course
Abnormal Behavior

Dec 2020

Professor McCaskill is an amazing professor who genuinely cares about all of her students. Her lectures are super insightful because she brings in patient studies and also her perspective as a therapist. This enables her students to learn about the human experience behind the diagnoses which I think adds a further dimension to our learning of these disorders. She’s very willing to give out extensions and all of her exams are straightforward as long as you take the time to read through the slides and textbook and actually understand the material (causes, symptoms, potential treatments, etc). Overall, she’s a super great and nice professor so I HIGHLY recommend this course for anyone interested in psychology courses!

Dec 2020

Professor McCaskill is incredibly sweet and insightful. Just go into the class with the mindset of wanting that insight. The nature of a class in abnormal psych is that everything you need for the exams and everything on the syllabus is super boiler-plate. The actual content in any abnormal psych class will be the same. But Prof McCaskill brings a great deal of wisdom and experience from her past and current interactions with patients (I should note just in case that she maintains strict confidentiality), and that's what makes the course so valuable. I will admit she can be a bit disorganized at times; grades come back late, emails get lost, exam formats get changed. But it's weird Zoom-university pandemic times, I think we all deserve the benefit of the doubt. Overall Prof McCaskill is an excellent teacher. It's clear she really cares about her students and the material she's teaching, even if the lectures can get kind of dry when she's not talking about her own experiences.

Dec 2020

I loved this course! I took it in online format. Prof. McCaskill is very knowledgeable and genuinely loves what she does. She does her best to take questions and meet with students. She can be somewhat hard to reach sometimes though, as she also works outside of Columbia in clinical work and is very busy. It did take me a few lectures to get used to her style, as I didn't necessarily like it at the beginning of the semester but I grew to. Her lectures were very informative and she created really clear slides. She was generous with deadlines and moved some around to deal with conflicts such as when Fall A finals were happening, which I thought was very nice of her. She had a mental health day built in the syllabus for us that fell during Thanksgiving week and told us our assignment was self-care :)

Dec 2020

One of the best professors I've had at Columbia. Besides the class material, which is incredibly interesting, the teaching style is wonderfully engaging. Most importantly, Professor McCaskill is a lovely human being who genuinely cares about her students. Highly recommend this class.

Jan 2019

YESSSSS AMAZING COURSE! Best proffesor. Understanding and really really cares. Her lectures are so intresting and really helpful for understandign the material. Staighforward class. go to lecture and study and you will be fine!

Jan 2018

Very kind, humble, down to earth professor. Good person. She makes an active effort to meet with anyone (regarding subject matter outside of the course, usually career-related) in the class, which is quite a feat to do with a 100+ class. She loves to talk a lot about each subject matter discussed, which creates very interesting discussions that unfortunately cause her to fall behind. However, she really knows what she's talking about, as a clinician, and always finds ways to connect each disorder, technique, etc. with a real-life connection, patient, or story. This class has really opened my mind to be more considerate of others and I feel that I truly gained a lot from taking this course. Not to mention, this class is a pretty decently easy A. The tests are extraordinarily straightforward, with very direct questions, ie. they may start with a description of a person and their symptoms and ask you to choose from a selection of disorders. All exams are multiple-choice with a case analysis (1 case analysis for the first exam, 2 for the second, and 3 for the third). The case analyses are also very straight-forward and guide you to the right answer if you know your disorders. Students do the best on those. Overall, great class. Great prof. Would recommend to anyone, psych-major or not. The readings are also extremely interesting and captivating.

Apr 2015

She is my favorite psychology prof! I've taken her for three classes. She is very knowledgeable and understands that her students have other responsibilities. If you can’t make a deadline because of any issue just go talk to her and she will be understanding. She always incorporates stories of her actual patients into all her classes which makes the material more interesting and gives you real world examples which is great if you’re a psychology major. Take her class! The work load is very manageable and her lectures are great. Best part is that her power points are amazing and very helpful for exams. There are very short memoirs in which she asks her students to write a short paper on. This might sound off-putting but the memoirs she chooses are fascinating. You will read through them in no time. Seriously they are amazing.

Dec 2013

Very mixed about this class. The professor herself is very knowledgeable and interesting, but spends half of every class going on some tandem story about a patient of hers (which may or may not be breaking patient confidentiality?), and she seems too busy overall to be teaching at this point in her life. Getting office hours appointments is harder than getting a cronut was last summer,but if you manage to get them (and she remembers to come), she will give you solid advice and is really helpful. Overall, Professor McCaskill is really smart and interesting, but too busy to be teaching this course. Because she is kind of distracted and has other things going on, our TAs took the opportunity to be lazy and overall useless. Only two of them bothered showing up to class consistently and despite our tests being 60 multiple choice on a scantron and then 2-3 case studies, they took over a month to return both tests and were similarly derelect in their grading duties on the papers. Review sessions are not very helpful- they will only answer questions and half the answers to the questions are "we're not sure," or "what is chapter 16 on?," or "wel'll have to ask the professor." They seem well meaning enough but it's pretty clear they are fairly disinterested. Their office hours are only slightly more helpful, they're not great at clarifying material. The tests are really fair, as long as you go to class and memorize what the straightforward slide shows are, you'll do really well. There was a textbook but I never bought it and I ended up with an A. Overall, class is not a ton of work and fairly interesting, just frustrating in terms of TA apathy and how distracted the professor can be.

Nov 2013

Professor McCaskill is a lovely person. You can tell she knows her field. She brought the class Halloween candy. I think I would have enjoyed taking a seminar class with her. A large lecture class is not the best way for her to shine. She uses the PPTs from the textbooks do her lectures. If you read the book, you know what's going to be on the test. She fell a bit behind on the syllabus, but no big deal. She is a bit disorganized, but it isn't too distracting. It seems like she is a bit of a procrastinator. Her syllabus was not posted until class began, and review sheets, though promised well in advance, came out right around the day of the exam. Review sessions with the TA's were kind of a joke, but at least they existed. Her exams are moderate, with some questions that seemingly come out of left field. Keep up the readings and you will be fine. I would take another class with her, as long as it was a seminar.

Apr 2013

I love professor McCaskill! Her lectures are engaging because she uses case studies from her professional work to explain disorders and engage the class. These studies are fascinating and really help you learn the disorders. She also assigns memoirs of people who have suffered from various disorders that you "review." She intends this to be primarily as a "grade-booster" (her words) but don't expect to get 100% if you write a boring paper. She is a big fan of the DSM multi-axial diagnosis, so you will definitely learn to read a case study and make a full diagnosis. The multiple choice on her exams are moderately difficult. For people who prefer extremely structured slideshows, this may not be the class for you. Professor McCaskill does have slideshows, but she prefers to tell case studies and brainstorm treatment options with the class. As someone interested in going into the field, I found this invaluable. A note: drug use and abuse does involve Neuroscience, so I would reccomend taking it after or while you take a neuro class. Don't expect an easy A (but don't expect to have to do a ton of work and still fail). I've found that if you put in the time, the A is yours.

May 2010

Professor Monk is a great lecturer, although honestly half her lectures aren't even her lecturing. She has a LOT of guest speakers. Which isn't bad, per se, but some of them are much better than others. Unfortunately, it's hard to discern which of them are going to be good/informative/useful beforehand, so you'll just have to take them as they come. And yes, a lot of their material shows up on the exams, which, let me just say, bring some of the most intense information cramming that you've ever had in your life. Yes, these exams are hard core. Study study study, you honestly cannot study enough. Overall though, if you do your part, this class is good and rewarding. I feel like the TAs (who do all the grading and review sessions, Monk is clearly too busy for that) are fair about the exams, and will acknowledge when you know you're stuff. The questions get a little nitpicky, but at the end of the day they're not too awful. I feel like I actually learned something in this class, which is more than I can say for a lot of psychology classes I've taken here. Like I and others here have said though, Prof. Monk does NOT have time for you. She seems like a sweet woman, and she knows her stuff, but she also does research and has her own therapy practice. This makes her lectures really practical and interesting, but it's also clear that teaching is not really her first priorities. She picked good TAs though, who were generally pretty responsive—although they definitely varied in competency. Oh well. Generally, if you're a psych major, I definitely recommend this class. Or if you're really interested in the subject.

May 2009

Her lectures are fun and I looked forward to them, however there's just much too much material packed into this course, and her TA's are ridiculous-- you can honestly take an exam and deserve a 90 and they'll without fail ALWAYS find a way to find extremely minor problems with SOMETHING you wrote and give you a 75 or so instead. Professor Monk also seems to love what she's teaching, but does not seem very happy when students go to her office hours to ask questions, unless they are pre-clinical.

May 2009

Though Professor Monk's availability outside lecture both in terms of time (one strictly maintained hour for office hours!) and energy due to the multiple professional hats she wears, she is an engaging, talented communicator. Her lectures not only organize and highlight key elements of the reams of factual material involved in a survey of abnormal behavior, but also provide useful thematic axes along which all this factual informnation can be organized. She makes no secret of her disdain for biological determinism, which frankly is constructive in this age of patient overmedication, nor of her predilection for object-relations interpretations of psychopathology, but again, it is an important counterbalance to today's overhyped trends in the field, which are covered amply by the text. Strongly recommended, but avoid attempting to get too close to Monk - she has no space for it.

May 2008

Kathy is really sweet. She is very lenient with her grading. She gives extra credit on every test (best 2 of 3 exams), and a final. They all are short answers and multiple choices, with the exception of the final (all MCs). As a new teacher, she conveys her ideas very well, getting straight to the point. Her lectures slides are post on courseworks, making it very easy to study for exams. What i didn't like was the textbook, which was way overly verbose. Maybe she'll change it next time.

Dec 2007

Overall, I enjoyed Dr. Monk's class. I took it in the Spring of 2007. I found the lectures very interesting, as well as the readings. This class covers a lot of material. From developmental psychology to an extensive review/critic of the DSM, to adult psychiatry/psychology. Dr. Monk is extremely enthusiastic about the subject, and her own clinical experience makes the class even more interesting. I would say that the exams are mildly difficult. They require a lot of memorization, and are based on the lecture slides, the book, and the readings. You have to do the readings! They will absolutely end up all over the exam. The only problem with this class, which to me was a big problem, are the TAs. Their grading system is terrible. If you do not write the answers down exactly as they are written in the slides/books you will get major points taken off. If this happens to you, make sure you go and talk to the TAs after class about their grading. They actually will give you back points for their ridiculous grading. I found that the TAs were not as well-educated in the psychology field as they should have been. They were by far the worst TAs I have had in my 3 years at Columbia. All this said, if you like psychology, you will love the topics in this class and Dr. Monk. I would not recommend it just to fill a science requirement.

Oct 2007

Prof Monk's is a good professor and presents the material in an interesting way, following the textbook pretty closely, which is fitting for a lower-level course. She does spend a bit of time emphasizing that psychology is NOT biological determinism but I think that this is only natural in light of the emphasis that recent years have seen on the importance of genetics rather than other influences. Furthermore, prof Monk is readily available to talk outside of class and she is extremely warm and patient and in fact it is patience that is her flaw. Pro Monk allows the class to wander way too much with inane questions, comments, philosophical musings etc. of any moron who likes to hear him or herself talk. If there is a reason to not take this class, it is because you have to suffer through listening to idiotic peers talk rather than Prof Monk. You sit there and marvel at the fact that some of these people are actually considering being psychologists and then realize why so many people have had negative experiences in therapy. Finally, Monk starts every class off with music and is always looking for new music. Her taste is highly variable, mostly good and she is open to suggestions.

May 2007

She's passionate about the subject she teaches. She even brings in great speakers. However, unless you are interested in getting a weekly dose of Genes do not determine outcome; people are on a continuum; and rallying against the DSM-IV do not take this class.

May 2007

If you have ANY background in science, DO NOT take this class. You will waste your time listening to inane never-ending questions of people who are taking this class to fulfill their science requirements. Professor Monk is a sweet lady who does not want to offend anyone, so she spend 5-10 minutes giving elaborate answers to the questions that could have been answered just by reading the textbook. She is really good at explaining things but you never finish the lecture, nor do you get to learn much, because some inconsiderate people ask 3-4 questions each, therefore slowing everything down. The textbook is fun to read but the exams are not that well-written.

May 2005

This is a straight-forward class. Come, read the book, study for the tests. Prof. Monk's passion for the material and for teaching in general (she is also a practicing clinician and a researcher) are clear, and I felt that she really wanted us to understand what we were learning. She supplements her power points with plenty of clinical anecdotes, and she brings in specialists to give guest lectures. My only gripe is that she took about a million questions from the over-eager post-bacs, and often had to rush through the end of lectures as a result. I've taken four psych classes and this was my favorite, whatever that means. Also, to all neurotic Columbia students, have fun diagnosing yourselves with various anxiety and mood disorders. Get to class a few minutes early and reap the benefits of Prof. Monk's eclectic taste in music (at 9 am, it actually helps).

Jun 2004

Dr. Monk is organized, clear, and concise. If you're interested in learning the facts about abnormal behavior, she'll help ya get the job done. She also brings in lots of interesting specialists who present internship opportunities. The course is interesting, and the professor is accessable.

Nov 2003

the content is great for anyone interested in abnormal psychology or clinical psychology. the exam preparation is slightly heavier but the grading is fair in the sense that it is a test of your understanding and not memory. from the lectures, the main points are covered and the material will be sufficient to do well. the content is very comprehensive and current with all the journal articles that prof monk gives. i enjoyed the discussion and readings the most. highly recommended for anyone who is interested in clinical psychology.

May 2003

Dr. Monk gives interesting and passionate lectures. You will learn a lot, and while 9.10 AM attendance may challenge some, it is definitely worth it if you care about the topic. Dr. Monk also assigns great supplemental journal articles, and she brought in several fascinating speakers. I believe she really cares about her research and her students. Now, the caveat: grading appears to arbitrary, though this may be largely the fault of the awful TAs we had (I will never take a course TA'd by one of them again). I have never understood material so well and studied so hard for such low grades. Conclusion: this is an excellent class, but DO NOT TAKE IT IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR GPA. I don't care how smart you are or how good a student you are, you cannot be assured of a good grade.

May 2002

Downey's beautiful Irish lilt makes lectures on schizophrenia and alcoholism strangely soothing. Try to stay awake. The class might seem easy - the subject matter is lots of stuff you probably already know. But the tests are harder than they seem. You must go to every class as the tests are mostly based on lecture material not in the book. We had 2 very cute TAs (Phillipe and Ethan) which is always a plus.

May 2001

The lectures are often pretty interesting, but this is due to the topics, not to Prof. Downey's lecturing skills. She knows her material very well in the areas of schizophrenia and alcoholism, so she focuses on these two topics a bit too much, but the course is pretty comprehensive. She has an Irish accent and a speech impediment, which makes it hard to stay focused sometimes, and makes her seem less confident in her lectures than she probably is.

Apr 2001

Do you want to take a class that will teach you nothing and whose lecturer has a stutter? Then abnormal psych is the class for you! Professor Downey, while possibly possessing some intelligence, bestows none of it onto the class, giving the most superficial and shallow look at mental disorders possible. Most of what she teaches, you already know! Yes, the class is easy, but having your eyeballs scratched at for three hours a week is less painful than her lectures. Downey dumbs down the subject matter, gives incoherent and wandering lectures and tends to be unable to answer any question posed to her. And let me reiterate, regarding the lectures: she has a stutter.

Jan 2000

In Abnormal Psychology she's very interesting, with amusing anecdotes. Her experience with prisoners and various subjects, particularly relationships, make for a very interesting course. You must be there for her lectures, as they are well-covered on the exams. However, as for her Children at Risk lectures, they are boring as hell. Everyone, including the TA, falls asleep. There are just not as many anecdotes, and she goes monotone. This discrepancy may be because the course is newer and she is not as accustomed to the subject material as with the Abnormal material.