Psychology of Learning (w/ or w/o lab)

Jan 2019

I really loved this course! I found it very intresting. Prof Light is one of the nicest proffesors ever! He tries very hard to make himself available to students. He hosts review sessions both in class and outsdie of class before each exam. I found this course very applicple to the fields I am intrested in. IT was a challanging course and I had to study to do well. If you study you will be fine! Although their is a learnign curve to his exams The exams get easier as you go as you get used to the format. There is multiple choise , short answer, and extra credit. He gives you choises in short answer usaly 3 out of 5 -which is so nice and helpfull! For the multiple choise he will let you explain up to 5 that you where unsure of to get credit back! He also grades the exams to give you the best grade possible. Very accepsible, kind, and understanding profeesor who wants you to do well. Go to class, it's helpful! Sometimes topics can be a bit confusing, but if you ask him to clarify it always makes sense. Although I should say many people found it borning.,

Dec 2018

I took Psychology of Learning lecture and lab with Professor Light. It was his first time lecturing the course and it was terrible. His lectures were complicated and incoherent. He spent a large amount of lecture going over random experiments, which he would brush over, but would then come up in large detail on his tests. A large amount of the course required me to learn the material myself from the textbook. There isn't that much work, but the exams are incredibly difficult and overcomplicated. The lab, however, was much better. The actual lab class was usually interesting and very interactive. It also usually finished early- it never lasted the full 3 hours. There is not really content to learn for lab, so was ok having Professor Light teach them. Professor Light is a harsh grader though and is very particular, so I found it hard to do well on.

Nov 2017

This class is really really boring. Professor Balsam is a nice person but he is NOT a good lecturer. If you are someone who enjoys learning from lecture, this is definitely not a class to go to. You will have to learn all the materials alone, from the textbook. Tests are fair, but essay question can throw you off. I tried writing as much as I knew and it did NOT work. I am not sure if its because the TAs are different now, but they actually want an organized essay. So make sure you know what you are talking about in the essays.

Nov 2016

Hoch is one of the most useless professors I've ever met. She cannot teach for the life of her. All she does is read off her powerpoints which she posts online anyway so why bother going to class? I think the material she teaches is super interesting as a psychology major, but she makes it as dry and boring as humanly possible. During lecture, she gives bizarre examples to try and explain the material, but all they do is confuse the class even more. She also can't write an exam worth a damn. If you expect to do well simply by self studying, then you're shit out of luck. When one of my friends asked her whether or not we should focus on textbook or lecture more, she said, "Oh if you just memorize my study guide and you'll do fine!" BULL SHIT. I did exactly that AND read the textbook cover to cover AND looked through all of her powerpoints and did dreadful on the exams. Not that I expected to do well because her exam questions read like they were written by a monkey with a computer. I'm not sure if it's even humanly possible to get a good grade in this class because she doesn't curve a single one of her terribly written exams. Don't take this class, at least not with her. If someone else teaches it, anyone else, then go for it. In the hands of a different professor, it would probably be much more interesting and actually worth your time. It's really a shame that Hoch is so incompetent because the accompanying lab with Professor Ken Light is an absolute delight, but honestly it's not worth it to suffer through whatever the hell Hoch is doing. Really, nothing is worth it.

Oct 2016

Learning and Behavior Professor Hoch is one of the worst professors I have ever had. If I didn't need it for a requirement I would've dropped it. Her lectures are incredibly dry, she reads off her slides, and when asked a question, she always finds some way to avoid it. I learned more by reading 2 0/)// in the textbook then I have in her lectures. She is an incredibly sweet woman but this woman cannot teach. When I met with her to talk about my difficulty with testing, she told me that I should probably not be taking classes that require me to take exams, and should stick with papers. I have never been more disappointed in a professor in my entire time here. This class is not worth your time.

Oct 2016

I am a senior at Barnard, and Professor Hoch is the worst professor I have ever had. I don't know why she is still teaching at such a prestigious school. She reads verbatim from the slides, and then, when students have questions, she simply cannot answer them. Her catchphrase is "Oh, I'm not sure. I'll let you know." Well, she never does let us know. No one attends lecture because - let's be real - we all know how to read, and we can read from the slides that she posts online ourselves. Her class is miserably boring. She tries to show videos to make the concepts clearer for us, but they are usually ridiculous and unhelpful. She is also terribly disorganized. She takes weeks to grade assignments that she assigns to us the day before - not right. The work load is not light, and the exams are not easy, considering what a terrible professor she is. She should be fired, end of story.

Apr 2016

BORING yet also easy. His lectures are horrible. He is unorganized and confused half the time himself. However, he is a very cute old man that shows a lot of videos and there is a ginormous curve. The only thing you really have to do to study for the class is fill out his study questions and know them backwards and forwards. Also for the essay part of the test write a ton. He’ll say write as much as you need but ignore that advice and vomit everything you know onto the blue book and you’ll do better than if you actually make a structured argument. The multiple choice questions can sometimes be worded strangely but he tries to account for this by letting you throw out 2-3 questions per test depending on how many questions there are. Also, there is the occasional homework assignment that if you put even the slightest amount of effort into you’ll get a “great!” written as feedback.

May 2015

Professor Balsam, as the previous reviewer said, has really been misrepresented. Before you continue reading, I am going to preface this by saying that I am a Neuroscience major and pre-med and did well in the class; perhaps the negativity in the other reviews stems from the fact that those students did not receive an A. I found his class to be one of the easiest classes I have ever taken. Yes, there is some math...but seriously, it's just basic algebra, nothing a Barnard student isn't capable of. If you read the book, go to class and take notes, and study for the tests, there really is no reason why you can't get anything less than an A- on his tests; they are very straightforward. Plus, he lets you throw out three questions on the test! Can't go wrong with that. To do well on his tests, read the book and answer his study questions to the best of your ability. Any questions you have on those can be brought to Balsam who is so wonderfully accessible to his students. He really does care and it's quite refreshing to have a professor who cares as much as he does. Speaking of how much he cares, Professor Balsam is an incredible resource. He has the most amazing connections, especially at the Columbia Medical Center (he also his own psychology/neuro lab at the medical center for those of you who are interested in his research). For those students out there who are looking to find a lab at the medical center, Balsam is the guy to go to. Trust me, he is so nice and friendly...he will hook you up with the lab of your dreams!

Nov 2014

Professor Balsam is a wonderful, sweet man. While certainly not perfect at teaching, he is one of the most approachable and nice professors I have ever encountered. I'll admit, his lectures can be sometimes be incredibly boring and dry, but his unique sense of humor is what usually kept me going throughout class. He is very caring about his students and is always available for help or if you just want to meet with him about your grade. He is also incredibly those Psychology and Neuroscience majors out there, go to him if you are looking for labs, he will definitely hook you up with a fantastic lab at either Barnard, Columbia, or the Columbia Medical Center. The course is not difficult at all and the material can sometimes be very interesting. Go to lecture and take notes, but in order to do well on his tests, do his study questions that he posts and read the book (and actually READ it). The book is heavy at times, but you have to put in the work to get the grade you want. Overall, a perfectly manageable class.

May 2014

Professor Balsam has been really misrepresented in these reviews. While he certainly is not perfect at teaching, he's one of the most understanding and kind professors I've encountered (and I'm a senior)! His humor is definitely quirky, in a sweet dad kind of way, but once you've got it, he's hilarious. He also really cares about his students and gives excellent feedback and invests time to further their comprehension. He's always looking to improve and asks for feedback- and actually implements it. I would advise any psych or neuro student to develop a relationship with him and neuro students! Be in his seminar! To do well on the tests, read the textbook and take notes. The textbook is dense, but plow through! His questions are based almost solely on it. He can tell who shows up to class, so its a good idea to go.

Dec 2013

I don't know why all of these reviews are so bad. Like the previous commenter said, Balsam's lectures can get kind of boring at times, but he is definitely not a horrible professor. In fact, he's a genuinely nice guy who really wants his students to succeed. He adds videos wherever he can and is generally organized and clear. He is available outside of class hours and he even set up a chat room the night before both of our midterms where we could log on and ask him questions. The tests are typical for a psych class, and yes you do have to read the book, but this is a college course, so you should expect to have to do some work. He even posts reading guides for all of the chapters, which are extremely helpful. Don't let the bad reviews scare you away from taking this course. Balsam is nice, friendly, and really cares about the material (and you might even learn something, which is something the previous posters seem to be opposed to). I also recommend taking the lab with Ken Light--the lab and the lectures lined up pretty nicely and we were able to get extra practice on the equations introduced in lecture.

Nov 2013

I don't know why everyone says he's so horrible. these reviews scared off way too many people and deserve to be changed. Professor Balsam may not be the most interesting lecturer, but he's far from horrible. He makes jokes and shows video clips and tries to engage the class more so than most professors. the material isn't hard either and neither are the exams - if you've ever taken a psych class before you should understand exactly how to study for one. Definitely take notes in class but reading the book is not necessary until before an exam - and even then you only have to read the book to answer the questions he posts after each lecture. study the answers to these questions and the tests should be a piece of cake.

Dec 2012

This is by far THE WORST class I have EVER taken at Columbia or Barnard. Do not and I mean DO NOT take this class no matter what! Professor Balsam is an absolutely disastrous professor; he is boring, confusing (and confused), condescending, and seems to have no grasp of proper written grammar. The material is about as dry as humanly possible, and Balsam makes it even worse by complicating it to the point of incomprehensibility and comparing every theory to his pathological fear of boats. Lecture is worthless, and the book is only a bit better. Studying is pointless, you'll do poorly no matter what because the exams make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Basically prepare yourself to watch your GPA free-fall into an abyss after this class. On the other hand, the lab is not bad at all, although not particularly interesting. Still, there is nothing that makes this class worthwhile; if it's required for your major I suggest rethinking your plan of studies.

Nov 2012

This is the only class in my Barnard experience that I truly disliked. Do not take this class if you can help it. I took Intro to Psych with Stokes and it was great -- she was engaging, clear, and fair. Balsam is the opposite. I don't understand how a LEARNING PSYCHOLOGIST could be the most ineffective teacher I've ever encountered. The textbook is dense and the language is horrible. He clearly just likes it because his face is in it. His lectures are very boring and he simplifies the material. He also always says annoying things like "this is easy stuff guys" "dont worry guys" ...... if it's such easy stuff, then why do you have to curve every exam, with the median grade still being a B-. Unless you're a Psych wiz I don't think you can endure this class without wanting to punch Balsam in the face all the time. One time a PHD candidate taught our class when Balsam was out and I realized how simple the material is, but how confusing he makes it. You're right Balsam, it's not rocket science--- you make it rocket science.

Jan 2012

Psychology of Learning - I have never had such a terrible experience with a psychology class and as a psych major, I've taken a lot of them. This class was absolutely horrible, the lectures are boring and you end up with only a handful of people attending. The textbook assigned is also incredibly dense and difficult to understand. As for the exams -- Professor Balsam needs to understand that this is an Intro level class. He is unclear about the content and when he tries to teach math he fails. The lab instructor ended up being the only reason I understood the math because she spontaneously decided to go over it in lab. In terms of getting help outside of class I would say that he is very unfriendly and unapproachable. He is borderline condescending and this is an opinion shared by numerous peers who were taking the class with me (even students just went in to pick up their exams found that he was rude). I got the impression that he did not have the capacity for patience with students asking intro-level questions; maybe he makes a much better graduate level professor.

Dec 2011

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.

Feb 2011

I've had Hannah Hoch for two courses. The material IS dry and she isn't always the best at making it seem REALLY interesting. However, I found her examples in Learning much clearer and helpful than in Developmental. Once or twice she did get confused (but psych and definitions are always confusing...) but really did offer and/or come back with examples that really helped me conceptually. I don't think you can just "read the slides" and do well in the course, she does change things and gives examples (some of which are on the exam) only in class. Also, she is very open to questions and aware that at times, Psych of Learning is really boring... and dry. Also, if you don't do well on an exam (as it's pretty much multiple choice - which I hate) and go to her she is very helpful and willing to go over each question. In fact, she helped me rethink how to approach her questions and how to study that helped me improve SIGNIFICANTLY on the last two exams (from a B- to an A). And, it's pretty nice that she gives you a study guide for EACH exam and will not test you on anything not on that study guide. However, you do need to know the study guide inside and out. She's not the best professor, but I really don't think she's the worst. She does want you to do well and will do her best to make sure you do (that includes you going to class... she takes note of that too). But you do have to work for it.

Jan 2011

Three scantron sheets later, I'm still fairly undecided about Professor Hoch. Basically, if you go to lecture, do the readings, do the extra credit assignment, and study religiously from the posted study guides, you will do well. I wish I had done all of that, but I still managed to do ok with a minimum of effort....and you can too! I took the course without lab and the lectures basically consisted of Prof. Hoch reading from her powerpoint slides, which are exactly the same as last year's powerpoint slides, and will most likely be exactly the same as next year's powerpoint slides. I thought the videos of Prof. Hoch and her colleagues tutoring autistic children at her workplace were by far and away the best part of the course, and really served to elucidate the principles she was teaching. They almost made up for the time she said that bats were a kind of bird.

Dec 2010

Prof Hannah Hoch is an absolutely terrible professor! She is the worst psych professor I have ever had at Barnard, and I'm not sure why she is teaching courses in the department. She also works with autistic children, and I'm sure she's very good at that, and she should clearly stick to that. Her lectures are totally disorganized. She reads from her notes. When people ask questions she's always confused, and sometimes stops mid sentence to consult the textbook. She puts videos in her lectures, but they're usually really stupid and not relevant to the material, and most of the time she doesn't know how to use the projector anyway. She has an attendance sheet, and she offers an extra credit opportunity only to the students that attend more than 50% of the lectures, because if not there would be absolutely zero motivation to go to class. She has review sessions right before the exams, and she gets really nervous during them because she doesn't know the answers to peoples questions and then she laughs nervously. She gives examples about learning theories, and then students tell her her examples aren't relevant, and then she agrees that they are not relevant. One time she was convinced that the entire class was laughing at her, and she stopped class to ask why we were laughing at her. And then she asked us if she had something on her face. The whole class was awkwardly quiet and then she said "Well now I'm really embarrassed and I have to stand up here and finish teaching class and I might have something on my face." Please, avoid this class at all costs. It's an absolutely waste of tuition money.

Jan 2010

I had Professor Hoch for Psychology of Learning, and I loved her. The tests are extremely fair, and the workload is not overwhelming. Her experience with autistic children really brings the material to life (she uses videos in class), and I enjoyed this aspect especially. You can do well in the class without going to lectures. However, I looked forward to lectures as she supplemented the material with antecdotes, videos, and real life experiences; this REALLY helped on exams. She is always enthusiastic and available to her students, whom she truly cares about and wants to do well. The only way anyone could hate this class is if they are bored by the subject. Hoch is a fantastic professor.

Dec 2009

Prof. Hoch is indeed not the best lecturer- she relies heavily on her powerpoints and notes and often cannot think outside the "box" of examples she has already stated. However, her explanations are usually clear, and frankly, the material is not very difficult. She tries to be as straightforward as possible, and is successful for the most part. The course material is inherently dry, but her examples of her work with autistic and learning disabled children show how the information can be applied in real life. She also seems incredibly nice and is open to questions. So overall, this class is not super interesting, and the lectures certainly aren't dynamic, but the material and the class itself are both relatively painless. The information is good to know if you're a psych major (or want to fulfill the science requirement), but I would certainly not recommend this class as an elective.

Nov 2009

I wondered this semester why so many people were in Hoch's Psych of Learning class, and now I know why: the reviews on here are way too nice to her! She is truly an abysmal professor, though a very sweet and approachable woman. I want to like her so badly because she's cute and bubbly and tries hard, but she has absolutely no grasp of the content of the classes she teaches. I had her for Developmental Psych last fall and thought she was horrible, but she's even worse in Learning--who knew it was possible? She can't answer questions thoroughly, she constantly confuses herself when speaking, half of her slides have the wrong information on them, and she is incapable of coming up with examples on the spot--if it's not in her notes, given in a textbook or something, she can't explain it. Her tests are fair and she's easy to talk to and really wants everyone to succeed, but lectures (which she now takes attendance at, by the way) are actually truly painful. I feel bad for her as she struggles through every single concept, but don't have a done of sympathy as she's a professor and should at least mildly understand the topics she's lecturing about. Probably not worth the decent grade you'll end up with, honestly.

Jan 2009

Worst psych professor I've ever had as a psych major. She gets frustrated very easily when you ask her questions and is very, very unorganized. She told us 4 times that she would return our exams the next time we saw her before she actually did. She always had major typos in her powerpoints that she never fixed (like typing "not good" instead of "good"), arrived late to her office hours and then left early because she had to "be somewhere important", and is just obnoxious overall. It seemed that she didn't even want to be there most of the time and was too busy to help students. Also, she wouldn't let anyone go to the bathroom for the final--I saw a lot of people go up to her and ask but they had to sit back down. And I've heard from a lot of people that she never answered e-mails, especially right before the exam when you needed the help. She seriously has an attitude problem. But don't worry too much if you have to take her, just try not to talk to her as much as possible and you'll be fine. You don't need to do the reading unless you don't understand her slides (which is very, very often), and you just need to know the slides and the study guide and you'll do well on the exams. However, she does have a lot of confusing questions that are worded very poorly, but you can still do well anyway.

Dec 2008

avoid at all costs. the older reviews are correct. she graded a few people's exam with the wrong scantron sheet so they got the wrong grade. can't get the final exam back to check it so how do you know she's right? kant would seriously frown at that.

Oct 2007

Let me just preface this by saying that I am writing this review while in her class. Literally. Professor Hoch tries hard, yes, but she fails miserably. She does not explain things clearly, and she often makes mistakes. There are also many instances where she cannot answer questions that aren't already answered explicitly on her Powerpoint slides. Basically she ends up making things more complicated than they are, or confusing the students. I prefer just reading the book and learning from my lab instructor (the amazing Professor Taylor). The class is fairly easy though. 2 midterms and a final, all outlined by Professor Hoch. Some extra credit is available. I cannot attest to her availability because I have never sought her help.

Oct 2007

I was truly amused reading these reviews. I didn't read these until halfway through the semester, so I had no preconceived notions about her. The lab is not nearly as terrible as everyone is making it out to be. I'm pretty sure it's because Prof. Taylor has another full-time job though, and therefore doesn't really want to deal with a bunch of undergrads. We didn't have lab writeups every week. There was homework every week but unless it was a lab report (we only had to do 2 for the whole semester), it never took more than twenty minutes. She does love rats and telling stories about her kids, but I found her lectures a lot more informative, clear and interesting than Professor Hoch's (lecture professor). Sometimes her tone is kind of demeaning but I don't find it so terrible, compared to Professor Goldstein (Bio recitation professor).

Jun 2007

Take this course with Hannah Hoch!! She is great!! I agree with the other reviews in that the subject inherently is a bit dry (especially if you are not a psych major)-- but, if you have to take this course, she went out of her way to make it fun, interesting and easily understandable (and succeeded!). I am a psych major and was pushing off this class-- but I am SO happy I waited and took it with her-- I learned a lot, and she is just so passionate about what she does (and sooo sweet) that she made the class extremely enjoyable! (the class also ended up being invaluable for the psych GREs and later psych classes, so take it if you would need).

Jan 2007

I hated this class but it's not entirely the professor's fault. I blame Barnard's ridiculously stringent science requirements, forcing me to spend so much of my time doing something that I care SO LITTLE ABOUT. Prof. Hoch is a well-intentioned but inexperienced professor. I imagine she will improve somewhat, but that doesn't make the class any better. Most students (myself included) are there only to fulfill requirements and are generally uninterested in what seems like arbitrary definitions to phenomenon that may or may not exist and may or may not have any relevance to real life. That said, it's not a terribly difficult class to do well in (way easier than Psych of Perception, also offered fall semester) but for me it was most difficult to get past the fact that every bit of work I did for that class was not teaching me an f-ing thing.

Dec 2006

Oh, poor Hannah Hoch. She tries so hard (showing YouTube videos, encouraging student participation) but in an intro psych course where every lecture is on PowerPoint, down to the examples... it's just not going to be interesting. The advantage is that she posts each lecture online, so technically you never have to come to class at all (and judging by the amount of empty seats, many seem to take this approach). I would recommend coming somewhat frequently, though, as she often makes mistakes on the slides that students correct in class. That said, if you have to take this course for a requirement, don't be scared. She's very sweet and approachable, offers extra credit (5 points on your lowest test grade), and holds extra review sessions upon request. If you don't have to take it, however... just don't, and spare yourself the boredom.

Dec 2006

Professor Hoch was very nice and not demanding. The lectures came directly from her slides which were posted on courseworks before class and the exams came directly from her slides. This made for a relaxing class with minimal work and no suprises. The textbook was wordy and pretty much useless. I don't feel like i learned a whole lot, but that can be said for many college courses most of which require much more work and produce much more stress.

Dec 2006

Professor Hoch is a sweetheart. She's new to Barnard and really young. Her lectures are interesting and you can tell she's really passionate about it. She includes funny clips and pictures in her slides. The class was relatively easy especially for psych majors but even for non. The textbook was difficult, but her lecture (and lecture slides) really help. Three exams (non cumulative), extra credit assignment to summarize a psych article, and lab (if you're taking it with lab)

Jan 2006

I don't often write reviews, but I felt somewhat obligated to in this case, as none of the previously written reviews on Prof. Drew truly illustrated how completely dull, disorganized, and awful a professor this guy is. I absolutely completely and totally dreaded every single one of his lectures from day 1. He seldom had intelligent answers to students' questions. When a concept is difficult, he'll refer you to the book rather than explain it himself- he'll actually say just that. I'm ashamed of Barnard for having hired such a professor, even if his issues are just a function of his age and inexperience. Please do yourself a favor and avoid this class at all costs.

Jan 2006

The material is not particularly interesting. I found the textbook Drew used to be quiet dull and confusing. However, Dr. Drew, although nervous most of the time, is extremely engaging. He wants his students to learn, and he appears passionate about the subject. This is evident in always answering the very annoying, irrelevant questions asked by his students. I agree with the previous reviewer- Drew isn't that big on emails. However, I hear he is very helpful during office hours. His tests are NOT hard at all, as long as you read the book, answer the study questions, and use your common sense. Don't delay on answering the study questions. The best thing to do for tests is to read over the answers and use your notes and powerpt slides. I found that his tests were more lecture based than text book based. He does throw several trick questions on the exam, but you can probably those out. In fact, the only trouble I had with his tests was deciding which questions to throw out! So, all in all, I did learn a lot in his class, although I struggled to stay awake to read the textbook. I did take the lab. The lab was entirely pointless. The assignments were all very easy, but the grading was very arbitrary. The grade from lab could decide whether you get an A or an A-. Even if you get all As on your tests but receivea B on ur lab grade, that can bring you down to an A-. The median for the class was around a low B. I did not find the class or lab to be hard at all.

Jan 2006

Professor Drew is rather dull and gives unclear and confusing lectures. His slides leave you confused since they usually only contain the questions he is asking rather than the results of the experiments. Since the book doesn't cover the experiments he discusses, you are somewhat screwed. Maybe he will become clearer as he gets more teaching experience. but right now I wouldnt suggest bothering with this class unless you absolutely need it for a requirement.

Dec 2005

I agree that Dr. Drew was not as great at the beginning of the year. I got the feeling that he's a new teacher and is still trying to figure things out. However, as the year went on, his explanations and lectures got clearer, as well as his ability to answer questions and also to deflect the ones that threaten to take over the whole class period. His inexperience is really the cause of people's dislike, but he definitely improved as the year went on. He's also really good about giving examples and making powerpoints, etc, accessible. Overall, the class could have been better, but I really think that it improved over the course of the semester as Dr. Drew sorted things out.

Dec 2005

I think at the beginning of the year Professor Drew was really nervous about teaching and his lectures were all scrambled. He got better as the semester progressed but sometimes he still had trouble answering some of the students' questions. He's not great at answering his e-mail, but he's always willing to talk with you before or after class and to personally go over the exam with you. The second time around, he seems to be able to explain the topic better, so you may be a bit frustrated with him once he finally explains it to you in a way you can understand but AFTER the exam. All in all, he seems to be a fair teacher. I wasn't in the lab portion of the course, but I've been told that's a good thing since mice in the labs never did what they were expected to do, thus, confusing the students even more than the professor.

Nov 2005

BAD CLASS. So damn boring, I left lecture early or just didn't go at all. You can totally download the powerpoint slides and read the book on your own, which is way more entertaining as this guy. The lab helps if you sign up to take it, but be WARNED: Prof. Drew will confuse you more than he will help you understand a concept, SERIOUSLY!

Jan 2005

shes a brilliant lady that has no idea how to teach. she wants everyone to do well but she's just so freaking smart she has no idea that this class is HARD. she shouldnt be teaching an intro level class- shes a seminar.

Jan 2005

do not take this class. if you don't absolutely have to, don't take it with this woman. seriously, her lectures are erratic, her exams incoherent, and her stubbornness obsurdly rude. in my opinion she has no interest in compassion or being reasonable with grading because she finds us all too privelaged for that. she's one of those "even if you ALL agree on the answer to a question and got it wrong, you're still wrong and i know it because i know i'm right" teachers. this happened on about 1/3 of the poorly written questions on her exams.

Jan 2005

This is the classic case of a successful researcher who can't teach. Despite the fact that Professor Ristau is well-meaning, I have never encountered such a headache of a class in my three years at Barnard. There was a 25 point discrepancy between my first two test grades although I studied exactly the same for both exams. I couldn't believe the material she felt was fair game for the test; you cannot just hastily scribble a formula on the board and neither explain it nor use it in a practical application and expect students to correctly use it on a test. I have never encountered such ambigiously phrased test questions or confusing test format; on the final, we must have corrected at least six different wrongly phrased test questions (not to mention having to erase two sections of questions because she numbered the test wrong, grrr). Also, she made us copy all these articles from books that are no longer in print and placed scant copies on reserve. It's a shame I dreaded this class all semester because some of the material was quite interesting.

Dec 2004

She was the worst professor I have ever encountered. I've taken courses with professors that people have complained about, but she is by far the worst of the worst. She makes the material more confusing than it should be, and is more interested in showing us pictures of apes and birds than actually teaching us any material. She is disorganized and very annoyinig to have to listen to. I feel like I can teach the course better than she did. Good luck trying to figure out the correct answers on the exams... you probably have a better shot at a better grade guessing than actually giving a proper response.

Dec 2004

Prof. Balsam seemed like a nice enough person, but I have to say that his voice is simply not fit to lecture. Some company should tape his voice and sell it as a sleep aid. The textbook was dense but not unmanageable and there wasn't anything all that surprising on the exams. The labs required a ridiculous amount of time, particularly since I was only taking the class for a requirement. 3 APA papers is not only a lot, itÂ’s a lot that really didn't teach anybody much of anything. The reviews of class material that we sometimes had in lab were actually helpful. Steer clear if you are taking it just to fulfill a requirement, there are other classes that will take up a lot less of your time and possibly teach you a lot more.

Dec 2004

TERRIBLE!!! No one even went to class. I missed class for a week because I had the flu I asked about three people about class NONE of them had gone! The tests were horrific except for the final. She was even confused by the questions on the exams. I wouldn't recommend anyone to take this class with her. The material was very interesting but she ruined my experience.

Dec 2004

To be honest, I didn't find the course material to be particularly hard. In fact, it was one of my least challenging psych courses. But (and this is a big but), Prof. Ristau really has no clue how to deal with student complaints and grading or even how to teach the material comprehensibly. Most of the time she ends up confusing the students way more than the material itself can ever do. I basically just disregard everything she says and read through the text on my own. And her slides on courseworks are only about half of the slides she goes over in lecture (and even those are only partial slides with a bunch of ??? where certain key words are suppose to be) cuz she wants students to come to class rather than just print out slides from lecture. What ends up happening is students who actually realize she's showing the "missing slides" are just frantically copying down the stuff (a lot of which are graphs) cuz she flips through them so fast. I mean, if she has to resort to these little tricks to get students to show up to class, she should really reconsider her own teaching ability. Her exams are formated differently from one to the next, so how you should study for each varies. I thought the first exam was extremely easy (way over-studied for it). The second exam was harder but not too bad material-wise, but her questions were really poorly phrased and caused a lot of rightful uproar in the class. And then she makes this big to-do about going so out of her way to make things easier for us and really putting herself out there to accomodate our needs, where in reality she barely did what was expected of professors teaching a course. I mean, if she would have given her own questions a second thought (or even a second glance) she would catch the errors and ambiguities herself instead of having students bring it up to her after the exam and her having to change everyone's grades due to her own mistakes. The third exam was so much longer than the first two and included some stuff from the previous exams yet itz weighed the same. There were a lot of last minute additional readings not on the syllabus, which made it really confusing what to study for on the third exam.

Dec 2004

I did think that this class was quite difficult, as well, but I would like to just mention that Professor Ristau was really kind, and I found that she was quite considerate of her students. Towards the beginning of the semester she was more difficult and rigid, but I think it says a lot for her that she did hear what we had to say (which is a lot more than I can say for some profs), and she changed in response to her students' feedback

Dec 2004

I thoroughly agree with the other review of Carolyn Ristau. I found that I couldn't even bring myself to call her a professor because she didn't do anything during this class that resembled university level teaching. I do not doubt her intelligence, but I strongly doubt her ability to coherently share her "smarts" with a class of undergraduates, who have no previous experience with the (sometimes) difficult course material. Her scatterbrained demeanor in the classroom was frustrating and clear evidence that she is far better prepared to study chimps in the jungles of Nigeria(her former occupation) than to interact with real live human students in her psych class. Frankly, a professor who thinks that spending 45 minutes of class handing out papers is effective time management, is a joke. She also tried to make the lecture class a discussion section, which TOTALLY didn't work out, especially since she would have needed to teach us the material before asking questions.

Dec 2004

I cannot agree more with the previous reviewer. Professor Ristau is the single most worst teacher I have ever had in three and half years at this college. She is absolutely horrible. She cannot keep facts straight and will teach material incorrectly and then announce that if it appears on the test and you mix it up she will not take away points....well, that is just wrong in general because she should get the material right, but you will find out that that is a big fat lie. She will take points away from you and be very happy to do so. Her tests are incoherrent, make no sense and cannot even be understood by other Psych professors. She will take points away from students after marking their answers correct and then deciding it was not a right answer, gets annoyed at students for using their intellect and arguing with her that her answers are not right from tests. As I am sitting here, attempting to study for her final, I am realizing that she does not even know the material, but seems to lift it straight from the book, almost word for word, and obviously does not even possess the intellectual capacity to come up with her own examples. She treats her students like infants and has a tendency to make you feel like you are in seventh grade again. She discovered that students did not do the reading for the class right after an exam and then proceeded to test us in class and pick out individuals to see if they had done the reading. As a senior Psych major I was forced into taking this class this semester. If she ever teaches this class again, DO NOT take it! You should suffer through Balsalm rather than subject yourself to the insanity of this teacher.

Dec 2004

I completely agree with the review above. I went to a public high school in a not-so-great neighborhood and even there never encountered such an instructor. Not only does she clearly have no idea what she's talking about (as several times the slides she posted were wrong and needed to be redone) but in my opinion she is irrational, and completely unwilling to compromise. Her exams are ridiculous as oftentimes the answer would contradict what the text said or her own notes. For example, she gave us an equation in class (not in the book) and tested us on it having forgotten to mention to the class that a proportion needs to be used in the equation. She often forgets THE MOST IMPORTANT part of an experiment or any given theory. Also, the last test was clearly not measure for time: the entire class ended up staying a half an hour later and her instructions were insanely unclear (she didn't even show up to class on the exam date). When I met with her she hurried me out after five minutes (after having me wait for ten) saying she needed to meet with another student. Going to class is an utter waste to time since her lectures and notes don't make any sene. Also, we wasted entire classes arguing with her about how she marked correct answers incorrect to no avail. She's awful. Avoid Ristau at all costs.

Dec 2004

I came to this university in order to avoid classes with professors like this. Just about everyone who was not required to take this course dropped it and those who didn't deeply regret it. I have never met a professor so clueless, so overwhelmed, and so out of her league as this one. The lectures are unstructured and confusing. During one lecture Professor Ristau actually became so confused that she announced to a flabbergasted classroom that she was glad she didn't have to learn this material because she found it very confusing. The tests are even worse! Not only are the questions often not from the material covered by the course (there is therefore no way to study), but the answers are also often wrong, causing much class time to be wasted as the entire class argues their grade. While she might be a perfectly nice person Professor Ristau has no pity for the students and is unable to help them although she will be more than willing to meet with you. As unreal as this review may sound it is the truth so do yourself a big favor and DO NOT take this, or any course, with Professor Ristau.

Jan 2004

The class had the potential to be interesting, but Balsam sucked the materical dry. His lectures are unorganized and BORING. He's really moody and an even worse lecturer. The tests were not difficult, and I actually found them to be on the easy side. But they weren't graded fairly either. Balsam is just a strange professor. Stay away from this class at all costs.

Jan 2004

I thought this was a great class. I found most of the lectures interesting and Balsam to be very enthusiastic and willing to explain things. True the book is dense but the lectures helped a lot. Balsam made the material interesting with his explanations and examples. I thought that the number of people who came late to this class was ridiculous and it annoyed me as much as the instructor.

Dec 2003

He is the worst professor ever. He is sarcastic (not in a funny way) and extremely anal. His grading is unfair and his exams are difficult. He has a hard time with new technologies. The lab is not helful - the new lab director (Florer) knows nothing.

Dec 2003

This was honestly one of the worst classes I've ever taken. Prof Balsam in some ways does a good job at making the rather dry ideas more accessible through his numerous everyday examples. However, I do not believe that makes up for his extreme arrogence and self involvement. The last few weeks of the semester he decided to torture the people who came into class late, which in my opinion was grossly inappropriate, and frustrating to both the people who came in late, and those of us that had come on time. The lab was by far the worst portion of the class. The assignments were incredibly time consuming and didn't actually help you learn everything. Additionally, there were 3 full APA papers, which is ridiculous for a 1.5 credit lab. The new lab technician (Dr Florer) was unclear in her expectations, and completely inconsistent in her grading. Although she seems like a nice person, she is highly emotional, and a disaster to have as a prof. So, unless you have an enormous interest in the psych of learning, I would STRONGLY recommend that you find another class.

Nov 2003

I actually liked this class. Yes, the textbook is extremely dense and boring, but I loved Prof. Balsam (though he can be cranky sometimes.) The lab is a decent amount of work, but it definitely helped supplement the lectures. A lot of people complained about tough grades for lab work, but I followed directions and I did fine.

Nov 2003

I HATEd this class. SOOOOO boring. I am a non-psych major and had no choice but to take this b/c it was the only thing that fit my schedule, which made it all the more horrible. Normally I am strict about never missing a class, but with this one, it was so boring that I must have missed at least 4 classes and that is a lot for me. Balsam has a hypnotic voice, the book is poorly written, and he can make you feel rather stupid when you don't understand something. Even though the lab is a lot more work, I found the instructor to be much more engaging, a a hell of a lot funnier, and I learned much more. I dreaded the lecture every morning. Bring coffee - and I mean with a double shot of expresso. Non majors who are looking for an easy way out of the science requirement - stay as far away from this as possible. I will add that of all the students I spoke with in this course, no one liked it, and that included psych majors as well.

Nov 2003

I cant say I love it, I cant say I hate it. Sorry if that isnt helpful. Balsam...can be somewhat scary at times. He tends to patronize students who ask questions and has some crabby moods. Class has dull moments, but the text is horrendous, so comparatively speaking, he does an ok job. Im not a psych major, and I suppose there are easier classes within the department....but the real warning is the new lab instructor. Ill give her the benefit of the doubt, it is her first semester. But I gotta tell ya, she needs a hell of a lot of improvement. The labs arent uber-hard,although they expect three APA-style labs over the semester, which is ridiculous. Most psychologists dont even use it, and for me, who has zero interest in the field, finds it a little ridiculous to require of undergrads.

Apr 2003

I love Prof. Balsam. Okay so the material is a little dry sometimes and you may be looking at your watch I little too often. However he does know and love his stuff and offers plenty of examples. He doesn't use slides but I actually didn't have a problem with his notes on the board. I found him very well-paced and easy to follow. Do the study questions and you can even email it to him to check. He is very very accessible and you can go to him with any questions. Plus if you love emailing prof's thousands of questions don't worry - he loves questions and people who show some effort in studying.

Mar 2003

DONT DO IT!!!!!!! Professor Taylor has to be one of the meanest strangest most sarcastic patronizing professors I have ever had here. She's in love with the rats, tells strange stories about her children, and then pops in with comments about how when one person dies per day in subway accidents it's God's way of taking care of drunks and children. The workload is atrocious. She never hands anything back on time, so forget having a chance to learn from your mistakes. She lectures forever and reminds you how incompentent you must be and that she'll be kind enough to show you how to do things the right way as she coddles and fondles the rats as they pee all over her and she finds it too cute. For those people who enjoyed Prof. Taylor, you must share with the rest of us what you were taking during that class. She was supposedly "nicer" when I had her for lab because of the enormous amounts of bad reviews...I can't imagine how horrid she was before. Unfortunately for you psych majors she will probablybe unavoidable...all I must say to you...FIND A WAY OUT. JUST FIND A WAY OUT!!

Jan 2003

Unfortunately, I've had K. Taylor for three different psychology labs over the four years that I've been here and no matter how I try to prepare myself, she scares the shit out of me every time. My best advice to those who might have to take one of her labs is to NEVER make a mistake on ANYTHING, NEVER ask a question, and make sure your lab reports are 100% to APA format and chrystal clear. If you do need to ask a question, no matter what it is, she will look at you like you are dead stupid and answer with a tone of voice that implies disgust at having to help someone so incredibly unintelligent. The previous reviewers were all right - she will take weeks to hand anything back and will email you with details way too late. Just remember that you are on your own in this lab. Don't count on her to explain anything initially, nor to help you out if you have a question. I do have something good to say about Professor Taylor, though. As sarcastic and condescending as she is in class, if you go talk to her one on one, she will be much nicer.

Jan 2003

The professor's fine. Balsam is actually more entertaining than a lot of psychology professors. The class though is another matter. I took only the lecture and found the textbook boring and incredibly dense, at times even incomprehensible. The labs probably helped people understand the material better; the study questions Balsam offers help very little, as the questions on the exams are dependent on both the book and the lectures. The exams are tough, and watch out -- some questions are very tricky. It could be worse, but this was not one of my favorite psych classes, even with a tolerable professor.

Dec 2002

Disaster, demanding and unorganized, the lab manual has mistakes in it. While she is very patronising (oh, I will not scare the poor little yous with anything to do with statistics) she also clearly shows her own complete disinterest by monotonous lecturing. And I thought a lab was supposed to be interactive...

Dec 2002

Balsam is a really strange professor. He is totally paranoid. In my opinion he is always under the suspicion that no one enjoys his class, that you are drawing instead of taking notes, and are cheating on his booooring exams. i would stay clear

Nov 2002

Despite some of the other reviews, I don't find the professor to be such an awful person in class or out. Yes, she does make a lot of rat comments and sometimes her sarcasm does seem a bit patronizing, but the overall lab experience is not as bad as the lecture portion of this course. I also don't believe that the lab write ups are that bad, especially if you've been tortured in the past with Chem lab write ups. Actually, compared to chem and bio labs, this lab was almost dumbed down because it contains no statistics whatsoever and we are expected to make inferences and judgements on our results. The grading is certainly not as harsh, but there were a number of mistakes in my lab manual and it can be confusing as to what it is she is asking for in the report.

Nov 2002

I found this class to be unbearably boring but it partly may be due to the fact that I took Human Memory and Learning. I'm hard pressed to find anything enjoyable about this course. The textbook is dense and dry and goes into the type of detail that I never wanted to know about (it doesn't even have color!) and the professor is not any better in class. Most of the time his lectures are random and not organized at all. He seems to have no real direction and he tries too hard to be funny in class (which he is not). His voice is monotonic and he speaks slowly, making it difficult to maintain consciousness during lectures. If I didn't have to take this class, I would have dropped it by day two.

May 2002

Loved her. The labs are long, but they really make the lectures more understandable. She tells you that lab reports will take you 5-10 hours a week, and shes not kidding, they do. She can come off as intimidating, but shes not, outside of class shell spend hours helping you. Ends with an independent project that took over my life for two weeks, but I had fun with it.

May 2002

Unless you think that rats are the cutest things in the world, avoid this class like th plague. This is the most boring class...three hours of listening to her go on and on about how she trained her kids and numerous comparisons to her beloved rats. The workload is beyond anyone who is taking more than 4 credits a semester. This is definately one of those professors who does not realize you have other, more interesting, classes.

Feb 2002

He thinks he's funny, but he's not. The course is interesting, however the lectures tend to drag. You need to go to lecture and read the book to do well. The labs take a long time to complete, but they aren't bad.

Jan 2002

If your idea of a good time is recording how many times a rat can rear its front legs over the course of three hours while listening to a slightly psychotic, lazy, sarcastic professor (jokes are entirely unfunny, rat-based, and enjoyed exclusively by the class weirdo) then this class if for you!!!!! (Did I mention that the professor is slightly psychotic and lazy with a disasterous sense of humour????) If you're the kind of person who gets a big kick out of devoting every thursday evening to a twenty page lab report due Friday at 9 a.m. (by the way, they're handed back months late so forget trying to learn from your mistakes) then this class is doubly for you!!!!! Besides tormenting her students with her obnoxious personality, the only thing Taylor enjoys more is fondling her beloved lab rats, whom she addresses like babies. You'll especially enjoy seeing her amused look (awww, isn't he so cute???) when they pee all over her rat-urine soaked lab coat. Did I mention she's slightly psychotic, lazy and has a disasterous sense of humour???? On a serious note, if you find yourself required to take this lab, may I suggest transferring?

Dec 2001

I really liked this class. The textbook is really dense, but the lecture really helps. He gives thousands of examples to help you understand topics, and he'll go over something as many times as it takes for everyone to get it. Hes very big on applying the concepts you learn to the real world, and I liked that. The lab is a great supplement to the lecture, and the people in the lab understood the concepts much better than the people who weren't, but it took up a hell of a lot of time- 5-10 hours a week, and then the idependent project at the end takes over your life, but you learn a lot.