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Professor Blank is....the G.O.A.T. I loved this class so much! This was my last pre-req before declaring the Cog Sci major, and I'm so glad I waited to take it until now! Blank is caring, intelligent, funny, and engaging. Although lectures were dense, surveying different sub-fields of Cognitive Science through theory and experiment examples, he had an ability to keep us all engaged. His slides were also gorgeous - you can tell he put a lot of effort into this class.
Lecture was twice a week, with no discussion. Blank would include in-class participation through PollEverywhere, where we gave our hypotheses/responses to hypothetical scenarios or real psychological experiments. This ensured that students participated in class and paid attention. These were completion based, and if you couldn't attend lecture, then you could watch a separate, asynchronous lecture that you sign up for and complete your participation points there instead. He used psychological experiments and case studies to explain certain concepts in Cog Sci, like Bayesian inference, Imagery, Neural Networks, Computing, and Innate Knowledge. Every example he used was super interesting (and, as he said, were all his favorite experiments!).
We had 6 writing assignments that we had a week to do. They were used to preface the following week's material. These usually took me about 5-7 hours to complete, reading 2-3 papers and answering some questions on it in a page or less. They are not straightforward, instead requiring you to deeply engage in the research process and understand the paper at a deeper level (connecting to theories, drawing your own conclusions, etc). I thought the assignments were challenging, but fair. They were graded on completion, with 2 of the 6 assignments (that we picked), graded on content accuracy. I'm not sure how they were graded, but I got high scores on them. Immediately after the turn in deadline, he provided us with videos going over the assignment answers, so we could have an understanding of how far off our answers were in deciding which assignments to grade for content. More than generous imo! We also had two group assignments (randomly assigned based on student time availabilities), in which we had to create ~15 min videos where we go over a research paper within the subfields of Cognitive Science and try to explain it for a general audience. The project instructions were very clear, and the graded was pretty lenient (instructor grade - the TA + group member peer grading + other group grading).
There was only a final exam for this class, which consisted of 7 short response essays that each had 2-3 parts. We had all of finals week to complete this, and were able to collaborate as a group. I found the final really time consuming, but the problems weren't super hard. Some questions asked you to summarize and idea from lecture, others required us to calculate probabilities, and others required you to analyze experiments. I didn't find any questions super left field, because you could find the answers or procedure in lecture videos.
GRADE BREAKDOWN (this is the standard breakdown, some breakdown variations were possible after the final exam)
Weekly Assignments Completion (7): 35/35 - 14% of grade
Weekly Assignments Content (2): 34.9/35 - 14% of grade
In-class Participation (PollEverywhere): 30/30 (we can miss 3 lectures) - 12% of grade
Group Project 1: 24.7/25 - 10% of grade
Group Project 2: 34.9/35 - 14% of grade
Final Exam: 90/90 - 36% of grade
Extra Credit: 5 points
254.5/250 = 101% = A+
This class had altered grade cutoffs, with a raw score of 88+ being an A, and a raw score of 94+ being an A+.
Take this class. You will love it. It's challenging, but so rewarding, and Professor Blank takes you on an educational journey with him! Thank you so much Idan!!!!
Psych 124A is incredibly interesting, but also incredibly difficult. I would be cautious when enrolling in this class because the workload and the course material really pile up. I believe I spent 18+ hours a week (outside of class) on writing assignments / problem sets. And I still barely scraped up C's on my submissions.
Despite the difficulty and workload, the material itself is fascinating. Topics ranged from phrase-structuring to developmental cognition to Bayesian inferencing. Overall, take this class if you're really interested in the intertwines of linguistics and cog sci. But if you're just looking for a good grade, this class is definitely not for you.
Idan is the sweetest professor and he definitely knows what he's talking about. He is super approachable during office hour and very passionate about teaching. However, this course is not easy and requires your dedication to it. His lectures include a lot of studies and those will be in your final so make sure you take notes down. Every week there will be an assignment composed of either 1) 3 papers + written assignment or 2) a problem set, and both take more time than you would think, so start early and plan accordingly. He encourages collaboration between students, so make sure you check your answer with somebody else before you submit because making careless mistakes is so common especially in problem sets. That being said, don't worry about your grade too much because you will get a lot of chances for bonus points and probably a large curve for the final. I like that Idan really wants his students to learn something out of this class instead of over-concerning about their grades. For me, the class materials are very interesting and I genuinely think I gained some important knowledge on language and mind. If you are here to learn something interesting, I definitely recommend taking this class ;-)
This class was difficult for an intro class. The bulk of the work is writing weekly papers based on long studies. Attendance is required and it's worth 12% of your grade even for online lectures. There are two group projects that are worth 24% of your grade and your partners are randomly chosen. I heard for in-person classes, they just made a poster, but for online classes, we had to make a video. This was a lot of work and if your partners are not helpful, you're basically screwed. His grading is pretty harsh too even though he doesn't give that much instruction for the assignments. Idan is a pretty nice person and is obviously passionate about the subject, but his class was hard. However, the grading scale is pretty generous. An 88 is an A and he doesn't give out -A's.
Loved the lectures (wish it wasn't at 2PM though)! Workload was manageable, but definitely start the assignments and projects EARLY. I stayed up very late finishing up the group project, but this might be because my group members were very unhelpful. Final wasn't too hard because I had a cheat sheet with EVERYTHING written on it, but the exam covered content across the entire quarter so make sure you go through everything!
I looked forward to this class, but Professor Blank was a real disappointment. The positive is that he is knowledgeable of the material, but here is the negative:
- He really likes to listen to himself, not interaction in class.
- He stated the first day that he made this class difficult on purpose; why??
- The assignment is not connected to the lectures, and he said he gave very difficult research to analyze, knowing that we wouldn't understand them, and if we didn't, we should ask out peers, for sure someone will get them, not him, not once he said come to office hours for this matter.
- he said we had to figure it out by ourselves because when we are in a working environment, nobody will tell us how to do things, so we have to start now. But aren't we paying you big money to teach us, so that when we go to work, we know how to do things??
- No feedback of any kind on our work until after the final. I had the first grade of my assignment the day after the final; how was it useful?
- It felt like he had no time for us and he structured the class so that he had the least amount of work to do. There is no discussion class with a TA, so there is no hope of reviewing the material in a class environment.
It was a bad experience for me, I really wanted to learn something, but I really didn't. UCLA should use motivated teachers, not researchers that don't want to do their job.
Take this class if you want a free A. I took this class alongside 2 math classes and a PIC class and had little time to dedicate to PSYCH85. Despite what other reviews may imply, this is the easiest class I've taken at UCLA. For assignments you have 5 written responses, completing them alone gives 100%, then 2 are chosen to be graded based on content. These are graded not too harshly, but there are some unclear questions which lead me and probably others to be docked despite having what seemed to be a correct answer. Then there are two projects you do with a group based on studies, they are pretty interesting and the projects are very easy. These projects are not graded harshly, getting 90%-95% on them requires minimal work. There is plenty of extra credit too, I think I earned 3%. The "hardest" part of this class is the final. One important thing to note, the final covers specific examples from in class, it will specifically ask you what happened in this study we read in class. I missed many classes, but brought a cheat sheet to the final as allowed, but it was little help. That was because the final didn't ask for many definitions or to explain a concept. It was all MC and asked specific questions about what happened in this study or what would you expect to happen in this study (your expectation would come from remembering what happened in the class example). Many studies I remembered from class and still could not recall the expectation on the exam, I also did not study at all though because of other classes. I got 60% on the final and still managed an A. Finally, Idan is super nice, tries to be extremely inclusive, and is always helping students. Definitely take this class, it's a free A (or A+ if you don't bomb the final like me).
For an introductory course, this course was quite a lot of work. Idan is a very nice and outgoing person, however, I struggled a lot with his style of instruction. For one, during class, you aren't allowed to raise your hand to ask questions, you must rely on the TA to notice your question on the Google Forms survey. This, to me, was extremely unhelpful. I would often not get enough time to type in my question before Idan moved on. The coursework was fine, a lot of reading and answering questions. The two big projects were fine, but still heavy on the workload. All of the assignments are very strictly graded, and you can lose a lot of points for simply misreading the question or forgetting a simple detail. I felt this took away from my agency and creativity, and make the projects much more difficult. Additionally, the wording of questions in the homework was often very confusing, and I was only able to understand some after talking to other people in the class. Overall, if you have friends in the class, it's not too bad, but be prepared to complete a LOT of work, surveys, and projects.
The content of the class was interesting - Idan used great examples and covered cool concepts relating to cognitive science. Sometimes it was a little hard to understand the "bigger picture" and abstract concepts since he usually was specific in his lectures, but never really took a step back and connected the content together, you had to do that on your own. Despite this, I really enjoyed the class. Idan is super sweet and considerate and he really tries to make the lectures interesting and engaging. You do have to answer poll questions during class, but they are for participation (not graded on right vs wrong ansewr).
There were 6 one page responses to a few scientific papers each that we had to complete, but we only had to choose two to be graded for content. The grading for that was pretty harsh imo. There were also two group projects (both with the same randomly chosen people) to make a scientific poster about whatever topic related to cognitive science your group wanted to do. Those did not take much time to complete and were graded fairly. The final exam was a take-home essay of sorts where we basically just had to find the right studies discussed in the lectures for the prompts and talk about them. Throughout the quarter, Idan encouraged collaboration for the responses and the final exam which was nice.
Super nice and helpful professor, he just assigns a lot of dense readings. It's still manageable, just hard to understand. The lectures in class and the tests I think are both reasonable. I'd recommend this class but just know you'll be doing a lot of reading.