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Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
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I took this class as a GE credit, and ended up enjoying it much more than I expected. I was a little worried about all of the biology that would be required (north campus major) but she goes over it so much that there's no way you can't know it if you're paying attention. The required weekly discussion question postings, as a few others have mentioned, seem to be pointless in that they're never used in discussion (and I also didn't think much of my TA- I mostly sat in discussion waiting for it to be over, as it seemed to have little to do with lectures). However, the review questions, also required, were fairly helpful, despite the fact that they were rarely solely review because everyone had to fight to think of something original enough to satisfy the nitpicky TA's.
Grading is a little nitpicky too, but she'll do a regrade if you write in pen and have a good reason to think you deserve more points- just make sure the test wasn't added up wrong in your favor before, or you might end up losing points, as she regrades the whole thing.
Dr. Meyer is really concerned about students' learning: she does an evaluation after the midterm to see what you thought of the first half of the class. Despite the cost, I enjoyed the use of the clickers, since they really engaged the class's opinions. I also appreciated the fact that the lectures were a give-and-take more than most professors, allowing students to contribute and ask questions.
She's only here for one more quarter, but I definitely recommend the class if you can take it.
I really thought this class was great because I found myself learning a lot of interesting things. I'm a South Campus Major, so of course I found the stem cell biology part of the course much more interesting, and even though the ethics/policy half of the course was at times unbearable, I've really gained an appreciation for it by the end of the class. The thing I like about this course is that the final is not cumulative--the midterm was all about the science, and the final was all about the ethics/policy--because it probably would not have been so nice to have to study for both at the same time. The midterm and final both have the same format: 1/3 of the exam is multiple choice, and the other 2/3 is free response, so you really have to know your stuff well. The multiple choice questions were pretty easy, but the free response required a lot more thought and knowledge/understanding of the material. I do agree with some of the previous comments that the grading is pretty nit-picky. Sometimes I get points docked off some assignments for no particular reason (like the 5-7 page paper we have to write about the moral status of the embryo), and I never got any explanation as to why so many points were docked off, or suggestions for how to improve my paper, so that's one aspect of the class I'm not really too fond of. In addition, on the free response questions, they look for some specific points, and if you didn't mention those points in enough detail, they also dock points off.
One other thing I didn't quite understand was the discussion postings we had to do every week. Sure, it actually does force you to read the articles (which by the way, were pretty great supplements to the lecture material), but you really have to think hard just to ask a question that's "non-obvious" and that everyone would have difficulty answering just so the TAs wouldn't find an excuse to take points off. I know they're called discussion postings, but we never really address these postings in discussion. Therefore, it's frustrating sometimes when I actually do come up with interesting questions that I would like to discuss or know the answer to.
I know Dr. Meyer tells you that you have to read the book "Stem Cell Now" in its full context because you need to know it for the exam, but really, you don't. It's a good supplement to her lectures, but really, all you need to study for her exams are the lecture notes, the study guide she gives out, and review the podcasts if you didn't catch everything she said in lecture. I thought Dr. Meyer was a really great professor. She knew her stuff pretty well and on top of that, she can explain it pretty well also. She's a really, really nice person! She really encourages discussion in class and her students to go talk to her in office hours, and was really concerned about getting everyone on the same page.
All in all, other than the nit-picky grading and the sometimes useless assignments, I thought Dr. Meyer was a great professor and that this was a great course. I definitely recommend this to science majors because it really gives you some exposure as to what working in the scientific community would be like--the science, the policy-making, the ethics, the hard work. And the science portion of the course wasn't really something that's crazy like the LS classes, etc. I'm not a North Campus major, so I don't really know how the course is to North Campus majors. But if you really do have an interest in the stem cell debate and want to learn more about stem cells, this is a great class to take. This class really makes you think, and you really do come out learning a lot!
Here's the deal: MCD Bio 50 is one tough ass class.
Dr. Meyer IS very intelligent and very engaging. She seems extremely nice and very willing to help, but if you go to her office hours, she expects certain "types" of questions to be asked, which is incredibly frustrating.
I'm a North Campus major, and am not scientifically inclined whatsoever, which made this class really difficult for me. Although some of the science concepts aren't incredibly difficult to understand, and there's not a lot of homework, the class is graded really harshly. I studied a shitload for the midterm (which was a bunch of short/long answer questions, with minimal multiple choice questions), and still got a C. If you don't include one minute detail or term she docks you a bunch of points.
When I saw this class, it seemed really interesting, because it was a science GE and also a social analysis GE, which sounded perfect to me. However, this also sounds great to super smart science majors who are looking for an easy way out to their Social Analysis GE, which means the class is filled to the brim with South Campus kids who will ruin the curve (if she ever decides to give one). So basically, this class will be tough for any North Campus Major who hates science, doesn't want to be shown up by a bunch of crazy intelligent South Campus majors, and wants an easy science GE.
I'm not saying don't take the class. It can be very interesting at times, and will at least give you some background information on the whole Stem Cell Debate, but if you're looking for an easy GE, this really isn't it. Unless you love science...
Then by all means, go for it. Scare the North Campus kids shitless, and make them hate their lives for a few weeks.
Dr. Meyer is a really engaging professor. The tests were really fair, but I think it was important to participate in discussion sections throughout the quarter.. During 3/4 of the quarter, she switched the group discussion to a small group discussion, which I found was better, but you also have people who don't like that and would rather talk in a larger circle. Buying the clicker was sort of a waste of money$$, so if you can, try to get it off from a friend... Some students aren't as accommodated to the idea of just speaking out loud in a circle of 16 students, and to those students who speak for more than 5 minutes at a time saying the same idea over and over.. it really took away the opportunity for other students to speak. The essays were alright, although the last one we had was comparing Obama v. Bush Policy ANNOUNCEMENTS, which had no rubric (somewhat unfair) since it was the first time she assigned it... Overall, the material is incredibly interesting, especially because stem cell issues are current and still on the move.. just make a good study guide and remember historical events... Wikipedia is great if you're stuck studying for the final... Remember to participate!
I thought Professor Meyer was great! I took her Stem Cell Biology, Ethics, and Politics in the Winter of 2009. Her class is a Science or Social Analysis G.E. I would have to say though, if you are look for an EASY G.E. This isn't it. The first half of her course is pure Science, everything about the Biology of Stem Cells. This is liked. Her 1st midterm which covers only that is REALLY detailed. The midterm I felt covered everything she lectured on. She lets you know that she feels her tests are fairly difficult and that's perfect because that's what they are. With good prep, her tests are still fairly difficult. Her test is fair though and her re-grades, I hear are fair as well. Her lectures sometimes can be a bit dry if you're not too interested in the material at times. This was especially more evident for me the 2nd half of her course : the politics and ethics. After the inital excitement that a potential throwdown may ensue wore off, her class was a little tedious to sit through. Especially ethics. Which wasn't her fault, it's just that very few people can make ethics fun in that sense. It just felt like I was argueing in a continuous circle. Her discussions are very thourough, but simply, unnecessary sometimes. Discussions and debates that unless you are genuinely interested (not really necessary for the exams, just nice supplemental knowledge), you won't enjoy. I took the class with a friend and he wanted to shoot himself through the ethics and politics part. Ok, I know I just went on a tangent why the class can be dry. But OVERALL, I thouroughly enjoyed the class. It was fun, and Professor Meyer tries to involve you and learn your name and generally make you as interested in the class as she is. Just expect to work to get your grade. She is VERY interested in your concerns and education in her class and makes herself very nice and available. I've gone to her office hours before and she was really, really nice and paitent and is willing to help you a lot. One thing that got me through some of the more dryer lectures was her accent, she has pretty nice, vague German/European accent, if all else fails, focus on that so you can focus on the class. :D
Take the class, you'll learn a lot about stem cells and how to argue it properly. If you're look for a REALLY easy GE like *ok classes I can't really say/tell you* then, move on.
Dr. Meyer is fantastic! She explains everything really clearly and in an unbiased way. She's really organized: posts all of her lecture slides online the night before lecture and let's you know about assignments and grading criteria along the way. If you're unhappy with a test grade, you can submit a formal appeal which she looks at and decides, not the TA. The midterm was completely fair, and so is the appeal process. She really cares about the students' opinions and breaks down Stem Cell Research and politics in an interesting, engaging way. I'm a North campus major and dreaded the science part of the class, but there wasn't a single concept I didn't understand. I highly, highly recommend this class to anyone who wants a great professor and to learn about very relevant scientific research.
I took MCDB 50... terrible class if you're looking for an easy GE. I slacked off a bunch at the beginning and got a below average on the midterm (which was pretty hard). There are alot of essays and the TA graded them exceptionally hard. It seems like he's looking for a specific style of writing and if you don't do it... you will fail. His comments didn't really help either. Overall, the class will teach you stem cell biology pretty well... however, most people take it as a GE... and it was terrible. After around week 5, I started working hard and got second highest score in class on the final. However, I ended up with a B. So yeah, study hard since the beginning and always ask the TAs what they are looking for on the essays. I thought I could get a high score by making it up on the final, but it wasn't the case. Bottom line: if you're looking for an easy GE, do not take this class or this professor... but if you're generally interested in stem cell bio, take it.