci of Psy tests were. This is not a problem. It's a higher level class, the tests should be harder. Unfortunately, it was difficult to know what to study for the tests. Eventually I figured out that her tests were almost exclusively based on the study questions posted at the end of lecture. The $100 textbook was basically completely useless, but Prof Taylor still pretended like it wasn't.

If you want to see if Neuroscience is for you, this is a good course to take. I loved the course content, but was disappointed with the tests and my final grade. Just be careful not to make the same mistake I did and study from the textbook.

Workload:

Not too bad. Do the study questions from each lecture and then study the responses. Prof Taylor makes study guides for the textbook which I suppose could be useful. There is a writing assignment which is annoying but not hard and only worth 5% of the final grade. Your highest test grade is worth 35% and the other two are worth 30%. There is an optional multiple choice final which you can take to replace a midterm grade. It was much easier than the midterms.

November 17, 2010

Taylor, Kathleen
[PSYC W2450] Behavioral Neuroscience

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Taylor is one of the best teachers I have had at Columbia. I haven taken Behavioral Neuroscience and Science of Psych with her, and am so upset that I won't be able to take another course with her my senior year. She is one of the few teachers I've had who genuinely wants her students to succeed in her course. She does everything she possibly can to help you do well- including exam questions STRAIGHT from the study guides. She has an unbelievable ability to connect topics in class, and brings in great video examples to help you realize the practical application of what is being taught. This course is definitely not easy, but if you have taken an intro psych course at Columbia you should be fine- as long as you attend lectures and use the textbook to help fill-out info on the study guides you may have missed in class.

Workload:

Two midterms and a non-cumulative final. One paper. She says in the beginning of the year that the first and second midterms will be 30% each, the final 35%, and the paper 5%- but she ended up weighing them so that your lowest exam grade was 20%, middle exam grade was 30%, and highest exam grade 45% (the paper stayed at 5%). She did this so that your best exam counted the most towards your final grade- regardless of which exam it was.

May 13, 2010

Taylor, Kathleen
[PSYC W2450] Behavioral Neuroscience

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Reading these negative reviews surprised me immensely, but perhaps professor Taylor was not as accomplished in Science of Psych as in Behavioral Neuroscience.

I found her excellent. Truly one of the best teachers I've had at Columbia so far. She came to class prepared and lectured without hesitation. She was able to pass on extremely complex information in a way that could be grasped by those who have yet to take chemistry and biology. Her exams are based on material from lecture which sometimes strays from the text, so if you don't go to class, you will have trouble. The material is difficult, so this isn't an easy science requirement filler, but the information is fascinating. She is also always available for questions if you are confused by anything and clearly enjoys teaching. The only area I would consider her a bit unorganized is in grading... it sometimes takes her awhile to return papers and post to courseworks... but that said, I highly recommend her class if you are interested in neuroscience. This is her specific field of expertise and she will open it up to you in a fun and thoroughly engaging way.

Workload:

2 midterms (30%) 1 final (35%) 1 4-page paper (5%) Go to class.

August 30, 2008

Romeo, Russell Silver_nugget
[PSYC W2450] Behavioral Neuroscience

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Romeo is awesome. He quite possibly knows everything about everything. Ok not really but people asked some pretty specific questions in class and he almost always knew the answer. Wasn't BS'ing his way through it either.

Very approachable and yes, there's a lot of information, but take some time with it and you'll be fine! There were some questions on the textbook readings. I thought the reading added some good depth, but I can see how it would be overwhelming for a non-science person. If you don't read the textbook you aren't screwed. But do know everything in the lecture notes. And don't worry he goes at a good pace.

Workload:

Good amount of reading which you can save until the week before the exam if you would like. Tests were fair. Approachable through office hours and after class.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
PSYC / PSYC PSYC PSYC W2450: Behavioral Neuroscience Kathleen Taylor 2012 Spring MW / 9:10-10:25 AM 1
PSYC / PSYC PSYC PSYC W2450: Behavioral Neuroscience Kathleen Taylor 2011 Spring MW / 9:10-10:25 AM 1
PSYC / PSYC PSYC PSYC W2450: Behavioral Neuroscience Kathleen Taylor 2010 Spring MW / 9:10-10:25 AM 1