Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
I would never want to take this class again with this professor and TA. The professor didn't allow students to send him emails. The TA literally knew nothing. Her catch phrase was "I don't know." Weekly assignments were pretty dense and took a long time to finish. Participation mattered. Group projects were horrible if you didn't get good team members. I finished all the work by myself. The final exam is a multiple-essay test. Although not hard, I spent the whole 3 days to finish it.
I really enjoyed the classes themselves, but the assignments were dreadful. About every other week we had to read 2-3 extremely dense, often verbose, scientific papers on a new, but related topic and complete an assignment based on them. Four of these assignments were graded for completion and two (of your choice) were graded for content. I totally bombed the first one but did much better on the second. Also, we were put into random groups to create two faux scientific research posters based on a topic in cognitive science. I didn't get the best groupmates but the projects weren't that hard. I found it very difficult to gauge how I was doing in the course so I ultimately switched my grading to P/NP. However, the final was fairly easy since we had a week to do it and it was an open book exam. I did okay on the final and if I hadn't switched to P/NP I would have ended up with a B+. I can't say this was my favorite class but I learned some cool stuff and Idan is very sweet and an amazing lecturer.
In my personal opinion, lectures are dense but very interesting. Idan assigns us long empirical papers to read and analyze, which are heavy with jargon. Personally, it's not really something that helped me learn the material better as a newbie with Cog Sci concepts. Unless if he were to go through the concepts and then assign those readings but instead he just goes over the concepts to apply right after we do the assignments, which I find counter productive. I also don't like how part of our grade involves being graded on how we graded other students, primarily with group projects. Beware, he also grades harshly with written content and is very picky with answers and word choice. Miss one concept and you'll go down a grade. Is very subjective with grading. Definitely has some instructor bias. The problem is for the writing assignments and final, he has high expectations but absolutely no clear way to meet them. You can have the correct answers written for his questions regarding the material but still get marked down by a lot. I can tell since after doing the assignments myself when getting grades back, I noticing huge markdowns when comparing my original worded answers to someone else's who scored much higher and had the same correct responses to the given questions. I don't know what else I can tell you. Not reasonable. Not for me. Nice guy though.
Although I got an A, I honestly thought this class was pretty hard. There were 6 short response assignments (one page, single spaced) throughout the quarter, and we had to read three empirical papers (around 7-10 pages each) for each assignment. The papers were pretty hard to understand, and the questions were difficult as well. I'm just not good with abstract concepts, so maybe it was easier for others. There were also two group projects where we had to make a research poster. The grades were dependent on how your group members graded you, how you graded other groups' posters, and how the TA graded your group's poster. Assignments in this class were graded kinda harsh in my opinion. If the professor did not make an 88% an A in this class, I would have otherwise gotten a B+. The final was take-home and doable. Overall I like the professor a lot, but the class was difficult for me.
This class was a little different than I expected it to be, however I just simply wasn't interested in the material. Much of your grade is based on participation and simply doing assignments, but the readings that he assigns for weekly responses are quite difficult. However, only two of them are graded for content, and he curves the class very very generously. He is such a kind, understanding, inclusive instructor who is so passionate about cognitive science. However, you don't get GE credit, so only take it if you actually want to pursue cognitive science.
**Online during Covid-19**
1. Lectures were amazing, relatable and engaging. I thought he was one of the best lecturers I've ever had (so did my mom, who often watched them with me lol). He uses Poll Everywhere to take participation during class. If you are an international student or have a clashing engagement, you attend a "repeat lecture" where the PollEv questions open up again.
2. *Some* of the dense mandatory readings were very interesting!
3. Four thoughtful grading schemes to account for individual strengths. The highest becomes your grade. You will most likely get an A.
4. No textbook!
5. Two pretty easy group projects (a video summary of a study). This was a pro for me during Covid, because the group ended up being peer support if I had any questions in the class.
6. A lenient, generous, open-note final with material only from lectures.
1. A single-spaced one-page response sheet due every 2 weeks. There are 5-6 of throughout the quarter, all graded for effort. You choose 2 to be graded for content, and many, many people end up having no idea why they lost points because there was literally no feedback (though I'm sure you can ask during office hours).
2. Lectures could be a little fast. Both the amount of content that's being covered and the time Idan takes to carefully explain everything (which is a pro) contribute to this.
Overall, I absolutely adored Idan and how open he is, his beautiful animated slides, and his amazingly engaging lectures! PLEASE take him!!!
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!!!!
Idan is the best professor I have ever had. Take this class.
If I had a parent like Idan I would be soo mentally stable rn
Idan is an amazing man and professor!! I'm a cog sci major and i didn't know much about my major before, but he literally made me fall in love with cog sci. he has no midterm and the final was different bc of online quarter but he was so accommodating and kind about the grading and everything throughout the entire quarter. literally the most caring (GENUINELY) professor i have ever met. i would 10/10 take another class with him. assignments were not frequent, mostly every other week. these were short responses with readings. the readings seemed insanely long at first but i ended up skimming most and getting the gist before lecture, so he explained the rest. he literally cares so much its insane. and his lectures are engaging and not boring. so so kind and my fav man ever. take psych85 with him!!
Blank is such a considerate and friendly instructor. It's clear how much he cares about the content and how passionate he is about the entire field of cognitive science. Homework assignments were fairly heavy reading, but responses were majority completion based and the assignments got easier as the quarter went on. The class also had two group projects, which considering that the class was online, really weren't too bad. All grading was generous, and the lectures were clear. Blank was also super approachable at office hours and during lecture. Highly suggest taking this class with him if you get the chance!
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