Catherine Monk

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

May 2010

Professor Monk is a great lecturer, although honestly half her lectures aren't even her lecturing. She has a LOT of guest speakers. Which isn't bad, per se, but some of them are much better than others. Unfortunately, it's hard to discern which of them are going to be good/informative/useful beforehand, so you'll just have to take them as they come. And yes, a lot of their material shows up on the exams, which, let me just say, bring some of the most intense information cramming that you've ever had in your life. Yes, these exams are hard core. Study study study, you honestly cannot study enough. Overall though, if you do your part, this class is good and rewarding. I feel like the TAs (who do all the grading and review sessions, Monk is clearly too busy for that) are fair about the exams, and will acknowledge when you know you're stuff. The questions get a little nitpicky, but at the end of the day they're not too awful. I feel like I actually learned something in this class, which is more than I can say for a lot of psychology classes I've taken here. Like I and others here have said though, Prof. Monk does NOT have time for you. She seems like a sweet woman, and she knows her stuff, but she also does research and has her own therapy practice. This makes her lectures really practical and interesting, but it's also clear that teaching is not really her first priorities. She picked good TAs though, who were generally pretty responsive—although they definitely varied in competency. Oh well. Generally, if you're a psych major, I definitely recommend this class. Or if you're really interested in the subject.

May 2009

Her lectures are fun and I looked forward to them, however there's just much too much material packed into this course, and her TA's are ridiculous-- you can honestly take an exam and deserve a 90 and they'll without fail ALWAYS find a way to find extremely minor problems with SOMETHING you wrote and give you a 75 or so instead. Professor Monk also seems to love what she's teaching, but does not seem very happy when students go to her office hours to ask questions, unless they are pre-clinical.

May 2009

Though Professor Monk's availability outside lecture both in terms of time (one strictly maintained hour for office hours!) and energy due to the multiple professional hats she wears, she is an engaging, talented communicator. Her lectures not only organize and highlight key elements of the reams of factual material involved in a survey of abnormal behavior, but also provide useful thematic axes along which all this factual informnation can be organized. She makes no secret of her disdain for biological determinism, which frankly is constructive in this age of patient overmedication, nor of her predilection for object-relations interpretations of psychopathology, but again, it is an important counterbalance to today's overhyped trends in the field, which are covered amply by the text. Strongly recommended, but avoid attempting to get too close to Monk - she has no space for it.

Dec 2007

Overall, I enjoyed Dr. Monk's class. I took it in the Spring of 2007. I found the lectures very interesting, as well as the readings. This class covers a lot of material. From developmental psychology to an extensive review/critic of the DSM, to adult psychiatry/psychology. Dr. Monk is extremely enthusiastic about the subject, and her own clinical experience makes the class even more interesting. I would say that the exams are mildly difficult. They require a lot of memorization, and are based on the lecture slides, the book, and the readings. You have to do the readings! They will absolutely end up all over the exam. The only problem with this class, which to me was a big problem, are the TAs. Their grading system is terrible. If you do not write the answers down exactly as they are written in the slides/books you will get major points taken off. If this happens to you, make sure you go and talk to the TAs after class about their grading. They actually will give you back points for their ridiculous grading. I found that the TAs were not as well-educated in the psychology field as they should have been. They were by far the worst TAs I have had in my 3 years at Columbia. All this said, if you like psychology, you will love the topics in this class and Dr. Monk. I would not recommend it just to fill a science requirement.

Oct 2007

Prof Monk's is a good professor and presents the material in an interesting way, following the textbook pretty closely, which is fitting for a lower-level course. She does spend a bit of time emphasizing that psychology is NOT biological determinism but I think that this is only natural in light of the emphasis that recent years have seen on the importance of genetics rather than other influences. Furthermore, prof Monk is readily available to talk outside of class and she is extremely warm and patient and in fact it is patience that is her flaw. Pro Monk allows the class to wander way too much with inane questions, comments, philosophical musings etc. of any moron who likes to hear him or herself talk. If there is a reason to not take this class, it is because you have to suffer through listening to idiotic peers talk rather than Prof Monk. You sit there and marvel at the fact that some of these people are actually considering being psychologists and then realize why so many people have had negative experiences in therapy. Finally, Monk starts every class off with music and is always looking for new music. Her taste is highly variable, mostly good and she is open to suggestions.

May 2007

She's passionate about the subject she teaches. She even brings in great speakers. However, unless you are interested in getting a weekly dose of Genes do not determine outcome; people are on a continuum; and rallying against the DSM-IV do not take this class.

May 2007

If you have ANY background in science, DO NOT take this class. You will waste your time listening to inane never-ending questions of people who are taking this class to fulfill their science requirements. Professor Monk is a sweet lady who does not want to offend anyone, so she spend 5-10 minutes giving elaborate answers to the questions that could have been answered just by reading the textbook. She is really good at explaining things but you never finish the lecture, nor do you get to learn much, because some inconsiderate people ask 3-4 questions each, therefore slowing everything down. The textbook is fun to read but the exams are not that well-written.

Apr 2006

I originally took this class because I heard amazing things, but I have been terribly disappointed thus far. The information is very interesting but Professor Monk just rehashes what the book says over and over again with a tremendous overemphasis on psychoanalysis, making it difficult to understand all of the types of therapy and treatment options. She is not the worst in the psych dept, but most certainly does not deserve the glowing reviews she has been given. I am not saying that people should not take this class, I am just saying be forewarned that it is not the sunshine and rainbows that everyone thinks.

May 2005

This is a straight-forward class. Come, read the book, study for the tests. Prof. Monk's passion for the material and for teaching in general (she is also a practicing clinician and a researcher) are clear, and I felt that she really wanted us to understand what we were learning. She supplements her power points with plenty of clinical anecdotes, and she brings in specialists to give guest lectures. My only gripe is that she took about a million questions from the over-eager post-bacs, and often had to rush through the end of lectures as a result. I've taken four psych classes and this was my favorite, whatever that means. Also, to all neurotic Columbia students, have fun diagnosing yourselves with various anxiety and mood disorders. Get to class a few minutes early and reap the benefits of Prof. Monk's eclectic taste in music (at 9 am, it actually helps).

Sep 2004

I took this course with two friends, and we all agreed that, despite the 9 am start time, it was one of the best we've taken at Columbia. Professor Monk is a very clear lecturer with passionate opinions about how disorders should be viewed. The material is fascinating, and the textbook/powerpoints are great, too. Some guest lecturers are better than others. If the subjects intrigues you, definitely take this course.

Jun 2004

Dr. Monk is organized, clear, and concise. If you're interested in learning the facts about abnormal behavior, she'll help ya get the job done. She also brings in lots of interesting specialists who present internship opportunities. The course is interesting, and the professor is accessable.

Nov 2003

the content is great for anyone interested in abnormal psychology or clinical psychology. the exam preparation is slightly heavier but the grading is fair in the sense that it is a test of your understanding and not memory. from the lectures, the main points are covered and the material will be sufficient to do well. the content is very comprehensive and current with all the journal articles that prof monk gives. i enjoyed the discussion and readings the most. highly recommended for anyone who is interested in clinical psychology.

Sep 2003

It's strange--this class was one of the best I've taken at Columbia, yet I got the worst grade in 3 years!!! The other reviewers and Dr. Monk herself addressed the issue of arbitrary grading, but that doesn't change my complete disillusion with psychology as a science. There are no right or wrong answers! The grades do not reflect your knowledge or understanding or even ability to answer. Even though the class itself was very interesting and I have only nice things to say about Dr. Monk, I don't recommend it to anyone (unless you take it pass/fail). I just can't overlook the awful grade I got in a class I should have done well in.

Jun 2003

What is truly shocking about Dr.Monk is that she actually seems to enjoy teaching. For those of us who have witnessed psych dept professors counting down the minutes until class is over so that they can conduct their research this class is truly a breath of fresh air. Monk's passion for the subject matter and her ability to weave the textbook, research articles and real-life clinical expereience into her lectures is genuine and intellectually minded. Even if it is at the ridiculous hour of 9 am. Dr. Monk is one of the few Columbia Professors with clinical AND research experience and for those of us that are unsure which, if any, psychology path to follow this class is a must.

May 2003

The interesting subject matter was the only reason I stuck with Abnormal Psychology. If you are not passionate about what you learn in this class, don't bother taking it, because it is extremely unlikely that you will get a good grade, even if you study very hard. The tests, made up of long essays, are graded in a highly arbitrary fashion in large part by the TAs, who happened to be horrendous this past semester. You may have a perfect understanding of the coursework and still get Cs on the exams; the criteria of what constitutes a "good essay" seemed to change from test to test, and while the TAs paid lip service to the importance of understanding broad themes and concepts, they nitpicked and found fault in the slightest details.

May 2003

Dr. Monk gives interesting and passionate lectures. You will learn a lot, and while 9.10 AM attendance may challenge some, it is definitely worth it if you care about the topic. Dr. Monk also assigns great supplemental journal articles, and she brought in several fascinating speakers. I believe she really cares about her research and her students. Now, the caveat: grading appears to arbitrary, though this may be largely the fault of the awful TAs we had (I will never take a course TA'd by one of them again). I have never understood material so well and studied so hard for such low grades. Conclusion: this is an excellent class, but DO NOT TAKE IT IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR GPA. I don't care how smart you are or how good a student you are, you cannot be assured of a good grade.