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Okay, here's the deal. I think the reviews of this class are polarizing because it mashes up two opposite sides of the academic spectrum: humanities (history, philosophy, literature) and science (neuroscience, psychology [which could swing humanities], and neuroanatomy). Some of the basic neuroscience concepts swing nearly on the side of chemistry-type ideas. It's interdisciplinary and if you find yourself skilled on one end of the spectrum and are not willing to stretch out of your comfort zone and work hard to learn the concepts on the other end, don't take this class. I began this class fully expecting it to AP Psychology 2.0, and in some cases it was (if you took AP Psych, you're set for quite a bit of the neuroanatomy and psychology), but in many cases it is not. I find myself pretty well-rounded in that while I lean more humanities, I can switch to the more science-based concepts with a bit of work. Learning the neuroscience is a steep learning curve, even for those in science majors. However, if you go to your TA's office hours, the professors' office hours, and make sure to ask questions, you WILL get it. This class takes effort and I think very few would say its an easy A, but it is 100% worth taking. It was the best experience of my life and I learned so much. I think the first quarter is much harder than the second quarter because by the second quarter you can apply the knowledge from the first quarter to real concepts like movement and mental illness, which I found incredibly interesting. The seminar was also good, just be sure to choose a topic you really like. Fall and winter quarters have a midterm and final (multiple choice/short answer style), weekly quizzes, a final paper, and a midterm/shorter paper. It's all doable. The tests can be challenging, but if you do the weekly study questions they are very manageable. If you don't put in the effort, you will be miserable and get a poor grade. This isn't a class you can just skate by in, not study, and not do the readings. However, it is a class that will enrich your freshman year and put you in a great place for your subsequent studies at UCLA.
Dr. Chandler specifically was the worst lecturer for this class. I love neuro, the multidisciplinary approach, etc but Chandler is so unorganized and hard to follow. Thankfully he has detailed notes for his slides and the TAs recognize that he’s confusing as well, but I would say his part of lecturing was the only time I had to truly put in work. The other topics and professors are much more clear and engaging, and I enjoyed every aspect of neuroscience they taught. The midterm was absurdly hard, all free response, extreme format requirements, and not enough time at all, but in turn the final was multiple choice, easy, and honestly horribly written (some questions were not even complete). There is quite a lot of extra credit however which I appreciate, so I’d take advantage of that! Although a bit up and down, I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in neuroscience (yes, even if the science GEs overlap!), and I also enjoy that it’s a year long course so I can get to know my classmates better.
Chandler is a really nice guy, cracks many jokes, and overall quite entertaining to be around. His material is on electrophysiology, so a lot about ion channels and gradients and some applications of physics - he goes quite in-depth with this stuff because he likes to treat it as a puzzle, giving you piece by piece until the whole picture is created. So it really is hard to understand what you need to know for the exam, so I recommend grasping the big ideas.
He likes to advertise his reader as like the holy grail for this class - I didn't find it too helpful, but it's the best study/review resource you've got, so use it!
His exam is 9 short answers in an hour-ish so you better know your stuff and be able to convey it in a concise manner. The mean was an 82.
Grading Scheme (out of 400):
300 points - 100 for each module's exam
80 points - 10 points for each of 9 quizzes, lowest dropped
10 points - two clinical correlations (summaries of a presentation)
5 points - seminar attendance + summary
5 points - discussion participation
This comment is specifically for TA SONIA JAMANI. Avoid her at all cost (I don't think she will qualify for a TA next year anyway). I had her during the first quarter and she failed to fulfill the duty as a TA in every possible way: she did not know how to explain the questions on quizzes; she barely gave any useful information during discussion sections which were mandatory and simply a waste of time with her. The worst thing of all, she really had a problem with grading. She did not give out any grades throughout the quarter and procrastinated everything until after the final. When I received an unexpected final grade and approached her for comments, she did not give any convincing explanation. It sounded to me that she did not read my essay at all and just assigned an arbitrary grade. Though I shifted to a better TA in the following quarters, the OVERALL COURSE EXPERIENCE IS NOT THAT GOOD. As a cluster, all the professors just threw their own part of infos out there without building any connections between different disciplines. Not to mention some of them are really bad, dry lecturers. Quite a disappointment overall.
Professors are clearly passionate and knowledgeable about the material. They go into plenty of detail and are willing to answer questions if you have any.
There is a sense of community that you get with a cluster that you don't have in other classes - there's "community events" outside of class like watching a movie or going to a game night. In a normal year a cluster like this would be a great way to make friends as a freshman.
The discussions are helpful to review the material, we did plenty of kahoots and review games that were useful.
The material is difficult, and a lot of it wasn't what I signed up for. There's enough extremely detailed anatomy to make anyone who's not a science person cry - I'm a STEM major and it was still too much for me at times. All the -encephalons will show up in my nightmares for years to come.
The writing assignments. Hooooooo boy, these were bad. The prompts were very convoluted and confusing (the prompt and Q&A for the final paper was eight pages long, lol) and the grading is very inconsistent. When your "feedback" is a comment about a sentence and saying that "this claim is not supported" when the next two lines do nothing but support that claim, your boy is gonna be a little salty.
The course doesn't do very well in an online format. The website was extremely unorganized, and everyone was constantly dealing with bugs all year. Not to mention that the sense of community that clusters try to bring is basically gone in an online format. Going to a movie night on campus with friends is a lot different then joining a zoom call with your mic and camera off and watching the movie, lol.
So, should you take this class? If you are very interested in neuroscience and willing to put in a lot of work, and assuming we'll be back in person next year, go for it. Though if you do, going to the library office hours before papers are due is an absolute must (so you can understand what's actually being graded and whether citations are important or not), and study a bunch before all of the quizzes and tests. There aren't many free points in the class, so it can mess up your GPA if you don't treat it as your top priority (which I couldn't, taking two other major classes at the same time). Considering GEs are supposed to be easier GPA boosters compared to your major classes, that's quite a big drawback.
NO! NS M101A is NOT the hardest class you will ever take. And the curve DOES NOT start at B (like how some freshmen think). Actually, it's not hard at all when you compare it with courses like MIMG 101 or CHEM 153C. However, that doesn't mean it's easy to end up with an A.
The problem is how module exams are graded. 2 of the exams are free respose questions only and space limited. You may have a perfect understanding of the concept and still get a low grade because your answers do not mimic the key. You mention a correct relevant point but take away no credit as the professor has thought of another point to put on the key. Regrade requests are not often appreciated.
My advice: be smart! save your commuting time and watch the lectures online (everything is Bruincasted). Instead, go to office hours so you have a better chance of reading the professor's mind during the test. Skip the text; won't do any good. Get your hands on some past exams if you can (they rarely change). Finish learning the material as quickly as possible so you can spend your preparation time on how to organize your response solving the practice problems. DO NOT lose easy points from quizzes and seminar write-ups (no excuse for that).
Best Lecturer: Chandler>White>Piri
Chillest Module: White>Chandler>Piri
Provides Most Useful Problem Sets: Piri>White>Chandler
Good Luck Class of 2021!
I would say Chandler's module was the most difficult one in 101a. This module heavily involves conceptual knowledge and much physics-based, plus neurophysiology is a tough subject in itself, so making this class a bit difficult at least for me. Chandler's lectures were not Bruin-casted, so it made studying for this class challenging for me. I would definitely recommend recording the lecture if you can. Chandler provides weekly questions for students to work on, and he goes over them in his office hours. I highly recommend going over the questions carefully and really understand them because the exam questions are quite similar to those. The exam questions were all hypothetical and all short answers, so very easy to miss points here and there, which can add up to a lot. Overall, Chandler is an interesting guy and a good teacher, but the topic itself is just quite difficult and requires a lot of time and commitment to study for it.
Chandler was my favorite lecturer of the bunch. His material was on electrophysiology things like ion channels and that sort. He had really good study questions for us that were similar to exam questions and his office hours went over all of that and what he expected for us on the test. The one thing I will say that was consistent upon both White and Chandler's module is because they were short answers it was very easy to lose 1-2 points on every question just because your answer didn't fully match the answer key which was frustrating. However, if you rewatch lectures and take good notes you will be able to succeed in this module. I didn't find his course reader too helpful but it was nice to have as a summary for all of his material. His quizzes were definitely the most tricky out of the 3 professors. The mean was 82 and the median was 85 for the midterm.
Chandler > White > Piri
White > Chandler > Piri
Best Study Questions
Chandler > Piri > White
Everyone seems to love Dr. Chandler for some reason and I think thats because he gives off grandpa/dad vibes but in my opinion that doesn't really matter in a professor.
Chandler was not a very good lecturer because his god complex consistently got in the way of conveying information in a reasonable and concise manner. You could ask him one very simple question and he would go on for 15+ minutes with some elaborate answer for the actual answer to be something as simple as "the voltage decreases" but you would get so confused as to why he was mentioning all of this arbitrary information inbetween (note- its to make himself seem and feel smart) that you wouldn't even get a useful answer or forget what you even asked in the first place.
His slides don't have much helpful info on them tbh and in several places had contradictions.
I will say though his exam was fairly graded, it was very difficult for me personally and I literally thought I was going to get a 0, and then I came out of it with a B- (which granted isnt good but compared to how I thought I had done).
He also like lowkey sexually harassed a student in class once when referencing axon potentials in a metaphor where he said "so and so, grabs my hot rod, because she's such a good student she does whatever i tell her too... and she says oh Dr. Chandler its sooo warm" and then he literally moaned into the microphone. It was just more uncomfortable than anything else to be honest and I didn't really see how the analogy actually applied to the concept at all lol but aight man.
Def go to his office hours and just voice record them honestly, discussions are useful if you have a good TA. goodluck
This class is tough, but ultimately doable. The workload (specifically the labs and essays) could be pretty heavy, the content (specifically the neuroscience) was challenging, the lectures could be really confusing and/or boring. However, the psychological, literature, and film aspects were also pretty interesting and the professors were quite nice and approachable (Professor Chandler could be a little intimidating). I highly recommend the film seminar for the spring quarter if you want light, fun work, and a fantastic professor. The T.A's and InqSpec were also quite helpful so I highly recommend utilizing them (with the exception of Sonia who seemed pretty clueless).
P.S. I'm selling my textbook for this class at a cheap rate. If anyone is interested, email: *************