February 01, 2006

Galanter, Eugene
[PSYC W1001] Science of Psychology

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

To start with the most important thing, I am glad that I took Science of Psychology with Galanter. That said, I don't think he's for everyone. Some of the lectures were quite vague and difficult to understand. He went off on tangents and told bizarre stories. The TA's during the review sessions (which were held during normal lecture time the class before the test) were far better at lucidly explaining the material. The readings (Galanter's own books) were... a little hard to get through, but provided some entertaining writing and good information. The worst part about the readings was that they came on CD, and there were very few pictures and diagrams (I sound like a kindergartener), and I think for a course like psychology that could've been helpful. That's the thing, the class didn't really feel like a science class. That may be because I had the wrong impression of what psychology is going into it, but needless to say it didn't feel too scientific. I came away with a decent grasp of what psychology is, but my favorite part of the course was just hearing Galanter's rants. He is clearly a brilliant man, and he's been around. He received his PhD from Penn in the 50's if I remember correctly and has worked with some of the brightest psychologists of all time. He himself was quite a scholar in his day. So, spending some time in his world was fun. The grading was based on three heavily curved multiple choice exams with the gimmick that you choose the three wrong answers instead of the one right one in order to receive points, to discourage guessing. Did I mention they are open note? I missed a lecture or two, took decent but not fantastic notes, and copied the relevant material from the readings (which we were allowed to do) the night before and cruised to an A+ in the class. I'm not sure if the people in the class were that dumb and/or were thrown off by the "select the wrong answers" instruction, or maybe I'm just that smart, who knows, but I thought it was an easy class. Your mileage may vary. In summary, I'm not sure if I learned as much psych as I could've from another teacher, but I think the unique experience of hearing Galanter ramble combined with the ease of the course made it a good choice.

Workload:

Some reading that is completely unnecessary to do until the night before the test. Three tests evenly dispersed throughout the semester are the only factors in grading, and they are open note. There is no "final," the test is on the last day of class, which is an added bonus.