James Magnuson

May 2004

Professor Magnuson certainly tried hard to make his class accessible (master web site for all relevant info, available powerpoint lectures), but this is a course that's desperately in need of a subject. There's no theory to be learned, just a whole semester devoted to lab technique, experimental construct, and other topics that are usually found within the first two chapters of any real science textbook. And the time devoted to statistics was simply insult to injury - psych majors already have a stat. requirement! Two of the three labs were devoted to language and memory, Prof. Magnuson's specialty, but he didn't take the time to teach any of the theory behind them. Thus, writing the lab reports was about as fun as chewing broken glass. I don't blame Professor Magnuson, he certainly tried hard, but someone needs to inject substance into this course if it has any hope of survival.

May 2004

When the other reviewer said that Prof. Magnuson was the prototypical bumbling professor he was not exagerating. However nice he may be, and he does seem very nice, he is not a good professor by any stretch of the imagination. His lectures are painful and confusing, and the lab reports are the most boring and lengthy i have ever had to write. The book is fairly straightforward, although not the most interesting text I've ever read. Without it you would have no clue what Prof. Magnuson is talking about at all. If you can take any other class instead of this one, I would definately do so. I can't imagine anything being worse. If you have to take this class, do not take the lecture and the lab back to back. You will regret it.

May 2004

I really felt bad for him, he really is a nice guy but not a good teacher. I went to all his lectures and always left more confused. He doesn't have good examples and usually cannot answer questions.

Apr 2004

If you take this class, you will regret that you were ever a Psych major. It is by far the worst class I have ever taken at Columbia, and professor Magnuson is by far the worst professor I have ever had. He is completely disorganized and can barely follow his own power-point presentations. He appears to be a nice guy, but don't be fooled. He has no perspective on how awful the class is, and if you attempt to talk to him, he'll dismiss you through further confusing babble. He comes off as incompetent. He claims to spend over 20 hours preparing each lecture: either he's lying or it's just really sad.

Feb 2004

Prof. Magnuson is a really nice guy, seemingly very organized, plus he's got clear powerpoint presentations that he puts up on the web; however, he is the prototypical bumbling professor who can't keep the material straight and ends up confusing the class more with all his back and forth about what is or isn't the case. He even confuses himself. It is painful to watch because you know he feels very badly for not knowing what he is talking about - or maybe more accurately - he doesn't have a clue about how to explain himself clearly and efficiently (isn't parsimony the hallmark of psychological research?!!) It's also painful because you know he puts a lot into planning this class and writes up super detailed (read: long winded) directions for each lab exercise. However, the TA wrote up his own version of the directions (for two different assignments!!) because his were just not clear. This is a 1000 level class - so why am I so confused??!! On paper, Prof. Magnuson is super organized, so I'm not sure what is going on...

Aug 2003

Definately a good guy. His voice might have droned a little but the class was at 9 in the morning. Lectures were usually clear and he posted his notes (incomplete sometimes) online. Happy to talk outside of class. I think he just had a baby too.