Jay Phelan

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Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity See Full Profile

Overall 3.3 Easiness 1.7 Workload 1.6 Clarity 3.7 Helpfulness 3.7

Most Helpful Review

This review is for LS 7B, which has the same content as LS 2.

Dr. Phelan's class is hard. I highly recommend taking another professor's class, simply because his exam are harder than other LS professors. He is an excellent lecturer and understands what he is talking about, but his exams are on a how other level. As for how to get an A, do the following:
--make sure you do EVERYTHING in launchpad to the best of your abilities; you want to get 50/50 for all 3 caterogries of launchpad
--get full credit for your lab assigments, which will come out to a huge portion of your grade
--make sure you get your clicker points in
--at all review sessions, record what he is saying so you can copy it down again and look up the answers. This will be a huge help, especially on the final
--do the objectives on all the pre-class worksheets

This class is doable, but I would highly recommend you go for another professor.

(Winter Quarter 2017)
Cells, Tissues, and Organs See Full Profile

Overall 3.2 Easiness 1.7 Workload 1.8 Clarity 3.8 Helpfulness 3.5

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Professor Phelan is one of the best professors that I've had during my two years at UCLA. At first the amount of material that will be covered seems extremely daunting but he simplifies so much of the material that it is not very hard to upkeep with it. His lectures are quite entertaining and not dry at all. Make sure to write down some of his side stories pertaining to the biology he is covering along with the questions and answers he posts during his lectures. These stories and questions are the ones that he will be using for his midterms and final exam. His exams are not very difficult but they do need some studying. The book is very helpful in explaining the material further but questions do not come directly from it most of the times. Make sure to buy Prep-U because it is very instrumental for the multiple choice portion of the test. Overall he's a great professor and makes LS 2 a great class to take.

(June 16, 2010)
Genetics, Evolution, and Ecology See Full Profile

Overall 4.2 Easiness 3.3 Workload 2.8 Clarity 4.1 Helpfulness 4.1

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***I took this class during the COVID-19 pandemic in an online format.
OVERVIEW: Maybe I had an individual bad experience, but I'm not sure why this professor's reviews for this class were so raving. Perhaps the online format is a little different, but I did not feel like Phelan lived up to the other reviews. "Going above and beyond" and "explaining concepts thoroughly" are phrases I would not attribute to Phelan. He seemed very reluctant to answer questions and help out, ignoring questions in Zoom chat and being unresponsive to emails. Lectures would often go on tangents about his personal life, which isn't productive when LS7B is so information dense and every minute is valuable. Dr. Pham was much better in LS7A, at least. Even considering that the LS series is just horrible, I still think Phelan wasn't the best choice.
GRADING: Grading is pretty straightforward. There's mandatory lectures, enforced with clicker questions, of which you can miss about a week. LaunchPad practice questions and exams were the same, you could miss a week's worth and get full credit. Same goes for the labs. The two midterms and final were worth a lot more points, not curved, but there were extra credit opportunities if you did a "mini-final" and reflection assignment afterwards. Other EC opportunities were available for completing surveys about LAs. The class isn't curved, so you need to earn every point yourself.
HOMEWORK: This section isn't really relevant to Dr. Phelan. I don't think he really controls the format of the homework and labs. But my god, if you thought LS7A was bad, LS7B makes 7A look like a cakewalk. The amount of LaunchPad material is crushing, even if you just skip the material and do the questions. I can't imagine how much time it would take to actually do all the material as they intended. Lots of stuff isn't gone over in lectures because of the sheer material density, and the practice exams make it feel like there's a full on test every week. Again, Phelan doesn't control this, so it's not his fault the homework is so bad. Labs aren't much better, they're very time consuming and I didn't find them very helpful, though that may vary with students. They seemed very poorly designed, like the entire LS7 series. Not much to say other than you just have to sit through them.
EXAMS: Most in this section also isn't really Phelan's fault. LS7 exams are just horrible, and it doesn't get better in 7A. The actual length of the exams isn't bad, but the questions are consistently confusing, poorly-worded, ambiguous, or just straight-up wrong. No amount of studying will prepare you for a question you have no idea what it's asking. The main gripe I have with Phelan is that he seemed to be just as unaware as students of how to go about regrade requests. His policy is that regrades are not processed unless it affects our final grade, which puts the stress on students trying to determine if we will get the grade we need, when it was a mistake made on the instructor's part. Trying to reach out to him via email or during class won't result in anything, and the only saving grace is that tests are graded really fast because they are online and multiple choice. Just don't expect your grading to actually be right.
TIPS: This class is the definition of grind. There's so much you're expected to do yourself, and while the LaunchPad makes it difficult to fall behind, they're also not comprehensive enough to truly prepare yourself. This class is 5 units, but it's probably about 6-7 units worth of work. It's much harder than 7A in my opinion, but this varies between students so take it with a grain of salt. I have quite a negative review here, but it seems that many other students had good experiences, and I'm just one view. To be honest, the class time is probably the most important factor for LS, since professor matters less for such a standardized series.

(Spring Quarter 2021)
ACE UCLA | Critical Strategies to Achieve Undergraduate Excellence for Life Science Students See Full Profile

Overall 4.0 Easiness 5.0 Workload 5.0 Clarity 5.0 Helpfulness 5.0

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I had Phelan for LS 15 and loved his lectures so I decided to take this class with him. I really enjoyed his book (the one he is cowriting with his friend) and I found that it gave me a lot of helpful tips that I could utilize in the future.

A lot of this class was based on participation. Some classes were more boring than others, but it was still doable. Also, there are homework assignments (reflections) and a final presentation, but it was very low stress. If you're curious about a UCLA "hacks" type class, I would definitely recommend Phelan because he is very knowledgeable and has a lot to share.

(Winter Quarter 2020)
Life: Concepts and Issues See Full Profile

Overall 4.7 Easiness 3.3 Workload 3.3 Clarity 4.7 Helpfulness 4.7

Most Helpful Review

I absolutely loved this class and professor. Phelan was incredibly engaging and you can tell he was passionate about teaching the students. He made sure to lecture in ways that would stick with the students. The material itself also was incredibly interesting, and that is coming from someone who is NOT a fan of science/math things. It has a lot to do with using biology and science as a way explain why humans are the way we are and why we do the things we do. I found it so interesting! It was definitely my favorite class and I actually really looked forward to lectures.
The class itself consists of a weekly optional assignment of usually about 8 questions, but it's best to complete the assignment because one of the eight questions would be on the weekly quiz in discussion.
Discussion was unnecessarily long but still enjoyable. You are required to participate in one formal debate during the course of the quarter in front of your discussion with a partner, which seems really scary but really was not. I had Chris as my TA and he made it very unintimidating. It does not require an extensive amount of preparation and as long as you are confident and cohesive you'll get a good grade.
The midterm /final wasn't an easy A, but it is definitely possible and even likely if you just put a little bit of effort. He hosts a review session in which he gives you around 23 questions that if you know the answer to, you're guaranteed an A. Low and behold, I studied all of those questions and received an A on both. I suggest studying as soon as those review questions are given, and going to the test bank for the midterm.
I also recommend going to Phelan's office hours at least once, because he genuinely wants to get to know his students and he will answer pretty much any course-material questions that you have (though he's more reluctant if it's questions from the final/midterm review). However, I didn't continuously return because sometimes he spends so long talking to one person that you're sitting there awkwardly (it's in a group) while you wait.
Overall, I highly recommend this class and think Phelan was an absolutely amazing professor.

(Fall Quarter 2016)
Life: Concepts and Issues Laboratory See Full Profile

Overall 4.0 Easiness 3.0 Workload 3.2 Clarity 4.8 Helpfulness 4.2

Most Helpful Review

BEST PROFESSOR HANDS DOWN. He made lectures engaging and connected topics to current issues. He shows passion for teaching and always welcomes questions. The midterm and final were tricky but still definitely worth taking the class.

(Winter Quarter 2019)
Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars See Full Profile

Overall 3.4 Easiness 1.3 Workload 1.7 Clarity 4.0 Helpfulness 3.6

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- Life Science 15 -
Best professor at UCLA.
He is so enthusiastic about the material and really knows how to teach it.
His book "Mean Genes" is great! Not only do you learn about science and fulfill a requirement, but his teachings are applied to REAL LIFE. He is amazing and taught me so much. Loved it.
The textbook was great too ("What is Life?"), but it's identical to lectures so I'd recommend you go to lectures and listen rather than read.
Very easy class and highly enjoyable.
HIGHLY recommended teacher! :)

(Dec. 22, 2009)
Genetic Engineering and Society See Full Profile

Overall 3.2 Easiness 1.8 Workload 1.2 Clarity 3.8 Helpfulness 3.4

Most Helpful Review

I had Professor Phelan for LS2 and ABOLUTELY loved the class!

Lectures: Professor Phelan is absolutely hilarious during lectures and incorporates funny stories from his own life to lighten the mood. However, he does cover a LOT of material in each lecture and you have to make sure to take as many notes as possible (laptop is recommended). Write down the slightest details as sometimes he may include them in multiple choice or even short answer questions. On average though, I really looked forward to going to lecture which is saying something.

Bruincast: I would really recommend using bruincast so that in class you don't have to be frantically writing down every word. If you miss something, don't worry about it, but go back and re-watch the lecture to catch anything you missed. Re-watching the lectures also really helps to study for the exams.

Lab: Go to discussions, talk as much as you can and ask questions. Do your best on the lab reports so you can gather up as many points as possible in case you do badly on an exam.

Book: I would recommend reading the chapters he assigns, however, if he doesn't mention something in class that IS mentioned in lecture, it's probably safe to skip it.

Exams: I was a little crunched for time on the midterms. Write quickly and don't spend too much time on the multiple choice. Write as clearly as possible and try and add in as many facts as possible because you gain points for mentioning specific things. Don't worry too much if the exam seemed hard because Professor Phelan is a very generous grader. On the second midterm, he made a 39% a passing grade.

Anyways, I would HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend Professor Phelan as this was one of my favorite classes I've taken so far at UCLA

(July 9, 2009)
Honors Seminars Full Profile > 3.5 Overall 1.2 Easiness 1.8 Workload 4.0 Clarity 3.2 Helpfulness
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Honors Seminars See Full Profile

Overall 3.5 Easiness 1.2 Workload 1.8 Clarity 4.0 Helpfulness 3.2

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