December 21, 2011

Balsam, Peter
[PSYC BC1105] Psychology of Learning (w/ or w/o lab)

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

Peter Balsam is the worst professor I've had, possibly in my entire time at Columbia/Barnard. He is confusing and difficult to hear. He tries to connect to his students, but he has no idea how to do so, and he is completely deluded about the difficulty and content of his class.

None of the material is actually very difficult, but he just gives the same slides over and over again and doesn't actually explain them in a different way each time, which would have been a way to take advantage of that kind of teaching strategy. He claims his tests do not have any material from the book, but he lies. He tries to explain math on the bored, but it just makes it more confusing, and then he doesn't understand why anyone wouldn't have gotten it on a test.

I personally get especially frustrated when professors who teach about LEARNING can't teach in a way that facilitates LEARNING. The class is really about animal behavior, not actually about the concept of learning.

Balsam is standoffish and unfriendly. He lectures very poorly, cannot be easily understood, and has no variety in his slides. He is old and doesn't understand how to use youtube, yet he insists on trying to show videos in class. He makes simple content seem confusing and does not prepare you for his tests.

DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. It is a horrible class. Literally nobody I talked to in it enjoyed even a fraction of it. Stay away from him if at all possible.


Only the two midterms and the final, each worth 1/3 of your grade if you have no lab. If you have lab, lab is 1/3, and the three tests together make up the other 2/3. Reading is not necessary until right before the tests. Don't go to class, it just makes it more confusing.