Statistics for Behavioral Scientists

Dec 2016

Incredibly easy class (no exams), and he's an amazing lecturer. His lectures are quirky and captivating (even though stats can be dull). I learned a ton. Also, he records the lectures and posts them on Courseworks.

May 2014

This is a frustrating class. The lectures are worthless, unless you're a fan of the absurd. Graham rambles on and on about stats and goes off on compounding tangents until no one knows what got them there. You're better off just following the great textbook. I tried very hard to follow the lectures for the first half of the semester, but ended up just doing problems and reading the text to prepare for exams. The labs are easy and don't really teach you anything beyond a few basic commands in STATA. Grades seem arbitrary. She and the TAs are quite cagey about how grades were determined and whether or not a curve was in effect. You got a lot of "the mean score on the exam was ___", but not a lot of explanation about how your grade would be tabulated. Oh and you have to give the exams back once you see your grade. WTF? All that being said, Norma herself is the sweetest, most supportive professor you could ask for. Just go to her office hours and you will be treated to sage advice and someone who genuinely cares about your story. She takes note, FFS. She would be a great psych adviser, but holy hell, keep her away from this intro stats class

May 2013

My overall experience of the class: not bad, somewhat enjoyable. As far as professors go, there is a lot to be said about Professor Graham. Her teaching is quite often very confusing, though, if I'd paid closer attention to her lectures, I'm sure I would have gleaned a lot more information for the multiple choice part of the tests. Not only does she put up very complicated diagrams and difficult theories about the material that you're learning, but also her handwriting is absolutely atrocious and difficult to I often just gave up on paying attention to the lecture. I personally found that she got very absorbed by a single example and would attempt to explain it, spending too little time teaching the simple concepts and the mechanics behind certain statistical tests (which, I felt, would generally be much more helpful for the tests). As a person, however, Professor Graham is absolutely wonderful. She is sweet, understanding, patient, and always has the best interests of her students in her mind. She and her TAs (James and Travis) are always offering office hours and review sessions for students who may have difficulties with anything in the class, as well as being open ears for students' questions about absolutely anything about psychology or graduate school. Because of these aspects of her personality, statistics with Professor Graham was much more pleasant than I anticipated. Also, the TAs James and Travis are awesome! They were very helpful and were always very willing to help students out. My advice: Having taken AP Statistics in the past, I was essentially relying on my past knowledge at all times to carry my weight in the course and using the textbook for the class to refresh the information I had once learned. In any case, the textbook for the class is really, really good (Bock, Velleman, and DeVeaux). Also, for people have little to none statistics experience, I would recommend really learning the foundational aspects of stats, because after a certain point, you're just learning different tests which essentially follow the same mechanical format with a few adjustments to the statements of the conclusions.

May 2013

This course has evolved significantly since most of the reviews below. Professor Graham has taken the complaints about her class into account and revised it so that most of the major issues no longer apply. For instance, there are no more marathon exams or labs. In fact, the first exam was so short and easy that most of the class ended up getting near perfect/perfect scores (she made the later ones longer, but they were still manageable). And there hasn't been a single lab that I wasn't able to complete within the two-hour lab period. That said, be prepared: Professor Graham is still pretty disorganized with her lectures, and you should expect to teach yourself a lot of the material. She clearly knows her stuff, maybe even too well, so she doesn't really spend a lot of time going over the basics. Which means if you want to do well, you'll need to read the textbook before each lecture. The upside is that if you do have a handle on the material, Graham's lectures actually add a decent amount of value and insight on top of that. If you don't read the textbook, you will have no bloody idea what she's talking about, but that's how it goes. Anyone who is worried about this class should be reassured by the extremely generous curve of 40% As, 50% Bs, and 10% Cs. If you do even slightly better than the median score, you'll end up with an A. And if you end up screwing up at some point, go talk to her and figure something out, she is an extremely nice old lady who actually really cares about her students. Our TAs, James and Travis, were also awesome, but apparently they will no longer be TAing next semester so new students are gonna have to roll the dice on that one.

Apr 2013

i had rakitin for both science of psych and statistics for behavioral scientists. science of psych is an easy class if you go to class. you won't have to do any hw except two short papers (very easy) and you can cram-read the textbook (just focus on terms; it's all term-based) before the midterms and final. it's a really interesting class and he's a very good lecturer. stats with him is different. his lectures are confusing. fortunately, the book he uses (levin & fox) is the most amazing statistics textbook or resource i have ever ever EVER experienced. it is incredibly clear and the only stats-book-video-resource-anything that focuses on conceptual learning one thing about him is that his tests are usually poorly/confusingly-written. if you know the material well you should still be able to get a/a-, but you're leaving a little something up to chance

Dec 2012

What a miserable man. Pompous, boring, and completely useless. He's so invested in making statistics seem REALLY HARD (and therefore making himself seem REALLY IMPORTANT) that all of his lectures needlessly obfuscate the actual. concepts and ideas that we need to learn. Midterm and final are easy if you do the homework, but going to lecture and asking him questions usually confused me much more than just looking at the textbook. Ask the TAs questions if you have to - Rakitin is useless. Attendance isn't mandatory for this class (not to lecture, at least), so you can pull a good grade and learn a lot of useful statistical knowledge without having to deal with this guy.

Nov 2012

Brain Rakitin is obviously a smart guy to have gotten where he is right now, but in no way can he be associated "passable" or even "competent" as a teacher. He may be very familiar with the material he's teaching, but he has no clue how to convey information. He tends to explain simple, straightforward concepts in the most convoluted way possible, making the material seem difficult at first, but anyone who has taken any sort of stats would know that this class only covers the easy basics. He is also unnecessarily mean as a person, doesn't allow absences, food or lateness in his class, and talks to us as if we were totally incompetent as people to learn the greatness that he is teaching. This class is tolerable because the material is easy, I've gone to class three times and regretted all of them. He has a weird way of making the exams excruciatingly long; very little people were able to finish the midterm, and there were a lot of short answer questions without proper instructions, so people tended to write everything they knew and he would claim that those weren't the things he was looking for. I am a junior in neuroscience and premed, and from all the professors I've had at Columbia, I tend to think Brain Rakitin definitely brings down our quality of education. Don't get me wrong, I got an A, but taking this class put a damper on my semester, and I was taking orgo and neurobio at the same time. I urge you not to take this class, take an easier and better stats class for your psych/neuro requirement, just so you won't have to feel having wasted two hours of your life every time you walk out of class.

Aug 2012

I waited a couple of months to write this review in hopes that the "end of semester emotional roller coaster" would cease and allow me to write about Professor Graham from a better place.'s been almost four months and I still pissed that I wasted thousands of dollars on this class. I have never had such a miserable and wasteful class experience in my life! I am sure Professor Graham performs brilliant research, and she seems like a very nice lady. That said, she should stay far, far away from the classroom, as she is a horrible teacher. She begins the course by telling you that, if you're not good in math, you will do poorly in the class. Pretty strange for a psychologist, right? Isn't the whole point of being in college to learn? C'mon. Earn your money...TEACH! Her lectures are downright incoherent, handouts and handwriting are illegible, and the exams were so long that they were impossible to finish. I'm not exaggerating, an hour after the midterm (right about the time I was in a bar drinking away my misery over my utter and complete shock at the difficulty and length of the exam) the class received a mass email from Prof. Graham APOLOGIZING for midterm's length and difficulty. Really? You're a brilliant statistician and you can't figure out how to create a moderately difficult exam that takes an hour and a half to complete? Really? The labs are ridiculously long and tedious, and the TAs offer very little guidance and help. You will NEVER finish within the two hour lab, and it will take you hours upon hours to finish them on your own. I recommend buying the STATA program for an extra $60 so you have the option of doing it at home, since students had a really hard time finding available computers on campus with the up to date STATA. I took this course because I am very serious about pursuing a career in clinical psychology, and I am extremely distressed by the fact that I got a B in the course and haven't the foggiest idea about statistics! Oh, and if you're reading this, Professor: STOP USING YOUR F*CKING iPAD!!!!

Jan 2012

Um, why does this man have a silver nugget? I took both Professor Rakitin's Science of Psych and his Statistics for Behavioral Scientists class and I have two words for this man: dry and arrogant. SCIENCE OF PSYCHOLOGY I remember sitting through his first lecture and thinking "Maybe I'm only bored because this is the introductory stuff. Maybe it will get better." It doesn't. Like me, 2/3 of our class realized this and the room went from being overfilled on the first day to having maybe 1/3 of the chairs filled during lectures. For the portion of the lectures I did attend, I believe I fell asleep for around half of them. The most interesting day was when the TA taught in Rakitin's place. Rakitin is also terrible at explaining things. When he attempted to explain to us how the eye worked, he managed to confuse the class even more --he messed up on the first try, corrected himself on the second time explaining (a separate day), and again corrected something he said on the second day during a third time of explaining (yet another day). Do not ask this man a question unless you want to get throughly confused and/or talked down at. He feels the need to go through every little detail when answering questions and ends up answering in such a winding fashion that you forget what you initially asked. The only good thing about this class was the textbook, which was fantastic and probably the only reason Rakitin has a silver nugget. If you carefully read the textbook and skim the slides for the final, you're in good shape for the exams. STATISTICS FOR BEHAVIORAL SCIENTISTS It was a sad, sad day when I realized that Professor Rakitin was the only professor for that semester who was teaching this required class for Psychology majors. In all fairness, this was his first semester of teaching this course, and he told us himself that he thought the textbook was horrible and had a hard time following it. With that said, his droning lectures got even worse when one inserted Statistics into the equation because of his insistence on going through the proofs for most equations. While helpful, Rakitin didn't seem to understand that he was talking to an audience of Psychology/Neuroscience majors who couldn't care less what the proofs were. What's worse is that he would often mess up on those proofs and confuse students even more. Confused professor + non-math*confused students = disaster! Homeworks and exams (probably because the problems were so easy) were graded pretty harshly, and often points were taken off for seemingly arbitrary reasons. For example, if you did a summation and divided it, and did this: (1+2+3+4+5)/5=3, you would get points off because they would want you to list ALL steps (1+2+3+4+5)/5=15/5=3. You should still be able to scrap an A-range grade in this course if you study a decent amount, but this course with this professor is honestly just not worth your time. If you have taken any real math/statistics course at Columbia, you should probably avoid this course at all costs in case you (1) get bored out of your mind or (2) get destroyed for showing the amount of work you are used to showing or (3) both. If you haven't taken a real math/statistics course at Columbia, then you should go take one because you certainly aren't learning any math in this one.

Jan 2011

Although this teacher is an ok guy, his lectures are confusing and it makes you suffer through the semester. He uses different terms than the book so after having 5 variables called sigma your brain will start to spin. He always mixes up terms and aknowledges it but I think he should pay more attention to this because it gets annoying.His slides are somewhat helpful but they are sloppy and have a lot of errors in them. When you review them you have to guess how he solved the problems because he skips steps and abbreviates a lot of terms so you have to go back to the TA or the book in order to study from there. The lab section is good if you have a good TA but at the end they have to guess what the teacher might ask in the exam,so the anxiety level rises inside of you as the semester continues. He gives a few Behavioral examples here and there but nothing that makes you think that a normal Statistics course would not give you . Even the book is just a huge Stats book, not much about Psychology mentioned. This class lacks passion and didactic methods so it makes the dry topic even dryer. Personally, I did not enjoy this class. The midterm was unfair because he only gave a limited ammount of time to solve it and many did not finish it. It had also a lot of theoretic questions although the TAs had only prepared us for solving numeric problems. The final was almost only math and some short answer questions.

Sep 2009

Although he's great and seems like a professor who a) cares about his subject matter and b) cares about his students, he ends up going into minute detail on the easiest concepts that most people have already had from any high school math class, and skims in a very confusing manner over more complex subjects that are nonetheless tested on/the subject of homework. Lab is alright, but its two hours of excel and SPSS and if you understand how to use them (aka how to follow step by step instructions) you might as well stay home.

Jan 2006

Tor is an extremely nice guy who seems to geniunely care about his students and their concerns. With that said, I think he was a very difficult professor to have for this class. The book is great--very comprehensible and full of examples. His lectures are very well structured and he has detailed and entertaining powerpoint presentations for every class. However, many of the lectures did not follow the book at all. It was almost as if he was not reading the book. Halfway through the semester we were asked to give him evaluations of the course and it was obvious he took the suggestions seriously. His lectures became much clearer and on target (though some were still very obscure and after class many of us were more confused by the concepts than we had been before we showed up). The main problem seems to be that Tor is way too smart to be teaching an into stats class. His knowledge of the subject matter is way over most students heads and teaching basics/breaking down the concepts seems almost frustrating to him at times. lab was helpful--a good way to solidify the concepts or learn them over again if no one understood what had been taught in lecture. learning spss is very useful. The bottom line is that he is a good guy who is brilliant and would be much better teaching a more advanced stats class. Unfortunately, he's teaching an intro class, so its the students who end up with the major frustration.

Nov 2005

As a neuro major, I found this class easy and relatively painless (though I can't speak for people who have never taken calculus). The math is simple, the work-load lite, and the material immediately useful. Torr himself is a lively, approachable young fellow who tries to make the statistics intersting by giving relevant examples. However the class covers material very slowly, so going to lecture is entirely optional. The homework, however, is graded, so be sure to find out when assignments are due from someone who actually attends. Overall, an easy way to fufill the lab requirement for the Neuro major and the information is actually useful.

May 2004

John Daws did an excellent job teaching what some may find a dry subject. Although class felt like it dragged on and on, Daws was always well prepared (powerpoint slides), welcomed questions and was EXTREMELY patient answering questions. Daws knows the material really well and uses examples to help explain concepts. I attended 100% of the lectures and do not recall Daws ever being late.

Aug 2003

John Daws is a really chill professor. His lectures were funny and relaxed, and he joked around and poked fun at himself and/or the subject matter when neccessary. In the beginning you might be thinking, heck I was born knowing this stuff, but it gets worse/better, depending on how you feel about it. I mean stat is not all that interesting to lots of us, but it was surprisingly less boring than I had expected, and I actually did learn a lot. The 2 TA's we had were great. Get to know them during Lab sections. In Lab you work on computers with a partner, following step by step instructions to get statistical results from your input and you learn to analyse it. Obviously I haven't taken Stat 1010 or 1111, because taking one of those and this class would have been a waste of my time. But the way I see it is, if you are a psych major, you might as well take a stat class tailored to your studies. You will meet other psych majors, get to know psych grad students (the TA's) and their work, and you learn stat based on lots of psychological studies. It ain't half bad.