Review Comment

Intro to Logic

November 08, 2013

Morrison, John
Intro to Logic

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I took this class to fulfill my QR requirement, and have no background in either philosophy, cs or math. After everything I had read on Culpa, I thought this intro class would be quite good, even enjoyable. Boy, was I mistaken. All other reviews notwithstanding, this professor clearly has absolutely no interest in teaching this course currently. This is a shame, as I had spoken directly to two of his previous students who raved about him, and can see where it would be interesting subject matter if I didn't have to literally teach it to myself with the help of a tutor (which I pay for out of my own pocket).

The major problem is that Professor Morrison doesn't teach. He distributes slides before class, then posts the slides up on a projector and reads them, word for word, to the class. When he's done reading, class is over, which usually occurs about 40 minutes early. Class that's scheduled to last for 80 minutes usually ends in about 35-40 minutes. While many students might think it's great to get out early, I would prefer to actually be taught the material and the methods behind doing things like proofs, not have someone read me his slides verbatim then slip out when class is barely half over. He does ask before he concludes if anyone has any questions, but is generally met with blank stares, so takes this as meaning everyone magically absorbed the material he just read to them.

He does offer review time in class before each exam, which is probably the only time the classes run closer to their full scheduled time. This is quite helpful, but it's difficult to review practice questions when you have no idea how to do a proof. His mantra is "to get comfortable with proofs you have to practice them about 1000 times." That's terrific, but I wouldn't exactly be able to sit down at the piano to practice Chopin if I had never been taught how to read the music.

The TAs hold "office hours" 2x/week (in cafeteria lounges with loud music and TVs on the walls), and a review session prior to each exam, but are not required to attend the classes, so if you ask them a question about something that was presented in class, they have no context.

Given the previous reviews, I can only think there is something else the professor is currently focused on. Upcoming tenure, publishing a book, I'm not sure, but whatever it is, his focus certainly is not on this class, and at a tuition cost per-student in excess of $4000, that's not exactly good value for my money.

If you have a philosophy, mathematics or cs background, you'll probably be in good shape for this class. Anyone else, you might want to look elsewhere for a Core requirement or elective choice.

Workload:

Course grading is broken down by 3 equally weighted exams (30% each), and 10% for homework assignments.

Homework is done via 4 software programs that come with the textbook, Language Proof & Logic, which allows a server at Stanford to grade the assignments (instead of the TAs having to grade them manually - great for them, not so much for the students). The software is terrible, in that it is not intuitive to navigate and quite buggy; print functions don't work, submissions often result in vague error messages, etc. Having to do the work then enter into and try to submit through these programs results in a huge time investment. You receive almost full credit just for submitting the file, even if it's wrong (8 out of 10 points), but if you want to learn the material in the course, the homework is extremely important to do correctly. I have no problem investing hours doing my homework, but do have a problem wasting time with bad software.

Lastly, several of the more time consuming homework problems don't map to the material covered on exams, so are pretty much a time-consuming waste of time.

The workload and level of difficulty ramp up significantly from the first exam to the last.

January 19, 2013

Morrison, John
Intro to Logic

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

If there's one word to describe Introduction to Logic with Morrison, it's straightforward.

Firstly, let's look at the grading scheme: Three Exams, each 30%, and Homework Problems worth 10%.

The homework problems are from the textbook and are given 8/10 points just based on submission of an answer; this is one of those classes in which I'd assume everyone does decently well on the homework since there's little excuse to actually get a problem wrong. Homeworks are recommended to be done concurrently with lecture, but are only due before the test which covers that material, so it's possible to only submit the HWs right before those tests and get full credit.

The exams are heavily based on the lectures. Morrison's lectures are concise and clear, and are very focused on definitions. For example, with each new term you learn like "tautological consequence" you'd have a definition of the term, then examples in which it is applied in potential problems. Exams take the potential problems that are found in these lecture notes and either repeat them or expand on them. For this semester, the first two midterms had questions that were simpler than or equivalent to the practice problems, while the final featured two "advanced" problems that were decently difficult (even though we had received advanced practice problems).

All in all, this is a class in which you can undoubtedly get an A. I did not attend lectures, but just by studying all of the lecture notes & understanding the definitions, then doing all practice problems provided, found it quite easy to ace every test. I expect that people who didn't do well either:

A) Underestimated the need to study - while logic is often intuitive, you can't take it for granted that you'll be able to solve problems. Without studying you could definitely have done poorly on the tests as doing the practice problems helped me gain an intuition on how to solve certain puzzles; also, in a logic test, you can't BS at all.

B) Fell behind and didn't review to make it up - the entire course does build on itself so it's important to go through all the lecture notes and understand everything. People tend to do decently well on the tests, so even missing one question may bump you down a fair bit. Note that an A+ is possible but quite difficult to achieve even if you score well on everything.

To sum up, the ambition of this course is truly its name: it is NOT complex; for anyone who's taken Symbolic Logic, that course is way more difficult. Morrison does a good job of providing clear and helpful notes and enough studying makes an A achievable.

Workload:

3 Exams, Homeworks Problems from the textbook which are due before each exam. Studying is very necessary but not extensive; for the midterms light studying 1-2 nights in advance (making notes out of the lecture notes + doing the HW problems & simpler practice problems) followed by cramming on the night of (doing & redoing practice problems) was good enough. All in all an easy workload, given the clarity of material.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section