BIOL 415 Nerve Cell Mechanisms in Behavior
BIOL 615 Neural Bases of Behavior
Prof. Stark
Spring, 2006 Assessment

The assessment form is in plain text, student replies and other comments are in italics.

Here are the stated objectives of the course:

For students contemplating or beginning graduate study in neuroscience, this course should orient them. For students going to medical school, this course should offer them the opportunity to take better advantage of several courses in their academic years. For graduate students already engaged in neuroscience research, as well as graduate and undergraduate students in other areas, this course should present a comprehensive survey of the entire field of neuroscience.

"The course fulfilled these objectives."
1. strongly agree (6) 2. agree (6) 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree

Great overview

"These objectives were reasonable."
1. strongly agree (7) 2. agree (6) 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree


"The selection of topics for emphasis was reasonable."
1. strongly agree (4) 2. agree (9) 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree

Though it is a lot of complex material to cover in such a
short amount of time.

There was a great deal of material to be covered, but all

While I like the topic selection very
much, I had trouble connecting everything together. I felt
as if I learned a lot of facts, but I cannot put them
together in a bigger picture.

"The level of the textbook was appropriate."
1. strongly agree (7) 2. agree (5) 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree

I found the book to be particularly helpful

I thought the text book was clear and a
really useful tool.

"Outlines on the web were an important resource."
1. strongly agree (9) 2. agree (4) 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree

Have you considered using power point rather than the web
based outlines?

awesome general resource for interesting neuro stuff

"Having last year's applicable test questions on each outline was a useful study aid." (new, 2006)
1. strongly agree (8) 2. agree (2) 3. disagree (2) 4. strongly disagree

Sometimes they were, but a lot of the questions were not
asked in the same way which became sort of confusing.

They didn't help study for the test

I didn't use that resource

"Having stories from recent and landmark literature was useful."
1. strongly agree (6) 2. agree (5) 3. disagree 4. strongly disagree

Delete? Keep? Add more?

The landmark literature was very interesting but confused
sometimes because the book explains some things in a totally
different way.

Keep, maybe just keep updating
with new research

Keep. The stories were a useful tool to breakup the monotony of the lecture.

I would keep these elements in the class. It is
important to remain up to date with the current literature on the subject

Maybe expand upon the sources
talked about flesh them out a bit more. The variety was very
interesting though.

I think many more would be distracting

They are interesting and add current trends in research of the topic, keep it!!

does Sperry write outside of scientific journals?

I thought they were interesting but sometimes it was
difficult to keep up with all of the material

"Having links to Nobel lectures is an interesting resource for the web site." (new, 2006)
1. strongly agree (6) 2. agree (5) 3. disagree (1) 4. strongly disagree (1)

It was interesting to note those Nobel lectures, but it seemed like useless information in terms of the testing material.

The links were interesting, but I did not find them
extremely useful when studying for a test.

Maybe show one or two, but every single one is a bit much. I never went back to look at them.

Are there any topics you would like to be added to the syllabus in future years?

No, but perhaps have less topics and go deeper into them for
better understanding and having more knowledge about them
instead of just having a rough or superficial idea of many

I had very little biology background before entering
this course, so I don't feel I can provide help with this (*)

More in depth information on the diseases would have been nice. Maybe you could make the recent research on the diseases of the brain a topic on its own (if there is enough info)

There is plenty of information to be covered in this course. Adding
more would only reduce the quality of its presentation.




Not really, too much information already.


More cognition and language, don't ever give up the sheep brain dissection!

I thought the topics covered were well chosen.

Are there any topics you think should be reduced or eliminated?

All topics covered proved to be most interesting to read
and learn about, however, I think that the optic area could
have been reduced and the language area could have been

(*)For the same reason mentioned above

I did not understand, nor did i reap any benefit in concern with understanding the rest of the semester from the physics portions of the lectures.

It would be
tough to eliminate any topics and still give thorough coverage to the
relevant course material.

Some of the physics of the nerve potential was
too complicated for the level of this course.

The coverage on spinal cord pathways was hard to
understand. The coverage of the brain dissection was very
hard to understand at the time we did the dissection. It
would be alot more helpful and easier to learn and
understand if we saw you doing the dissection(like on a
projection screen in front of the classroom), pointing out
the structures we needed to identify, and the students
followed along on their sheep brains. That way, everyone
could see the structures.


Yes. The anatomy of the brain section (maybe know the most important parts, but all of it, when this isn't an anatomy course, is too much) The brain dissection shouldn't be taken out though.


Are there any topics you think should be reduced or eliminated?
I don't know what specifically should go, but I would rather see some speical topics at the end of the course. In depth analysis, stuff nobodies going to have had before, of a few topics as a apposed to cursory coverage of lots of subjects I feel would be more interesting.
Take care, Fantastic class


Suggestions for future development.

In general, the course was met with approval. Thus, in terms of changes, only fine tuning is suggested.

Students appreciated scholarship (recent and landmark literature), and, although it is very difficult, it is more rewarding, so I will continue to develop the course with these additions.

Students like the dissection but still have trouble with neuroanatomy (even though I followed some of last year's suggestions like adding labels to the .jpg's and cutting back the detail). I loved the suggestion to project (or make a video?) of the dissection.

Each year, what the students consider to be physics and math are criticized. I feel that there has been a steady deterioration in the background they have learned that should prepare them for circuits and equations. I think I will begin to make some of these topics "optional." By "optional," I mean to leave them on the web site as a resource but to minimize coverage. That will solve another criticism, leaving time for more integrative topics at the end of the semester, cognition and memory.

Information on this year's course

There were 17 undergraduates (415):
14 biology majors, 1 history, 1 philosophy, 1 undecided
13 seniors, 3 juniors, 1 5th yr

There were 5 graduate students (615):
2 in biology, 1 masters, 1 Ph.D.
3 PH.D. in biomedical engineering (and chemistry)

There were 3 tests of 65 points:
1 - high=57, low=14.5, mean=41.6
2 - high=58, low=10.5, mean=35.5
3 - high=58, low=8.5, mean=34.5
High scores indicate that the material could be learned. Low scores indicate that the material was challenging (also that some students do remarkably poorly despite their seniority and declared interests.

The course was curved at 3.08.

This page was last updeate 5/30/06

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