Betsy Sparrow

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Nov 2014

It's been a while since I hated a professor this much. When talking about justice in society, she put up three pictures of different people to show a pay gap between different economic classes. While the two lower-paid professions were stock photos, the "hedge fund manager" was an actual person with his name listed, and I quote Professor Sparrow: "I hope he drops dead soon." "Hedge fund managers make me... ugh *shivering motion*"."His face looks kinda weird, maybe he'll have a heart attack or something." Not only was this (and similar instances) irrelevant to psychology, but it was one of the most unprofessional things I've ever had the displeasure to witness. She's also pretty unpleasant as a person - if you came to talk to her after class she would be quite abrupt and just seemed like she wanted you out of her face. About the course: very much a SURVEY course, a lot of general information to be memorized. Granted, the content is very interesting and I enjoyed learning it, but don't expect any in-depth analysis. No textbook, also, which is nice.

Mar 2014

She is the worst Professor I have experienced in my college life. She mumbles all the time which make students irritated. Her explanation with the terms and experiment design is very vague and unclear which makes students hard to fully grasp the material. She even often gets wrong while explaining some experiment design and explains it again. I know humans are predisposed to mistakes, but it is very annoying when it comes to hearing mumbling lecture and note taking. Although she is very caring and kind, I don't think she has good teaching skills.Opinions might differ, but this is what I and my friends felt.

Jan 2013

Professor Sparrow is carefree and down to earth. Her seminar Is fantastic. She's so understanding and really cares about her students! She even goes overboard to offer letters of recommendations for her students. Lenient grader that just wants you to enjoy the material. Feel lucky if you get in her seminar! She rocks! I feel like I could go on forever on how great she is. I wish every professor was like her. I truly hope to take more of her courses in the future.

May 2011

The course material is fascinating. Regardless of your field, the stuff you learn in this class will stick with you. Sparrow is a decent lecturer, but only because what she's talking about is compelling. The grading system is just plain silly (but fairly easy, if you actually study). This is the first class I've ever taking where I wished the professor actually tried to push more by having actual assignments/tests that weren't all dumb multiple choice.

May 2011

This review is not going to be about prof. Sparrow's character and sense of humor - both of which are as pleasant as unrelated they are to the actual material. Social cognition as a subject is perhaps the most fascinating of all academic topics I ever dealt with, but this is largely cancelled out by boring lecturing style of prof. Sparrow and an unacceptably large class (150 students). Turning an interesting material into a boring routine is an academic crime and should not be rewarded by silver leaf. That said, 2-3 days of studying should get you a good grade on any of the 4 exams.

May 2010

Prof. Sparrow is not the most gifted lecturer. She often mumbles, making it very difficult to understand what she is saying, and her occasional cursing and mainstream political comments are distracting and offensive. She also panders to the students, in a very transparent effort for approval. Her midterms do not adequately test your knowledge of the material; rather, they indicate how well you can choose the correct answer from the somewhat tricky multiple-choice questions. In lieu of a textbook, she assigns approximately four articles per week. These are mostly research articles from psychology journals and are quite difficult to get through, but completely unnecessary for success in the course. They may, indeed, deepen understanding of the course material, but as previously mentioned, the midterms do not exactly test that knowledge. If you want to see what you did wrong on any of the exams, you have to schedule an appointment to see her or one of the TAs, as no in-class opportunities are provided to review your performance. That said, the topic is truly fascinating and, although much of it is common sense because of its everyday relevance, you will learn about the mechanisms and theories behind why human beings behave the way we do. You will also become aware of the myriad studies which have been conducted in this exciting field of psychology. Prof. Sparrow's lecture slides are well put together and thorough and, really, the only things you need to study for exams. Barring any drastic changes to the course, what you need to do for an A is attend lectures and study the slides, focusing on the main subtopics she introduces at the beginning of each class.

May 2009

Take her class! Honestly one of the best professors, if not actually THE best professor, I've ever had. Down-to-earth, really wants every student to do really well in the course (she actually told me during office hours that I should just skim the readings rather than read them all in full when I went to ask her how I could turn my 85's on exams into 95's), very accessible, chooses interesting topics for lectures, is refreshingly unpretentious and clearly loves what she teaches. She puts a lot of care and work into her class and always tries to be kind, fair, and helpful to students. She is fantastic (and I can be very critical of professors, trust me). She's also very understanding if you are sick or have a family emergency and need to take an exam late or come to office hours for help because of it.

Apr 2009

Prof. Sparrow is young, friendly and really intelligent. So easy to talk to! The material is fascinating and covers a selection of interesting phenomena that will have you wondering and thinking back to the course in everyday situations. She's funny and gives good examples. The reading is not heavy and only some of what's on the list is required. Our test was hard once, but she was very reasonable about grading it so that things were fine in the end. In fact, the best thing about her teaching style is that she really wants you to understand the main issues and get the point and is not a sticlkler for details.

Feb 2009

Professor Sparrow is definitely an amazing person. Her lectures were engaging and she did a great job clarifying the materials. The only thing that I had problem with was her tests with vague questions. (You will find some questions uninterpretable, and sometimes fairly indifferent answer choices) But the good side was that she curved them.

Jan 2009

Absolutely terrible...and I got an A in the class so I am not bitter due to bad grades. I am bitter because a topic that is common sense to most people was made into a semester-long torture fest as an incompetent professor fumbled through a billion poorly-presented experiments. Most of which I had already learned in prior psychology classes and only through intense scrutiny discovered were indeed actually the same experiments--even though you would think they were from a different area of study with the way she explained it. With every question asked in class by students, she would stall, mumble something and move on, or supply an answer that had nothing to do with the question, or say something incorrect, or just reply that she did not know. The tests were just as randomly constructed as the class. The questions asked seem to stem from nowhere and the answers to choose from on the multiple choice often left one to the game of eeny-meeny-miny-mo. The textbook was useless and compensated for the natural simplicity of the subject matter by making the material as esoteric as psychology will naturally permit. Only after a couple of months did Professor Sparrow finally concede the futility of using the textbook and told us to simply stop completely, relying only on her notes for study. Since the textbook was useless, the reading for this class was not much-a few articles a week. The tests were not hard to do well if you had a mix of common sense and knowledge of psychology from prior classes--that is for the questions that were answerable based on material. Then, there is her ignorance in other areas. To connect to students and perhaps appear "cool," Sparrow often made random popular political statements... in a Social Cognition class. How they are relevant still boggles my mind--almost as much as the complete dearth of her insights both regarding psychology and the other topics she deigned to comment on. Yes, she is nice-- but why shouldn't she be. This is not a reason to take her class. The fact that she smiles while being a bad teacher instead of yelling while being a bad teacher is poor comfort. OVERALL: STAY AWAY!

May 2008

Awesome professor and extremely sweet person! Lots of reading but it's very interesting. I never missed a class and that definitely speaks to how much I enjoyed the course.

Nov 2007

Really cool professor. New, young and really responsive to students- encourages us to discuss and debate the articles and current models, but is still really good at keeping the conversation focused and clearing up concepts that are hard to understand. Also seems more interested in our own ideas and perspective on the topics instead of being really strict about grading.

Nov 2007

Awesome and nice professor!! She went to Columbia Undergrad and just finished psych grad school after doing some interesting research on Google and memory. So she's really accessible, giving us interesting readings and explaining them clearly but leaving ample room for discussion/debate. I don't know how hard of a grader she is yet, but we're all not worried since she has so far focused our assignments on helping us actually learn the material and generate our own theories/research ideas without so much focus on the grades. She also has been pretty accommodating in general. The subject itself is cool for both psych concentrators and non psych people as it deals with different areas of research on how social interaction and self reflection affect our thinking (with a special emphasis on how we're actually really bad at judging perspectives or states of mind outside our own current one). Betsy is great if you're looking for a chill, easy-to-understand teacher who's up to date on current research. She's also willing to listen to the suggestions we have on what would make a good lecture, so I'm sure her Social Cognition course in the Spring will also be fun.