professor
Norma Graham

Jan 2018

Graham really cares about her seminar and students. She created a comfortable and enjoyable learning environment in which we could explore topics we were interested in. The class gives you an excuse to browse online vision-related psychology articles. Unlike other psychology professors, she encourages non-majors to take her classes because she values perspectives coming from people studying quantitative STEM fields. Other professors don't let anyone who's not majoring or concentrating in psychology into their seminars.

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 read...so 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.

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. Yeah...it'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!!!!

May 2012

Avoid Professor Graham's class. Go to her for questions about the department, the university, Psych research, etc…—just don't take her class. As most of the reviews for her Science of Psych class explain, Professor Graham is a sweet, considerate woman who cares about her students. Unfortunately, she is disorganized and incapable of explaining concepts in a clear, helpful way. I took Statistics for the Behavioral Scientist with Professor Graham in her first semester teaching it since 1985. The class moves at a reasonable pace and Professor Graham realizes the class has no prerequisites. She holds frequent office hours and is always happy to meet with students. This does not make up for the disorganization, marathon exams, and insane lab assignments though. Disorganization: Professor Graham’s lectures are so disorganized and rambling it’s nearly impossible to understand her point or even to see how the material she teaches matches concepts from the book. Few of the lecture slides have page numbers or anyway of identifying what they cover. Professor Graham writes them by hand on her iPad and they are so illegible you’ll spend at least an hour of exam prep trying to figure out what they say let alone what they mean. Also, there’s no syllabus. For each homework assignment, you have to go back through the “announcement” slides for each lecture to see which textbook problems were assigned. Since the titles of the slides are incomprehensible, you then have to open each PDF on Courseworks individually to find additional assigned problems. Midterm and final: Both tests are moderately difficult but made much harder by the fact that it’s very hard to prepare for them. Few of the questions reflect anything covered in the reading and I constantly felt like I was trying to guess what she or the TA was thinking. Both tests are extremely long. After few students finished the midterm Professor Graham promised to make the final shorter. It ended up being 20+ pages with pages of useless explanations and rambling in parentheses. Lab: A major part of the class is the weekly, two-hour lab in which the TAs teach Stata. We were told we would usually be able to finish the lab assignments in the two-hour period. Instead, students who scored 8+/10 routinely spent 4-6 hours outside of lab working. At the beginning of the semester neither the TAs nor Professor Graham even knew which PCs around Columbia have Stata 12 (go to Lehman computer lab, use the PCs not the Macs) meaning students spent hours looking for a place to do their homework. Some resorted to just buying Stata for their laptops. While lab assignments are a relatively small part of the overall grade, the TAs deduct points over minor details. Bottom Line: Professor Graham would be an ideal thesis advisor or mentor in the Psychology department, but is pretty bad at teaching introductory material. Take advantage of her willingness to meet with students and her insightful advice, but avoid her class.

Aug 2004

Undeniably adorable but a little incoherent at times. Sometimes you will leave class thinking, "What did we DO today? Did we learn anything?" You will be baffled as to what to take notes on. Other times, however, she will surprise you with her clarity. That happens too. It is a hit-and-miss type deal. However, all in all, if you're at all interested in learning the basics about psychology, this is a good bet. Except for the essay take-home (which you can do with a partner), the only tests she gives are multiple-choice and straight-forward. That is to say, if you put the time in and learn the material, the test is easy... if you skim it the night before, it ain't. Also, this class is really really funny. Many of the videos that she shows in class are laugh riots-- not all, but many-- and during the developmental psychology unit, she will bring in a baby. You will watch the baby chew on her doll. Graham will try to measure the baby's head... that won't work. If the baby has a favorite song, the class will be coerced into singing it for the child. This is a fun class. Keep up with the reading and form study groups for exam prep, and you should do fine.

May 2004

This class was great. True, Norma does spend way too much time going over the same announcements. And her lectures at first seem disorganized or rambling or boring, but give it time -- they're actually quite subtle. A little knowledge of statistics really helps to grasp what she's getting at. At the end I had a good general understanding and appreciation for psychology, rather than just a knowledge of a few experiments here and there. And Gray's book is outstanding, without a doubt the best textbook I've ever used, in any class. Contrary to what other reviews have said, yes you need to go to class, and yes you need to read the book. Just review your notes and the text before the test and you'll do really well.

May 2004

Dr. Graham presented a somewhat interesting lecture. The first 10-20 minutes of class definitely were a waste of time though. It is probably better to just read the book then go to class. The tests are mostly from Peter Gray's excellent Psychology book. The book is wonderful and the best part of the class.

May 2004

Stay away. Norma is a sweet-enough lady, and adorable, but this class is painful and very difficult to do well in. Her lectures are dull (they lie somewhere in the realm of actual teaching and rambling, not quite either), and the only interesting things are the days when she shows videos. I dunno, at some point I just stopped going to class. The text book by Peter Gray is FASCINATING though. Very well written, and just amazingly interesting. That may have been the one highlight of the course. I became quite acquainted with the textbook when studying for her exams. Turned out to be a waste of time... her exams are IMPOSSIBLE. They ask you to remember such minor facts or random parts of lectures (which, admittedly, I just flat out stopped attending mid-way thru the semester). I don't regret it though. I received the same grade on the exam that I went to class for and studied minorly for than for the exam I stopped going to and studied extensively. I guess its however you want to deal with teh course. I guess I figured it would be an easy way to fulfill the science requirement. I was sadly mistaken. I hear its easier in the Fall. My suggestion would be to take it there. The largeness of the class also makes portions of it very time consuming, and I feel like a lot of the information could be better presented in a smaller class. Perhaps discussion sections. Wow, I really hated this class...

Apr 2004

I already wrote a glowing review of Professor Graham, but after reading some of the more recent reviews, I feel that it is time for another. As a psychology major, I have taken quite a few psychology courses. It is unbelievable how many psychology professors present their entire lectures using Power Point, reading their notes verbatim. Perhaps many of you have gotten so used to this wretched style of lecturing (if that is what it is called to read slides out loud) that when you come across a professor who actually teaches, you mistake it for rambling? I will save you from my spiel about how Power Point is killing teaching (and learning), and instead let me say this: Norma Graham is an amazing professor who truly loves to teach, who challenges you to think and read critically, and who will inspire you to think differently about science. Even if you plan to never take another psychology course again, take this class. With her genuine enthusiasm about psychology, with her attitude that science is about continuous questioning and careful investigation, and with her thoughtful approach to teaching, Professor Graham is one of the best professors you will come across in all your time at Columbia. She is definitely one of my favorites!

Apr 2004

Good Things About Professor Graham: 1. She is a really kind person. 2. She makes us read from a really good textbook Bad Things About Her: 1. She does not know how to teach. She rambles and rambles hardly ever getting to the point. I learned more from the one class the TA Kate taught than I have from all of Prof. Graham's lectures combined. The only way to do well is to teach yourself the material on your own.

Apr 2004

god awful! she spends at least half an hour before each class going through administrative procedures. i know her ta's office hours by heart now. and then she tells us every class that we cannot expect to do well on the test no matter what because cramming is a bad study method etc etc. plus she spends another thirty minutes fixing the projector and fiddling with the lights and her stack of transparencies. all handouts are on the website so print them out she reminds you EVERY CLASS. FIVE TIMES. EACH CLASS. however, her grading is purely based on exam grades so either youre a good test taker or youre not. and her optional hw assignments she talks about all semester. they dont count. at all. the most informative lectures are when her tas lecture or when she shows videos or demos. dont waste your time and ruin your gpa. the curve is INSANE. so many premed and postbacs its CRAZY and if one person gets a perfect score on an exam...like someone in my class, youre screwed bc then the curve is shifted usually to your disagvantage. ths course just SUCKS AT LIFE.

Apr 2004

I have to put my two cents in here on Norma Graham. SHE IS A GREAT PROFESSOR! I really enjoy the lectures. I would call her lecturing "organic" but NOT rambling. I enjoy her candor and her funny asides--they make the lecture more interesting. Plus, she has a sincere desire to teach and to get to know her students. I have managed to get A&B ranges on all the tests with the minimal effort of reading and going to class and listening. As a person with an arts background and who is not keen on science, I highly recommend this class with Norma.

Mar 2004

It's a sleepy class, but i love the videos, especially the one on visual agnosia. watch out, ladies, larry's a stud . . . norma cannot explain things. that's it. it's impossible to sit there and listen to her ramble on circuitously about some concept that a more concise person could have explained in five-ten minutes. the only lecture i could stay awake through or follow so far was given by one of the TAs. sure, norma seems like a sweet old lady at first, but after a while, you just want her to stoooooop talking.

Jan 2004

Professor Graham is an incredibly nice person, perhaps she'd make a nice grandmother, but that doesn't qualify her to teach an intro psychology class. I'd tend to agree with much of what's been said regarding her inability to conduct a class. Nothing much happens in class other than her talking about vision and using a gratuitous number of overhead slides, which I don't think anyone fully understood. She shows a lot of videos (so you have to go to class) and then doesn't really talk about them. Part of the problem with the class is that it's virtually impossible to take notes since she really doesn't stay on point. I'd agree that the textbook was good and interesting, but honestly I can read a textbook on my own. I want a professor who's going to add to the book. Unfortunately, Professor Graham just can't stay on track. The course is definitely geared towards those who have already taken a neuroscience class and with her field of research being vision you will get more than you bargained for in that area. If you're content to read the textbook and really gain nothing more than that by all means take this class. My advice would be to take The Science of Psychology in the fall. When push comes to shove this class is about memorizing as much of the textbook as possible so you can ace the multiple choice tests.

Sep 2003

Prof Graham is a very nice lady who makes a point to get to know the students--not easy in a large lecture course. The lectures are interesting and well presented. As this is a broad intro course, don't expect a lot of detail or depth in the lecture (although there is more of this in the text), but it's a very good review of the major topics. She has a bit of a cognitive bent to the course (focuses on the brain more than on social aspects of psychology--if you're thinking about majoring in neuroscience and behavior, she's a good prof to take W1001 with. Maybe the wrong course if you're looking to find out how your mom messed up your life). The textbook is great--you end up reading most of it, but it's all interesting and well written. If you keep up with the reading, it shouldn't be a problem and you'll learn a lot. She gives little quizzes that she uses for attendance at the beginning of class-they don't count for anything, but they give you an idea of the type of info she'll ask about on the exam.

Mar 2003

This class is a complete waste of time. The professor is either an idiot or thinks her students are, and nothing whatsoever is covered in class because Graham pauses so much in what looks like ministrokes, and is far too accepting of students' ass-clownish questions. At least in groups and symetry you don't have to go to class, but for this course you are subjected to her horrible lectures, and early in the morning at that.

May 2002

Norma Graham is a truly dedicated professor who does everything possible to inspire her students and introduce them to the many possibilities in the field. Yes, there is a lot of reading, but it is in a great, well-written textbook by Peter Gray. Graham bends over backwards to make herself accessible to students and to invite them to consult her. I only wish other professors at Columbia had this degree of interest in their students. Graham is an exceptional person, as well as a commited teacher.

May 2002

I have to agree with the mediocre reviews of this class. Professor Graham seems like a very sweet woman, but this course was pretty much a waste of time. Psychology was reduced to either straight biology or a bunch of broad, untestable generalizations. I don't know if its the nature of intro courses to be this useless, but I certainly had trouble motivating myself to get up at 9 in the morning for this class-- it was usually boring and pointless, and rarely made the material any clearer than the book did.

May 2002

Prof. Graham is a very, very nice teacher who really would like to teach you what she knows. She is well-intentioned and very easy to speak to about anything you are interested in after class or during her office hours (she encourages this every class). While her lectures are not as fact-filled and packed as some lectures in other classes in the field, it it easy to enjoy them after a while. Relatively easy to do well in this class if you do the reading before the test and are willing to put in time and effort for the papers.

May 2002

Prof. Graham is a very nice person, but a lot is left to be said about the class. The lectures were largely pointless and confusing. Perhaps due to the large amount of material covered in the class, most of what was taught seemed superficial. The two tests were somewhat arbitrary- expect to find the most obscure details asked. The class is tolerable- not spectacular.

May 2002

The prof. loves her students and is super dedicated to them. Her office hours are non-stop and there are always students there. The class is pretty boring, however, in that it is a lot of biology of the brain, sleeping etc. This is not a course to take if you are interested in theoretical psychology. She brought some cool videos and guests but i slept through a very good portion of the course because it was relatively dry.

Apr 2002

Everyone else seems to rather like Prof. Graham, so I'd like to provide a dissenting opinion. The fact is, she annoys the hell out of me, and her class is pretty worthless. This class requires a very large amount of reading, almost none of which is covered in class-- Prof. Graham prefers to show videos and waste your time with "demonstrations" of small children who come into the class and run around obnoxiously, personality tests, diagrams with pictorial representations of how we process the word "Cat," and the like. She spends time every class with what she calls "business," which deals with the (somehow infinitely complex) class website, the TA office hours, and so forth. She has never really given a substantial lecture, and instead spends time explaining very simple concepts painfully slowly. It would be preferable to read the textbook and not waste your time with class, except for the fact that she takes attendance...and watch for her to swig out of her water-filled Diet Coke bottle mid-sentence--- or maybe that's not really water in there??

Jan 2000

A truly kind, intelligent professor. It's not rocket science, but she makes psychology interesting and approachable to even non-science students. Professor Graham attempts to get to know her students and is always willing to assist a confused undergraduate. I'm concentrating in psych because of her.

Jan 2000

I'll just be adding to the store of compliments about this wonderful professor but I don't think that enough can be said. This class is always crammed to the gills, with people sitting on the floor on the first day so register as early as possible. It's worth it. Prof Graham is a great lecturer, organized and interesting, and the material covered is extremely good. I learnt so much from this one class that it's made me determined to take more psych classes in future. Truly inspiring, and Prof Graham is a great person. Go see her during office hours, she'll take time off to chat with you.

Jan 2000

Very repetitive, but good lecturer, easily accessible, kind, good grades flourish...Reviews the lecture to come at the beginning of class. Wants to get to know each student individually. The Grandmotherly type. Workload: 2 big exams, 3 hours of volunteer participation in studies required (or an additional paper if you have objections to volunteering in psychological studies), and a paper (I think).

Jan 2000

Kind and inviting, her lectures are outlined at the beginning of each class and she always spends time to clear up organizational/administrative issues -- for better or worse. It may seem a bit tedious at times but if you tend to skip classes, her reminders can be quite useful. The introductory psychology class covers such a wide range of topics that her lectures sometimes get you more confused because of the new information she brings in. However, she's very engaging, organized, and clear about her requirements and you end up learning very solidly. The good far outweighs the bad.

Jan 2000

Will spend time before class clearing up administrative issues and outlining the lecture-to-come. How annoying or helpful you find the heavy repetition will depend on how often you show up to class. The intro class can get confusing, but mostly because of the wide range of topics and new information that she incorporates. Very solid -- organized, clear about the requirements.