[BIOL 0140]
Ecology and Evolution

Rate This Class

Professor: Sheldon, S

Value of Course / Overall Score

Not Much (28%
Average (44%)
Valuable (28%)


Friendly (32%)
Average (40%)
Competitive (28%)

Class Atmosphere

Boring (24%)
Average (76%)
Fascinating (0%)

Prep Time Needed

1-2hr (4%)
3-5hr (40%)
6-8hr (48%)
9-11hr (0%)
12+ hr (8%)

Grade Weighting

Harder (68%)
Average (0%)
Easier (32%)

Adequate Assistance

Yes (72%)
No (28%)

Would Recommend Class

Yes (28%)
No (72%)

Evaluation Comments for Sheldon, S

  1. The lab was valuable, but I would not recommend taking this course with Sheldon.
  2. Sheldon is not the best lecturer but she's very passionate about ecology (especially ANYTHING that happens underwater) and if you make the effort to talk to her one-on-one she can be extremely helpful (and she's ALWAYS in her office). She often seems to assume everyone in the class has taken AP Bio which makes it hard for some students to follow the lectures but she doesn't go into enough depth to keep someone who already has taken AP very interested. I wish it would have been easier to place out of the class, as having already taken AP Bio and Environmental only certain data analysis techniques which were not terribly complicated were unfamiliar to me. The take-home exams are open-notes/open-book/open-web which is really helpful, but grading is sometimes quite arbitrary and you have to answer questions exactly as she would answer them to do well, which can be frustrating. You'd probably get more out of this course from another professor, but Sheldon is still brilliant and her teaching style is very particular and worth experiencing, even if it can be frustrating at times. The lab has two intense assignments which can get overwhelming, but other than that it's not too bad, especially with Nurok.
  3. No Comment
  4. No Comment
  5. No Comment
  6. Biology with Professor Sheldon was definitly interesting. Even though I don't think I'd take another class with her, I would recommend people taking at least one class with her, just to get a very different flavor of Biology. I have appreciation for the way she teaches - she really wants us to understand the general concepts of things and be able to APPLY them to new ideas. Yes it was hard, but it was also valuable to learn skills like that. It made exams... unique, and definitly a challenge, but when you got the hang of it you could really get going, and she would recognize when you really understood something. I did learn about Ecology and Evolution in this class, but more importantly, I learn how and why it actually mattered, and how basic phenomena that we learned about explain a lot of things in the world, which was cool.
  7. Although she was always available to help, Professor Sheldon's social skills prohibits her from being in any way helpful. Not only are her lectures and expectations scatterbrained or disorganized, she is an acknowledged dyslexic which make some class notes hilarious yet unreadable. She has many quirks which are interesting to navigate. While a brilliant scientist, she is better suited to teach aquatic ecology, where it seems she is a much better instructor.
  8. Sheldon is brilliant scientist, but a terrible teacher. She lacks social skills, has difficulty staying organized and staying on the same level as the students. Her grading scheme is unlike any other at Middlebury - the average class grade will be B-/C+. She is quite dyslexic, which leads to very confusing handouts, assignments, and tests. There were tens of interpretation problems for all exams and assignments, leading to class-wide frustration. She generally lacks empathy for students, probably because she is so different from them.
  9. The Professor was really really not experienced in teaching at all. the worst professor I ever had in my life.
  10. To preface this, I have absolutely loved and never had a complaint about any of my Middlebury Professors until I met Professor Sheldon. Professor Sheldon may be the worst faculty member at Middlebury. To Say that she fails at "teaching" would be an overstatement since "teaching" implies that one would end up learning something. She continually fails to convey any concept or tidbit of information in a logical or coherent manner. She provides no expectations for what will be on her exams, and allows little practice for applying the concepts (which she explains terribly) to exam questions. Every day I go to lecture I regret not taking this class with another professor. It's funny that she is shocked when NOBODY in the huge lecture can understand what she just took 20 minutes to explain, pointing out that our class "asks a surprising amount of questions!" Many people have resorted to not actually attending lectures since the consensus is that listening to hear teach actually causes more confusion. Please, do not take this class with Sheldon, and also go down to Old Chapel and ask Ronny why in the world she has tenure.
  11. I felt as though we were unable to go into enough depth and didn't spend enough time on some topics to be able to fully understand them. I also felt as though this class could have been clearer and more organized. It would also have helped it the teacher had provided us with some practice exams/exercises or at least have made it clearer what she expected us to prepare for tests.
  12. Sheldon is an absolutely terrible teacher, do not take this class with her. She knows the material, but at no point was she able to clearly articulate it (or write it legibly for that matter). Lectures are a bumbling jumble of goofiness which is fun until you realize you don't understand anything
  13. Ok, Sheldon gets a lot of crap for being a bad teacher, and, to be honest, she can be really scatterbrained. However, she's always there to help, and once you get the hang of her teaching style (ie there is no plan we're just going to learn everything we think is interesting) you're golden. She LOVES her students, so stop by her office to ask her a few questions (she's always there) and get to know her a bit. She's done some awesome research and she loves to talk about it, but it doesn't get in the way of her teaching at all. With Sallie you just have to expect to cover everything, but in a super roundabout and interesting way instead of the perhaps easier, more straightforward, and boring way that most professors cover things.
  14. Worst class I have taken at Middlebury. Sheldon is absolutely terrible and the class was a total disaster.
  15. Professor Sheldon is very smart, but she definitely has some issues with organizing lectures. I often felt that they were scattered, but we absolutely learned everything in the syllabus. She is available during and beyond her office hours, which was quite nice. Also, she's done a lot of very interesting research, which serves as the examples for several ecological concepts. I would try to test out of this if you took AP Bio in high school. I wanted to have a strong foundation in biology, but I literally learned nothing in this class that we hadn't covered in high school.
  16. Professor Sheldon is definitely very knowledgeable, but to do well, you have to answer questions on tests the way SHE would. They are always open-ended and often were not covered directly in lecture. Work your butt off, ask lots of questions, and you'll be fine. Also, when she says something is a "study question" expect it to be on the exam.
  17. This class was awful. Lectures were hilarious because they were so disorganized. Terms and concepts that were completely foreign to us were used to explain concepts and terms that we were responsible for. Tests were difficult and seemed like a set of trivia questions to me. She also seems to take very little time grading the tests, as she doesn't write any comments on them and most of the time, you can argue points back on specific questions. She does not want people to do well. Take this course with another professor if you value your GPA and your knowledge of biology.
  18. This is a GREAT class. I can't stop walking around identifying trees or thinking about how fragmentation does this and evolution has changed that. It's crazy because it gets into your system and it just won't leave! Professor Sheldon is incredibly smart and incredibly experienced. She can be a little bit scatter-brained at times, but once you get used to her teaching style it's easy to love her. Professor Backus, although a very tough lab professor, is ALWAYS, ALWAYS willing to help, offer advice and answer questions. This is a challenging, but very interesting and inspiring intro level Bio course.
  19. Sallie Sheldon is an interesting person; her teaching methods are rather unorthodox and focus is placed not on memorizing facts but on understanding and applying the course material. If you expect to get a good grade just by memorizing the text, think again; however, it's not difficult to do well if you take the time to think about concepts, particularly when taking the exams.
  20. Sallie Shelson is enthusiastic, dyslexic, and passionate about biology. I would recommend taking an upper level course with her, as teaching an intro class does not seem to be her strong point. She asks why kids are constantly bombarding her with questions in class, the reason is that her method of explaining things can be quite difficult to understand. Ask her about weevils.
  21. This class was abysmal. It has absolutely no structure, so Sheldon will stand up everyday and lecture and something that might have absolutely no relation to what we learned the day before. I thought it was unclear what we were supposed to know for the tests because sometimes she wouldn't test us on big ideas, and would make a 5 point question about a term that she mentioned once in passing. She is an odd teacher, and I didn't enjoy the class. I recommend you take it with someone else if you can. I'm really disapointed Midd messed up such an important intro course.
  22. This course is much more challenging than I was expecting from an introductory bio course in terms of the amount of work required, but the material was fascinating. Professor Sheldon certainly has her eccentricities, but I found her to be an interesting lecturer and wonderful to talk to in person. Her discussions were somewhat disorganized, but I know she's planning to redo them for the next time she teaches this course (Spring 2010). I know many of my classmates found her teaching frustrating, but I thought it was enjoyable and useful. The trick to her class is having the ability to interpret what we learn from the specific examples she gives and apply that knowledge to related cases. Her class was logical, interesting, stimulating, and rewarding. Another tip: don't be afraid of the homeworks! They take lots of time, and your grades on them will most likely fluctuate widely, but they're meant more as learning exercises than as grade assessments. If you're doing well on the exams and reasonably well on the lab part of the course, you'll do fine. Overall, Professor Sheldon is the most interesting teacher I had this semester, and I would love to take another class with her!
  23. This class was not really like anything I'd ever taken. There wasn't much organization, classes sort of went however Sheldon felt that day, not carefully planned or organized. I for one was alright with this, but some people definitely didn't like it, especially in a science class. Sheldon's not necessarily an unfair grader, she just wants you to show that you can extrapolate what you learn in class. You get a lot more points if you give examples or answers that are "outside the box". Like 145, the lab for this class is basically a whole other class.
  24. Take the class with someone else. Her lectures are very hard to follow and not very informative. She assumes everyone in the class took AP bio in high school even though most of us are in the class because we did not take it. Also, her tests are, well, different. You are not tested on the material you learn in class or in the reading. This is straight from her syllabus about how students complain to her about her tests: "?You never gave us the answer for this is class.? You are correct. If you really understand the material, you can figure it out." To get idea about how random/ badly made the test are, the standard deviation on our midterm was 13.
  25. I get the feeling that teaching an introductory course like ecology and evolution is not really her bag. She does her best but her lectures are extremely sporadic and sometimes confusing. Her tests are also pretty difficult-she assumes you know all the material from lecture, so her tests ask questions that require a lot of extrapolation. Bottom line, take it with someone else if you can.

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