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Honestly, I would not recommend this class - for the amount of work you do, it does not pay off well. I was fooled by the Winter 2016 distribution - it is inaccurate for Winter 2017. The class average was an 86% and she curved down to an 82%, which drags the A- to a flat B due to her grading scheme (see later).
Gorlitsky is an organized, compelling, engaging lecturer who integrates videos well into lectures - she just severely lacks in understanding that students are not only taking her class and she overloads not only the students but her 2 TA's for a class size of around 50-80 students. My TA was fairly sleep-deprived just from grading all the assignments due every week.
The class was at 8 - 9:15AM and she expects attendance every lecture by having random participation checks (not designed as pop quizzes, but you need to submit some sort of response to a question from class). This class is structured so that there are no +/- grades (ie a B+ is a B and an A- is an A) In the end her grading scheme was A, A-, B, B-, C, C-. Each week for discussion you are required to read research papers for ecology and write a 1 page single spaced critique/review on the paper and participate during discussion. Keep in mind that these critiques are due even on the same day as the other projects. Furthermore you have one 4-5 page double spaced literature review on a tropical ecology subject of your choice and a following 2-3 page research proposal based on your literature review - none of which we received the grades for (thus, we had to go into our research proposal blind and the final). There is also one midterm and one final and an "optional" extra credit project. In addition to studying for the detailed lecture slides for the exams, you were required to read several chapters from a book as well, as there is always a question on the exam regarding several chapters of the book. At the end of week 9, she dropped an extra 2 page paper on different tropical forests for a group project. Thus, during week 10, we had the group paper, the research proposal, and the extra credit due in class on the same day.
She graded the midterm so harshly (class average was a C) that the "optional" extra credit was mandatory in order to salvage your grade. On top of that, she curved DOWN the overall class average by 4%.
While this class is honestly very interesting and I understand the professor means well to have us do different activities (ie research proposal, literature reviews), it is excessive to the point where it draws away from study time from the lecture material itself and is killing her TA's (who themselves still have other classes).
This class definitely has more assignments than the average EEB upper div, but I feel that these assignments for the most part serve to boost your grade as exams aren't worth as big of a chunk as they might be in other classes. Definitely focus on the literature review and the midterm to pour your energy into, as these are what I lost the most points to. Its nice to have a professor like Dr. Gorlitsky who is very obviously passionate about what she is teaching, and I do feel like I have come away from the class with a higher interest in the tropics than before. Overall it seemed like my peers and I did relatively well in the class and I would recommend the class to others.
Took this class during COVID but I will say there was so much information to learn for Gorlistky's portion of the class. There about 10 ppts and each had 80+ slides and seemed to include a lot of information that wasn't even tested. I preferred the ecology section of the class but also the exam was MC and missing a couple can set you back a lot
- Gorlitsky teaches the animal behavior portion of the course, which is the more difficult portion.
- She is clearly passionate about the course material and always has examples to give regarding the concepts she wishes to illustrate.
- Gorlitsky is clear during lectures and often seeks student participation during lectures. She seems generally nice and is approachable after class and office hours. She does talk kind of fast, though, and I found it helpful to record the lectures since the class isn't Bruincasted. Everything you need to know for the exams is mentioned in the lecture.
- Animal Behavior portion of the class requires a lot of more memorization than the second portion of the class; generally, though, I found it to be really interesting. On average, I think most students will find portions of this class to be relevant and interesting.
- class material and lecture is supplemented extensively with relevant videos that are shown during lecture.
- the course is out of 550 points; 2 exams worth 200 points each, 60 points for attendance; the rest is for discussion section attendance (mandatory, 18pts) and for responding to weekly reading assignments (72pts)
- straight-scale i.e. no curve unless exam averages are below 80%, which they weren't.
--Exams: Relatively difficult due to sheer amount of information covered but honestly very fair with the question selection. She doesn't try and trick you in exams but it's difficult just because so much information was covered in lecture. Gorlitsky knows and is transparent about the fact that Exam 1 is harder and that exam 2 provides as opportunity to boost your grade.
-- Weekly assignments: Each week, you read a research article and have to generate three questions that show your understanding of the article. These are graded fairly harshly and generating good questions is more difficult than it seems. I would write 3-5 sentences per question in order to receive full points. Not incredibly difficult but it is incredibly annoying.
-- Discussion section: Pointless but mandatory. Each week, a group would be assigned to give a 20min presentation on the research paper of the week. As long as you had slides, read the article a few times, and lightly prepared, you received full points. The rest of discussion section involved answering the questions we generated for the weekly assignments (described above) in small groups.
-- Attendance is not taken every class but instead, the professor does "pop-quizzes" randomly, which you turn in at the end of class to provide evidence that you were present. The pop-quizzes are graded on effort and completion, not on correctness.
- Not worth it. I rented the textbook for the first half of the course and I did use it but very lightly when studying for the midterm, if I was confused about a definition. Didn't bother renting it for the second half of the class (ecology).
Overall: Interesting material, passionate professors, and fair/decent exams make this a good class in my book. If you're a psychobio student, definitely try and take this class (though the EEB department severely restricts seats), instead of Psych118.
DO NOT TAKE CANDACE AS YOUR TA!!!! She is a horrible person and TA that takes off dozens of points for no reason and is completely unfair in her grading compared to the other TAs. The professors have absolutely nothing to do with the course and is the biggest regret of my time here at ucla. DO NOT TAKE.
Chillest EEB class ever, would recommend. I don't think I ever spent more than 2-3 hours per week working outside of class and virtually everyone gets an A.
There is no exams or quizzes, all you do is a few small weekly assignments and design/perform an ecology experiment then write a paper on it. I would recommend you don't choose animals or bugs, since they are difficult to study. Considering choosing something like soil or plants to study if you want an easier time.
This is a good class if you want a chill quarter or you are already in 3 other classes and need a simple one to balance it out.
Stupidest class here a UCLA if your TA is Candace. I am sorry, she is a very nice person but she graded so incredibly harsh. All my friends were chilling with the other TAs and when I told them the grades I've been getting back from Candace they were all shocked. Example: one of the first assignments was to come up with some ideas that you may want to center your final project around. It was out of 40 points and keep in mind you can only lose about 15 points to get an A in this class. Tell me why she gave some of us 30/40... for coming up with IDEAS???? Excuse me???? IT'S A BRAINSTORM HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE A C ON A BRAINSTORM?? And had the audacity to say it's because there weren't enough details and it wasn't thought out. YEAH BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T EVEN BEEN GIVEN THE DIRECTIONS WE ARE JUST COMING UP WITH IDEAS. Yeah avoid her as your TA like the plague. Other than that, you are good to go with any other TA.
Easily one of the best EEB classes I have taken at UCLA. Gorlitsky is a professor who is very charismatic, understanding, and entertaining. Her TAs during the quarter were incredibly patient, respectful, and accommodating. The outdated reviews below don't really give an accurate depiction of the class value. Tropical Ecology is an interesting course by itself, and Gorlitsky offers many extra credit opportunities to raise student grades. Overall, I would take this class again in a heartbeat. The structure, accommodation and TA input were beyond exceptional. 10/10 from me.
Dr. Gorlitsky was a very engaging and fun professor! Her lectures were filled with really interesting videos but she tends to go very fast. Lectures are not recorded and lecture attendance is measured by the pop quizzes they randomly give out that are graded based on participation. I came into the class without being as interested in animal behavior but ended up loving it even more! I feel that all the examples are very interesting. For the exam, do not memorize the examples shown in class. Study each of the theories and hypotheses and know how to apply them to various situations and animal behaviors. The animal behavior portion (first 5 weeks) was definitely a bit harder than ecology due to the sheer amount of concepts but the test was definitely a bit easier and was overall more interesting. I would definitely recommend Dr.Gorlitsky!