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This course has a pretty low time commitment compared to other neuro classes, but I learned a lot. My advice: sign up early for the presentation to get it over with, say something once a class to get participation credit, and start early on the paper. Highly recommend if you're looking for a neuro elective, but enroll early--it's a pretty small class and fills up quickly.
Such an great guy! The class is amazing, and I learned so much about Parkinson's, Huntington's, epilepsy, sleep disorders, etc. He has done some amazing research, and it was so interesting to hear about it. The class doesn't have any tests, and all you have to do is show up, participate, give one presentation, and write a paper at the end. And almost every week he has a speaker come in (one week was a neurosurgeon who brought a little kid who'd had half his brain removed...so amazing). And besides, check out the grade distribution.
Take this class if you can!
This course was online when I took it so take that with a grain of salt. However, it seems like everything was kept exactly the same. Overall I read only my own presentation paper, participated a good amount, and wrote my final paper in 3 days. That plus attendance got me an A+. Highly recommend this class for any neuro majors looking for an easier elective. I also took this as a junior with 101C and another neuro elective. Of the three, this class had the least effort necessary.
Carlos is a gem. He's funny and charismatic, super helpful, and really just one of the most insightful professors I'll probably ever have. His long-time TA Samiksha is moving to med school so not sure how the new TA will be but Samiksha was basically in charge of monitoring our participation and helping grade papers and the presentation.
25 points for class participation
25 points for a paper presentation
50 points for a 10-15 page paper
+ A million opportunities for extra credit (placing top 3 in kahoot, extra presentations, etc.)
Class participation includes attendance and actively making comments/discussing with peers. Online it meant asking questions and responding to others' questions, but in person, I was told it was basically asking a question once a class. It's calculated as a weighted average so if there's a particularly low-energy class where no one participates, it doesn't ding you. People's questions are a mix of good questions, super complicated ones for no reason, and ones that don't make sense but are solely to get participation credit. Please don't be the last one. Online it was about 3 participations per class.
The presentation is supposed to be 15 minutes but tons of people go over and the TA said it does not help your grade to do so and often reflects more poorly in the grade. Carlos looooooves figures so use as many as you can. You present in a relay-style and then have a 20 minute-ish game that all four presenters help make. Choose your presentation week wisely as you cannot write on the same disease as you present on. All presentations are done on Wednesdays. You also answer questions after the presentation.
The paper is 10-15 pages on a disease discussing its neuropathology, current treatments, and personal recommendations for treatments. Options include AD, HD, PD, epilepsy, narcolepsy, FFI, etc.
Class participation was stressful because it's fast-paced and doesn't leave a lot of time to process. If I had it to do over again, I would read at least one of the articles beforehand and come up with a few questions in advance. That being said, I had relatively high participation even without it. We aren't told final amounts, but during Week 8 I had a 24/25 and participated extra in the last three weeks to try to beef it up.
Presentations are relatively low-stress in nature but almost everyone stresses out about them. If you're like me and had a paper with no figures, don't stress it, but also don't make the slides too text-heavy. Be nice and make the game easy/fun for your peers. There are usually more papers than class members, so presenting extra papers can get you extra credit or extra days on the paper due date. Additionally, the first group to present gets extra credit because you have like 3 days to do it. Try and be this group because it's neurogenesis instead of a disease. You can email and ask for your grade, but again they don't tell you if you don't ask.
The paper is kinda vague. Recounting the disease is easy, but the novel treatment/personal evaluation of treatments is kinda hard. It's not hard to hit 10-15 pages. You could easily do this any weekend in the quarter and be done with it. I basically did it Monday - Wednesday of the week it was due and life was okay.
I'm not usually the person who gets A+s in a class but I think that speaks to the grade distribution here. For some perspective I got an A in 101A, P in 101B, A in 101C, B+ in 102, A in biochem 153A, and an A in my other neuro elective. So they really are quite generous.
25% participation: showing up and asking questions during class. Talk at least once a week and you probably will get 25/25. I would ask random questions to the professor or about a presentation. Did not have to prepare beforehand to be able to ask a question.
25% presenting a 15min ppt slide based on a research paper. Pretty sure the professor said that by just showing up and talking you already get 20/25. Try not to do an awful job and you most likely will get a 24-25. I’d sign up early if you can just so you can get this out of your head. Took me 1 day to read the paper in detail and make notes, another to make my slides, and I did it early so I could show it to the professor and get his input. You can probably do it the night before and still get at least a 23/25 unless you’re an extremely awkward presenter. On monday the professor or a guest lecturer will present on the topic, and on wednesday about 4 students will each present a paper and then do a joint kahoot quiz to the class. You basically work individually except for making the kahoot with your group.
50% a 10-15 page final paper on one of the diseases. Due the last day of class. Again, I took a couple days to do it early, then went to the professor for feedback and worked on it a bit more. Probably 20h total to do it. Really focus on the “novel treatment or experiment part”. I recommend asking him for feedback because then you’re just increasing your chances of getting a high mark, but it’s not needed.
Personal experience: I have mixed feelings. Commitment wise it really is an easy class and he is nice during lectures. You just need to show up twice a week to lecture, talk once a week to really guarantee your participation, and then put in about 30-40h of time to do the two assignments for the quarter. Probably less if you rush it. You can even work on them during lectures to save time outside of class. Just try to multi task and also listen to the class, but 99% of students were on their laptops the whole time. So it really is an easy class.
However my negative points are that the professor can be confusing. I had to miss one class and he made me write a 6 page paper to make it up which was ridiculous… I can guarantee a bunch of kids skipped class other times and he didn’t even notice. He also tried to email me on the same chain and get me to present an extra paper a few weeks later which I said no to and thought was a bit ridiculous to ask that just for missing one lecture. So if you have to skip honestly just don’t even mention it. He will do roll call the first lecture but won’t do it ever again. It’s his LA that will track attendance and participation. And she literally said that as long as you mostly show up and talk a few times then you’ll get full credit. If you’re sick you can also attend by zoom, but don’t make this a habit.
You supposedly also get extra credit for presenting a second paper and for scoring in the top 3 for the kahoots (each Wednesday after the student presentations they have to make a 20 question kahoot for the class to answer). I feel like the extra credit isn’t really being recorded properly. Like he doesn’t clarify if it goes to your participation or to the overall grade. You actually don’t even get your participation grade nor your presentation grade back. So it’s a bit frustrating to put in extra work and not know for sure if you’re getting the credit. My advice would just be to stick to doing the minimum lol.
Final thoughts: interesting class and very easy work load. Definitely recommend!