This article is part of a series where Spectrum writers attend some of Columbia’s more popular classes to figure out if they live up to the hype. Read about Adam Cannon’s W1004 class here.
Here’s the (thought) experiment: It’s spring 2018 registration. You need to knock off some requirements, whether for the science core or for your major. You’re looking for something easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
Here’s the reality: It’s Columbia.
Here’s a solution: One of Columbia’s most popular classes is The Science of Psychology, a science lecture taught by professor Patricia Lindemann. This class will satisfy the science requirement for CC students and the natural science requirement for GS students. The Science of Psychology is required for the psychology major, the neuroscience and behavior major, and for the special concentration in business management.
The Question: Is The Science of Psychology worth taking?
Background research: what to know before you enroll
The Science of Psychology will meet during the spring 2018 semester on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:10-2:25 p.m.
Everyone who enrolls must join the waitlist to be admitted. Lindemann’s advice to beat the waitlist blues: “Attend the first class!”
Three exams, three two-page papers, and required participation in psychology experiments.
Lecture quality: what goes down with Lindemann
Lindemann has been teaching the class for about 10 years. Her goal, she says, is “for students to be exposed to the different areas of psychology as a science and to be able to think critically.”
Lindemann describes how her course is divided into three parts: the first is focused on biology, the second on cognition (i.e., thought processes, memory, intelligence), and the third on social psychology–including a study of the personality.
Because The Science of Psychology serves as a prerequisite for so many different fields, Lindemann acknowledges the diversity of students in her classroom. In her classroom, you’ll find: students in the humanities (“I’m not a science person!”) taking the class for their science requirement, for which she notes that “the biology [portion] is deadly;” pre-med and neuroscience students who find the technical biological terms to be a breeze; psychology majors who are not-so-secretly psychoanalyzing you; business management concentration students who got lost on their way to Wall Street; and General Studies students fiending to fulfill their natural science requirement.
Lindemann started the class on time and opened up with the topics of the day on the first slide of her PowerPoint, as well as an invitation to eat lunch with her and the TAs at Faculty House (for those who aren’t aware, Faculty House is beautiful. You should also never pass up on an opportunity to eat there.)
Class Vibes: What the students think
Almost every space in Schermerhorn 501 was occupied. Some students had to sit along the sides of the room and even on the radiators in the back.
A few students were able to provide information about being in the class: details on the professor, the material, the workload, and motivations for taking the course.
Scottie Berridge, CC ’20, wants to major in neuroscience and is taking The Science of Psychology as a way to fulfill her requirements. The workload is manageable, she said—and, as in most courses, really just becomes more stressful around the times papers are due and exams are nigh.
Sitara Herur, GS ’19, said of the course structure, “The class is fairly simple, but not simple enough that you can get by without studying or putting in any energy.” During the lecture, Lindemann mostly reads off of the slides, and subsequently posts the PowerPoint online. While the most important information is on the slides, Lindemann emphasizes that lecture attendance is still important.“If you put the effort in, you’ll be rewarded. It’s not an easy A,” she said.
Chi Tun, GS ’19, talked about Lindemann’s enjoyable—if atypical—engagement with the class. She sometimes plays mind games on us that relate to perception errors, exposing psychological tricks.”
The Science of Psychology is a solid class that will knock off some of your requirements without having to dread attending the lecture or crack under a wild workload. You may even get to participate, unwittingly at first, in a psychological experiment (Spooky?). The class met people’s expectations.