Review Comment

[PSYC BC3390] Canine Cognition

May 13, 2011

Horowitz, Alexandra Silver_nugget
[PSYC BC3390] Canine Cognition

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

Alexandra Horowitz is not only brilliant as a teacher but also skilled in explaining every complex, enigmatic concept arisen in discussions. Her interest and avidity for the subject is conveyed in her lectures and reading list, never once inspiring a state of boredom in her class. I would highly recommend taking this course.
It's refreshing to enter a psyche class in which a textbook isn't heavily relied on, and the fact that the sole material for this class is journal articles not only serves to give students a full understanding of how the field works, but excellent practice for further psychology class reading and writings. As I mentioned before almost every reading was highly absorbing and so engrossing that it went by faster than you would expect.
Discussions were always great because this class, due to its specificity, is comprised of students interested in the subject of animal behavioral science, so there never was a time where Professor Horowitz had to continue rambling to fill the time. Class presentations were also fascinating, something that isn't true for a lot of courses.
However, the greatest part about this course is that the field of canine cognition is one that is constantly expanding. Every class there was a new current article to talk about or a video to watch.
Some final perks: this course only meets once a week which ensures that there really isn't class time wasted. Professor Horowitz also will let class out early usually, sometimes even 45 minutes early, instead of holding us for the sake of running the class for the full time. She also is an extremely fair grader, and if you put a lot of time and thought into your work she will reward you for your effort.

Workload:

The workload for this class is moderate. About five journal articles a week (skipping one isn't a huge deal for discussion), a weekly email of two questions from the readings to be sent to her on sunday nights, one half hour to an hour class presentation on a journal article assigned for that week and a journal of your choosing with a typed handout about both, one final paper 15-20 pages in form of an experiment proposal.

May 02, 2011

Horowitz, Alexandra Silver_nugget
[PSYC BC3390] Canine Cognition

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

Why this woman is not a gold star yet, I don't know, but this was one of my favorite classes of my Columbia career so far.

Perhaps it was related to finally having an outlet for my self-proclaimed mild obsession with dogs, but even for the less obsessed of us out there, it was undoubtedly a valuable experience. Despite the very real danger inherent in such a small seminar filled mostly with dog-people, this was in no way a pop-psychology, "Let's tell cute animal stories" type of class, but rather a fascinating, academic investigation of canine behavior, domestication and cognition against a background of classic experimental psychology. We read not only dog studies, but related human, primate, and wolf studies along some evolutionary biology material during the portion of the class that looked at canine domestication and heritage.

Except for one or two papers that I found too philosophical and somewhat irrelevant, her choice of literature was excellent. Her lectures are interesting and paced quite well. I've had some seminar classes in the past that were too heavily lecture and often dry or too heavily discussion and thus unguided and not as useful, but Professor Horowitz strikes the elusive right balance. She also (at least seems to) actually seriously and thoughtfully consider students' comments and opinions without resorting to the somewhat coddling and mindless approval that some professors unfortunately get caught up in when trying too hard to be nice. From what I can tell, she is quite funny and personable, and her passion for the topic is clearly both immense and genuine. She is incredibly knowledgeable in the field- having published a lot on this topic and running a dog behavior laboratory, so if you want to learn this kind of thing, she is definitely the person to take it with.

Workload:

weekly questions based on the readings, final paper, journal club type presentation

April 09, 2011

Horowitz, Alexandra Silver_nugget
[PSYC BC3390] Canine Cognition

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

Every dog lover should take this class. While Dr. Horowitz normally teaches intro psych and animal behavior, canine behavior is her true area of expertise and her research interest. She runs a lab that studies canine play behavior and has written a best-seller on the mind of a dog. The participation-heavy seminar involves reading 3 or 4 journal articles a week and then discussing them in class. The topics include, among other things, theories of domestication and canine evolution, comparative cognition between primates and canines, canine sensory capabilities, and human-animal interaction. She's very knowledgeable, funny, and personable. Everyone gets plenty of chances to speak and she's always receptive and interested in everyone's ideas.

Workload:

Moderate but enjoyable reading, 2 weekly questions/comments on reading, 1 informal presentation on a paper, 15-20 page final paper on proposed original research.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
PSYB / PSYC PSYB PSYC BC3390: Canine Cognition Alexandra Horowitz 2012 Fall M / 2:10- 4:00 PM 1
PSYB / PSYC PSYB PSYC BC3390: Canine Cognition Alexandra Horowitz 2011 Spring W / 2:10- 4:00 PM 1