Neurobiology of Social Behavior Seminar - G4475 - Evaluations



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I have taught this advanced undergraduate seminar class twice – the first in Fall 2013 and again in Fall 2015. The course is comprised of final year Psychology or Neuroscience & Behavior majors as well as first and second year PhD students in Psychology, Evolutionary and Biological Anthropology or Neuroscience. Occasionally students from other disciplines also (e.g. journalism). The class typically has 8-10 students.


Comments on Instructor Effectiveness

· very knowledgeable; able to answer all questions fully and provide insight into issues raised during class discussion (Fall 2013)

· The instructor created a good atmosphere for discussion and all students in the class participated regularly and eagerly. He was also able to guide students in presenting primary literature and think critically about the approaches to published studies. He is clearly knowledgeable about a wide range of topics (human evolution, neuroscience, behavioral ecology) and often suggests articles for further reading. (Fall 2013)

· Outstanding. I lacked some basic science knowledge, and James was extremely good at helping bring me up to speed. Could not be better. I just wish I could take this class again in the spring. (Fall 2013)

· great knowledge and flexible, understanding. Chill. (Fall 2015)

· James is very good at pushing students to consider journal articles critically. (Fall 2015)

· James did an excellent job organizing and teaching this course. The topics and papers were well chosen, and he did a great job filling in important context or details during in class discussions. (Fall 2015)

· James was a fantastic instructor. He answered all of my questions and guided discussion without taking over. He was very informative, enlightening us on topics that our readings didn't go into depth about. (Fall 2015)

· It is clear James has a deep level of knowledge of this subject matter. He was incredibly knowledgeable about every topic, but at the same time he seemed interested in learning from the students (i.e. wanted to know more about the perspective of human research from students in the class working with humans). I also think he is engaging and encouraging of participation from everyone in the class. It was always enjoyable to be in the class. (Fall 2015)

· I was pretty amazed that whenever a name of author or a paper came up in class, professor Curley was able to explain to class what type of researches that those authors have been doing and what papers they wrote. I was really impressed and it made me think about what kind of researcher I want to be after I graduate. Despite my lack of presentation skills, professor Curley was always helping to make sure the materials are understood by other students and made sure that I did not miss out on any important points. Even if the material is challenging, difficult to understand, professor Curley was able to present them clearly to the students. (Fall 2015)

· James is a wonderful professor, and you can tell how interested he is in the subject matter. He makes it accessible and interesting for all the students, and I really enjoyed my time in the class. (Fall 2015)


What were the best aspects of this course

· Everything. (Fall 2013)

· The discussions were lively and topics covered a wide range of social behaviors, species, and scientific fields. (Fall 2013)

· small group discussion on relevant topics (Fall 2013)

· I liked the topics and the organization of class sessions. (Fall 2013)

· As a journalism student, this was my first real introduction to science and scientific thinking. It was absolutely fascinating from start to finish, and I loved every minute of it. (Fall 2013)

· I think this course in overall was very challenging but work load was not too overwhelming, which was good. As I did not have any background in any of the topics covered in class, I was worried that I would not follow along. The readings were challenging for me, so sometimes, I could not understand them even if I read them. However, for those challenging papers, other student's presentation and the professor's explanations helped a lot. I do not think that other students in the class had much problem with understanding certain methods in the papers, but as for me, it was very new and difficult to comprehend. The second to last class where professor explained to us about how the social network analysis was conducted was actually very helpful in understanding the papers. (Fall 2015)

· This was easily the best seminar course I've taken during my time in graduate school at Columbia. There was a good balance of undergrad and grad students, and I felt like I actually learned a ton, which sometimes really doesn't happen in grad-level classes in the psychology department. Even though the neurobiology of social behavior is my area of research, I feel like I was exposed to new and different papers/subject matter than I would have been had I been just finding papers on my own. (Fall 2015)

· The course was very interesting. Having a limited background in neuroscience, this course taught me a lot about how neurobiology plays a role in social behavior. The readings were useful in touching upon various topics and taxa that social behavior is studied in. Developing an overview presentation allowed me to get more in depth in one of the weekly topics. (Fall 2015)

· i learned a lot (Fall 2015)


Please comment on ways to improve the course

· The class covers a broad range of topics and focuses on high quality papers in those topics. This is great for developing critical skills and thinking about experimental design. (Fall 2013)

· I would love to be able to take an equivalent course with professor curley next semester, but I'm sad to see it's not offered. I'd love to do more! (Fall 2013)

· Overall the course was great. In terms of improvements, there could be a little more variety in the types of assignments or the use of class time. The discussion board was helpful to get me to engage the readings deeper, but I might have enjoyed a little more independent research or flexibility in approaching the weekly topics. (Fall 2015)


What did you learn - in terms of knowledge, skills, or perspectives - in this course?

· Overall the course was great. In terms of improvements, there could be a little more variety in the types (Fall 2015)

· Received a very solid overview of the most interesting and important topics in social neurobiology, as well as analytical skills that help find strengths and weakness in any given study or methodology. (Fall 2015)

· James is very knowledgeable about the subject matter and did a particularly good job teaching us to read the papers critically and consider the intentions of the authors in the use of their methods and in their presentation of the data. (Fall 2015)

· It was a really well thought out and cohesive course. I liked that it included the neurobiology of various social behaviors in many different species and included a bit of an evolutionary perspective. I liked the method of having each of us give one more structured overview presentation and then 3 more casual paper overviews. It made the class more talkative and encouraged everyone to participate, and taught people both how to give a formal presentation but also how to synthesize and quickly summarize what they'd read. (Fall 2015)

· I learned about various animal studies on neurobiology of social behavior. It was a great overview for me as I knew not much about animal studies or social behavior. The topics the class covered was very comprehensive, yet not shallow. It was very challenging for me, but I am happy that I have learned a lot. The last class we had was especially helpful and interesting as I got to see the professor's lab and how the works on rodents are actually done. (Fall2015)

· How to read research papers in specific topics, how to prepare overview on specific topics for other classmates (Fall2015)

· issues and research tools used in social neurobio. (Fall2015)

· I learned a lot about various topics on the neurobiology of social behavior and different perspectives on

various topics given from students of different fields. (Fall2015)


Comments on readings, materials, assignments, and examinations

· interesting and engaging (Fall 2013)

· Assignments were clear and the topics were organized in a very reasonable and engaging way. Instructor was very thoughtful in adjusting the pace and content of the class in accordance with the interests and backgrounds of the students. (Fall 2013)

· Loved the readings - a real introduction to science. (Fall 2013)


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