Research Methods in Psychology
Spring 2020 - I took this class as P/NP and I highly recommend this for everyone! I messed up on one assignment and scored one SD below the section's mean and that's when I knew I wouldn't get any A. This class is so ridiculously competitive; weighting your grade based on the scores of others in your class is extremely unfair. You have to beat all of your classmates by a significant margin in every single section assignment as well as kill your final paper to have a chance at an A. I messed up on one and even though the rest went really well, I knew I wouldn't get an A. There are lab participation points, which is basically answering questions during lab. This is where people get strangely competitive... The lecture portion is fairly straightforward. It was recorded ahead of time and the prof chose to make them even longer than class time usually was, they were often around the 2 hour mark. If you do the practice exams (all of them!!) and FaceTime a friend, you can expect a mid 90s grade. Prof adjusted the class for pandemic by weighing the lecture portion of the class as 40% and section as 60%, and based on protests by making the lecture exam portion the higher of your two exam grades. Another assignment that was due at the end of the week was graded due to completion only.
Ok, here's the deal. Her lectures are unorganized and she talks faster than you can write. She doesn't explain concepts clearly and her tests are confusing as hell. The worst thing about the class is the MASTER TA. This guy thinks he is god, he doesn't answer ANY of your questions, doesn't want to help you at all, and makes the class 35 times less enjoyable. You decide....
Summer 2018 - After finishing Psych 100B, I have a strong desire to de-mystify this class for aspiring psych majors. Below you will find a guide that I would have found helpful when beginning this class. Please note that this class’s structure will be changing in Fall 2018, but I still feel as though the basic advice I have can apply. Is this class impossibly hard? Not really, in my opinion. By and large, people find this class to be extremely difficult, impossibly graded, and just plain unfair. I came into the class thinking that all the negatives you see here on this BruinWalk page would be the reality. In my experience, it really, really wasn't the reality. Was it a stressful class? Yes, it was, but all my classes give me stress. Truth be told if you actually put in the effort, you will be rewarded. However, a few baseline skills help to do well: 1. If you are an excellent writer, this class will be a breeze. I am double-majoring with History, so I have been through the gauntlet when it comes to challenging and long papers. The writing assignments in this class are on the easy side if you are an experienced writer. You get automatic style points if you know how to write with clarity, good grammar, and nice flow. However, the majority of psych majors (in my experience), are not as used to writing, and writing a lot. 2. You need to have good study habits. If you take the class in the summer like I did, the final will creep up on you because it happens around the same time as the first submission deadline. However, if you are taking stellar notes during lecture and are studying them many days in advance of each quiz, you will be well-prepared for the final without even doing dedicated studying. If you last-minute study for quizzes just by skimming over your half-done notes from lecture and then begin studying for the final at 10 PM the night before, you will not do as well. Treat the class like a job – put in the effort consistently and throughout the quarter and you will wonder what all the fuss about the class is about. 3. I think general communication skills are important just so you can easily talk to your TA and the professor and communicate what you need help with. If you are afraid of your TA or the professor, you will be left with unanswered questions and confusion. If you want a good grade, you have to push past any fear of a bad interaction with your TA or the professor. It is imperative that you show your instructors that you’re there to fight and are willing to learn and grow from this experience. If you have all, some, or none of those skills, there are some other ways to help you succeed and learn in this class: 1. Take it in the summer with no other classes. It is only 6 weeks as opposed to 10 weeks, and it will be your main focus. I worked alongside this class (usually more than 12 hours a week) and still did very well because my only academic attention was directed towards this class. If you are directing your brain into to many different classes, it will be tougher to do well because this class requires your full attention. However, the grading scheme is flipped in the summer: 60% section and 40% lecture (it is the other way around in the normal school year). If you find that you are not a good writer and would rather not have more than half your grade focused on section where all the writing is, you may want to take it in the school year. Also, in the school year, you are given weeks to write assignments, while in summer you are given a few days to one week to do all the writing assignments. Since I am an experienced writer, this time pressure didn’t really get to me, but I know it can be a lot for those not used to writing a lot in a short period of time. If you feel that either of these facets of the summer version of this course concern you, maybe you should bite the bullet and do it in the school year. I still recommend pushing through in the summer. 2. How to overcome not being the best writer? Start your assignments as soon as they are assigned. Read over them daily, making edits along the way. Always make sure they line up with the APA guidelines in the course reader and APA manual. The longer you spend with a paper, the better it will be, believe it or not. Also, you can take your papers to the writing center to get a second set of eyes on it. Finally, you can also ask your TA questions - they have a limited scope with what they are allowed to help with, but it is still important to ask as many questions as possible to clarify content. Now let’s talk about Professor Firstenberg: she is absolutely lovely. She is a wonderful lecturer and makes the concepts very accessible and interesting to learn. However, I think her stand-out quality is how kind, responsive, and helpful she is. It is easy to get wrapped up in section and forget that she is there to help, but I would recommend to talk with her at least a few times. She is the quickest professor I have ever had when it comes to answering emails: she answered one of my emails within 3 minutes of me sending it! She was also helpful when it came to section, believe it or not. She sat after lecture and helped students run through their group experiments and gave feedback on all of them, and even offered ways to improve them. She is so kind and helpful and I wish more professors were like her. Also, I hope students don’t blame her for how hard the grading can be. The class has been taught this way since the 1970s according to my TA and is consistent across professors. How about TAs? It is luck of the draw, pretty much. Some are easier graders, and some are harder graders, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what type of grader your TA is because (as I understand) the curve applies within sections and between sections. This means that if you have a hard grader, you won’t be punished, your grade will be adjusted accordingly. This also means that if you have an easy grader, you won’t necessarily get a better grade. The danger is running into a TA that a) you do not get along with b) is not well-versed in the class or its material c) or is just generally bad at communication, answering questions, and teaching. I would say I was lucky because my TA was very well-versed in the class and its material and was in-tune with student concerns. I have no gauge to say what type of grader my TA was as I do not know of the averages of other sections, but as I mentioned before it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is performing above the mean in your own section. Speaking of grades, here is my grade breakdown which can be helpful when gauging where you might stand in the class*: Method section: 91% (average: 79%, SD: 6) Group project: 83% (average: 77%, SD: 6) Quizzes: 100% First submission: 92% (average and SD are unknown) Grade for the in-class final: 37/40 Final submission: 94% (average and SD are unknown) Final grade in the class: A+ * Please note that due to the curve, the actual percentages really don't matter. All that matters is that you perform above the mean, ideally 1-2 SD above the mean. Easily my grades and the section averages could have been knocked down 20 percentage points each and it would be the exact same grade in the end. Students get caught up in the percentages, when in reality if you scored a 68% on an assignment where the average was a 50% and standard deviation was 6, you would be easily at an A. Please always keep this in mind, the percentages do not matter and are usually not consistent across sections and across quarters. All you need to care about is if you are consistently above the mean and are performing at the top of your section. Here is what actually makes up your final grade (in the summer): 40% Lecture (1 multiple-choice exam that counts for 40% of your final grade) 60% Section (15% quizzes, 10% participation, assignments 75% - which are broken down into: 5% method section, 10% team project proposal, 60% project report [which is split into 35% for the first submission and 65% for the final report]) SUMMARY: If you are a dedicated and driven student who puts in the effort and wants to succeed, you should do well. Start your assignments early, take your papers to the writing center, get to know your TA and professor, study early and consistently for the exam, become well-versed with the APA manual and its requirements. In the end, there is no secret formula to this class: if you put in the work, you will be rewarded.
After having taken this class i seriously cannot understand why people complain about it so much. This was one of the easiest classes i've taken at UCLA. Professor Geiselman is very nice and pleasant, and the coursework is minimal in my opinion. The final was super easy too. As i psychobiology major, this class required a lot less work than any of my other classes. Maybe for psych majors, this is a different case? I don't know. But seriously, take 100b with Geiselman if you can. 6 units of A :) with less than 10 hours of work put into the class the entire session. Also, Curtis is a great TA!