professor
Janet Metcalfe

May 2021

The class is not extremely hard, some material is easier and some is harder to understand, but not impossible. However, the way that the professor lectures is confusing: she often confuses herself as well, and I have to re-watch the lectures after class all over again to understand it better. The slides are also very poorly formatted and structured, and hard to follow, there aren't coherent bullet points or terms so it's hard to follow. The tests are fair, but I found the requirement of posting 2 questions per class was not effective.

Oct 2019

Professor Metcalfe should really take some time for introspection and decide whether teaching is really something she wants to do. Likewise, the Psych Department should take a good look at the student feedback from Metcalfe's classes because they are atrocious. I never thought I would regret taking a class at Columbia but boy oh boy, do I regret signing up for this one. There's about 100-200 pages of weekly reading of which she talks about 10% of them in class. However, 50% of the tests are on the reading material!!! The lectures are really disorganized and I'm pretty sure she's just free-styling them most of the time. The TAs are pretty much useless but I don't blame them because it seems that Metcalfe doesn't give them much to work with either. They're usually her RAs from her lab which makes sense because why else would you want to involve yourself in that mess? The tests are harshly graded (i.e. you could get none of the questions wrong but still wind up with an 85 because you didn't include "enough detail" even though you wrote 4 sentences for a single definition). The TAs grade them and I know FOR A FACT that she doesn't review the grading before handing the tests back. If you want her to look at any single question/grading, she will regrade the entire tests so you know how that goes... The review sessions for "cheat sheets" with 150+ terms are held the day before the exam and they don't cover much except whatever unanswered questions there were from the discussion boards. Do yourself a favor and fulfill whatever requirement this meets with any other class. I think Metcalfe is a sweet woman and would even make for an interesting mentor/friend but she's an awful pedagogue who should really just stick to her research.

Oct 2018

Professor Metcalfe is a sweet and knowledgeable person, but her class is extremely disorganized. If you aren’t sitting in the first row you will not be able to hear the majority of what she is saying. The TA’s don’t offer clarity, and grade tests very harshly. Review session held by TA’s only caters to students who live on campus - it was as held at 8PM on a Monday. Prior to exams you are intstructed to respond with bullet points, not full sentences, because points will be taken off for making TA’s read too much; once the time for the test comes though, points are taken off for lack of depth. You don’t get out what you put in, in terms of this class. Even as a person who is getting a good grade in the class so far, I would suggest you not waste your time or money.

Feb 2017

I have never written a CULPA review before, but I was just looking through reviews of professors I have had out of curiosity and I am so surprised by all of the negative reviews for Dr. Metcalfe. I'm not sure if other people have given spiteful reviews or if things have improved a lot since 2014, but I loved Dr. Metcalfe's class. In fact, I don't think I heard anyone in my class last semester (fall 2016) express that they thought anything about Memory & Stress was unfair. Study guides given out encompass everything you need to know, lectures are interesting, and Dr. Metcalfe is very sweet! I don't mean to call anyone else's reviews into question, but it is very difficult for me to picture her being condescending or rude to students. I would strongly recommend this class. It is important to be aware going into it that some material presented only in lecture (and not available in readings) will be on tests, so it is important to either consistently attend class & take detailed notes, or otherwise attend review sessions & ask TAs about concepts you missed. You will know in advance which class concepts will be on the test, since this is all outlined in study guides.

Dec 2014

Course content is interesting but the knowledge and intrigue of the material is completely detracted and butchered by Professor Metcalfe's careless instruction and presentation efforts, not to mention her complete lack of course structure and organization. Her lecture slides have no rhyme or rhythm and each slide uses varying font type and size. There may be a sentence here and then two paragraphs there. In short, there is no continuity to her slides whatsoever. To make matters worse, her PowerPoint background is sometimes in black and font in white which makes viewing/discerning the print outs extremely difficult. Her methods are primitive and serve more as a learning hindrance than anything else. It is somewhat ironic that her course is names as such. However, if you are a dedicated and patient student, it is possible to excel in her course, but with extraneous effort. Work with the TAs who have taken her course before and understand the struggles that students face with Janet; they are on your side and try to assist in any way possible. Go to the review sessions that are held before every exam -- they are extremely helpful. **Please note workload description below. PLEASE NOTE: Prof refuses to provide electronic copies of her lecture slides. There is ONE, yes ONE, physical copy of her lecture slides that are placed on reserve at the library for a class of 60+ students to share.

Jan 2014

I have to say that the reviews for this course and Janet surprised me. I'm glad I didn't read them before taking her course, because I would have thought about taking a different one and missed out. I agree that Prof Metcalfe can be aloof and potentially abrasive outside of class while during lectures seem engaged and enthusiastic. However, I don't think she is unreasonable or harsh, as others have suggested. Also, it was clear that she had spent a lot of time thinking about how to structure the course. She explained during the first class that the presentation of the material and spacing of exams is designed to maximize long-term retention, which related to the course topic itself. I found her lectures interesting, often supplementing and informing the readings. Concepts that were previously taught were integrated into new material, which helped reinforced learning them the first time and was helpful enough for me that it cut down on the amount of studying I would have otherwise had to do. That being said, the lectures also often presented material that was expected to be learned for exams, but not in any of the course readings. However, almost everything she covers that is not in the readings is in the book "Thinking fast and slow" by Kahneman. I would highly recommend reading it if you plan to take this course--it'll make your life a lot easier, esp. if you miss lectures. She gives a term/review sheet for each exam, of which there are 4 and a final (20% each), but she won't email it out until ~2 days before the exam and there are about 3x as many things on it than are on the exam. The TAs did a wonderful job putting together ppts and review sessions that helped focus studying. Prof. Metcalfe doesn't post lecture ppts, but she keeps a copy of each on the door of her lab. She lets you replace one exam grade with a research paper. Overall, this was one of the better courses I have taken in the psych dept and Prof. Metcalfe is one of the better lecturers I've had. I would recommend the class--especially if you're interested in metacognition.

Jan 2013

All right, I just want to start out with saying that it IS POSSIBLE TO GET AN "A" IN THIS CLASS. sheesh.. Having said that, I can understand why some were not too happy with this class. Unless you go into this class with some background it can be easy to get lost. To back up, I believe they should have pre-requisites for this class. I took Psychology of Learning at Barnard (HATED that class, but it prepared me the most for this class), Biology 1001, and a Social Cognition course (in case you could not tell, I am a psych major) and I truly believe all of those courses better prepared me for this class. The two books are basically what the entire course centers on and they are very interesting. Another friend who got an even better grade than I did had read both books over the summer and was just leisurely reading them now. He literally only got .5 taken off on each test. And speaking of the tests... I mean seriously.. she gives out a study sheet.. i would sometimes study the day before or two days before just filling out those terms and I would do fine! Oh! I guess I should also add that it helps tremendously to record the class lecture since she does not post the slides. But that kind of forces you to pay attention. Then, when studying just listen to the audio of the class over as you fill in the study sheet. But that study sheet will pretty much be the test. The final was much easer than i expected. It was worth 20 points as well and instead of focusing on things that we did not get tested on before, it was on popular questions from all of the past tests! So for the last test I recomend looking over your past tests. All in all, its NOT THAT BAD!! But I'd definitely recommend it for enthusiastic psych majors.

Dec 2012

I don't use CULPA because I felt it reviews professors harshly but for this class I feel a moral obligation to warn other students. STAY AS FAR AWAY FROM THIS CLASS AS POSSIBLE, THERE'S NO GOOD REASON TO TAKE IT. IF YOU NEED IT FOR YOUR MAJOR, PICK ANOTHER MAJOR. I PROMISE THAT IF YOU TAKE THIS CLASS YOU ARE SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR FAILURE. Correct answers on exams will be marked as wrong, ta's will tell you to look up terms on wikipedia, etc. etc. etc. Every review here is correct. I AM WARNING YOU FOR YOUR OWN GOOD. I WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO LOOK MYSELF IN THE MIRROR AGAIN, IF I LET ANYONE I CARE ABOUT TAKE THIS COURSE. ONE TIME THE ALARM WENT OFF, THE FIRE DEPARTMENT SHOWED UP AND SHE DIDN'T LET THE CLASS LEAVE!!!! THE POLICE BANGED ON THE DOOR AND SCREAMED AT HER!! (FALL 2011) UNLESS YOU WANT HUMILIATED, DEMORALIZED OR BURN TO DEATH IN A FIRE STAY AWAY FROM THIS PROFESSOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nov 2012

THE WORST PROFESSOR I HAVE EVER HAD. I was drawn immediately to the subject of the course, but Metcalfe's incompetent, rude and insensitive manner is honestly the worst I have ever seen. While she might seem to have a good sense of humor during her lectures, save yourself the unnecessary humiliation and NEVER ASK HER FOR A FAVOR. She once reprimanded me for something that was out of my control and I left her office crying. I have never had a professor say to me what she said that day.

May 2012

Oh Janet Janet Janet, how strange and disappointing your class was. The subject area: origins of self-reflective consciousness, had so much potential, but it was immediately evident from the first few classes that Janet Metcalfe cared very little, if at all, about this class that she taught. Instead of doing any guidance herself, she assigned very vague topics for presentations every week and had the students pair up to make the presentations and select the readings for that week. She did not do the readings, never gave us feedback about our presentations, was always away. Basically, she literally had no role in the class other than to assign us a grade at the end. The discussions were only interesting due to the other students in the class, not to any knowledge she cared to share. Moreover, I realized throughout the course that she exhibited an incredible bias towards psychology majors who have done research with other psych professors. Name dropping was especially pleasing to her, as was the random allusions to obscure concepts. Also, quoting from another culpa review: "self-awareness goes a long way, folks. If your anecdote has no other purpose than to drop an obscure psych term only tangentially related to the material, maybe consider saving it for the diary, mm?" What is the most damning characteristic about her though, is that she ONLY cares about her research. She doesn't care if we are interested in other areas besides her area of research and discourage it. She recommends using her rough drafts of papers for our presentations so that we can give her feedback on how to make it better and email her about grammatical mistakes. I'm sorry, is this a copy editing class???? She says that our final papers should be "publication quality", probably so that she can rip off them for her upcoming pubs. She also doesn't actually grade anything... and really just gives good grades to those kids that she "liked" from the outset. I am saying this, having made an A in the class. In conclusion, a very disappointing, uninteresting, unprofessional professor. Don't take this class.

Apr 2012

I cannot recommend taking any class, particularly Cognition: Memory & Stress, with Professor Metcalfe. I'm sure that she is a brilliant researcher, but she is an incompetent, disorganized, and careless instructor. It is a shame because the subject matter for this course is fascinating, but Janet Metcalfe's expectations for the course are very vague and unreasonable. Each of her exams are out of 20-25 points and are entirely free response and graded VERY harshly by TAs whom she clearly does not carefully select. If you care about your GPA this semester, do not take Janet Metcalfe's class, because I assure you, your success is not important to her.

Dec 2011

I don't know if Metcalfe had a bad semester or phoned it in a bit this time around, but a CULPA silver nugget has never felt so off to me. Metcalfe really doesn't give you the tools to take ownership of the material and the class. She'll go on and on about how important it is to keep up with the readings and study a little bit every night to maximize retention, but then she won't send out the list of terms to memorize before the exam unti the day before or let you know what readings you should have been doing over the past three weeks. She's a nice professor, but it seems like she has no clue that assigning landslides of reading and terms 2-3 days before her midterms is a no-win for all. Also, instead of making the lectures available online, she makes one single paper copy of each day's slide available in the Psych Dept. This is more of an inconvenience than any true fault, but I think it speaks to problems in her lecturing style. She paraphrases plain text slides and blows past graphs she expects you to recreate on exams. If you can't come out of a 75 minute lecture with any take-away points because you're frantically taking down every word she says and focusing on the labels of axes rather than the explanations and meanings of study results, I just don't know if that's an effective lecture. As others have noted, the TAs are the key to getting anything out of this course. Karen is amazing at listening to what students need and is an exceptional resource. I''ve had many of the exact same memory/stress studies and concepts taught to me more compellingly as part of a unit or lesson in psych courses with other focuses. I'd recommend embracing that route as much as possible until this course gets a major rethink.

Dec 2011

This class is frustrating. The material is incredibly interesting and useful. Professor Metcalfe is engaging, enthusiastic and passionate about her work. Test questions were generally fair and straightforward. Feedback was given after each midterm and we were allowed to keep our responses. TA’s were generally helpful and available (though bad at explaining key concepts). However, several pedagogical flaws made it difficult to succeed in this class and comprehend the material. First, her Power Points suck. No discernible outline, oddly worded paragraphs on slides—she reads these verbatim, flips slides too quickly then refuses to post the Power Points. Second, course themes weren’t well defined. We constantly returned to and developed previously covered topics, however the connections weren’t explicitly stated which made preparation for the cumulative final maddening. TA's should have outlined course themes at least. Third, review sheets were posted too close to the exam (often posted a day or two prior). This encourages ‘massed practice’ (right guys?!) because studying with a promised review sheet is more efficient, particularly when so much material is covered on each exam. Either don’t post a review sheet at all or post one at least 1 week beforehand. Fourth, student questions about experimental methods were not handled well. The TONS of experiments discussed in class and in readings are flawed and their implications are sometimes questionable and vague yet questions were often greeted with annoyance and dismissal. Finally, grading was arbitrary… I lucked out because I often included the extraneous info they required for the definitions but did not specify on the test! Each midterm is 25 points, so these details matter. Janet, please: fix your power points, settle on a review sheet policy, put up with questions and experiment criticism…and it wouldn’t hurt to get a more powerful microphone.

Dec 2011

Janet Metcalfe is the worst profesor I have had at Columbia. She has made my life so frustrating this semester. To be fair to her, I will be breaking down my comments to a pro/con list. PRO: -our midterms are non-accumulative -there are no required papers -she gives us a review sheet for each midterm -interesting topics CON: -the lectures are not online. Usually, I wouldn't mind too much about this, but she lectures a mile a minute and asks really minute details in her exams -the review sheets are given only 2 or 3 days in advance, which have up to 200 words and concepts. -the readings are assigned when she remembers this. THIS IS REALLY FRUSTRATING. On the last day of class, she remembered that she wanted us to read the rest of a book...200+ pages. -She is a scatterbrain -No curve -3 midterms Please, DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. I have taken 7 other psychology classes, and this is AWFUL.

Nov 2011

I have no idea how she got a silver nugget. this class sucks. very disorganized PPT's, TA's hardly know the material (The two undergraduate TA's we had literally misled the class in their review session). She post the review sheet a day before the exam, when the exam includes material from class (every PPT is at least 20 slides and very dense with information) AND material from two books you are assigned to read. If you definitely have to take this class for your major, other than being sorry for you, I can give you a quick advise: The major thing in this class is to know the experiments she talks about in class and definitions of everything. The experiments themselves are explained very poorly in class, so you have to go back to the original paper and understand the method and results yourself. Janet is very nice and all, very friendly in class, but when it comes to the bottom line of coherent, organized teaching I found it hard in this class, and I know at least handful of people who were very frustrated with this class. It is important to mention that we didn't have our final exam yet (its cumulative ...) but I just had to write here so people who are considering this class for next semester won't register blindly after reading the last few good reviews - because I know some people who take this class right now and would undo it if they could. What a shame - I actually LOVE psychology.

Dec 2010

If these are topics you are even vaguely interested in I would strongly recommend this class. Has a strong neurology element which is great for those who are interested. Honestly, one of the most interesting classes I've ever taken. The tests and material are challenging, but Metcalfe knows how to make you remember (it's a class on memory!). Test are tough because there is a lot of material and each exam is only worth 25 points. Miss two questions and you're already in the B range. Take thorough notes and if you have time, read the actual articles that she references. Also, word of warning: if you're not a fast note-taker or have poor handwriting I'd strongly recommend using a computer to type notes or to record the lectures somehow. Metcalfe can fly through a lecture and doesn't post her notes so stay focused. Overall, if you're a psych or neuroscience major I'd say this is an amazing class, but if you're just looking for an easy grade you'll be very unhappy lol.

Jul 2009

I was so excited to take this class and blend biological aspects of neuroscience with psychological implications of cognitive behaviors. Initially, Professor Metcalfe seemed like a sweet lady who was very interested in her subject; some of us referred to her as the (pre stock fraud) Martha Stewart of psychology. It's hard to say whether or not I would recommend this course. I do know that this woman in NO way deserves a silver nugget. Ultimately, there was some incredibly interesting material to be learned, but her lectures were so tangential, sporadic, and inconsistent in speed that it was difficult to encode any memories, which was pretty screwy for a cognition class. The spectrum of testable material ranged from the most incidental comment in lecture to three sentences of a brief passage in the epic Memory text. She zips through her powerpoint slides in lecture and refuses to post them to Courseworks. She also gives sparse exam review documents (that don't cover all the material that she'll put on the test) too close to the date of the exams and her review sessions are solely given by TAs who (with the exception of Jen) are woefully inadequate and nowhere near knowledgeable enough about the material. Even Professor Metcalfe occasionally struggled to find the answer to a student's question, and not just because the field of neuroscience is relatively new. If you are prepared to study incredibly hard and read every article and book in depth, you can succeed in this class, and you may find fulfillment. I found many aspects fascinating, but it was so ironic to me that in her quest to have us memorize as much as we could, she stressed us out to an unreasonable, unhealthy level. Literally everyone looked wrecked on test days, I have never seen anything like it. She tests us as though we are not taking 3-5 other academic courses. I have taken some amazingly challenging classes at Columbia; M&S was stressful to the point of detrimental not because of the caliber of what we were studying, but due to Professor Metcalf's inability to lecture well, the poor organization of the overall course; random, inane selection of tested material; and the disconnect between her TAs policies and grading and her awareness of our performance and knowledge acquisition. One got the sense that she was always off in her lab somewhere, and that she could care less about what we learned or whether we did well in her class. I honestly think she arbitrarily graded our final papers; her TAs could only find about half of our research papers at the end of the year, and the ones that were returned had no comments or useful suggestions for further study. BE WARNED: SHE IS HONESTLY THE MOST DISORGANIZED PROFESSOR I HAVE EVER SEEN AT COLUMBIA AND SHE DELEGATES HER RIDICULOUS GRADING POLICIES SOLELY TO HER LACKLUSTER, BLUNDERING TAs. You will likely have to argue with them to get points back on exams, because there is NO curve and their points and deductions never tally up to the total worth of the test. They are also very inconsistent with grading, so definitely bring it up if you and a friend have the same answer but you for some reason did not receive points. It is almost impossible to get a solid A in this class while taking a normal course load and having a life. However, if you can handle the loony, poorly focused and structure lacking class/professor, then you might actually learn some phenomenal information about how the brain works.

Jan 2009

I love love loved this class! Some of the topics were boring, yes, but some were seriously fascinating and it really changed the way I look at cognitive function! Plus, much of the class basically teaches you how you remember and LEARN, so I was so glad I took it. While I was obsessed with Metcalfe, some of my peers were not too fond of her. I loved the class, wrote down every word she said, and seriously engaged with the material, so I aced the first test. Then, I knew how to study and how she would test, so I continued and improved on what I was doing. Many of my peers were caught off guard by her first exam and subsequently didn't enjoy her teaching. Also, in their defense, she's a little disorganized, so make sure to go back before the test and pull everything together. Here are my thoughts on how to ace this class: -Try doing the reading before class- don't worry about the details of the experiments, just get the 'gist' -Listen in class and get down the MAIN POINTS of what she's saying, and anything you think would be significant to your understanding of the topic (but not stupid details, like background info, experimenter, etc.) She will usually stress what you have to know - Review between tests (her tests are so close together anyways, so its inevitable) - Rehash everything Metcalfe discussed, integrate the readings with your class notes, and pull out the main ideas. Be fluent in definitions and identifications of the concepts. Do NOT try memorizing, because it will not help you on the test Her tests basically ask you to address all the major points in her lecture (and a few from reading). The time will be a problem if you have to sit there and try remembering- you just need to be fluent. I loved her and I strongly recommend this class!

Dec 2007

Metcalfe is great. The topics she discusses in class are interesting and relevant. I always looked forward to class. Just be prepared because the class is HARD. It is hard, but not impossible. After bombing the first test, I figured out how to get straight As on the tests. So don't make my mistake (it was nearly impossible for me to get an A after the first test) and read what I have to say. First, you have to come to EVERY lecture. She covers topics in lectures that are not in the readings and she does not post her power points. You also have to pay attention and take fairly compulsive notes. Second, you have to do your readings. This class does NOT have much homework. The readings total will not take more than 20 hours over the course of the term. Just get them done before the tests because inevitably there will be one or two questions from the readings that she has not covered in class. Now to the test and I will explain why it is necessary to do all the work I just discussed. Before the test, she sends out a list of terms roughly about 50 to 100 terms depending on the test. You need to have a SOLID understanding of every term. For the first test, I defined about 95% of the terms. I thought I would be fine given my past experiences in psychology classes at Columbia. On the first test, there were two terms that I didn't know. That doesn't seem terrible and if this was Science of Psych I would be looking at an A- or something. The reason it matters is because her tests are out of 20 points with point value on questions ranging from 1 to 3. Because the two terms I didn't know were worth 2 points on the test, I was already looking at B-. Then I got more off for not answering questions with all the information they wanted. Because the tests are short, you have to know absolutely everything on them. Get more than two wrong and you are solidly in the B range. Plus, they are very strict on the grading. If you know everything, it is likely that you will get a point or two off just for not having exactly what they want. On top of that, she tends to throw in about one term that relates to the term list, but not in an obvious way. Try to get clarification from her, but its not likely to help. Thus, you need to know everything and write down everything you know to get the best score. Next: how to know everything. After going to every class and doing the readings, I would still be unsure about a number of terms on the list. Usually this was because I wasn't able to keep up with her pace at lectures (she goes really fast sometimes and can be slightly unclear). Do the best from the information you have and then go to the review session to figure out the rest. The TAs will explain everything that you don't know if you ask them. You just need to be proactive and make sure to get your questions out there (its not hard, they were really helpful). The memorize that term list before the test and you are set. The essay was kind of the enigma of the term. A class of about 80 students turned in 10+ page research papers. She had them graded within 24 hours. We are not sure how she did that, but most students got the impression that she didn't really read them (maybe she is just super fast?). Anyways, everyone I spoke to got a 13/15 regardless of how much time they spent on it. So I guess just think of the essay as another few points off your total score. By the time you take the final, you will have everything defined and ready to just cram into your mind. Spend a few hours reviewing everything again to make sure it stuck. Her methods do make the knowledge stick though. I think I will remember most of this material for a long time.

Nov 2007

DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. I think she is really incompetent. I don't know how she's even a professor here. She doesn't post the lectures and she rushes thru the slides in class. So you have 30 seconds to memorize an entire slide of graphs for the ridiculously harshly graded tests. Also the TAs are ignorant to the subject matter and are completely disorganized and they never communicate neccesary information to the students on time.

Mar 2007

Prof. Metcalf did such a great job, that I now walk around thinking about stress and stressors as the major reason behind a mechanism (or persona) changing its (his) activity and acting (behaving) differently. I also definitely have a better idea of how to study for exams. Unfortunately, she doesn't believe in posting her ppt presentations on courseworks (because she doesn't think we'd go to class/ pay attention in class, if she did that). Perhaps she has a point, however, it was quite frustrating to try to get notes from other people at the end of class, as no one was quite able to jot down everything.

Jan 2006

While I took this class to satisfy a science requirement, by the time the semester ended I wanted to have a concentration in psychology. Janet is awesome, period. She knows what she's doing and effectively lectures with no bullshit. And not only is she a great professor, but she's the kind of person you'd want to have lunch with just to talk about all these topics. One of those quirky mad scientist types that Columbia should feel proud to have. Take this class! Tests are nothing to worry about so long as you study hard, and her TA (Jamil Zaki) is the coolest of the cool.

Nov 2005

I love this class. It is incredibly interesting, and very well organized. Prof. Metcalfe is very knowledgeable, and is (or was at one time) at the top of her field. A lot of the time that we discussed ground-breaking patients, she had her own anecdotes about working with them. The Exams are not as crazy as some have made them seem. You are required to really understand what she teaches. Sometimes she is unclear in explaining experimental designs, but she posts all the papers, and they are pretty easy to follow. One person cited the difficulty in not being able to tell the difference between "knowing" and "remembering." This is very well explained, and should be very clear, especially if you took Mind, Brain, and Behavior. I know several people who got A+'s on her exams, so they are clearly not impossible. She is very engaging, and very interested in student's comments. This class will be very difficult for people who do not show up at lectures, and do not do the reading, as she is a stickler for details. But the subject matter is inherently invested in the details of experiments and theories, so it makes sense, and is not unreasonable.

Nov 2005

i took this class a year ago and just had to say something. i thought metcalfe was a wonderful lecturer and that the class was very informative and interesting, and i respect metcalfe for being at the top of her field, but ohmigosh, the exams are nuts. you dont have to memorize a billion things but you DO have to be so concise with your language and definitions since she does not allow for any subjectivity or cross-definitions. its her definitions or youre wrong. i (and many others) did horribly on her exams with no way to make up the credits, and since thats all that matters at CU, a lot of ppl dropped the class or accepted a not-so-great grade. i REALLY love this topic and i worked very very hard, but its very difficult to do well in this class unless you have a special gift for test-taking. and if you do, please dont take that for granted because some of us cant 100% tell the difference between "knowing" something and "remembering" that you "know" it. also if you try to argue your grade on exams she may get agitated and decide not to grant points to ANYONE, which is so horribly unfair that she made me cry. some students were arguing a measly point above their 91 grade, while i was trying to go from a D to a C. if you got above a 90, GO HOME and celebrate! my bottomline, i respect metcalfe as a person but unless you have exam-superpowers dont take this class.

Jan 2005

Metcalfe, from what I've garnered, has long had a problem with her TAs. As per my experience with this class, the rumors certainly seem to be true. I did above-average on all three tests, the final, and the paper. Her TAs, however, did not aid the process at all: they knew nothing at review sessions and graded fairly arbitrarily (usually after a test half the class would be able to score a few points back from Metcalfe and override the TAs). It was frustrating, to say least. The professor is the only one who grades your final paper, though. She's not great about returning your stuff; she lost my third test and she left my final paper in a hotel in Arizona. Didn't seem too bothered by it either. Go figure. Aside from that: she goes quickly through the powerpoint presentations (don't try and skip class and get them through courseworks-- they are so insubstantial that you'd just be wasting your time looking at one word slides, really). She's very enthusiastic, a little strange sometimes, and can get sidetracked easily; just PRAY you don't have some snooty guy or girl who wants to get in a battle of the minds with her, because class will come to a screeching halt. My feeling altogether? As a freshman who has taken only summer and high school psych classes, I managed to wing an A- overall... so don't worry. Just work hard and enjoy it; you learn a lot of cool stuff if you want to.

May 2002

This was one of the most fascinating classes I ever took at Columbia, and it totally made me into a psych concentrator. The readings are fascinating (and not excessively long), and the lectures are totally interesting. The class is also one of the hardest I ever took at Columbia. But it's well worth the effort you'll need to put in week after week just to secure a semi-decent grade. Beware the senior psych majors who will help blow the curve.

Jan 2000

An interesting course topic-wise, but the professor occasionally drags out the subjects for all they're worth. The assigned readings can be boring, and her TAs are the pickiest graders I've ever seen. The professor is practically a clone of Martha Stewart with her "too-nice" attitude. The class started out fairly easy, but by the end, the workload was out of control.

Jan 2000

This is a class that you will both love and hate at the same time. You will love it because Metcalfe is one of the best lecturers at Columbia, the subject material is really interesting and the readings are page turners. You will hate it because the tests are hard as hell and she grades on a curve that is ment to punish, not reward. Even if you grasp the material, you may find yourself struggling to get a C. But about the class--it is a detailed overview of how the memory works from a cognition perspective (brain function). Tons of interesting case studies, and a lot of stuff about repressed memory (if you want to go into law this is a good class to take). All the info is VERY current. Her lectures are clear and build upon each other. She also encourages class participation, which in a lecture is really cool. While she is a great teacher, she is a harsh grader. On the paper, when she says a magazine article she means one that is worthy to be published in the New Yorker--and don't use chatty language. She means well but can be mean sometimes.

Jan 2000

The class was interesting, the lectures amusing, the teacher, all I can say is, kind of spacy. She is probably very knowledgeable in her field and when she explains things they are pretty much understood. Yet within her explanations there is an element, or feeling, that she is thinking about something else while she's talking that she is keeping from you, probably for your own good though.

Jan 2000

I don't care what anybody else says, this woman is a total genius whose theories are light years ahead of their time. Her lectures are interesting, provactive, and never, ever boring despite her soft voice. Even if she is teaching Behavior Patterns of Dirt, take it with her, because she is that good.

Jan 2000

Nice person, but a stickler for her own rules. VERY difficult exams, and if it weren't for the TAs reviews, you can forget about doing well. MUST do all the readings, and study lectures WELL. Bad grader. Not the best lecturer.