Tiffany Cvrkel

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Stem Cell Biology, Politics, and Ethics: Teasing Apart Issues See Full Profile

Overall 4.4 Easiness 2.4 Workload 2.9 Clarity 4.5 Helpfulness 4.1

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This class is a joke.

Cvrkel will mock past and present students' exam answers, shame students in class when they present views that conflict with hers (not hard, BTW), and often fill the first 30 minutes of the lecture with some meandering discussion about something only vaguely related to the class. She "lectures" as if she's filling time because she didn't prepare anything for that day by littering her speech with "Ok, here's what we're going to do" and "Are you ready?" (as if you're 10-years old), and "Ok, then. Let's do it!". Over and over again.

The reading material is good, but her and her TA's grading was capricious. Also, information given in office hours leading up to exams was aggressively misleading. It was like some game Cvrkel was playing. Basically, you couldn't trust them to grade you properly.

This whole class felt like the "Tiffany Show". You had to listen to her rants about what footbal teams she loves, which ethicists she thought were "stupid", and what a good matchmaker she is.

As far as "being taught how to write arguments", this class is really lacking. If you want to learn how to write arguments, take a real class like PHILOS4 or something.

I'll give you an example. For the first midterm, she told us we would just be responsible for the medical info she'd talked about. But, when we looked at the midterm, all the questions expected answers in "argument form". Guess when we had the reading material and lecture that covered that "argument form" material? Yeah, the week AFTER that midterm.

Look, if you like to be mocked in class and jerked around about what the exams are going to cover, take the class; you'll have a blast.
If, on the other hand, you're a serious student who doesn't have time to play mind games and who wants to learn from real scholars, skip this ridiculous class.

(March 29, 2015)
Biomedical Ethics See Full Profile

Overall 4.6 Easiness 2.5 Workload 3.1 Clarity 4.4 Helpfulness 4.3

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Do you want an easy A? Don't take MCDB 60. Do you want to take a mentally stimulating class with an engaging and funny professor? If yes, then MCDB 60 is for you.

5% Attendance
10% Homework
15% Midterm 1
20% Midterm 2
20% Ethical Issue paper
30% Final - Cumulative

Attendance is taken every lecture and discussion. A sign in sheet is passed around at some point during the class. It might get to you in the first five minutes, or it might get to you in the last ten.

There is homework after every lecture, but it is just a 3-5 slide powerpoint teaching the most important argument that was discussed that day. It won't ever take more than 20 minutes and it is pass/fail. All halfway decent attempts get a pass.

The midterms consisted of 3 essay questions and you had the entire class (1 hour and 20 minutes) to finish. This is not simply regurgitating information, but rather forming arguments, finding objections, and evaluating positions. It sounds easy, but I assure you it is not.

The paper is on a moral issue that is relevant to you, but your topic must be approved. It is only five pages, but it is not the type of paper you can crank out the night before and get a good grade. It requires thorough planning and a strong understanding of how to write an argument. Dr. Cvkrel even said it was the hardest part of the class.

The final is just like the midterms, only it is cumulative. It takes place during the last class of week 10.

Nobody can deny that Dr. Cvrkel is an amazing lecturer. She is funny and engaging, so attending lecture never felt like a chore. My biggest complaint about her is availability. She has office hours every week, but they are always filled with people, so it can be hard to get more than a minute or so of her time unless you are willing to wait a while. The paper was also due the Monday after Thanksgiving, which sucked considering it was a very challenging paper to write.

The TA, Jen, is also excellent. She typically had everything graded within a reasonable amount of time. Discussion sections helped clear up everything that came up in lectures. My only complain about her is that her office hours were Tuesday and Thursday mornings in Hershey, so a solid 25+ minute walk from the hill.

Overall, this was an awesome class. It won't constantly bombard you with work, but it is definitely not easy. Take it if you want an interesting class, but pass on it if you need a GPA boosting GE.

(Dec. 18, 2014)
Journal Club Seminars: Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology See Full Profile

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Special Studies Directed Research in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology See Full Profile

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