Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
***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.
idk if this class got harder or if it is just phelan, but i felt like this class had so many of the common issues fount in ls7a plus new ones, which made it harder than ls7a for me.
-weird and vague questions
-mistakes on exams that were slow to be fixed
-very little info on slides; they were mostly just pictures, which made it hard to learn information, especially during the ecology/evolution part
-clicker questions are too easy and do not prepare for exams
-some information that was tested was not touched on in lecture, only launchpad (which, as we know, sucks)
-long launchpad and very hard PEQs ( esp in weeks 1-3 because I was not comfortable enough with pedigrees to tackle them)
-"labs" are freaking useless and there were a few weeks when they were just take-home busywork that took like 5 hours to finish and helped with absolutely nothing
-phelan is very sweet and kind; his lectures make up in entertainment value what they lack in information density
-exams make up only about 1/2 of all of the points in class, and you can raise your score by 8 points (which is almost a grade up) using the reflections and mini midterms
-review sessions and PEQs are very helpful for exams--there were some questions that were basically identical on the exams
overall, i thought that this class was harder than ls7a because the resource material was less useful overall, and the exams got more vague. the first exam was actually pretty easy after i studied the pedigree problems, and i got a 120/123. the second exam was SO FREAKING VAGUE AND UNCLEAR, im still mad. i thought it was very hard, and i got a 99/123, but i was able to raise it to 107/123 with the reflection and mini midterm. i think that the trend of one hard and one easy exam was common for everyone, even if not everyone agreed which exam was the easier one. the final was also very vague and had some strange questions, and i got a 189/200 on via a miracle i think.
phelan is nice, but take this class with someone else if you want info-dense lectures.
I was also a bit underwhelmed after the raving reviews from the past, but I feel like people make this class and professor to be worse than it really is. Although some of the take home labs were "useless", they could easily be completed in 30 minutes to 1 hour. As for the other labs, they were very useful in that similar problems would show up on the exam, especially pedigrees and phylogenetic trees.
As for the exams, I agree that they were poorly written and vague for some questions. However, Phelan does not write these exams, and you will still have to face the same unfavorable exam format had you chosen a different professor.
Dr. Phelan is a very engaging and entertaining lecturer, and I feel that had I chosen a different professor, lectures would be a lot more of a drag. There are complaints about how his lectures feel like personal stories and pictures on slides, but LS7B isn't as content heavy or detailed as LS7A is. There is only so much that can be covered in lecture--the rest of your learning has to come from you doing practice problems and reading on your own. There are also some complaints about Launchpad workload being too heavy. I felt that it was the same if not lighter than 7A, especially since you can get away with skimming some of the chapters or even not reading them at all in the later half of the course.
In all, I believe that Phelan is a good choice for 7B, especially since he will probably be more fun during lecture in person. Complaints about workload that I saw in GroupMe seemed ridiculous to me; I did not feel the same way at all. The important thing is that you are able to differentiate which content is important and which are extraneous information so that you don't waste your time. This class was personally one of my easier classes, and I would recommend it.
Professor Phelan was not the best professor for this course. His lectures were not helpful in learning the material. Instead, it all felt like a long story-time about his personal life. The lecture slides were not helpful and very vague. The tests were ok if you looked for study materials online, which is quite difficult in the LS series due to the way they tend to phrase questions. I would not recommend if there is another professor available. If he's the only option, you'll be fine.
I really wanted to like Dr. Phelan after reading all of the raving Bruinwalk reviews about him from previous years. A few of my friends had him for LS 15 and thought that he was very helpful and engaging as well. Thus, I am quite disappointed with my experience with Dr. Phelan in LS 7B. LS 7B is supposed to be the easiest class in the entire LS series, but I struggled in LS 7B much more than I did in LS 7A. Professor Phelan is a funny and kind-hearted professor, but I am always left wanting a little bit more from him. I really appreciated him carving out time to hold review sessions for us before each midterm and the final, but I wish he gave us more resources to adequately prepare for each exam. His slides are very empty and he often talks over pictures rather than having bullet points of information. This becomes a problem when you are studying for exams, as you're pretty much forced to rewatch lectures to fully capture everything he was saying. My friends in Dr. Pham's section showed me their slides and I thought that their slides were a lot more detailed and in depth than ours. For example, Professor Phelan did not cover kin selection in any lectures, but we were expected to know how to use the formula during one of the midterms which confused many people. In contrast, Professor Pham dedicated a few slides on kin selection and went over example problems in his office hours. I also wished Professor Phelan paid more attention to the chat and answered more of the questions in it. I often left lectures feeling confused and had to visit my TA's office hours to receive clarification.
In terms of the class structure, it is very similar to LS 7A except for the fact that we no longer have a group phase and both midterms are weighed the same (120 points each). After each midterm, we had the opportunity to do a reflection and a mini exam that gave us a maximum of 8 points back on our exam. Each midterm also had an extra question to buffer your score (so technically the highest score you could get was 123/120). The final exam is 200 points with no extra credit attached. We also had about 8 points of extra credit for random surveys throughout the quarter (do them because those points add up)! I honestly did not find lab sections very useful and the take home labs were busy work that took up a large chunk of time. Launchpad every week was also extremely long and tedious. I did read through and took notes on all of the Launchpad readings and it would take me almost 6 hours every week.
I did quite poorly on the first exam on genetics (got a C) which was a bummer because I would say that the first midterm is the most straightforward one out of the three exams we had. So, whoever is reading this in the future, please study hard for the first exam and do a lot of practice on pedigrees! The only reason I pulled away with an A is because I studied HARD for the second midterm and final. I rewatched lectures, made a giant document of all the PEQs and PCRQs and their explanations, redid midterm exams for the final, and watched through the lecture videos on Launchpad. I also went to CLC sessions every week and attended office hours. I managed to get an A- on the second midterm and the final, but I would say that the questions are a lot more ambiguous on both exams, so it's in your best interest to ace the first exam so you are not in a constant state of stress for the rest of the quarter like I was.
Overall, I had a mediocre experience with the course. I would not take this class again (because I'm not a masochist) and I would not suggest taking this class with Professor Phelan (at least virtually).
I couldn't agree more with the review from Spring 2021 who states that he did not live up to his past bruin walk reviews for this class. If you look at older reviews, you will see all positive things about Dr. Phelan, but I was extremely disappointed when I took his class this quarter. Maybe he just wasn't able to convert his classroom setting to the zoom format so this was just a blip in his teaching years, but I found him extremely unhelpful in lecture and office hours.
Last quarter for 7a, I had Khankan who would always answer our questions in the zoom chat, this quarter with Phelan, it seem't as though he was trying to ignore them, and by the end of the lecture the whole groupme would be blowing up about how they were still confused on the answer to a clicker question he didn't the answer to when people were asking in the chat. He also held office hours where he would tell you "don't even try to get points back on the exams, just read the syllabus about regrade requests". Even when he would agree with us that the questions were poorly worded. He doesn't write the midterms and finals, but the way he always dodged and came up with a bs explanation in office hours put a lot of us off.
He also rarely responded to emails, I emailed him during the midterm to ask a question and never got a response ever. I also emailed him multiple times throughout the quarter with no response either, only getting one response when I said I wanted to have a 1 on 1 meeting.
His clicker questions and lecture content does NOT prepare you that well for the exams, I eventually found out that Dr. Pires slides and clicker questions were better so I asked a friend in Dr. Pires lecture to send me their slides as they BETTER reflected the midterms and final.
I still got an A in the class, but after getting a C on my first midterm, I decided to get Dr. Pires slides and clickers and that is how I pulled myself up (I even attended her lecture zoom link once). Overall, I thought this class was harder than LS7A because of this professor, even though "LS7B is supposedly the easiest in the LS7 Series".
I truly have no idea why he has so many good reviews. I get that he's "cool" and that he's an overall nice guy but I can't stress the number of times you're left utterly confused in this class, both during lecture and especially during your exams. Granted that he doesn't design the exams and the department does but still, he knows what's going to be on the exams, and in my opinion, he does NOT prepare you enough for what the exam is going to be like. I've lost count of the number of times he'll ask the class a seemingly important question during lecture just to leave you "to ponder on that". He hardly ever answers your questions during class, regardless of if your hand is raised or if your question is written in the chat. The point of me saying this is because I want to stress that as a professor, he is definitely not as helpful as others on BruinWalk have made him out to be. Again, he may be nice, he may be cool, but he's definitely not helpful. His lack of helpfulness legitimately made 7A look like a complete breeze, especially for me who really struggled with the content taught in 7B. If I were you, I'd take this class with another professor. Professor Pham's section supposedly had informative and detailed slides that in my opinion, would've been MUCH more helpful than any study resource we were provided with in this class.
Professor Phelan is probably one of the better professors I've had taking the LS series. His lectures are both clear and interactive, and he does a very good job of not making me fall asleep. In this online quarter, professor Phelan went above and beyond to make sure people had proper resources and knowledge before taking finals: he did things like hold review sessions on the weekend (which he wasn't even obligated to) before exams.
In the wake of both the coronavirus and political turmoil caused by racism in the US, professor Phelan listened to marginalized and affected students and came up with excellent accommodation for people that felt like they couldn't take the test. People might view an optional final as lazy, but I personally view it as caring. I highly recommend taking this professor for this class.
Phelan was hands down the best professor I have had in the 7 series (just finished 7c this quarter). The man is extremely kind and genuinely wants to know his students if you go to office hours. The fact that he was a life science undergrad back in the day makes it even better
Okay now for the actually course. Despite everyone's disdain for genetics and evolution, 7B happened to be my favorite class of the series and im 100% sure it was because of Phelan. He was extremely engaging during lectures and explained concepts thoroughly. His tests were really fair in my opinion as Long as you put in the effort to practice all of the genetic charts and understand may concepts. Everyone didn't do so well on the first midterm simply because the material was a bit tricky but by the second midterm I aced my first (and only) 7 series exam.
I took this class during Spring, so when America literally caught on fire, and it was extremely stressful towards the end, but Phelan canceled the final
Best LS class I've ever taken. I often find myself dazing off in most of my lectures, but not in this one! Phelan is such an engaging lecturer, and you can tell he loves what he does. He really didn't try to trick us. The only negative I have for this class was the time to complete the labs. We were given 15 minutes extra to turn them in but sometimes I went over this limit, luckily my TA was understanding.
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