Professor

Debra Pires

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Easiness 1.4/ 5
Clarity 2.0/ 5
Workload 1.6/ 5
Helpfulness 2.8/ 5
Most Helpful Review
Pires is one of the most dedicated lecturers. Despite being pregnant with twins, she nevertheless came to give lectures for 6 weeks before having to be hospitalized. Though her exams can require rigorous study, she is highly helpful if you ask. The best studying method I found was studying her lectures then going to the book to read parts that the lecture covers while ignoring parts the lec doesn't cover. Some info from the syllabus: Labs: There are five labs for this course during weeks 2,4,6,8 and 10. Each lab is three hours long. These labs are designed to give you practical experience in molecular biology techniques, and reinforce material you are learning in lecture. You are able to drop your lowest lab score, with the exception of lab 3 (everyone must attend and complete that lab). If you have to miss a lab for any reason, then that is the score that will be dropped. There will be 20 points pertaining to lab material on the final exam. Discussion sections: In weeks where there are no labs you will attend discussion section. You can find the appropriate discussion room on the LS Core Labs website http://lslab.lscore.ucla.edu/. There are five discussion sections during weeks 1,3,5,7 and 9. These discussion sections are approximately 1 ½ - two hours in duration and attendance is mandatory. Discussion sections are run by your TA’s and are your opportunity to ask questions about material that may seem unclear, or to go over problems that have been assigned to help you study for the exams. You must attend the discussion schedule in which you are enrolled. If you need to switch a section you must confirm it with your TA and the TA for the section you will be attending that week. You may not simply show up to another section or lab without arranging everything ahead of time. There will be short quizzes and group exercises given during discussion sections. Each discussion section is worth 20 points towards your final grade. Reading Quizzes: There will be a quiz administered on the CCLE course website beginning in Week 2 and ending in Week 10. There will be no reading quizzes on the weeks with midterms. These quizzes are based on the current week’s reading. In order to prepare for Week 2 reading quiz read the assigned material in the schedule for Week 2. They are only available for a limited time (11 AM Sundays until 1 PM Mondays), you must login and take the quiz before the quiz times out. Reading quizzes are open book, and they are designed to help you look over the material and be prepared for what we will be covering in class. Under no circumstances are the quizzes meant to be done together with other students. Exams and Review Sessions: You have two midterms for the course. Both midterms are held in the evenings, so please plan accordingly. The midterms for this class are on October 18th and November 15th. You must take the exams on the scheduled date as there are no make-up exams. Failure to appear, hand in, or take an exam will result in a zero for that exam. There are no exceptions to this policy. There are weekly review sessions Thursday mornings from 7-8. These are question and answer sessions only. You are responsible for bringing questions, and I will provide answers. Enrollment: All questions related to enrollment should be taken to the LS Core office in the Life Sciences building room 2305. You can also e-mail them at the following e-mail address: LSCore@lifesci.ucla.edu. If you would like to switch sections, there is a sign-up board just to the left of the door to the Core Office where you can try to find students that are also looking to switch sections. If you find a student to switch with, then both of you must go to the Core Office together and they will change your official section enrollments. Exams and Grading: Material for the exams will be taken from lectures, the text, additional posted readings, problems that have been posted on the course website, problems handed out in lecture and material from your discussion section. There will be a mix of multiple choice and true/false questions on the exams. The exams will cover all material up to the Thursday before the exam. For example, the first midterm will cover material from weeks 1-3. All grades will be posted into MyUCLA. You will have a chance to review your exam during the discussion section following the exam, you will not be able to keep your midterms or finals. Midterm 1: October 18th, 5 – 6:50 PM Midterm 2: November 15th, 5 – 6:50 PM Final Exam: December 9th 11:30 – 2:30 AM NOTE EXAMS CHANGE TIMES AND THESE ARE RELATIVE DATES FOR FALL QUARTER LS3 Regrading policy: Any request for a regrade must be made within one week of the assignment being returned to you. If you think there has been a simple addition error on the assignment then write a note explaining which page was added incorrectly, attach this to the front of the assignment and let your TA know when you return the assignment during discussion or lab. Turning Point Clickers: Students are required to bring Turning Point clickers to class beginning 10/04. Students use clickers to respond to questions posed during lecture. Each lecture is worth 4 points. You must register your clicker online to be included in the course roster and to receive participation points. You will receive two “free days” of points – this means that you can miss two lectures and not be penalized points. You must answer all of the questions each day to receive full participation credit for that day. You may not share a clicker with someone else in this lecture. Answering questions for another student not in attendance constitutes cheating and both students involved will be referred to the Dean of Students for academic dishonesty. You should check your participation daily to make sure that you are receiving points. If you have noticed a problem (i.e. your points aren’t showing up and you know you attended class) then you must notify me by the end of Week 3. Many times the issue will be that you did not register your clicker correctly. I am not responsible for any issues with your participation grade if you fail to inform me of any problems during the quarter and choose to wait until the end of the quarter to bring up any issues. If you lose your clicker and purchase another clicker you must notify me in person so that I may change your clicker ID on the roster. Point Breakdown: Midterm 1 120 Midterm 2 120 Final Exam 190 Lab 80 Discussion 100 Reading Quizzes 70 Participation 72 Total Points 752 If the class mean is 75% or higher, letter grades will be based on a straight percentage of the total points in the class, see the breakdown below. Within each letter grade, a minus (-) will be assigned to the bottom three percentage points and a plus (+) will be assigned to the top three percentage points (e.g. 80-82.9% is a B-, 87-89.9% is a B+). If the class mean is lower than 75% the scale will be adjusted to compensate (e.g. 89% may become an A-). Under no circumstances will grades be curved down. You can use the straight grading scale as an indicator of your minimum grade in the course. I am not responsible for tracking your progress in the course, you should keep track of your own points so that at any time during the quarter you know your standing. If for any reason you have concerns about your grade, then that is a great time to come and see me so we can discuss study techniques or alternative strategies to help you along in this course.
Easiness 1.3/ 5
Clarity 3.8/ 5
Workload 1.3/ 5
Helpfulness 3.7/ 5
Most Helpful Review
first of all, my creds: I took LS1 with her and took LS3 twice with her. the reason i took her so frequently is because i love her teaching style and her understanding of and dissemination of biology is nearly flawless. her lectures are dominated by powerpoint presentations and podcasts (audio only) that serve to facilitate one's understanding of these many subjects. she also carries a CrackBerry with her and so is quite responsive to almost all students' questions. i don't think anyone could teach you about DNA replication down to the minute details like she can. so if you really love the subject, you could do no better. what did i get for my LS1? i got a C. and, why did i take LS3 twice? because i was going to get a C in her class the first time and could not let that happen as that would ruin my med school resume. i took her class a second time and studied my ass off only to still get a C. I tell you this because it is relevant to her teaching style. the number of hours i studied for this course far outnumbered the hours studied for any other course i took such that 75% of my time was spent on LS1 and LS3 and the LS3 i retook in the summer occupied my entire day in studies; i did not go out that summer nor did i party, it was all business... when i got the C, i honestly felt it was I who was stupid because no matter how hard i tried, my scores were poor. To be fair, there were always a small cadre of students who scored at the top, so i can't claim my C was her fault, but what i felt was that her testing style does not match her teaching style. first of all, she claims not to believe in the curve (which would have saved me because i was still above the median and the mean in my tests, earning me at least a B in all cases) yet by 3/4ths into the quarter, she is forced to do it because we all bomb so fantastically (except for those 8 top students out of 300, of course). her argument is that she decries the idea of students competing against each other, and prefers them to compete against a set standard to fight grade inflation, students gaming the system, and preference. If you agree with this, fine, there are plenty of arguments like this, but a competitive school like UCLA is not the place they hold up given the fact most of us already competed heavily to get here and even avoided classes not out of disinterest, but because we knew our interest in learning something was not related to how well it would reflect on us. nevertheless, as i said, she applies a very weak curve, which only helps the next batch of about 30 students near the top, leaving the rest of us exactly where we were. her weekly quizzes (you must finish them by tuesday 8pm) are easy as pie, and get you points but are absolutely NOT predictive of what the tests will be like. by the time you get your first test back, you can't drop the class because it's impacted. other monster classes like Chem 153A i've taken give you your first test in time to decide whether to stay or leave. so what does that boil down to? that if you have an aptitude for biology already (are a bio major who does well) you will definitely enjoy this class because it seems to favor those who are already versed in the lingo (many of her test questions, i later learned, were easy to understand if you had already taken numerous biology classes; just like the fact that some word problems in math become easier in time because they repeat the same terms). If you are not, then take her classes with the greatest of caution because you will not be able to leave once you're in. If you get a bad grade on your first midterm, take that as absolute proof that you need to spend all your waking time dogging Deb on terms, and getting tutoring. this class is NOT friendly to non Bio majors, instead consider Merriam or even Mr Bad Religion as my fellow non bio friends have both done better than I in those classes. again, this is a great teacher to learn from, but a grading nazi to all but Bio geniuses.
Easiness 2.9/ 5
Clarity 3.2/ 5
Workload 2.8/ 5
Helpfulness 3.1/ 5
Most Helpful Review
Fall 2018 - Material: This is pretty much exactly like AP Bio in terms of material covered. My brother who was taking AP Bio in high school at the same time that I took this class was learning the same things I was. Tests: 2 midterms and a final. You need to know your stuff inside and out for the tests, they're tough if you don't because the multiple choice answers can be very similar (all tests were multiple choice, but don't be fooled). The tests are less about memorization and more about testing your mastery of the concepts and applying them to new situations. LaunchPad: Gotta buy the LaunchPad subscription, all your readings and quizzes are done through this :// -- it's like $70 and up depending on the plan you get (if you aren't taking 7A,B, and C all in one year then you should get the 2-year subscription) if you take diligent notes on LaunchPad, it can take up to 5/6 hours do finish, but if you don't, you could get through the work in maybe an hour or two depending on the workload that week iClicker: If you're going to be taking a lot of science classes, it's a good idea to buy an iClicker ($40 unless you're able to buy it from someone for a cheaper price -- you can also rent one from Powell (see here --> https://www.teaching.ucla.edu/iclicker-rentals)) Lectures: participation is HUGE with Pires -- her lectures revolve almost entirely around clicker questions and collaboration in class and discussions Structure: graded on a straight scale, three lectures per week and one discussion Discussion: you do worksheets together with other peers and they're really helpful for tests Extra resources: when I took the class, the TA hours were really helpful because one of the TAs made mini worksheets to compliment the course, which were really helpful. A lot of people came to these office hours because of the worksheets, and there were usually two or three TAs around to help. it would get crowded, but all the students helped one another too
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Easiness 3.0/ 5
Clarity 3.5/ 5
Workload 3.0/ 5
Helpfulness 3.4/ 5
Most Helpful Review
Spring 2018 - Ahh, where to begin? I've been told that the redesign of the LS series that resulted in the abominations that are LS 7A, 7B, & 7C was spearheaded by none other than Professor Debra Pires herself. In High School biology was my favorite subject, and I could not have been more excited to take these classes in a college setting. Now, after having taken 7A with Roth Johnson and 7B with Pires, bio is the subject that I despise the most. Allow me to explain how the class is structured and graded: The entire 7 series is based upon a very interesting concept called "Flipped Classroom". The theory behind it is that if the students do all their learning outside of the classroom, the professor can review difficult topics and help students with their weak points in class. This could work in a small classroom setting where the professor could have time to speak with each individual student, but it does not work at all in a 330 person lecture. The lectures are an hour and fifteen minutes in LaKretz 110 (Even thinking about sitting in that room makes my blood pressure rise as I feel the anger of all my ancestors coursing through my veins) twice a week. Pires stands at the board and just goes through a set of around 15-40 clicker questions every day (oh yeah attendance is mandatory buddy, don't even think about skipping class). The clicker questions range from very easy and self explanatory to inexplicably confusing, and Deb often struggles to explain them and invariably fails to explain them well. Discussion is a two hour "lab" (its a computer lab where you fill out a worksheet every week, they call it a lab to justify it being two hours) where your TA will give you a useless worksheet that rarely correlates to the exams and is usually just busy work. Sometimes the worksheets are very long and take nearly two hours of highly efficient work to complete. If your TA's parents weren't nice to them as a child, they'll take off a point or so out of 15 every week, and you'll be sad to see them go when you're calculating what grade you need on the final to get an A. Also at around week 7 or 8 you'll have a group assignment that involves the botanical garden, have fun. Now for the worst part of the class: Launchpad. I have never felt more burnt out of school than during spring quarter, and Launchpad is the primary reason for that. Launchpad is an online textbook provided by Macmillian with interactive assignments built in. Every morning before lecture, there is work due. You'll read through 1-6 sections (average ~3-4) per day, each consisting of 2-7 (average ~5) pages of reading. At the end of each section there are questions that test that you've read the chapter, and they can be confusing and difficult. Quizlet is your friend. But it gets worse. Occasionally they'll have 1-3 minute long animations followed by around 5 questions to check that you watched the animation. Sometimes these can be very easy, but other times the animations will ask questions that weren't covered in the animations. And occasionally, the questions won't even be covered in the course. You'll just have to pray that some kind soul added them to quizlet for you. At the end of every week there will be a set of "Practice Exam Questions" which can be surprisingly difficult. Your best bet for these is to get in a group with other students and complete the questions together. Every assignment on Launchpad counts for points, and there is no way to make up missed points, so rushing through them can really screw you over. The content of the class is not hard conceptually, but the exams are very difficult not because the questions are pushing your understanding of the material, but because the questions are often extremely vague and it can be difficult to discern what they're asking you. There were even questions on the final that were on a topic that was never mentioned in the reading, lecture, or discussion, so I have no idea how anyone was supposed to know them. Everyone is asked said that they just guessed on those. My final complaint is that there is that the professor does not provide any study material for the exams, so the way I studied was I spent around 4 hours per Launchpad day taking detailed notes and reviewing them. I also went back through all the assignments on Launchpad and made sure I understood them, and I reviewed the clicker questions from the lectures, which were uploaded to CCLE. If you're going to be taking any of the 7 series with Deb and my review has scared you, take solace in the fact that there is very little difference in the class based on professor, and it will be complete ass regardless of who it is being taught by. As I look forward to August 7th and the first LS 7C lecture of C session, I fight back tears of rage and despair, and finally grit my teeth in calm acceptance of my inevitable doom. Deb also has around 5 shirts and she just cycles through them.
Easiness 1.3/ 5
Clarity 3.8/ 5
Workload 1.8/ 5
Helpfulness 3.3/ 5
Overall Rating N/A
Easiness N/A/ 5
Clarity N/A/ 5
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Helpfulness N/A/ 5
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