Amazing TA. Most of the professors for E&M suck, so you’ll be doing yourself a favor by signing up for Andrew’s section. His explanations are crystal clear, and you’ll learn exactly what you need to know to crush the exams.
The one thing I would like to emphasize is that Georgia DOES NOT answer her emails...prepare to be ghosted. If you have any questions, go to OH. I essentially agree with the student's review below, but Georgia isn't that terrible of a teacher. Since she's relatively new to teaching, I don't think she has grasped what she needs to teach in order for students to understand physics. She proves formulas in the book (provides the skeleton), but doesn't do many examples or any examples at all of those concepts (no muscle). Without muscles the skeleton can't move. However, she is mostly helpful during OH, as she goes over some examples/hw problems. Make sure to ask her to pull out her iPad, not just talk cause it doesn't make sense when she's just speaking. I personally hated the weekly quizzes, but I would say that I felt less stressed about the midterms than I would have if there weren't any quizzes. You have to understand the hw problems in order to figure out the questions on the quizzes. Don't just memorize hw solutions.
Andrew is hands down the smartest and best TA ever. Had him twice for two different classes. His recitations were super helpful and I found him to be even better than the professor at explaining concepts. He is also a very lax grader and is not demanding whatsoever so having him for any class is honestly the dream.
Georgia is nice and all but she's a terrible teacher. AVOID THIS CLASS AT ALL COSTS. Even if you aren't all that good at physics, take Dodd. Her classes are all about proving concepts that are already in the book and doing no helpful examples in class. She doesn't give practice tests for any of the midterms/final. There's weekly quizzes that are worth 30% of your grade. She sends some practice problems, but no required homework, which is kind of unhelpful because you spend more time studying for the quizzes themselves than actually understanding the concepts in depth doing helpful homework. The quizzes take up class time which forces her to go faster through the material. In the end you have to end up teaching yourself. You have two midterms plus the final and she drops the lowest midterm grade. Your midterm and final are worth 35% each.
While she’s nice enough, Prof. Karagiorgi isn’t a good professor. I didn’t really like her lecture style; she focused too much on proving concepts rather than working out examples, a pattern which continued even after she solicited feedback about it. She can also be terribly slow when it comes to responding to emails and Piazza posts, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt on that because it was during COVID-19. Normally, I would recommend another professor if you’re required to take the class, but since Zelevinsky has been the only other option for 1402 in recent years (and because she doesn’t have a great reputation either), you’re probably going to have to teach yourself regardless. As for the actual course, E&M can get tough if this is your first time seeing the material. Even though the course syllabus says you only need Calculus II as a prerequisite, I would still recommend having some exposure to relevant topics from Multivariable Calculus (i.e. 3D coordinate system, dot/cross product and right hand rule, line integrals, etc.) beforehand. That way, you won’t have the extra burden of learning the math along with the physics, and it’ll be easier to develop intuition. Unlike Mechanics, it’s much harder to visualize the scenarios in E&M because you’re dealing with more abstract concepts, so intuition becomes a necessity to do well on the exams.
Professor Zelevinsky and John Staunton (TA) are a power duo. After reading these CULPA reviews, I was a little scared going into her class, but my experience since day 1 has proven the previous reviews wrong. This is perhaps because Tanya has taught the class a few times now, and she's greatly improved. Her lectures and notes are clear and concise; her problem sets actually challenge you to think and apply each week's material, and the best of all? she CARES. Day 2 of the lecture, someone asks a question in class. She spends a solid chunk of time trying her best to answer, and when she didn't come up with one that was satisfactory to her, she does research after class and sends out this long, detailed email to complete that discussion. Find me another professor who cares as much as she does. Her lectures are clear and concise. As long as you stay focused (it's a 10:10, shouldn't be that hard), you'll have all the tools to solve the problems. If you're still confused and need hints, just ask her or the TA's. She's like the nicest person ever. If you really want the ultimate Tanya intro to physics experience, get into John's recitation. He's truly a gem.
It's difficult to understand his lecturing - fortunately, he posts his lecture notes online which summarize the topics you need to know and study. Homeworks are useless as they are insanely difficult and have nothing to do with the tests, so most people just look online for the solutions. Midterm and Tests are about applying equations from an equation sheet with a few conceptual questions - the averages are usually in the 60%, which he curves to a B. I ended the class with an A- with no prior understanding of the class but still have no idea of what I have learned. Take the class if you can self study the material and watch lectures online, but don't expect to learn from just going to class and doing the homeworks, but at least his tests and finals are somewhat reasonable (unlike other teachers who have 20-30% averages).
The majority of people skipped lecture and self taught because the lectures were monotonous, all over the place, and were very fast paced. Prof didn't answer questions very much/very well, seemed to have the attitude that the questions were dumb questions. Homeworks were pretty hard, but necessary for the grade and also to learn the material. Midterm seemed fair, similar to homework. The final was a lot harder with problems I had never seen in class or on the homeworks. After the final I got what I thought was my final grade, but I checked a few months later and somehow it had dropped a letter. So be aware for surprise changes in the curve I guess. Don't take his class if you need a good lecturer, you will probably be fine in his class only if you are already good at physics or good at teaching yourself. Recitation was optional, and not useful as the TA didn't seem to know what we were covering in class.
If you take it with her you will be learning it yourself.
Even after considering the awfulness of most Columbia professors, I cannot understate how miserable my experience with Metzger was. He is, at best a tedious and monotonic lecturer. He rarely stops to ask for or answer questions. He puts minimal work into the class - this was his first time teaching, and yet he could not take it on himself to make a practice final or midterm, instead giving us one from another professor that he himself admitted to being bad during office hours. I have had other professors in the same position who were willing to do so, but apparently this is too much for him. I didn't have any background in physics prior to taking this course, so I found it challenging. Lectures were not good vehicles for learning the content as he would go through long derivations and spend minutes on a concept. I don't know if homework really helped to reinforce the ideas or not; in my opinion, everyone used available answer keys (go find them) to do the homework. A lot of the HW problems involved useless long math calculations (that he admits he will not test) - honestly, half of the time, it seemed like he flipped to the page and randomly choose a few questions. He is also not a gentle grader, in my opinion. 1 midterm, and 1 final made up most of your grade, so good luck to you if you messed either one of them up! I did, and ended up with a B-. It's probably my worst grade ever at Columbia. For comparison, I got an A in 1401, which is admittedly easier and probably has less people who dropped down from 1600. I was actually (prior to taking this class), planning on doing a joint major with physics; this will probably not be happening. I would personally not recommend him for people who care a lot about grades, do not have a good physics background and require a competent lecturer. If, however, you know the material well, and don't require much instruction, you'll be fine.
Let me preface this by saying I switched from 1601 first semester to 1402 second semester. This class was a let down in comparison to 1601. Dodd(the Physics 1601/1602 teacher) was the absolute best! He really cared about his students and makes an effort to learn and remember your name if you go to office hours. So if you do have some physics background and you're stuck between 1601 and 1401 from the get go, I'd say choose 1601. It's a lot of work (graded online PSET every week), but if you go to office hours Dodd helps you out. Now that I'm done gushing over Dodd... Hughes is an Okay teacher. His teaching style is basically giving you the formulas and rules on the board and going through some examples. This is good preparation for the exams which is 20 free response questions, each worth 5 points. If you go over notes, do the practice exams, and do the homework, you should do fine. Since I had some physics background, his lack of in detail explanation was ok, but I could see how someone without any physics background might not fully understand and may need to put in a lot more work. I never went to his office hours so I don't know if he was helpful. He broke his hip towards the end of the semester, so he was unable to walk around and do problem examples on the board. His teaching turned into him sending us the lecture notes via email before class and then reading from those lecture notes during class. The lecture notes were literally just formulas, no examples. Going to lecture became useless and at least 60% of the class stopped showing up after that. If could do it over again, I would have stayed in Dodd's class. The weekly PSETs made me stay on top of the class. And because some of the problems were really hard, I went to office hours, which definitely helped with homework and with understanding the material in general. But if you feel you can stay on top of the material yourself, then choose Hughes. It's less work.
Take him, he's great. He broke his hip this semester, and has been cracking jokes nonstop about morphine and his hip. He's hilarious. He is also a clear lecturer, and I understood all of his chalkboard work. However, after he broke his hip he switched briefly to reading off the slides - which was not that helpful. The textbook presents all the material, so you can study from the textbook, but sometimes he does slip in some hints about the exams in lecture, so I would encourage you to attend the lectures before exams. Three midterms - the last one is right before finals week, so be prepared for some cramming. The lowest equivalent is dropped (so either a midterm, or half the final if you bomb the final). The midterms are fair - they're usually short answer, and range from easy to difficult. And no homework!
Tanya is a very sweet lady, but unfortunately, this is where my praise for her stops. Before I go further I would like to note that my poor review of her is not because of a poor grade, I got an A+. Perhaps because she is involved with such high level research, Tanya can not understand the questions that students ask her. She constantly uses the word "intuitively" as her source of conceptual explanation, which is unfortunate when most students, myself included, have little intuition from E/M. Questions were best answered by her TA Sebastian (who was awesome), or by other resources (Textbook, MIT Open Courseware, etc.). Looking back on the material, Tanya's homework and exams were not particularly difficult. However, they were not necessarily easy at the time because Tanya's teaching wasn't clear. She usually either simplified things in the lecture too much to be able to tackle homework/exams, or she used such disparate examples that it was hard to generalize the concepts. However, her homework load is quite light, each weekly problem set only has 2 problems. A great way to check if you actually know what is going on is to do some of her "suggested textbook problems" for the respective chapter, but of course, that vast majority of the class does not do this, which perhaps explains why the vast majority of the class didn't understand E/M. Because Tanya confused me so much, I resorted to learning from the textbook, which was fine, but not the best. About halfway through the semester I started watching the MIT open courseware lecture for this class. These videos taught me the concepts in a much more understandable way, after which, I could understand the stuff Tanya was talking about. You can get through Tanya's class with a solid grade by blindly plugging in formulas and treating it like a high school math class, but if you don't go to lectures and instead use MIT open courseware, you will understand the material and do well on the exams. I believe my grade is proof of this. Perhaps it will be easier to learn Mechanics from her since, for most people, Mechanics tends to be more intuitive. In general, the difficulty of this class was not super hard, and the workload wasn't very high, so if you can either comprehend her teaching (unlikely) or learn on your own, you'll do great. Most people can't learn from her, but then don't put in the time to learn on their own, hence the reason they do badly in her class.
Though Tuts is a passionate teacher and tries to make every point clear, most of his attempts are futile since he only derives formulas and rarely goes through examples. Therefore, his lectures and exams are very different, and you end up teaching most of the topic to yourself by looking at solved examples. However, most of his exams include questions with calculus, which require more time since they are unique and haven't been encountered before. He covers too many topics and ends up not asking questions from most of them. The best way to study for exams would be to look at the main types of questions, though he tends to be unreliable and ask things like 'Newton's rings' on a final. Do not be fooled by the simplicity of the lectures; midterms and finals are usually very difficult.
Professor Tuts accomplishes all that is required of a physics professor in terms of teaching: to teach an introductory physics course by writing things on a chalkboard. However he fails in many other aspects: to teach material that will enable students to complete homework assignments and test questions. The material learned in class has absolutely no correlation with homework problems or test questions. Every single one of Tuts' tests will leave you feeling horrible about yourself and like you don't know physics. You will then receive an A- on this test. Tuts does give practice tests but these practice tests are for his 1200 physics class even though I was taking the 1400 physics class. The lack of difficulty and concept in the 1200 physics class test questions make these practice tests unrepresentative of the 1400 physics tests that we would be taking. Since the practice tests are unrepresentational of the midterms that you will soon be taking, you would then expect that the homework problems would be of comparable difficulty and material examined. Wrong: the homework is completely unrelated and is extremely difficult compared to the test. I would recommend just learning how to do the practice tests, going to his review sessions and trying your hardest to do the homeworks without the solution manual, as the solution manual became a crutch for me towards the end of the semester. The curve for the tests is generous but it doesn't change the fact that the average grade curved to a B+ is often equivalent to a 50 on the test. The demos are interesting.
Tanya is a very sweet lady and her lectures were great to attend just for the fact that she goes at a nice pace, pausing at points to answer questions. She also uses a microphone so it's very easy to understand her. Although she mainly teaches from the textbook, I found her notes helpful because they were great summaries of the material that we were learning so they were valuable resources during the midterm and final. At some lectures, she even did demonstrations and showed videos that were relevant to a concept she was teaching. Another thing to point out is that no calculus was necessary in the midterm and final and I believe, the problem sets as well. I thought the midterm and final were very reasonable considering that no calculus simplified problems. Although the medians were quite low, 63 for the midterm and about a 58 for the final, they were curved so for example, the 63 would be a B+. The difficulty in her exams is that she goes over a lot of material so many different concepts are tested. My biggest advice would be to go to recitation. The TA Sebastian was fantastic. He even had some funny quirks such as calling a numerator "upstairs" and denominator "downstairs." He teaches more problems and often they were similar to the homework. The problem sets were difficult because none of them were textbook problems and they weren't really based on any previous examples that we learned.
Let me just say first, Professor Cole seems like a genuinely nice guy and tries really hard. Please note I said try. It was unfortunate this semester. He went back and forth from Cern in the beginning of the semester causing us to have a shaky start. Ahh but that was just the beginning. I came from Prof. Hughes' class which was fairly straight forward despite the occasional curve balls. Pretty solid class. However Cole wishes for you to "understand the physics" and thus proves a lot of equations in the class that I found to be pretty useless. Problem sets helped so if you have to take the class do them religiously. Speaking of which, the problem sets from the textbook aren't too bad as you can find loads of help on the internet and from your genius friends. However if you have to interpret his own handmade problems you may need someone that "speaks Cole" to even understand what he's looking for. Tests... He lets you bring in one page of notes for formulas and such you may need. There are two exams and I can't say how well they are spread out as the first test essentially only covered Gauss's Law. I thought they were pretty hard. I guess the man is busy and he's used to teaching an advanced class so he was "dumbing the class down" but if you are looking for a straightforward class best to avoid this one.
I couldn't believe it when I saw that Cole had a silver nugget, but maybe this just means that I was the only one who despised his class. For another disclaimer, I guess I'll say that I've never liked or been good at physics; although I did manage to get an A- in Hughes' 1401 class, so it's not like I can't learn the subject. However, in Cole's class, physics just started to sound like a foreign language. Maybe his teaching style just doesn't work for me, but I honestly learned NOTHING in his class. You can tell he is a very smart man, and I know from talking to him that he is incredibly nice, but the man cannot present any of his information clearly, at all!! Even starting with two point charges, he lost me when he failed to explain the VACUUM PERMITTIVITY CONSTANT. When I didn't understand a word he spoke about such a simple concept that I already understood from high school, I should have known to run away as fast as I could. When he explains anything, he is incredibly muddled, unorganized, and will often go back and fix work he'd done minutes ago that was screwing up what he was trying to teach us. I attended every class before the first midterm, and scored about seven percent lower than the standard deviation. I never went to another class, and almost scored a standard deviation above the mean on the second exam. If I did go to class, I left within twenty minutes, because I felt myself just getting more and more confused about topics that the book presented in a very clear, logical fashion. It's frustrating to attend the lecture of such a nice, smart guy, and feel like you can't learn anything from him, even though he is trying so hard to teach well. We didn't even get to optics!!! How!!! It's a necessary part of the course!!!!! All his poor teaching methods aside, he really cares about his students, and even runs his own recitation sections! After reading previous reviews about how amazing he is, maybe he's just struggling to simplify his subject from 2802 all the way down to 1402. I wish I could like him. His teaching is just so confusing, and the class is unorganized in general. He promised to upload a syllabus, and just NEVER DID. It took him a while to write the last problem set, and decided to make it due at the final. What. I'd rather study the textbook than try to decipher his awkwardly structured problems to prepare for the final. Gah! I feel bad for having written this, because he really is so nice!
Charles Hailey's class is great for people aiming for a B- to B+ kind of grade. You could never go to lecture and as long as you just do the homework and maybe understand what you're doing you'll get by with the grade you're looking for. However, if you came to Columbia to achieve more than mediocrity, then this is a class to avoid. Not only is Hailey one of the worst teachers I have ever encountered, but his grading is completely unfair to students who do significantly better than the average. First about his lectures. I went to his lectures for the first third of the course and found his teaching style very ineffective. He wastes time doing complex proofs of formulas which you never need to know again, and he makes the simplest concepts seem like rocket science. My grades on exams actually improved after I stopped going to class. About his grading, you can get something like a 65-70 on a test and get a B+, but if you get a 93 you're stuck with an A-. The range for an A/A+ is literally between 96-100, regardless of what the average on the test was (this was an example for a test that had an average of 60%). God knows why this excuse of a professor has a silver nugget on CULPA. Hailey is a terrible lecturer and a completely unfair grader, and I can't recommend him to anyone who's not a slacker.
Great lecturer, very clear, single most enjoyable lecture class I had this semester. He's a cool dude. Frequently let us out of class early; cancelled class a couple days too (the ones before breaks). Everything is well organized; homework and hw solutions posted on time, practice exams and solution posted. Exams are relatively easy, material still kind of difficult (I got a B+) Though be warned, for the exams, the TAs can be sticklers; make sure you show ALL your work. Take this class!
Just to be honest here, I loved Hailey in 1401. Even though he threw a fit when we all did well on the first midterm (people, it was really easy). But in E&M, I felt I was completely lost; it just wasn't worth it going to class. If I had something better to do, I didn't regret skipping class. Like the review before said, reading the book and taking your own notes was much more beneficial. I also stopped handing in homeworks for E&M because the deadline simply did not work for me, plus I couldn't depend on his notes to figure them out. Also, the homework problems were not really like anything he would test us on. It didn't hurt my grade that much. The experiments he did in E&M were so pointless, and confused me even further. Perfect curve for E&M, I got B+ and B for the midterms. I think that was perfect considering that I didn't know what the hell was happening. I studied for physics only before every exam. Also, while I was studying for the MCATs, I realized in 1401 Prof. Hailey never taught us anything related to sounds and waves. Well, they're not as easy as I thought they would be. I took this class because Hailey supposedly was awesome when he was a visiting professor at Barnard in Spring 2010.
If you plan on taking Professor Hailey's Physics courses, you might as well label yourself a complete masochist. Out of all of the teachers that I had freshman year, none have given me as much of a headache like Hailey has. Like many others in my class, I fell prey to the silver nugget that sat beside his name on CULPA. On the first day of 1401, we steamrolled through 3 chapters and, for the most part, maintained a pace of 1.5-2 chapters per lecture for the rest of the semester. In lecture, Hailey demonstrates that not only does he have no clue about the prerequisites for his course (assuming that Calculus II students know about line integrals and partial differentiation - something covered in CalcIII and IV), but he is easily annoyed if you magically don't know these things. When he brought up using partial differentiation to approach a problem, someone asked what exactly is a partial derivative. Hailey's response was a rather bitchy one, as he expressed surprise that a room full of CalcII students didn't know how to do multivariable calculus. What's worse than the lectures are his exams. Every midterm that we had this year dissatisfied him. In 1401, our first midterm had a mode of 200, which pissed him off. This induced a rage within him and caused him to make the second midterm hellishly long and difficult, causing the average to be much much lower than the first. The scores were so bad, that 15/200 was a C. (You literally had to just walk in the room, write down some formulas and leave). During E&M, our first midterm had an average around 130/200, still making him sad that it wasn't near 140. And finally, our second midterm average was around 110/200, and this (unsurprisingly) pissed him off. So there's no satisfying Hailey. If he were actually wondering why we did so poorly, it was probably because his teaching skills are subpar. It is almost impossible to create a comprehensible set of notes. I was better off not going to lecture and reading the book (seeing as I got a B+ and B on the midterms). Finally, as a smaller note, expect lots of spam from Hailey as he tends to email the class a lot. If you are feeling brave, adventurous and extremely masochistic, then by all means, take Professor Hailey's class. However, if you have the opportunity to take it with anyone else, do so. Hell, you'd be better off taking 1600 rather than Hailey. At least the difficulty level there is probably more appropriate than with him.
I had a very negative experience in his class. Professor Hailey is unclear, condescending, and rude. He provides a lot of demos in class, which is nice, but doesnt explain them well! He expects everyone to just follow what he says no matter how complicated he makes it. I did all of my learning from the textbook, which is fortunate because if i had to rely solely on lectures I wouldve failed. He does not teach well and does not help clarify when questions are asked - instead he scoffs at you for asking and reminds you how smart he is and how dumb the class is. His grading policy is as he sees fit when he sees fit. He has percentages listed on the syllabus, but he does whatever he wants. Theres always a curve (because no one learns in his class) but its ridiculous if you want to get an A - really work for it. Overall, he knows his stuff - but he could benefit from just being nicer and not constantly talking down to all his students!
Snarky, subversive, egotistical, and hilarious. Prof. Hailey is a fascinating guy and makes the material relatively interesting. Although sometimes he spends too much time rehashing the textbook and not enough time teaching his style of problems, which differs a little from those of the textbook. I like the textbook, but it's really not sophisticated enough for this course. Thankfully I have a different physics text to go to when I have questions. Halliday Resnick is clear and simple, but doesn't cover all of the derivations done in class. Maybe it's time to think about another text, even if it's a different one from 1201! Better, more useful recitations needed, especially around exam time. Take this course with Hailey over Shaevitz or Tuts, etc.
Classes are clear cut and follow the book. Also beware that the "example" problems that he puts up on the board are the really easy ones. Homework problems are of much greater difficulty; I really wished that he challenged us more in class with the example problems. Most of the time, you will be left doing your problem set well into the night and suddenly discover that the problem makes no sense and is not related to any other problems that you have done before. Make sure to work in groups, so that you can help each other out. However, he is very willing to help anyone with concepts and will take time outside of office hours if needed. That being said, his grading system is a little weird. It is two tiered: 1) 1st midterm 20%, 2nd midterm 20%, final 40%, homework 20% or 2) Better midterm, homework, and final (He doesn't list out these percentages anymore; maybe because of me.) So which ever gives you the highest grade will be your grade in the class. His TAs or whoever grades the midterms and finals make A LOT of mistakes(If you were grading 150+ exams under time pressure, you would make mistakes too), so make sure never to pass up the opportunity to get a regrade. Even if you are unsure about it, just go to office hours and ask him about the problem. Then submit your midterm/final for regrade. I know from personal experience what a missed opportunity this regrading means. I really commend the physics department for this department-wide policy (unlike the Chemistry department, in which professors decide when to show tests and when to let regrades. i.e. placement test).
This was the single most enjoyable class I took all of freshman year at Columbia. The lectures that I went to were interesting, though the 1:00pm class is way too early, and too hard to wake up for. Even if you do wake up on time, lunch is probably more important than class. Even though this class is important to have, so students can get a good foundation for more advanced classes, actually attending Professor Hughes' lectures are completely optional, since he posts up lecture notes every week, and all the information is in the textbook (Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday Resnick and Walker). A quick skimming of the chapter review in the textbook before the midterm is all that is needed to do well in the class, since a very extensive formula sheet is provided.
If you do the (ungraded) homeworks and read the book sections, there is absolutely no reason for you to go to the lectures, even if you only do the reading and homeworks the night before the midterms/exam. They are dry and not very useful, and the chance of you falling asleep are higher than the chances of you learning something. The midterms are not bad if you cram and the median is always very low, making the curve fantastic. One is dropped too, allowing you to not even show up for the third if you do well on the first two. Also, I think he is a pretty high-profile researcher since he works in Switzerland all the time at the Large Hadron Collider @ CERN.
Prof Dodd has changed a lot since the culpa reviews were submitted for PHYS 1401. He's a lot less passionate about E&M, and it shows. His lectures are rarely useful and he tends to go around a point before actually making it, which makes me extremely impatient. His timing is awful; he always goes past class time and doesn't cover everything that's on the final. I would recommend taking Hughes instead of Dodd. At least he gave us refracting glasses on the last day!
Professor Dodd is one of the best lecturers at Columbia. He has a good sense of humor which he mixes in with the dry material in order to make lecture enjoyable. However, he has a tendency to make the material seem MUCH easier than it actually is. He often (if not always) overgeneralizes ideas and he does very simple examples in class. When one looks at the homework, however, it is a totally different story. I often found myself clueless over most of the problems in the book even after attending lecture. In order to even come close to doing the problems, I had to read the chapter and follow along with the example problems in the book. I also had to often turn to online help. I think Prof. Dodd does a very good job of presenting the material in the time allotted, and in order to do well in the class, one has to put in a lot of work outside of class.
By far the best physics professor I have had. Unlike the other teachers in the department who come up with esoteric and ridiculous exams ,he actually tests concepts that he has taught. His lectures are fascinating and very clear. I would definitely recommend taking any physics class with him.
Professor Hailey may be a physics genius, but sometimes what he does in class is hard to follow. Often I'd look back at my notes and not remember what exactly they meant--this must have held true for a lot of people, because the curves were so wide on teh midterms that you had to get below 10-15% to actually fail. However, he's very enthusiastic about what he's teaching (and about other branches of physics that he'll go off on tangents about), making class bearable. He always tries to answer students questions to the best of his ability. Before the final I went to his office hours, though, and it seemed to blow his mind to see a student at his door. He gives weekly problem sets, but the grades on them mean very little, they basically just affect whether you get a B or a B+, for example, in the class.
The first semester is mechanics; the second E&M. Professor Parsons is very nice and is fairly approachable (although honestly you will probably never need to talk to him personally). His lectures are straightforward and follow the textbook closely enough that it is easy to miss class if necessary. Unfortunately his voice has a monotone, droning quality that can put people to sleep. There were two midterms each semester which had problems similar to the homework but using only variables instead of numbers, so no calculators were allowed (this is a good thing because using a calculator wastes a lot of time). The averages on midterms were very low because the class was filled with SEAS freshmen who are weak at physics (I believe this is the lowest level of physics SEAS students can take). This is also good, because if you take this class with a strong physics background it is very easy to do well. My only complaint is that the problem sets were too long.
Professor Parsons knows what he is doing and does a good job explaining the materials and concepts to the class, although he can get boring at times and his lectures are pretty much right out of the book. He is funny at times but his monotone voice will drown some into sleep. His midterms are of moderate difficulty and he curves generously. Definitely take this class if you've had no previous experience with Calculus-based physics or AP Physics.
having come in with basically no highschool physics regarding E&M, along with not having taken calcIV, this class was almost near impossible. sure, westerhoff may have been a slightly better lecturer than first semester physics that i had with aprile, but definitely not worth switching teachers. aprile's class is infinitely more reasonable in terms of expectations for homework and exams. of course, i lacked the insight of getting a solutions manual because the homework problems are again, near impossible. just make sure to copy down the problems from previous exams on your cheat sheet, he's bound to re-use one almost exactly.
I took Physics B and C in high school, so it is a really big help to have taken AP physics in high school. Westerhoff is a nice guy who makes the occasional joke. I started off the year taking 1601 with Amber Miller, so the class was definitely an upgrade. However, his lecture style is fairly fast-paced yet boring, and he tends to focus on unnecessary derivations and material not needed for the exam. I attended the first 4 or 5 lectures, but ended up not going at all during the rest of the semester because I didn't feel like the notes I took would help at all (and I would just do sudokus during class anyhow). The weekly homeworks are challenging (8-10 problems), but most everyone had the answer key and just copied them right before they were due. The TA's must know everyone copied because people had the same steps on their paper, but they didn't care at all. If you wanna ease through the midterms/final, do the homework. A lot of the diagrams on the tests I recognized from homework problems, but had to figure them out on my own because I had completely copied them the day they were due. I crammed for the midterms and final 2 days before each test, and got a 75% on every test. Grades are curved generously, 84-100% was an A+ (8 people), 75-83% was an A (20ish people), 65-74% was an A- (25ish people). I think only 1 person failed, and no one else got below a C. Definitely easier than 1600 track, but still a bunch of cramming/copying if you want to get a good grade and aren't a whiz at physics.
I don't care what all the other reviews say- this class is HARD! If you are not engineering do not take this course-there is no reason to. Sure, at the end of the day you can walk out with a decent grade given the curve but surviving the rigorous weekly problem sets and walking out of each test certain that you bombed is not good for your confidence. PROS: Westerhoff may be the talest prof you will have at Columbia, cool accent (kept me awake for the first month), a predictable 36 blackboards of notes every class, tests are easier than the homeworks, cheat sheet, the curve. CONS: Prepare to be rocked- and not in a good way. Hard problem sets (the physics help room cannot do them either so save your time), hard tests (this was so far the only class in Columbia where I could not do what was in front of me), stress and frustration.
I thought Marka was a good professor. It was a huge class, so it wasn't at all personal, but I think he did as much as he could to ensure that most of the class was not left behind. Attending class really didn't contribute very much to your understanding and he often covered different material than what we were tested on, but I often liked going to class because he was so entertaining (especially when he did experiments) and earnestly enthused about physics in a way that was contagious. He posts everything he does on Courseworks, and his slide shows are helpful if you've already read the book. The homeworks are graded fair to easy, and the midterms and final are reasonable. The course covers a whole lot of material, so it is often fast paced, but I thought Marka made it as close as possible to fun.
By far my favorite class all semester. Westerhoff is an incredible teacher. He is extremely knowledgeable and seems interested in the success of his students. He is extraordinary at explaining not-so-easy concepts and relies on his own methods and not the book. Go to every lecture! He is a rarity.
He's the best professor I've met in Columbia because half of his class gets an A- or better. His lectures are well-organized but a little boring. You probably need to know the stuff before going to the lecture. Review session "teach" you to do the problem sets, which means that the TA actually does them for you and the majority of people attend to copy down solution rather than to learn problem solving skill.
i just could not understand any of the stuff he said, i ended up dropping the class. he does not have power point notes, so you have to go to his class and it is very easy to lose attention in his class because of his accent and his handwriting
Kim is a boring lecturer, by the middle of the semester you had around 30 people out of around 150 actually showing up to class (yes, i counted, i told you he's boring). His english isnt good, but its understandable, though it does get confusing sometimes when he mispronounces terms. Kim will simply put u to sleep. his demonstrations NEVER EVER worked and i mean NEVER, he might have gotten a simple one to work once, but that pretty much puts him at like a 2% success rate. Just like 1401, the material goes by way too quickly and you'll only do well if you already know it. Plus you have ppl dropping down from 1600 along with people who took AP physics who all mess up the curve! So if you dont know any physics like me and this is truely your intro to it (like me)...may God have mercy on your soul! Bottom line, all intro physics profs at columbia suck, kim might suck a bit less than others and apparently his exams are easier (though i didnt' notice a difference). If you have to take this class, kim might be your best option simply because he is the better of two evils.
Face it. E&M is an unbearable subject. Fortunately, Zajc is a decent prof, who, if he doesn't succeed entirely in communicating the material to you in lecture, nevertheless makes sure you get it through homeworks and exams. Homework sets range from moderate to impossible. I honeslty remember handing in sets with more than half the questions undone or incomplete. Exams are usually well-written, based very closely on the practice exams he distributes before hand. Master every aspect of the practice exam and you will own the real exam. This also applies to the final.
My second semester of being in a physics class that I didn't want to take (engineering requirements suck!). Prof. Kim was much clearer (terms and voice) in his lectures than my first semester teacher, Elena Aprile. However, like most classes, students lost interest and stopped showing up to class. The homeworks are pointless because they are more like proofs of problems. To understand the concepts is much more important--the review sessions tell you how to DO the problems on the midterms and final.
I never noticed the body building part...Zajc is more a nice family man. He definitely cares a lot about students and his teaching, and seems frustrated that he's not a better teacher, but I really had no complaints. He genuinely wants to help you learn, presents the information logically in well-organized lectures, and uses all different colors of chalk. (The colored chalk is so diagrams are less confusing). Kim substitued a couple of times, and Zajc told us that Kim is a better teacher...and I guess he kind of is. But overall, if you're taking this course with Zajc, you're going to be miserable because of the course content, not because of him.
As with most physics classes, boring, boring, boring. However, Zajc is a great guy. He'll admitt that he is not the best prof. in the world, but is willing to help you in anyway to make up for his short comings. And, he'll definitely admitt that most of the stuff they ask in the text he can't even do himself. His curves are great!! Always centered around a B or a B+ and the standard deviations are insane: anwhere from 16 to 22 points. (Caution: watch out for the 1600 kids who drop down at the last minute and mess up the curve)
I don't like bitching and I want to be constructive. With that said, I had a very hard time in Prof. Kim's class. It was difficult to understand what he was saying due to his accent. I don't think he presented things in a clear manner. I wanted to understand but slowly had to admit that the lectures were really not helping me other than to let me know where we were in the book. I'm a science major, so I'm not an idiot. I got an A first semester. He is a nice guy and I think he genuinely cares about the students lives. He's very reasonable about workload and grades. The main problem was the language issue. I don't know if he realizes it's a problem.
The previous reviews for Aprile are unduly harsh. Yeah, she has a pretty thick Italian accent, but once you get used to it, its not terribly difficult to understand her. The biggest problem is when she is deriving formulas. She'll sometimes ski steps, and every now and then make a mistake when writing something out. But if you speak up and call her on it, she's always more than willing to correct a mistake or explain the steps she doesn't write down. As far as the difficulty of exams, she does tons of problems in class. If you understand those, and understand the problems on the sample exams she makes available, the midterms and final should be a piece of cake. Yeah, she's certainly not the best lecturer around, but I think you'll learn physics well enough, and if you do some homework and pay attention to class sometime, and above all, go over the sample exams, the grades will come easily enough.
Boring. I did not learn any physics for two semesters. Do not take her if you can take Kim instead. Kim substituted for her class once and was more organized and clear.
A living nightmare! Physics used to be my favorite subject...until I came to her class. The worse teacher I've seen so far in Columbia. A useless class! She is completely disorganized and her concept of teaching is throwing in random examples in the board without explaining the theory, mumbling in Italinan accent, and hopelessly trying to explain a chapter in 20 minutes.
Undoubtedly, Prof. Kim knows his stuff. But here are some of the small things that make him different from other knowledgable professors: he will always stop at the end of a topic to ask for questions, even if he hardly ever gets any from the students. He introduces a new topic by stressing its relevance and often tries to put thought provoking demos (or examples) into his lectures. What I appreciated in Prof. Kim was his personal involvement in the course: he encourages students to email him and answers emails in detail if necessary, he is there for the midterms and final (and doesn't just leave that job to a TA). He is ready to shift the syllabus, and let students hand in a problem set a few days late, when necessary. Basically, he has a human approach to teaching, and is very accessible to his students. So it's physics 1400, thatÂ’s all one need to say about the material, but Prof. Kim is definitely the best (and most human) teacher for this class.
Horrible lecturer. Depending on who you are, homeworks can be easy or hard so whatever, everyone in 1400 gets the same horrible book. I tried to stay awake in her class, but I just can't. If the 1600 class has a lecture about the same, I suggest you go to those and take the 1400 exam. The 1600 level class is so much more lively and you can pay attention, meaning you take better notes. So get a 1600 education but take the 1400 exam. If Kim is available, take him instead. Avoid this woman.
Think of a normal physics lecture. Aprile's lectures are like that lecture translated into Italian by one of those free translation things they have on the internet, translated back into English by a monkey, typed up and printed out, cut up into individual sentences, and then randomly reassembled into an hour and 15 mintures of sheer incomprehensibility. I had Sciulli last term, and while he phoned his lectures in by powerpoint, at least I could understand him. Aprile came in on the first day promising student interaction and fun, but that's a little tough when you can't understand what's going on. Her accent isn't as thick as other reviews make it out to be (although it took me a few classes to figure out that "teeti" is actually the Greek letter that most people call "theta"), but the lectures themselves are shamefully disorganized. She usually started each class by pointlessly reiterating her few cogent points from last class, like reproving a whole equation. Then she would go on to do half of a couple problems tangentially related to what she just said. Then she would realize she had forgotten something and go back to the beginning. Then she would realize she was running out of time and jump forward to something else. Then she would try to teach half a chapter in the last 10 minutes before class, before running out of time and pushing the homework back another day. She was constantly stumbling over herself. I feel sort of bad for her, but the class is really a mess. You have to teach yourself. I actually went to about half the lectures, because I found the textbook pretty bad too, but it really wasn't worth it. The only enjoyable part was when she hooked a tiny little wire up to a car battery to demonstrate how currents generate magnetic fields and then walked away. It started smoking, and when she smelled the smoke, she panicked and swore. That was fun.
Well he is a lot better than Aprile, but than again I could be a lot better than Aprile. His lectures are clear, but mostly out of the book. He is receptive to questions, but often gets none from his half alseep class. He is a very very boring lecturer. He tries to incorparte modern examples and experiments which are intresting, but you must stay awake long enough to follow them. Overall, he's the best 1400 professor, but still pretty boring. If only he was more lively than this class would be reallly good. As it stands, you'll learn physics, but might pull your hair out while doing it.
Aprile's not a talented lecturer...you could probably learn the same amount straight from the text. Her tests vary in difficulty but as long as you know the material well, you will do well (much of that is based on the fact that there is a curve and the rest of the class doesn't do well). I suggest that you get a physics tutor or set up a study group, learn the material, and you'll get higher than a B+.
Prof. Aprile generally teaches directly out of the text, which makes showing up to class unnecessary. To make the classroom even less populated, the answers to problem sets are all on the webpage (if you can fididdle with the URL). Tests are extremely well curved, and are easy to perform well on since she allows the use of a formula sheet. I recommend not going at all, and studying the day before the test...at least you'll beat the curve.
Prof. Evans's lectures tend to be very boring and dry, partly due to the monotony of his voice that puts you to sleep. The only highlight of his lectures I remember was when he told us that he tried to generate moving magnetic fields from his cats. But I learned more physics more him than I did from Cole. He is a very patient teacher. He shows you how to apply each formula, and will go over each concept until you understand. Good class for engineers.
Do you like physics? Well if you do, don't take a class with Harold Evans because he is the most boring teacher I have ever had. I spent more time sleeping than listening through the whole year.
I saw a skit one time about a guy who couldn't modulate the pitch of his voice.....well that reminds me of Prof. Cole. Prof. Cole is the most dry, boring, horrible, (you can keep inserting negative adjectives if you'd like) teacher I HAVE EVER HAD!!! People tell me he's brilliant, and maybe he is, but he couldn't teach to save his life. He is boring as hell and I think he talks to hear his own voice. He spends entire class periods on derivations, but once he reaches the final formula, that is it. He does not show you how to attack a problem using it. He said at the beginning of 1401 that he didn't want to just put up formalas and not explain them, so instead he puts up derivations and doesn't explain them. And his derivations are mainly equation manipulations that any monkey could do, so they don't even help in your understanding of the material. You walk out of every class either feeling well rested from the nap of utterly confused from listening to his useless drivel. And to make matters worse, he isn't even a nice guy. He doesn't even attempt to be friendly towards his students, even the 8 or 9 that actually show up to his class all the time. I once asked him to help me out on a problem set problem and he literally looked at his watch the whole time, meanwhile he has no problem going over the time of the class period by about 10 minutes each class. I have nothing nice to say about Prof. Cole. I honestly feel dumber after taking these classes. Avoid him at all costs! Transfer from SEAS if thats what you have to do.
I can at least say that this guy knows his stuff. He's a good lecture, but as with many other physics teachers it's pretty common to be completely lost in his classes. If you're awake and you know what he's talking about, it's not a bad lecture to sit through. He does tend to stray off into needless detail on some derivations, but you can't really escape that with physics classes.