Animal Behavior

Mar 2014

Don't take this class, I did because it sounded really interesting, but for me it was a really bad experience. the review below this one is from our TA, not a student. She doesn't care and won't help you if you're struggling. I was mislead by older reviews, no reason to take this, do another 2000 level psych class and don't waste your valuable time. When it comes to these reviews pay attention to the agree/disagree, I didn't and had a bad experience because of it.

Jun 2013

I really enjoyed this class but was quite annoyed at the other students in the class. Sarah was painfully patient answering irrelevant questions and listening to personal stories that students felt to share with the entire class in order to get recognition or just hear themselves talk. There seems to be some complaining from people that they couldn’t copy the notes down fast enough but she didn’t leave a ton of information off from the sides on CourseWorks - maybe she has changed it up a bit, but the slides weren’t mostly blank for us. Most definitions were missing but the words to define were there so you could Google it later if you missed something. Go to class, take down the missing notes, memorize the definitions of the terms she spoon feeds you with on the “exam final review,” and read her summaries on the slides about the papers. Do this and then be able to apply some of the concepts to parallel examples and you are good to go. I’m a neuro major so maybe I had more background on some of the concepts than others in the class and thought this would be a fun class for the psych requirement – I don’t know why people were say the class was hard. The majority of topics were covered in intro classes if you put a decent amount of work into the class you can get an A. Sarah is a entertaining lecturer and seems super cool. She is not out to fail you- she wants everyone to do well but she doesn’t want you to just completely regurgitate information back at her on the exams.

May 2013

I really hate writing negative reviews, but I feel obligated to my fellow students to share my experience with the class and professor so that they can made wise decisions when registering. I found the text and a few of the papers to be interesting, and Professor Woolley does seem funny and is excited about the material but overall I would not recommend this class or this professor to another student. The Lecture slides are posted but the important parts are left blank on the slides posted to Courseworks. If she was mad that students didn't show up to lecture, why not just take attendance? It's a horrible tactic because instead of trying to understand the material or enjoying the professor's lecture, everyone is scrambling at break-neck speed to copy the points in red on the slide. She rushes through complicated material and concepts (like Hamilton's Law) without taking the time to help you understand the material. Each lecture is a disorganized knowledge dump and many of the concepts presented are controversial and abstract. We were lucky enough to have a great TA who would take time out to help us with the material, but don't make the mistake of thinking this professor cares if you understand or wants you to succeed in this class.

Feb 2009

Best course ever! The material was very interesting, and Professor Woolley is very approachable. I love the fact that she is very goal-oriented and is a great person to talk to. This will always be my favorite class at Columbia and I suggest anyone interested in animals to take this course. I am sure this is a great way to fulfill the science requirement, and by far the most interesting class I have taken.

Jan 2009

I've taken both Animal Behavior and Auditory Perception with Professor Woolley. She is without a doubt the best, funniest and most interesting Prof I've had at Columbia. If you don't like science and reading about fun science facts you won't like this class, but if you like weird stories and making animal noises then you'll absolutely love it. Studying for the tests did not feel like studying at all, it was like reading a book you'd actually want to read in your free time. Don't be fooled by this- both of her courses were among the hardest I have taken. Auditory perception, in particular, terrified our entire class until we got the midterm back. I hardly understood anything and studied 24/7 for a few weeks for the midterm. But hard work actually pays off in this class and you'll learn a lot, if you are willing to put in the hours. I feel like I actually can converse about electrophysiology now. Everyone, even the students in my class that didn't like the material and were doing badly, loved Prof Woolley speak. She is HILARIOUS and I totally disagree with the previous posts that she puts no effort into being a professor- the fact that she puts up versions of her slides without notes actually must take a lot of extra work, she has to make two copies of everything and she does it for the benefit of her students who SHOULD come to lecture. Professor Wooley is intelligent, sophisticated, composed, and no-nonsense- exactly what any scientist or non-scientist should aspire to be! Lazy people shouldn't take her classes because she is full of energy- every class meeting IS like a marathon, but in a really, really good way. You'll leave exhilarated, smarter and motivated to be just like her!

Jun 2008

I loved this class. Professor Woolley is extremely friendly and personable, as well as being ridiculously knowledgeable in the fields of psychology and biology. The class focuses on some nitty-gritty details of the behavior of somewhat dull animals, like insects, but I found it fascinating. The class is mainly a study of the evolutionary history of behavior. The one complaint I would have is that her use of slides during lecture often slows down the pace and takes ages to write down. The first exam was graded harshly (with an actual average of a C/C-). People were outraged about this, but the averages went up as the course went on. Be prepared to study a lot for the exams, which are open-ended.

Apr 2008

This may be a recent teacher tactic, but Woolley leaves her slides mostly blank, for you to attend lecture and write the answers in. I understand why the professor wants us to write so many notes, but I disagree with this method. If we don't have the internal motivation to learn the material, forcing us to write it will be painful. She wanted us to understand the concepts and then take abridged notes on this. But what if you're still trying to understand the concept, and then she changes the slide? You miss the concept, plus have no notes, plus miss the next concept and notes. Woolley is very mentally quick and focused, but for me, class is regularly a marathon race. I don't mind a marathon class, but I would like to have some notes to take home so that I can in my own time take the time to understand the concepts.

Apr 2008

DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS FOR ANY REASON (unless you are a wild animal, been raised by wild animals, or plan on becoming a wild animal!!! This differs from the last review because Woolley was upset that her previous semesters nobody came to class. Therefore she posts minimal information on the slides and you are expected to take the (large amount) of supplemental information on the slides. Then she goes too fast to let you copy the notes and is convinced that it should not take as long because you can paraphrase the notes (she thinks). I don't know if she knows this but is hard to paraphrase scientific terms. And if she says copy the main idea, she tests you on the details. Furthermore, the tests are terribly worded and therefore many, many, many points are taken off because you did not write something that she did not actually ask for. And if you write her an email or go talk to her in any way, she dismisses you as being stupid or unreasonable, without even listening to your misunderstanding or clarification. It is a shame she puts no effort into being a professor because the material is somewhat interesting. However, every day I left class frustrated that I could not get all the notes and that she did not listen to any needs of her students. For a professor of a class not to be there for her students is despicable and she is by far the worst and most careless teacher I have had at Columbia so far.

Apr 2008

Summary of review: -Positives: Interesting Material, Slides and Lecture are great -Negatives: Prof. doesn't post all the info on the slides, test questions are sometimes unclear -Advice: 1. I would suggest that the whole class convince her to put the information on the slides. I think that if the majority of students said that they would not skip class that she would agree to post more of the information. I also really hope that she reads this review. 2. Concentrate on the slides and especially on the central concepts. Memorize at least one example, usually provided on the slides, of each term. 3. Study with other people-always makes things easier for me. Material: The animal behavior material is very interesting. 1. You learn about evolution, the relationship between instinct and learning, the effect of development on and the neural control of behavior, and also animal communication, reproduction, parental care, and social behavior. 2. You pick up many interesting facts about animals such as: how orb weaver spiders kill themselves after mating, or some moths have evolved ears to be able to either ward off or detect the ultrasounds of bat's echolocation. 3. You get to the see the scientific method at work. It's amazing some of the experiments that scientists have come up with in order to learn more about animal behavior and its causes. Slides: Professor Wooley's slides are great: that is if you can get a copy with all the notes already written in. When I took the class, she took a lot of the material out of the slides to convince people to go to class. This made most of class a frantic struggle to copy down the information on the slides. It would be much better if she continued to give the students the completed slides. Professors concerned about some people not coming to class should not take it out all the students by hurting their learning process. Lectures: Prof. Woolley is clear when she lectures-if you aren't putting all your attention on copying down the slides. Review Session: The review sheet she gives us is great. It has all the things that you definitely need to know. Usually the review session isn't very useful, but that's because most of the students don't ask any questions. Tests: The tests are not really that hard if you've studied the slides and at least skimmed the reading, but admittedly, though she probably won't admit it, sometimes the questions are a little unclear.

May 2006

I loved this class -- took it as a science requirement and it made me want to be a psychology major. Woolley is a fabulous prof., she is very clear and thorough in her explanations of all of the topics, and has remarkably organized powerpoints that she posts online in case you can't make a class. These slides are so good that you hardly have to take notes in class, although I don't recommend skipping class all the time because class is actually pretty enjoyable. I actually looked forward to going to this class and was upset when I couldn't go -- which I know is a little weird. The material of the class is fascinating, and Woolley loves to show the humor of animal behavior. She often makes bird sounds and other miscellaneous explicatory gestures that are really funny. Plus, her exams are generally very fair -- she has a "review session" the class before each exam where she has slides with every term you'll need to know in order to succeed on the test. This makes it really easy to study and prep. All in all, this is a great class, and I highly recommend this and any class that Woolley might teach in the future!

Jan 2005

AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL!!! That is the only way that I can describe this professor. John Glendinning was unhelpful in every way--from not answering questions, to giving exams that were not based on the material covered in class...This class requires the ability "to get inside his head," as another reviewer wrote. In my opinion he is unbelieveably arrogant, and NEVER WRONG--even when he is. AVOID THIS CLASS LIKE THE PLAGUE!

Jan 2005

Worst professor I've had during my 3 years here. He thinks he's so smart, but he really knows nothing besides what he's put on his slides and reads off of during class. Don't take this class if you don't need to. The class looks like its easy, but since the tests are completely unpredictable and not based on the material you really have no idea what to expect. I wish there was a way to have this man stop teaching. It really is a crime. A waste of my time and money. I really can't explain how much I really hate this guy. HORRIBLE CLASS. STAY AWAY.

Dec 2004

If you are not a Neuroscience and Behavior Major with a "Behavior" concentration, do NOT under any circumstances take this class! While the title may sound innocuous, and Prof. Glendinning may come off as a nice sweet man at first, don't be fooled. He is incompetent, arrogant, and gives exams that are ambiguous and not based on the material presented in his boring powerpoint slides. Clearly the man is teaching in order to get the funds necessary to further his research. He has no concept of how to answer a question...(note: his answer to a simple "yes" or "no" question may take 20 minutes, and it still won't be answered). He will never admit that he made a mistake and speaks in circles, completely wasting your time. Like another reviewer said, the subject matter is interesting, and I found the textbook to be very informative. Unfortunately, we never use the text...This was such a frustrating class because the material is not inherently difficult, but Prof. Glendinning's exams are not based on the material, and he will always have a reason for why you are wrong and he is right--even when your answers match the answer key's, as did mine.... I will never take another class with this teacher (I use the term loosely), and I strongly advise all neuroscience majors to do the cellular concentration to avoid living in Glendinning's hell-world for a semester. The man is a disgrace of a professor! Good luck to any of you that must take it.

Dec 2004

While the material of this course could sometimes be interesting, Glendinning's dry power point lectures only sapped all the life out of this class. He simply reads from his slides and although having most of the information already on the slides is helpful when studying for the tests, it makes for very boring lectures. Glendinning is unknowledgeable and unable to admit when he does not know the answer to a question, which hapens often. He will simply talk in circles until the student gives up asking. He comes off as nice for the first few classes, but his arrogance is soon apparent. Do not take this course unless you must.

Dec 2004

This is the worst professor I have had so far at this school. While he seems to be a kind, mild-mannered man, he is a miserable teacher and seems to be uninterested in helping students learn if they don't think exactly like him. He's often just flat out wrong and will never, ever admit it. It really was annoying when the whole class agreed that his answer to one of our test questions was obviously incorrect (the material isn't difficult) and he basically told us all that we were just missing the point because how could he be incorrect? In my opinion, hr is an arrogant man, who is not even very smart; I wonder how he was even hired in the first place. The book is very interesting and I have a greater respect for animals now, however, I recommend that you buy the book and read it on your own rather than take the class. I refuse to ever take another class with this man.

Nov 2004

John Glendinning has debilatating issues. His exams are totally ambiguous. You'll do well as long as you can read his mind. Any misinterpretation of exam questions basically ends in the student being inarguably wrong and stupid for not thinking in Glendinnian twilight zone. I honestly don't know how he even got a job teaching. He is probably the worst professor I have had in my years at Columbia (next to Prof. Fine - Chemistry). Why he has not been fired encourages me to suspect a family donation of a ridiculous amount of cash. He certainly was not hired for his communicative skills nor his ability to consider view points other than his own.

Feb 2004

While he is a generally nice guy, Glendinning really doesn't know his stuff. Anything that is not directly regurgitated from the textbook (as are 90% of his lectures, which are all powerpoint based) could be blatantly wrong. I caught rather blaring mistakes a couple of times and who knows how many he really made in class. Occasionally he caught himself and corrected mistakes, or at least stood at the board and tried to figure things out for 10 minutes (wasting everyone's time), but often they went unmentioned/unnoticed. While easily accessible outside of class, it's often clear that he either doesn't understand or doesn't know the answer to questions and talks in circles with his answers. It's a shame there isn't a better professor to teach this class, because the subject material really is fascinating.

May 2003

Professor Glendinning is a nice person, but his lectures can often be quite dull. He has all of his lectures on powerpoint, which makes it nice in the sense that you can access them online if you miss a day. However, don't be fooled into thinking that you no longer have to take notes, because most of the questions on his exams that are relevant to the class (which are not many) come straight from the lecture. The book is basically pointless, and other than giving the class a slight structure, is not helpful for the exams. By the end of the semester, I was mainly focusing on the notes. The exams are tough because they are not based on anything you've learned, so there is almost no point to studying for them. I myself did not study much for them but I was able to do well, because it has to do more so with your ability to apply concepts to new experiments or problems he puts on the exam rather than your understanding of specific things from the lecture or books. He is anal about grading (not a lot of partial credit), however, the class is not tough, and I recommend it for the interesting subject matter. However, the group project is really annoying and it's tough to schedule meeting times with other people, as is the end of the semester research project that comes at the worst possible time (close to finals).