Review Comment

[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

CULPA Notes: This course has two numeric designations

April 22, 2020

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

All the reviews for this class and really old and/or not accurate. Marina Cords is easily one of my favorite professors. She is a fantastic lecturer and clearly cares about the topic at hand. Her powerpoints are well organized and straightforward. She cares a lot about her students and is very helpful if you bother to go to office hours or ask questions in class. She tries to make her lectures as interesting as possible and she can be very very funny sometimes, too. The discussion sections show videos that may be boring but for me that reinforced concepts very clearly and it's super helpful to reference the experiments from the videos on exams. The grading can be a bit hard but if you pay attention to what she says in class and study her material, I had no issue getting at least an A- on every exam.

There is also a required zoo visit halfway through the semester and you have to make it up if you can't go with the rest of the class. I found the zoo trip not particularly helpful, but it was really fun and you get to hangout with Cords outside of class.

I also had Professor Cords during an interesting time (*cough* Covid-19 *cough*), and she was very understanding of any and all difficulties that students were dealing with.

Workload:

2 midterms, mix of MC, short answer, long answer, and essay
Essay Question final
5 assignments throughout the semester that shouldn't take longer than an hour
Weekly 1 question quizzes

December 25, 2016

Lawrence, Jenna Gold_nugget
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

I took Professor Lawrence's primates class last summer and absolutely loved it. I am not a science person at all, so I took this class purely for a science requirement. Let me say that this was my favorite class that I've taken at Columbia, and Professor Lawrence is one of my favorite professors. She is an incredible lecturer, and the 2-3 hour classes were easy to sit through because of it. (Note 2-3 hours - many of the classes did not go the entire 3 hours, and the lecture portion did not usually exceed 1-1.5 hours if I remember correctly.) She delivers the information very clearly, and as long as you write down what she says and pay attention in class you should have no problem getting an A. I, like most others, did not do well on the taxonomy quiz. However, it's not worth a whole lot, so don't worry if you don't do well - you can still get an A. Oh, and before I forget, YOU DO NOT NEED TO READ THE TEXTBOOK. Just go to class and take notes (on the movies too since she always includes a question on exams about the movies) and you'll be fine. I wish every class was like this class, and every professor like Professor Lawrence. She is so much fun and extremely approachable, and a great lecturer to boot. Bottom line is you should take this class regardless of whether or not you like science or primates.

Workload:

Pretty light for a 5-week intensive. Go to class and take notes, and study, study, study those notes for the 2 exams. 1 taxonomy quiz as well that's not worth much. A final presentation on a primate of your choice (make it fun and choose something you're interested in - research might take a while, but if you're interested in it it's not that bad). She said she preferred if we presented "well", so just do your best, but if you're not a good presenter and have to read off your cards don't worry, she won't penalize you for that.

July 16, 2014

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

After taking this class last semester, I'm surprised by how negative so many of these reviews have been. Marina Cords is a woman dedicated to her field and to this class. I found her lectures to be incredibly straightforward and clearly formatted. She readily made sure that all materials for the class were available online, and uploaded review packets before each test that were really helpful. She likes getting to know her students, so I highly recommend going to her office hours and just chatting with her. It'll probably up your grade in the class, and she might even be able to help you with research opportunities on campus.

Yes, there are lots of little assignments and tests/quizzes throughout the course. However, I felt like that kept me on top of the material and also gave me lots of chances to improve my grade. I thought the trip to the zoo with the class was a fantastic learning experience, in which we were able to apply our knowledge of primate behavior to the animals in front of us. My only negative comment about the class would be that sometimes I felt like time spent in discussion sections was wasted on watching outdated scientific videos, although some of them were entertaining and educational.

Overall, I would recommend this course to any student interested in animal behavior. Marina Cords is a really smart woman and knows what she's doing when she teaches this material.

Workload:

Easy weekly quizlets, weekly readings that aren't totally necessary to read, 2 "midterms", a final, and five written assignments usually consisting of answering a few questions. I never felt overwhelmed by the workload, but I did have to put actual effort into all of it.

March 17, 2012

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

DON'T DO IT. This is probably top 3 worst classes I've taken at Columbia. Unless you want to watch monkey fucking, the lectures are repetitive and dry. The discussion sections have no content and are in no way helpful for the graded parts of the course. In fact, they seem entirely unrelated. This whole class is designed to waste your time. The grading is arbitrary and the assignments are excessively anal. The TAs are bitchy and judgmental and Cords is also unhelpful. I've never gotten back such a condescending e-mail from a professor as when I wrote to her. Do psych instead.

Workload:

There are something like 20-25 individual assignments. It feels like high school biology except the teacher sucks more. None of the assignments take very long, but its a bunch of micro-managing, anal retentive bullshit to worry about over the course of a semester.

May 13, 2011

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

Pros: Professor Cords is really, really nice and very approachable. She's a fantastic lecturer and her power points help the discussion stay on track, so long as you make sure that you either write quickly or have a laptop to type your notes on. Study guides for the two midterms and the final are located under "Web Resources," which help a lot with studying for the exams. Also, the Lecture Reviews are really great and help with studying. The videos watched in Discussion were all really interesting, even though I'm not at all interested in monkeys.

Cons: The tests for this class are not easy at all or even in the middle, and the grading can be quite harsh. I personally completed all of the readings, completed the study guides, read the lecture reviews, and took great notes, but I still didn't do well on any of the exams. Realistically, the assigned readings aren't required for the tests and most of the material is available if you answer the study guides, read the lecture reviews, and go over your class notes, but remember that all of those equal up to be a LOT of things to memorize. Also, "short answer" isn't really short - prepare to have "Explain more" if you just write a concise sentence.

Overall, I'd suggest this to students that have a decent science background already, rather than someone that is maybe a Literature major. I learned a lot about a subject I never would have learned about in detail, so I'm glad I chose this subject, but I wish I had spent less time reading the material and more time creating flash cards to just memorize basic facts.

Workload:

5 assignments, weekly quizlets, 1 quiz at the beginning of the semester, 2 midterms, 1 final. Optional essay and trip to the zoo offered. Reading not incredibly dense and very enjoyable after you get through the first few chapters of the textbook, but they aren't important for your tests.

May 12, 2011

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

Pretty interesting class if you're taking it because you want to, but I can see how it can be boring if you're just looking for an easy way to fulfill the science requirement. Dr. Cords is very knowledgeable, and the TA was fantastic. Her lectures are very clear and easy to understand, and she always encourages questions, but it's true she's not really all that engaging.
The powerpoints are not available online. Instead, you get these lecture reviews that raise more questions than they answer. But if you go to class and take notes from the slides, you're fine. You do not need the textbook EVER. Discussion sections are always movies, so low-stress (could be interesting or boring, depending on your level of interest in the class). In general, this class is a fun way to learn about the lives of animals and fulfill the science requirement without too much stress!

Workload:

Five assignments (three are very easy, two are really long and annoying, but not difficult). Two midterms that will go well as long as you went to class and you memorize your notes. You do not need to do the readings, they are never tested. Final is all multiple-choice, and pretty exhausting, but not impossible.

May 16, 2010

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

This class could have used some improvements...as a student who was really interested in the subject, I expected the class to be much more engaging. Class is basically powerpoint lectures that are generally very dull, and instead of absorbing the material, you spend most of your time frantically copying the powerpoint slide before Professor Cords moves on. Discussion sections were equally as boring, we just watched movies of monkeys every single week.

I did learn a lot about primate behavior now that I look back on the class, and some of it was interesting now, but the class was generally boring and not engaging and felt like a waste of time when I was taking it.

The readings are useless, I didn't do any of them and did fine on exams. The grading is a bit funny, especially for assignments (I felt like the grader was looking for very specific things in assignments and on exams).

So overall, the course wasn't horrible, but it could have been a lot better.

Workload:

Basically nonexistent on a week to week basis. Readings that aren't necessary. Mandatory discussion sections (all you do is watch a film). 5 small assignments throughout the semester. Weekly easy quizlets in class. Two midterms and a final. Also, there is an extra credit zoo assignment that was fun.

December 10, 2008

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

Professor Cords' class is a great way to fulfill the science requirement. She doesn't presume any prior knowledge of science and takes the time to explain everything fully. The subject matter is very interesting and gives a great introduction to behavioral biology in general, using our closest relatives as an example.

If you pay attention in class and take notes, you'll do fine on the exams. She isn't out to get you as long as you know the material. Readings are not essential. Although she doesn't post the PowerPoints online, she does post very helpful "lecture reviews" that go over the important points from the lectures.

Workload:

Three multiple choice exams, weekly quizzes (very easy). Optional extra credit assignment to go to the zoo and observe primates—definitely worth it! Otherwise, no work week-to-week (except the readings, which you can get by skimming)

July 26, 2006

Warfield, James
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

I dropped this class in the middle of the summer semester because I couldn't take it. There is hardly any actual discussion of primate behavior. Instead he lectures for 4 and a half hours in a maddening style, continually asking questions whose answers could be anything. He is fishing for something in particular that no one can figure out. For example, he asked the women in the class why they shaved their legs and then stood there for several minutes waiting for an answer. No one was amused.

He spent most of the time (the first 2 and half weeks of a 6 week course) talking about the merits of logical arguments and his quizzes tested us on our understanding of them. Everyone failed the first one, even though it is open-note, because his questions were so cryptic.

During breaks we all comiserated about how terrible the class was. I don't regret dropping the course. My time is worth more than that.

Workload:

Impossibly difficult open-note quizzes (in other words, the notes you take will have nothing to do with what is on the quiz. It's just a ruse to get you to write down everything he says. A paper and an observation project.

May 12, 2005

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

Altogether, this class was insightful and gave me a different outlook on the complex ways in which non-human primates exist in this world. However, the best analogy I can give is this: Imagine cramming what seems like years worth of information into one semester and being expected to account for every bit of it on the exams.
This professor is the strictest grader I've ever had at Columbia. This in the only class that I have ever gotten less than a B on any of the work, and trust me, I am not a slacker when it comes to studying. Yes, the reading is very reasonable, and the lectures are moderately interesting. Yet, the quizzes and the exams are completely harsh and she takes points off for every little bit of info that you may have left out in struggling to answer her questions in her words, word for word.
She made a comment during the first class on the decrease in students who sign up for her course and blames it on the Frontiers of Science course that has recently been offered as an alternative option for satisfying the Science Requirement. Yet, I believe that the stringency of her grading and her harsh exam technique may have something to do with the sudden drop in registration.
Alas, although this was an interesting course, the Frontiers of Science sounds like the better option. I've heard it's challenging as well, but it's worth 4 points, so the extra work may actually seem worth it.

Workload:

Light reading, no required papers (although the extra-credit assignments seem necessary judging her strict grading methods. on the tests) Multiple choice quizzes which are comprised of trick questions that make you wrack you brain unnecessarily.

August 16, 2003

Warfield, James
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

Take any class this man offers! He is clearly passionate about this work and his lectures are almost always engaging. I just finished summer school with him, and if I can say that after class twice a week from 1-5:25 (yeah that's right) than he's worth taking. Here's an example of why: he starts the class with general philosophical concepts, to get us in the mode of thinking about the process of science. Not only was it interesting, but it framed the class really well. I am so thankful my last science requirement was this class -- it left a good taste in my mouth about Columbia's core.

Workload:

Open-book / open-note quizzes daily (much harder than that seems though!), primate observation project (difficult but really interesting), final exam (difficult but open-book / open-note because he wants you to learn, not to memorize -- hi, isn't that why you came to college?) and one paper, topic of your own selection, which was fun to write. TONS of reading, but he'll tell you what you need to concentrate on so even the boring stuff is do-able. Plus some of the books are fun, like anecdotes about primate observation. NOT EASY -- don't expect to get away without working! -- but worth the effort 100%.

May 21, 2002

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

Lectures range from the interesting to the insufferable, but are always impeccably organized. Website is useful, and also impeccably organized. She's nice and dedicated, but not inspiring. The final was a nightmare, but must have been greatly curved. Take this class as part of the Anthro sequence if you, like me, cannot add and do not care about electron shells.

Workload:

Readings, two picky quizzes, three midterms (drop the lowest), and that awful final. Weekly recitations, consisting entirely of watching videos, required and usually interesting. TAs fantastic.

April 30, 2002

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

Oh my God, I have never seen a review so spot-on (and hilariously) accurate as that last one. Bravo. Only thing I disagree on is that the multiple choice is impossible. This is an EASY EASY class, much easier than the first half of the sequence. Study a bit and you're fine. The only challenge is sitting through the horribly boring lectures...and the awful readings...and the monkey porn...without wanting to kill yourself. Everything is on the web, though, so you really don't have to. One more thing to note...if you do decide to go to the lectures, prepare for Prof. Cords to be constantly interrupted by stupid and/or irrelevant and/or ass-clownish questions from lifelong-learner types. (listen, I totally respect the lifelong learner phenomenon, but anyone who would devote their lifelong-learning time and money to monkey sex is seriously ON CRACK.)

April 28, 2002

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

For the love of humanity, run away as fast as you can from this course. I stopped my calc sequence (being one of those "humanities people") to take this. I have regretted it since the first lecture when she offered to define any "big words" or explain any numbers for humanities majors. And it just went down hill from there--lectures are just as dry as the Resource Defense Hypothesis sounds. Most of the time I play MASH in the back with my friends, only looking up to hear Professor Cords imitate one of her beloved blue guenons. Mercifully she posts her lectures online so lecture is not a must. But the discussion groups are, and don't even get me started on the monkey porn...

Workload:

Some painfully boring readings by people who like monkeys a little too much, two pure memorization quizzes early on, three midterms with impossible multiple choice, a final, and required weekly viewings of monkeys having sex.

April 21, 2002

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

This class is VERY worth taking if you want to fulfill your science requirement without doing bio or calc or something else icky to science-phobes. Prof. Cords seems to think her class is THE most difficult thing in the universe (she warns you on the first day, "this is not like the humanities departments. there's no grade inflation here. blah blah...") Of course there's no grade inflation; it's not necessary. The lectures are well organized (alternating between pretty interesting and unbearably boring). If you've taken the first class in the sequence (biological anthropology) and found it difficult, don't worry, b/c Prof Cord's class is much easier and even more interesting. Oh, yes, and the prof puts her notes on the internet for you, too.

Workload:

one quiz (which she lets you take twice), 3 midterms (drop the lowest score), one final. you have to attend the disc. sessions (and watch monkey vids) and participate in web discussions from time to time....It might sound like a lot...but it isn't too bad.

December 31, 1999

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

This monkey class is so awful. Be prepared to force feed 10 different theories of monkey sex (not as exciting as it sounds). Recitations are not useful and are required.

Workload:

quizzes, midterm, final.

December 31, 1999

Cords, Marina
[V1011/W3011] Behavioral Biology of the Living Primates

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

Since 'Anthrop' does end in 'ology' this class can be used toward the science requirement. Though, it's not as easy as it sounds it is still a good choice for the calculator-impaired. The lectures are very well organized. In fact, this is one of those rare classes that doesn't degenerate into academic entropy during the last two weeks. And her primate impersonations are top-notch. The first few weeks are spent memorizing latin genus-species names, which can be tedious and makes for surprisingly hard quizzes. Attendance is taken at the discussion sections, but that's ok because they consist entirely of watching hard core monkey-porn. And the occasional review session. Her lecturing is unexciting but servicable and there's something about those videos that beckons. . .

Workload:

Midterm & Final Exams; 3 quizzes; no essays.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2012 Spring MW / 10:35-11:50 AM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB V1011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2012 Spring MW / 10:35-11:50 AM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2011 Spring MW / 10:35-11:50 AM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB V1011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2011 Spring MW / 10:35-11:50 AM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB V1011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2010 Spring MW / 10:35-11:50 AM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2010 Spring MW / 10:35-11:50 AM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2009 Spring MW / 10:35-11:50 AM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB V1011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2009 Spring MW / 10:35-11:50 AM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates 2007 Spring / 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB V1011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2007 Spring MW / 11:00-12:15 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB V1011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Ximena Valderrama 2006 Spring MW / 11:00-12:15 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB V1011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2005 Spring MW / 11:00-12:15 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2005 Spring MW / 11:00-12:15 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2004 Spring MW / 11:00-12:15 PM 1
EEEB / EEEB EEEB EEEB W3011: Behavior Biology-Living Primates Marina Cords 2003 Spring MW / 1:10- 2:25 PM 1