professor
Sally Davidson

May 2017

Sally Davidson is amazing. Definitely the best professor I've had at Columbia. She's a great lecturer and very sweet. I also learned a lot from this class.

May 2016

1.) LECTURES Professor Davidson is probably the best professor I have had at Columbia (and I am pretty picky when it comes to professors). She genuinely cares about her students. She is also alright with not covering as much material in class in order to leave ample time for questions and make sure that she thoroughly answers those questions. CAUTION: IF YOU DO NOT ATTEND CLASS, YOU WILL NOT DO WELL. She does not have Powerpoint slides. Everything is done on the board. That being said, SHE IS A FANTASTIC TEACHER. She has taught this class for a while and has developed an organized way of presenting the material while making sure students truly understand step-by-step how to do a problem. She won't just write a formula on the board and expect you to understand it. She will explain conceptually why that formula makes sense, then go through a concrete example of how that formula is used. 2.) HOMEWORKS These are not terrible. They take about 4-6 hours each. They are very doable though given that she literally does examples that are the same as the homework in class to give you a solid foundation. The TAs are very helpful in their recitation and are willing to help too. 3.) MIDTERM/FINAL These are extremely straightforward. She does not try and trick you. If you understand the homeworks/readings in and out, you can 100% get an A in the class. Her office hours are amazing too. She will go through any concepts you are struggling with very clearly on the board in her office. She is also super friendly and approachable =).

Dec 2014

The class sounds interesting, and it says it will discuss contemporary issues in the American economy, like healthcare, housing, and all that. And it really does do that, but, as a 2000 level econ elective, it's kind of a surface-level treatment and I felt like I was a bit overprepared for the class because I read the NYT every day. It was pretty straightforward though, and not particularly hard. Professor Davidson is a decent lecturer, but the material wasn't too challenging so I felt myself zoning out a lot.

Jan 2013

This class was one of the best classes I've taken at Columbia. It was difficult, lectures were interesting, but Davidson never expected you to figure out some theoretical part of finance by yourself. Everything in the problem sets and everything on the tests was taught in lecture, which was really awesome. She went REALLY fast. Also, the classroom in NoCo that we had made it so that if you weren't sitting in the front, you were pretty much helpless to see and hear what was going on. She regularly asked the kids in the back if they could hear here, but they were all asleep anyway. The TA's were okay - homeworks often had points taken off for really useless things. They were graded out of 40 and you could lose 2 points for one calculation error! Davidson is a great professor. She makes everything interesting and always relates the material back to something from the real world (i.e. the financial crisis) but doesn't really test you on that historical knowledge. The class is very formula/calcuation-oriented, but it's really not that difficult if you get the intuition down.

Dec 2012

Sally Davidson, is a nice and earnest individual, but whether it was her style of teaching or the nature of the material (or the combination of the two), I got very little from this class. Lectures consisted of rapidly scrawling notes on the board which consisted of formulas, calculations and seemingly disjointed examples (which, when confronted with the first problem set, you quickly realize you must copy down or be left helpless to complete the homework, which will take you 3-6 hours regardless). Class time was spent frantically trying to copy down the long numerical notation that the professor would spew, with little time for any sort of comprehensive examination or understanding of the principles behind the material. Problem sets are essentially plug and chug, tedious version of the material covered in class, which provided some practice working with the material, that is if working with the material means copying down equations from your notes. The midterm (and I imagine the final) was entirely too heavily weighted toward multiple choice which was a surprise given the computational nature of the course. The average was a 71, and the test seemed to favor tricky questions that tested the material in a way entirely different than it was presented (we were taught how to use formulas and do calculations, not how to solve trite questions where the answer was a trick.). The professor also inspired little to no interest in the field and was overall lacking in critical thinking or the encouragement thereof.

Jan 2011

I took this course this past semester, and I overall liked it. Like has been said, Professor Davidson is really nice and a really good teacher. She is extremely clear and makes and effort to make sure that people understand the material. She also tries to make class fun through discussion and a sort of "game" where we bought a futures contract predicting the outcome of the 2010 elections. She even came in for a long review session on Saturday before the final and stayed until well into the evening. That being said, I found the course a bit too focused on the math and how to do these things, rather than on the theory of finance. I would have preferred a more theoretical approach. However, this is more of a personal thing and I imagine much of the class enjoyed the practical and calculation based approach.

Dec 2010

Absolutely one of the best classes I have ever taken. Her lectures are extremely clear and never boring. She engages the class and encourages participation--which is a nice change from the typical lecture. She relates everything to current events, and gets very excited when something happens in the markets that she can talk about in class. Probably the best part about this class is that it is very practical for anyone who wants to do finance. She does not teach from a strictly theoretical standpoint, as is all too common at Columbia. Instead, she makes sure everyone has a practical understanding of the concepts that she is teaching. The problem sets do require a lot of work, but they are extremely helpful when it comes to studying for her exams. It is certainly more of a math oriented class, but none of the topics are too complicated. She provides all formulas in class and gives several examples illustrating each one. If you go to lectures and take good notes you will have no problem completing the problem sets. Her exams are very fair, which makes finals time much less stressful. She held a review for our final on a Saturday night, and did not get even remotely cranky when students who clearly had not been coming to class all semester suddenly showed up and kept asking her stupid questions. Sally really is a gem and I cannot say enough good things about her. I HIGHLY recommend this class for anyone with an interest in finance.

Jan 2010

She is a nice teacher and is good at math/stats but make sure to choose the P/D/F option if you can. (read: her grading is rather harsh even on a curve; also assignments don't count much.) Although this course guides you to basic finance, it is very much math-oriented course and I felt like more than a half of the semester was spent on portfolio allocations/management. If you aspire to be an investor or an investment manager, this is great. However, you will be disappointed if you want to know in-depth valuation methods, financial statement analysis or more ibank-related subjects, take financial accounting instead.

Dec 2009

I disagree with the below reviewer who probably was upset that s/he didn't do very well on midterm judging from the date it was posted. In my opinion, she's one of the best econ professor I've ever had. Her background; she had previously worked at JPMorgan rates trading desk(?) and for the Federal Reserve, and where did she go to grad school? MIT? I’m not sure. Although I've taken several econ courses, I am a philosophy major with no knowledge of finance and have taken this course just for fun. In retrospect, I think I’ve learnt a lot about finance in this course. The textbook (Investment 8th Edition) was also good. The other section was taught by Rajiv Sethi, and I attended both during the first 2 weeks to see which would be more appropriate for someone like myself. I chose Sally Davidson because Rajiv seemed to assume that we already knew the basics of finance and didn't explain much when introducing a new term and also because he used PowerPoint, which means that I would not have enough time to take notes. Yeah, I know it's my personal preference. Sally didn't use PowerPoint because it is a 9AM class and people would fall asleep but she’s very articulate, sometimes too loud. What I liked most about her is that she always gave us several examples to demonstrate how to use formulae or whatever she presented. Weekly assignment consisting of 5 questions was based on what we had covered in class, so it was, for the most part, very straightforward and was simply designed to concrete your understanding. I always fitted it in 3-4 pages, although it took me more than 7-8 hours. As I said I am not an econ major, so don’t worry about it and besides, you’re allowed to work with your friends. On several occasions, however, we had to draw a graph or compute numbers using Excel, which was not easy for me, because there was no instructions on how to use Excel. One thing that I agree with the Oct. 28 reviewer is that solutions to problem sets are not helpful at all, but you probably wouldn’t need them. If you do, just ask a TA or Sally. Midterm consisted of 9 multiple choice questions (5pts each,) 1 true/false explanation question out of 2 (15pts) and a longer problem (7 questions; 40 pts) Although I screwed up multiple choice questions because I am not a good test taker, the exam was not very difficult when I revised it at home. Since she’s cut the length of the exam this semester, I don’t think it was impossible to finish it within 75 mins. As for grading, she didn’t give you a letter grade for the midterm, but I find her grading very fair. Also, she grades exams herself, which is nice. Final was, of course, longer and covered more topics (quasi-cumulative - 75%) but about the same level of difficulty. She doesn’t ask you to give definitions of terms but you need to know what they are. Another good thing about her was that she invited guest speakers to talk about things (Lehman collapse, asset management, money market mutual funds and reserve Primary) from insiders point of view. (She brought sweets that her sister made :p) She’s clearly passionate about what she teaches and makes herself available when you need her outside her office hours. She is a very nice person and a professor, and I’m glad to take this course with her.

Oct 2009

Sally is all about mindless number crunching. She teaches a tedious and pointless statistics class rather than finance. You won't learn anything you can apply in the real world besides using your calculator. Sally rushes through the material and gives problem sets that take 10-15 pages to solve each week. She asks you to buy a textbook but she never teaches the material. Instead, she is all about obsolete statistical analysis that nobody actually uses anymore. Her exams are 100% based on tedious number crunching. She doesn't care if you understand the concepts as long as you come up with a number. The exams are extremely long and even if you know the material you won't be able to finish. Sally's grading is also very harsh and will ruin your GPA. She is not a good teacher, murmurs silently things that half the class doesn't understand, doesn't give review sessions before the exams, and the "answers" she gives to her problem sets are simply the final numerical result, but no explanation of how she got there. The worst class I have taken at Columbia. You will learn more if you just read the newspaper.

May 2009

Good teacher, although often not completely clear over certain concepts and abbrevations that she ought to repeat the meaning of. Gladly takes questions as she goes on so make sure you take advantage of that. She is a great person, fun and often telling the class about the latest of what happened to her kids or her dog, which helps create a nice athmosphere in class. She is clearly devoted to teaching as well as to what she teaches, which makes her a good pick given how topics can be boring at times in Macro.

Dec 2007

This is the first class I've taken (outside of Miyagawa's Microeconomics) where the professor is more clear than the textbook. It's no wonder why her class has 99% attendance. Sally is nervous up there, and the material, for a lot of the course, is pretty boring, but she's a very clear teacher and you actually learn something in her class.

Jan 2000

Professor Davidson is new to teaching and has almost a high-school quality format to her lectures. Expect notes to be carefully outlined and definitions to be copied from the chalkboard. This isn't exactly one of the more intellectually demanding econ courses, but it's a good class to take for you investment banking wannabe's. Not all that exciting of a course but not too much work either. Expect picky grading (she almost has to when tests and problem sets are so easy) -like I said, high school stuff. As for the textbook and the so-called 'mandatory' reading, do not waste your time or money touching it.

Jan 2000

She refers to illegal transactions of money as "Bads and Services"...she says a definition, writes it on the board, reads it, then explains what parts of it mean ("what does during a given time period mean?")...I felt like a third grader. There were two review sessions on how to draw a graph; I became stupider as the days went on. If you feel that Economics could tear you to pieces, Sally Davidson will make the class seem like a children's book.

Jan 2000

A new hire by Barnard and former Federal Reserve Bank regulator, Prof Davidson offers a pretty comprehensive introductory look into the world of money supply and banking institutions. This is not a very difficult class, especially for those who have photographic memories and can copy down everything she says. Concepts are very easy to understand as everything introduced is quite basic. Her voice is sort of monotone which can lull you into the wonderful bliss of unconsciousness, so try taking her class when you know you can be up.