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I took LS2 with Dr. Simmons and Dr. Cooper. Dr. Simmons had more personality, but his slides contained only pictures and little explanations. He often added information that was not found on the slides or in the books to test if you pay attention in lecture. Dr. Cooper was the easier of the two professors, but Dr. Simmons was a decent professor.
Took Neuroscience 102 with Simmons
First of all, this class is a ridiculous amount of work. Both Simmons and Mayumi (the other Professor) treat it like a Med School class. You are basically supposed study Neuro 102 for six hours a day everyday. Mayumi told us in order to get a good grade in the class, Neuro 102 should be the only difficult class in your schedule. First of all that impossible, and Neuroscience Majors have to take this the same time as 101A, which isn't that hard, but still requires a lot of time. On top of that she recommends quitting all extra-curricular activities, including clubs, jobs and research. She also recommends not socializing, and said when she was an undergrad she spent most of her weekends studying for 102. On top of that, she outlined a sample schedule for us which included about 6 hours of studying a day, and around 45 minutes of exercise. Bitch please, does she know it takes my 2 full hours to go through my entire shoulders and back routine?
The labs are useless. We hardly ever cover anything from lecture, the two exceptions being the Circle of Willis Lab and the Cranial Nerve Lab. No questions about the sheep brain or the stupid MRI program are ever questioned on any of the exams. You can choose your TA by choosing which Row you sit in during your first lab session, choose either Chris or Chelsea. They are both amazing TAs and understand how rough this class is and are super helpful. Chris once stayed two hours past his office hour times because so many of us were there asking questions.
And why were so many of us asking questions? Because Dwayne D. Simmons may be the single worst Professor on this campus. At first appearance he comes off as funny, relateable, he cracks a few jokes and things seem fine. However, his Power Points are essentially useless. They are filled with hardly any information, and if there is something on there it'll be a dumb fun fact such as "Betz cells make up 2% of pyramidal cells". Remember this fact, I'll reference it later in my evaluation. His Power Points are useless to study off of, and you're better off just reading the book portions for his lectures. On top of that, he introduced a clicker like system called Top Hat Monocle. Oh my god, the flaws with this program. First of all it $35 for this stupid program, which says it's smart phone compatible, but it isn't. So many mornings he would ask us clicker questions through Top Hat, but if you tried to use the smart phone app, the questions would never appear. After numerous students complained, he simply said "Oh well that's fine, you can just make up for it next time". So he would just continue to dock us points for not answering the clicker questions because there was an error in the program itself.
The tests are ridiculously hard. Mayumi's portion of the tests are usually all just multiple choice and they are very doable, similar to LS exams. But Simmons's portions are awful. He asks questions on tracts and lesions that are never covered in the lecture or in the textbook. I honestly have no idea how we were supposed to answer some of the questions. I went over every lecture numerous times, listened to the bruincast, and read the book, and there was still material on the exam that I had never seen before. Simmons writes the most arcane questions, and this is where you need to remember my reference for the Betz cells "What percent of pyramidal cells are Betz cells?" Seriously, the entire lecture was about motor functions and you pick out the most useless trivial questions to ask on the midterm?
The rest of Simmons's questions consist pictures of the structures straight out of the two textbooks,so as long as you memorize every god damn picture you'll get some points. Even then, the pictures are in black and white so it's near impossible to make out what specifically he's asking you to identify. However, they do project the pictures onto the screen in front of the classroom, however the picture appear in a sequence and are only available for two minutes before the slide changes to another picture, so you have to time your answering of questions to when you want to look at pictures.
Simmons is also useless at office hours. I went to both his and Mayumi and at least she gave me straight answers. Simmons gives you vague answers, or he'll go off on a completely unrelated tangent, and not answer your initial question at all.
Bottom line, this class is inherently hard to begin with. You need to study a good 2 hours every day, and you are going to have to skip some Thursday and Friday night parties. However, Mayumi's part of the course are entirely doable, so if you study hers real well, the only issue is Simmons, and almost everyone gets a majority of his questions wrong. I studied like how I had studied for LS2 and LS3 for the first midterm and got a 69, 70 was the average. I studied as though I were studying for the MCAT for the second one and got a 77 the average being a 60.
All in all, Simmons is horrible, and there's almost no way to avoid him. However, go to your TA's office hours and Mayumi, and study every fucking day. I mean it. Also, try and take only 3 classes, you'll have to take 101A and 102, and take a GE for your last class, I took a GE for mine, and it was the only reason I was able to sleep at night.
For all of you guys taking 102 next year, good night and good luck.
Worst professor I have ever had throughout my whole time here at UCLA. As the person below previously stated, he only has pictures in his slides. His slides are ridiculously long. Worst thing is, he can't even explain them well.
Yeah I read the book, but there's too much information. He didn't even send us our study guide for the final.
He stands there, tries to be funny, but ends up cracking himself up. He repeats the same thing over and over and each time it gets more confusing. When he runs out of something to say, he stands there pauses, then says something that does not make sense.
He is always late to lecture, and his breaks are only 5 minutes long, ridiculous.
GG for those taking Phy Sci 111A. You cannot avoid him and he teaches the last two modules, which are the longest and hardest.
Seriously the worst professor I have ever taken. Attempts to cover twice as much material as he should and as a consequence his lecture is just pointing structures out on pictures, and then you're expected to learn everything about all of the structures, how they interconnect, what information they carry, etc. on your own.
You'll have to take this class for Neuroscience so just make sure you're clear that it will be the worst class and quarter you have ever taken in your life. Be prepared to learn everything he breezes over to make up for his terrible job
I took NeuroSci 102 with Doctor Simmons, and to be completely frank with all the previous evaluators, I think that he did a very good job of teaching it.
YES, neuroscience is a DIFFICULT class... but isn't that we are here for, to challenge ourselves? Did I struggle with the material, YES-- there were days that I walked out of class and did not understand a WORD that was said. But when I went back, listened to the lecture again, took copious notes and dissected the material, then it became pretty simple.
You all claim that you want to be neuroscience and neurosurgeons.. I PROMISE that it will only get more difficult from here. If it is anything you take from this class-- it should be the fact that being a doctor or a scientist WILL take those 6 hours plus a day to even begin to understand the outline of the material, let alone studying it sufficiently.
The flaw in this class may not be the method in which the professors teach; rather, the means in which the students learn. Look, I am not saying that I spent the 6 hours a day studying-- I didn't. I most probably spent 1-2 hours studying for this class... Did I do half well on the first exam? NO! But after taking it, I learned HOW to study and what would make me successful, applied my methods, and ended up getting an A. Now, I am not here to boast... I am here to tell you guys that there is great amount of hope in doing well in this class and actually ENJOYING it.
Here are some tips on how to do well, and you will see that the problem factor in the course is NOT the professors' methods of teaching, rather the students' study mechanisms.
1) if you aren't passionate about the brain and do not care to learn every detail of it-- THEN GET OUT... What are you doing here? No offense, but you shouldn't be majoring in Neuroscience just because it is a 'cool' major and you think it will appeal to medical schools more. There are people taking this course who actually care to save lives by holding a scalpel to patents' brains or spending 12 hours a day on a bench top doing electrophysiology (or however you spell it)experiments. If you are not one of those people, then get out.
2) Learn to study actively-- not passively. This was my main concern regarding test 1. I would THINK that I am studying, while in reality, I would look at the slide, believe that I understood the concepts, and move to the next slide contently. NO!!! Do not do this! You have to come up with a method to TEST your understanding and synthesis of the material. For example, that may mean: cut out every single image in the lecture, pasting it on a side of a notecard, writing numbers to each important structure on the anatomical section, and writing a key on the other side. In this way, you are ACTIVELY testing yourself...
3)Study out LOUD!-- this goes hand in hand with the previous tip, but I thought it was important enough to write in its own. I personally, am an auditory learner and will ONLY understand the material if I sit another individual down and teach it to them. IT WILL HELP-- I promise. You cannot claim to truly understand something until you are able to teach it to someone.
4) DO NOT OCCUPY YOURSELF WITH EC ACTIVITIES: this is something that you are told in the beginning of the class by Dr. Prins... SHE WAS BEING TRUTHFUL WHEN SAYING THIS. This does NOT mean that you cannot have a social life. I hung out with my friends for about 4 hours a day (which is way longer than the usual, I believe) and was involved in LONG hours of lab work during the week-- BUT, i put off my volunteering for a quarter, took it easy on my hobbies like playing tennis on a weekly basis... And so forth. You should stay healthy,obviously, and go to the gym etc etc, and obviously attend UCLA games (if that is your thing)... but do not WASTE your time. I am sure this is something that I did not even have to write to make clear-- but it something that people forget too readily.
ANYWAY, the last thing-- and the most important thing-- is: GET SLEEP. it is NOT a myth that your brain works SO much better when you have 7-8 hours of sleep. Before this quarter, I would sleep maybe 3 hours a night (if I was lucky). Because my brain needed to process so much more information this quarter, I found myself sleeping more-- and remembering the information more efficiently. AGAIN, I am sure I do not have to tell any of you that-- you are neuro majors who love and know that they brain needs time and care.
This class is totally DOABLE-- and I have confidence that if you apply yourself, it will be awesome. You should ENJOY what you are learning. Is this class as difficult as a medical school class (and more specifically, the most challenging med school class, it happens to be)? YES. But again, we are neuro majors... Why would be settle for anything less?
I agree with both comments below. This class is difficult, but you need to learn neuroanatomy if you want to be a neuroscientist or neurosurgeon. But they way this professor teaches is terrible.. I just found him really mean and not helpful at all when answering question. His lecturing was also difficult to follow. The other professor, Dr. Prins was much better at lecturing neuroanatomy. So it's not like I'm complaining about the difficulty, cause I'm not. And it's possible to teach this class well, like Dr. Prins did. But Dr Simmons is just not good at teaching this.. So just have that in mind, better consult the TAs. All the TAs were really good and they know the material really well. If I had to do it all over again, I'd go to more TA office hours and Dr Prins. But don't waste extra time with Simmons.
Worst instructor I ever encounter in Physci. Boring level: 10/10, I got lost through his explanations (I dont even know what he is talking about). Lots of slides to study for. Finals was 17 pages long, halfway through, I got tired just by looking at the question. Final consisted of everything : fill in the blanks (hard), multiple choice question with multiple answers (hard), long essays, short essays, diagrams, crossword puzzles.
I know that everyone says that Simmons is awful, but that doesn't have to be true. Just know that he section requires A LOT of work, but if you put in the time and effort, you will be okay!
I am one of the few people who enjoyed Simmons' lecture style. I thought the reviews before and after each lecture were actually effective, but be aware, most people hate his teaching style.
As someone before me said, make sure to actively study! Rewrite his notes; read the book and take notes; take notes in discussion; make sure you understand EVERY SINGLE CONCEPT and then consolidate all of these notes into one form, whether it be notecards or whatever you use to study best and memorize, memorize, memorize! make sure to understand concepts and pathways insideout, because he will give questions that twist one part of a pathway or whatever and ask you what the expected results are. For example, on our Final, he asked "what would happen to the basal ganglia pathways if you switched the locations of D1 and D2 receptors and what would the effects look like?" While this may seem daunting, if you know everything about the basal ganglia, you should be able to figure out what a change will do to it. If your TAs give you worksheets, do them! Simmons asks for TA input on the test. Also do Tophat! great way for easy extra credit!
Lastly, DO NOT freak out! If you study this hard, it WILL pay off! The test, in my opinion, was fair, but tricky at points. However, be aware, Simmons sucks when it comes to wording his questions, and for me the trickiness wasnt due to the material, but more due to the fact that I wasnt sure what he was asking at times. Also it is a very long test and you will most likely be exhausted by the end, but so will everyone else! Everything on the test was covered in class, admittedly some more so than other parts. I left feeling not the best about it, while others were saying they thought it went well, which freaked me out. But in the end, by studying this way I got one of the highest scores in the class, which was a nice reward for all the work I put into it. Sidenote: He wont post grades until after spring break is over, which sucks, but theres nothing you can do about that.
Sorry, one last thing: Don't put off studying till the last weekend! While I definitely fell behind during Simmons' section, I had to start catching up a week and a half before finals week, and the week before finals week, I was eating, sleeping, breathing Physci, and it was BARELY enough time to cover everything I wanted to cover.
So, basically, I thought while Simmons was difficult, he wasnt impossible. I ended up getting an A+ in the class because of this study method. I wish I figured that this method worked for me before, because I am usually someone who gets B's in science classes, so obviously I'm far from perfect, but I was still able to do well in this class.