Maybe she's changed, but I really don't agree with any of the previous reviews. She never sounds monotone during class. She actually sounds pretty excited and her slides are clear. She also tries to get to know students and their names during discussions, which are usually the same 10 students participating anyway. The exams were fair and they included things from both the lectures and exams.
Deeply patronizing, she made a 10 minute long powerpoint about how terrible our papers were (we were assigned a five paragraph essay to be written in two pages, double-spaced, if any words over the paper won't be read). Her slides are illegible though with a million commas in each sentence? Bad lectures, boring readings and homework.
Prof. Kao isn't as bad as the reviews make her seem if you're actually interested in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. I was fortunate in that I already took AP Psych in high school, and the main difference I saw between my high school class and her lectures were the number of experiments we talked about within each unit. As a prospective neuro major, this research she discussed was interesting...if I wasn't that, I could understand getting bored - her slides were basically black and white text (which she explained in her perception unit as a way to assist those who are colorblind). At the same time, I have trouble understanding why people in my class were performing so poorly on exams and really bashing her teaching for their performance on exams. The three exams have a VERY predictable format and questions that are answerable if you attend lectures and put around 2 nights into studying. She is not to be blamed for your exam scores if other people who attended the lecture managed the material fine. Don't be so discouraged by her other reviews
Horrible teacher. Do not take this class. If you have to fulfill a science requirement, just take a different course or wait for the next semester for a different professor. Kao knows little to none about psychology besides out of her field-- she seems almost defensive when answering questions during lecture, she does nothing to reach out or get to know her students, and her TA's lectures are better and more interesting than hers. She reads off her slides which are mostly filled with words. Why do I need a professor to simply read off to me? Her definitions on her slides overcomplicate things and you can benefit much more just by reading the textbook. Some of the questions on her test are not mentioned in lecture NOR are they obviously marked in the textbook. As someone who read each chapter and diligently studied, her questions asked very obscure topics. Like what is the point of that? To trick your students? She lectures in a monotone, boring voice that makes me wonder how she got hired and why I continue going to lecture each week. Do yourself a favor, and never meet this professor. Never take her class. When asked how to study for the test or what topics will be on it, she says, everything. study everything. So useless.
Professor Kao is the best. Anyone who doesn't like this class is weak and ungrateful. She will not lie to you and sometimes sacrifices simplicity for precision but if you drink a freaking coffee before lecture and pay full attention you will be completely prepared for the exams and learn a lot of interesting stuff about the brain. She is a wonderful, delightful, lovely person in office hours. Honestly makes me angry that people are talking sh*t.
She should probably not be teaching this course. You can tell she specializes in neuroscience because she always teaches about it even though it's never tested. She always says she's going to "keep it simple" but it really never is simple. She does, however, post her slides which is extremely helpful because she often puts a lot of information on one slide and it hurts your hand if you have to write it all down. Also, when studying for the exams, I found the book to be of absolutely no help and studied purely off of her lectures (basically just memorizing the definitions she gave us and reviewing a few of the graphs).
After reading the previous reviews, I gave Professor Kao the benefit of the doubt and took the course anyways. I regret doing so. Her lecturing was done in a way that was like she had read her reviews of “boring” and “monotone” and was trying to overcompensate in class with bad jokes and strange ways of including student discussion. I probably learned more from the TA lectures than hers, which as someone mentioned, were heavily focused on studies, most of which were very obscure. One thing that I found very disrespectful was that during one of the TA lectures, Professor Kao interrupted the TA probably around 10 times, throwing in her take every few minutes. Regarding the exams, you need to know every thing that is in the lecture notes and in the textbook, as she says everything is fair game.
Oh well....where to start with this pathetic professor? (full disclosure: I got an A in the class) Prof. Kao puts so much effort into making psychology unbearable and a pain in the ass. To start with, she's not even a psychologist but a neuroscientist working at CUMC. Her slides are basically graphs with some titles in a black and white background. Besides reading the slides with the most monotonous voice ever, she does nothing more during class time. She's taking attendance and her tests are multiple choice with graphs. Now, the graphs. The graphs are the results from some random neuroscience experiment completely unrelated to psychology. It's impossible to read her slides if you miss class. Also, be warned! She's surprisingly unaccommodating and rude with students. The suggested book is a 2006 psychology book, heavy with neuroscience. However, you will not learn any neuroscience whatsoever bc either the neuroscience material won't be the exam or bc she will just require you to memorize the graph. STEER AWAY from this class
It's surprising that someone could be such a bad lecturer. She speaks in a monotone voice and is able to make even psychology seen super boring. In many lectures she says, "You will not need to know this for the exam" and i am shocked that we spend so much class going too much in depth on neuroscience and complex experiments that we don't need to know for the exam. Her power points are mainly just graphs and images with only the broadest main points listed, making them hard to study from if you miss class. However, she pretty much follows the book and the material is relatively easy to learn. Over half the class was taking the course for the science requirement which brought in a curve for the exam. Professor Cornwall taught the second half and he is a great lecturer, has detailed slides, and includes many interesting and relevant examples. His passion contrasts sharply with Kao's teaching methods.
I am amazed at how unbelievably awful of a lecturer Professor Kao is. Most of the lectures cover either obscure psych studies that are barely relevant to the material or very detailed anatomical and physiological information about psych topics that she tells us we don't need to know. She occasionally goes over some important definitions, but she basically repeats what's in the book. If she goes into anything with any level of excitement, it's usually a biological process that she tells us we don't actually need to know. For our midterm, she's given us very little information (and unlike most science of psych classes, we only have one). We've been told that it will be 50% multiple choice and 50% short answer, but I honestly have no idea how to study because there is no practice exam, no list of topics, and little help from her in class. I'm halfway through this course and thankfully she isn't teaching the second half, but even a semester of these lectures was too much - and by too much, I mean too little important, course-relevant information and too much random, useless information.