Social/Personality Development

Dec 2011

I had Stacey Lutz for Social/Personality Development. I am a die hard Culpa reader, and while you often have to take what you read here with a grain of salt, when there's an overwhelming consensus among the reviews it's easy to get a feel for the professor. Suffice to say I was skeptical when I typed "Lutz" in on Culpa and came up dry. But still I sat in on the class and fell in love with the flirty, funny professor who reminded me of the aunt I never had. But wait, and keep reading. While her lectures are exceedingly clear and very entertaining she is among those professors here at Columbia University who are either feeling the heat from their department to practice grade DEflation or just doesn't believe that before we enrolled here at Columbia, we were all for the most part "A" students. Basically this translated into her giving the TA's a talking to about being "strict" graders (i.e. she would take points off if you were even half a page - double spaced - over the page limit). In the end she would give us back our grades saying that she was happy with them and that she thought we did very "well" when there were about a fair number of people in the "F," "D," and "C" range. Perhaps in another class I wouldn't think this was so bad, except that her idea of what it meant to do well didn't really gel with mine. Grading was based on one 5-7 page paper, a midterm, a 6-8 page paper, and then a final. The first assignment we were given was a 5-7 page paper. When we got it back she said she might be curving it as there were only a few people who had received A's (and those were low A's), with the majority of the people lying in the D-B range. As inspiring as the idea was, it never came to be and when we got back our midterms, she decided the class did too well. But before you start imagining a midterm where everyone got an A, stop, take a step back and remember this is Columbia. If such a thing ever happened I would advise you to spit several times or throw some salt over your right shoulder because your professor is clearly possessed by something. So what exactly does doing "too well" look like? Well, all my little over achievers, this means basically that no one failed or had a D, a result that was simply not okay with Lutz. It wasn't even like a LOT of people had A's. The number of A's were less then then number of B's and there were a fair number of C's. Our next paper, which was a 6-8 page paper, left Lutz absolutely tickled. About 4 students failed the assignment with several others landing squarely in the D range, a number of people had C's, there were a bunch of B's and only a few A's. Bottom line- be wary. It is definitely possible to do well on the tests but the class just leaves you a little bewildered and kind of discouraged. After all, she does a great job helping you to really understand the material that you would think she would be eager to see you do well...and you become so excited to write the paper and then find points taken somewhat randomly. So now you're free to make your own decision but if you decide to take this class PLEASE, go over an outline (Lutz's favorite word as she'll be sure to tell you repeatedly the story of how her father did outlines with her growing up) with a TA or better yet with Lutz herself! Better yet go over it with both TAs and Lutz, because I'm telling you these will be gone over with a fine tooth comb! Best of luck!