All Ratings and Reviews for James Ralston Jr
Professor Ralston is okay. He understands the material, but his lectures are extremely boring. He derives the equations in the book so you'll fall asleep easily. He's very nice and understanding too.
When I took the class, the first midterm was way too easy (average grade was an A) so he made the second midterm very hard (the average was a D). The final was average difficulty.
You don't need to go to class to do well on the tests. Just read the book and do a lot of practice problems.
Professor Ralston forgets things once in a while while teaching which will frustrate his students many times. However, he finds out his mistake right away or the students point it out for him and he corrects himself immediately. He is very concerned with his students and teaching. He's not the most effective teacher ever and students need to read the book themselves or go to office hours to completely understand the course -- but you basically need to do this for every teacher. So no biggy.
The first midterm averaged an 81% mean with 86% median (the highest he's had so far in his teaching career apparently). So, his second midterm was MUCH harder with 55% average. His final had a 64% average.
He's much better than most math teachers out there and is nice with his grading. If you get 80% of the possible points, then you are guaranteed an A or A-. Or 25% of the class will get A's. You have to do webwork, about 10 problems in one week and no problems in the textbook, altho he does give optional suggested problems if you want more practice. He sometimes pushes back webwork due dates if not that many people have finished it yet.
I suggest to take Ralston over Dearricott, Mess, Kozhan to name a few.
I took him for 32A and 32B and if he was teaching 33A, I woulda taken him again. :<
It was a pain being in his class. I'm a math major and I love math, but this class was just too darn boring, and it might have been due to Ralston. He knows the material, but doesn't know how to deliver it. His midterm was fair, but the final blew me out of the water (I got a D on it, but somehow it was the 7th highest grade in the class, out of 40+ people). I wish he had a better way of making us understand the material or seeing its importance, but he couldn't. I shall avoid him at all costs. (Got an A- in the class btw.)
After Ralston's 32B was so good in fall 2000, I took his 33B in spring 2001. He still remembered my name, and my friend's. The department's bad book, and the maddening nature of fourier series, made his 33B not as good as his 32B, but if he ever does 33B again, he's still a very good bet. In his many office hours (like 5/week!) you can talk to him pretty easily, and he's a randomly funny guy in person. Somehow he sounds like an everyday dad-like person, even though I'd suspect that the math going on in his head is unfathomably sophisticated. I think he'd be interesting for upper division.
He's good. But his finals are not do-able
I had him for 32B and the class seemed pretty easy contray to popular belief. He is a very good teacher who knows how to convey concepts with clarity so that the average person can understand them. What's really cool is that he has a good sense of humor and what not. The two things that i can remember still from the class are the following: the most popular parametic shape is the double helix, hahah and when in doubt, the answer is 4pi. His tests are pretty easy except for the final which he says we were guinea pigs for (dont know what that means) but yah, i would recommend him
HAd him for 32A...his tests are very doable and his tests are in sync with his lectures and the book. Therefore, if you go to class and do the reading, the tests are pretty simple. The final was harder than the midterm, but i know that many people's grade jumped a lot after the final. He speaks english which is a total PLUS! Easily understandable and easy to follow.
He is like an eccentric uncle or something. He mutters to himself a bit, but when he figures out what he wants to say, he usually comes up with VERY effective generalizations. He doesn't care if you can do some stupid trig substitution from 31B, he cares if you can see what is going on in physical space. Be patient with him, and you will see that he has all the shortcuts you need up his sleeve, waiting for you to figure them out, or to ask him about them. If you can't see the stuff in your head, you may not like him. He draws well though, and that DOES matter for vector calculus. And HE KNEW ALL OF MY FRIENDS' NAMES, and MINE TOO! Even after the average on the final turned out too low, he STILL kept the usual B- average curve.
Ralston was actually a very good professor. His lectures were understandable (to me, at least) and the material was interesting. His tests were extremely fair, and as and added bonus, if you take him for 32B (like I did) he can draw really well. That may sound dumb, but its actually really important, and was an INCREDIBLE help in understanding the material.
I had this teacher Fall Quarter 2000. I believe that Ralston is a great teacher. He has office hours virtually every single day of the week and is basically avaliable whenever you are in need of help. Finding a teacher who actually cares about their studetns is something is definitely hard to come by at UCLA. Ralston is a great teacher, makes sure his students understand the material and has a great philosophy - If I can't do it, why should I make you do it?
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