If you are a Poli Sci major, you MUST take Zaller. I have never seen a professor at UCLA so passionate and truly interested in student learning. Sure, people wrote here that he is awkward and stand-offish, he's a statistician for god's sake-what do you expect. He teaches statistics and data analysis so slow, so detailed, and provides real world examples. You can tell he's a genius in his field but still can teach in a down to earth style. If you actually want to learn something and not worry about being super competitive, stress about grades, etc. take him. If you do the work reasonably well, I mean do ALL OF IT- whether it be quizzes, assignments etc.. He WILL give you the benefit of the doubt. He is not out to "screw" anyone over. Office hours are not necessary to excel but I hear good things about people how go to his office hours. I am a B+ average student who is not a suck-up or super hard studier, yet I found myself actually learning and wanting to do stuff in his class. For PS 6 Spring 2011, here was the breakdown -280 people in our class - lectures podcasted online. -4-5 T.A.'s with SO many office hours. Jesse Acevedo would do office hours at night, on weekends, etc. Rob and Stacey also wrote back e-mails within the hour. The best T.A's I've seen in any class at UCLA -5 Data Essays. These ranged from easy to super hard at the end. But if you met w/ a T.A. or even him for 5 minutes, they guided you. -Weekly quizzes. This was done online, not super hard and they are not timed. He does that so you can actually reference your notes -Midterm - 20 questions, some mathy, some just practical stuff. He even did a make-up midterm for people scoring a 75% or lower and provided 3 review sessions. -Final - 20 questions, not so much mathy, a lot of the questions were similar to the quiz questions. The only cons I could think of was that it got a little overwhelming and fast paced at the end but overall this class is good for any level of UCLA. I don't think I'll walk out of this class getting an "A", but it was worth it.
I took Public Opinion with him in winter 09 and I loved the class. Zaller is really smart and cares a lot about making his class fair (which to him means as many people as possible get A's-fine by me). The best part about this class was that he was always really clear about what to expect on the midterm, final, and quizzes, which made them easy to prepare for. Lectures are clear and interesting, even though a two hour class is really effing long. As people have said before, there were five reading quizzes and a lot of reading to do. You can't really get away with not doing the reading or even just skimming it because the quizzes are usually on details. But if you read carefully the quizzes are pretty easy. I am not particularly smart and definitely not studious but I got an A just by going to class and doing the reading. The material's really interesting and I feel like I learned a lot. Take this class.
Winter 2022 - Do not take this class. The weekly reading quizzes are like mini exams every week that take up a large chunk of your grade, and they are extremely nit picky and hard. On numerous occasions, you have 4 days to do 180-200+ pages of reading, while having to prepare to do the quiz on those pages of reading. Students have constantly told him that the quizzes are unmanageable, but he does not seem to adjust the difficulty. I have had to neglect my other classes to focus on this one. I am not kidding when I say this class equates to the workload of two Poli sci classes. It has been an extremely strenuous quarter due to this singular class. I would avoid taking this class is possible. If you must, you absolutely have to do the readings and pay a painstakingly amount of attention to every little detail as literally anything could be on the quiz.
Winter 2022 - I was really excited to take a seminar style class. The topic is niche and very interesting, however the 3 hour long class structure without having any form of lesson plan besides large group dialogue was taxing and boring. The class is composed of a few short quiz grades, and then 3 papers written throughout the quarter. Professor Zaller is VERY kind and offered me great feedback on all of my assignments. I could tell he read my work carefully. Having the personal connection to a professor through a seminar is so beneficial, and I enjoyed listening to Professor Zaller, who had endless wisdom on politics. I wish some of the assignments were less ambiguous and had more instructions. Professor Zaller does not follow the syllabus verbatim, and the changing of deadlines was difficult sometimes. I would take a class with Professor Zaller again, but would only take this class if I was really interested in the topic and was willing to speak up and engage in conversation.
Winter 2019 - I loved this seminar so much, particularly because Zaller loves his work and wants other people to love it just as much as him. It did require a good amount of writing, but you were able to work with a partner and the topics were very interesting! I genuinely enjoyed taking this course and would recommend if you are interested in political parties!