Savizky is one of those professors that you're glad you have, but also kinda wish you didn't. He does a good job at presenting the material, but his pedagogy never clicked with me because he teaches things backwards and mumbles a bit. He'll introduce the specifics of a topic, prove equations, and then explain what the topic is actually about. He stays pretty well in the weeds without explaining the big picture. He is extremely smart, and not cocky about it. He seems to have a bottomless well of chemisty knowledge. He will take all the time he needs to answer students questions, and he often stayed an hour after class to do so. Grading is straight forward. My TA's were beyond horrible, so I never went to recitation. I did watch another TA's review sessions, and he (Jack) was amazing. I took a year of gen chem with him, and got B's without any real effort, just watched 3rd party videos on anything that confused me. If I had prepared better for the quizzes, I would have had A's. If you need gen chem, Savizky is your guy. Learn the material ahead of time and treat the lectures like review sessions. If you're ever confused on anything, just ask him, and he'll make sure you understand it.
Please don't listen to the more negative reviews below me. Professor Savizky is one of the kindest, most hardworking, and best professors I've ever had. I learned so much from him and actually understood the content, because he really takes the time to break down difficult concepts. When the grad strike happened, he took the time to record all our lectures beforehand and then spent our class time holding a recitation session for all of us; most nights he went an hour over time to stick around and answer student questions. He genuinely cares about students and wants you to learn. Make sure to go to office hours because he'll help you with any homework problem or issue you might have! His lectures can be a bit dry but that's what happens when you take chemistry; it's obviously not going to be the most entertaining topic in the world. Personally, I had Roy for 1403 and I regret taking him. I wish I had taken Savizky for both semesters instead of just for 1404. Take Savizky!! He's the best!!
I had Parkin for Gen Chem 1 and overall I would say it was fine. Definitely not an easy class but that's chemistry. He was funny and entertaining during lectures and had great lecture slides. He definitely did not like most questions about how the class works - "everything is on courseworks." This is definitely true so just use your brain and look through the website because he does give all the information you need. There was lots of opportunity for "extra credit" kinda... if you did in the poll everywhere questions in class (and got them right), did the post-exam surverys, and the pre-class quizzes, they were able to help boost your grade by a bit. I ended with an A- (top 1/3 of the class will get an A)
Parkin is a good guy, but if you're here because you heard about his magic tricks and bonus points, think again. I believe he did 2 magic tricks the entire semester? His rare demonstrations in class do help though...somewhat. The way he keeps track of and assigns bonus points (through those hateful timed clicker questions -- dw if you don't know what you're doing in class and get these wrong cause they don't affect your grade at all) to our final grade is obscure and super vague. I think it was somewhere along the lines of 500 to 1000 points for 1 point on your overall number grade. Also, don't ask Parkin about logistics in general. The only answer he will give is "check Courseworks," which gave limited info. The worst part was probably that nothing was recorded - lectures, OH, recitations. OWL HW: sometimes a good practice for the material, other times a pain. No need to do the practice problems for the midterms or final because the questions are not similar and OWL gives more difficult questions I believe. Quizzes: I recommend a later recitation in the week. The timing was horrible - usually 6-9 questions (with multiple parts) in 12 minutes. Always a rush to finish/check work. I missed many points for not reading the question clearly and/or rushing Midterm: Format and question difficulty are basically the same as the practice midterm he gives, slightly more difficult imo. Do some extra practice with Savisky or Roy's practice exams Final: difficult because you forget what you learned at the beginning of the year and are still slightly lost on the new material given after midterm 3 but before the final. Definitely cumulative with a good smattering of everything. TAs: God-tier, shout-out to Matthew (king), Daniel, and David. If you don't know anything, go to their OHs, and I'm sure you'll understand by the end of it. Recitations are a good review of info, but it's hard to ask questions because the TAs are in a time crunch to finish explaining everything the past lectures have gone over.
I took 1403 in fall 2020 online and thought it was ok but kind of confusing. First of all the order in which things are taught is odd and not intuitive at all so I was confused why we're learning some things. Also, the tests are multiple-choice and lots of math and occasionally questions only tangentially pertain to the units we learned (I think Savizky just didn't want to deal with actual grading or writing long tests?). Basically, he's an ok prof and maybe your best option.
I took this class during the fall semester entirely online. Disclaimer: I don't have my final grade yet, but I scored in the A range for all the midterms. Professor Parkin was NOT a good teacher, and I believe that this is the case no matter how the class is taught. When teaching lectures, he just reads off the slides without really elaborating. Sometimes, he will show videos or do magic tricks but will not explain the relevance of them to the material. His whole demeanor feels unapproachable. When you ask clarifying questions or anything somewhat basic, he responds in a very matter-of-fact, snarky way that makes you feel less inclined to ask anything further. Warning, do NOT ask anything about the course itself because he gets very annoyed and will just respond that you can find it on courseworks (which you can't). If you really want to engage with him, your best bet is during office hours. On the other hand, the TAs ROCK! I relied on them way more to learn the material or ask questions. They also hold review sessions before any tests which can be super helpful. For the most part, if you have a somewhat strong background in chemistry, the material itself isn't too challenging. For quizzes, go over what you discuss in recitation. For midterms, review the practice exam very closely--it tends to be similar. For the final, review EVERYTHING! It is cumulative, whereas the practice final exam is more focused on new material. That all being said, every assessment is a time crunch! You will need to work quickly, and mistakes made will more likely be a result of lack of time than lack of understanding. Another warning, Parkin administers his homework over a software called Cengage Owl. It is $90 and is REQUIRED. I am pretty sure that most of the other professors do not use this or use something cheaper. If this is an issue, do not choose Parkin. The grading is kind of weird, but the one benefit is that Parkin will drop one 100 point equivalent (this could mean all of the quizzes, one midterm, or half a final). There is also some opportunity for bonus points, but they have very minimal value, so be sure to study for the assignments that matter. Overall, if you have an option for a Gen Chem teacher, don't choose Parkin.
He’s an okay professor. It’s clear he enjoys what he’s teaching and cares for his students (he always answers any questions u may have) and he goes in-depth with his lectures which is good. For me personally, I never read the textbook and mainly focused on his slides, and I did decent in the class. The class isn’t super hard, but it may be if this is your first time learning chem (i took AP chem so I already knew some of the stuff). There is also a lot of content he teaches that wasn’t taught in AP chem either, so this class is definitely not the easiest. However, its workload is really manageable, the only thing I would say is that sometimes he adds questions on his test that require really far critical thinking — like thinking and problems not done in class or CHEM101. But he also provides a lot of practice tests so you can definitely prepare. All in all, he’s an okay professor if you already have some familiarity with chem.
The course is a little bit difficult but Savizky does a great job explaining things and adapted super well to the online format. The recitations with TAs are super helpful and the exams generally seem fair.
I had Professor Roy for General Chemistry I. I thought the course was fair, but definitely not the easiest. This course had no assigned homework and OWL practice problems were optional. The OWL assigned questions could be helpful, but were limited in number for many topics--for example, once you had finished three questions on hybridization, there was very little additional practice provided through OWL other than redoing the questions. It is basically up to students to find a relevant textbook and practice problems, which requires self-discipline. Office hours were AMAZING. I found Professor Roy to be patient and he would gladly re-explain or review course material covered, do practice problems, or answer unrelated questions about chemistry or chemistry research (even if it wasn't directly related to the course content.) Exams are straight-forward and questions are very reasonable, but only if you really know your stuff. Study, study, study and study some more. Re-watching lectures is sometimes key to pick up on tiny details. Topics Covered: -Periodic table -Lewis Structures -Charges (formal / oxidation) -Bonding -Energy levels and electrons (math and equations) -Spectroscopy -NMR -Hybridization -Molecular Orbitals -VSPER -Quantum chemistry (the basics) -Isomers, Structures of inorganic chemistry (because Professor Roy studies inorganic chemistry / synthetic chem. we focused on inorganic instead of organic chem as our last unit.) -Rotational and Vibrational Energy -Coordination complexes (inorganic chem) -Ligands(inorganic chem) -Transition metals bonding (inorganic chem)
Roy was okay, but I didn't love this class. He pretty much read from the lecture slides and went through material super quickly. He seemed annoyed whenever we tried to ask questions, and using piazza was a nightmare. He doesn't offer extra credit like Parkin unless you're really anal about responding on Piazza, and the quizzes are awful. I don't know if this was because we were online, but he didn't tell us anything about where we stood grade-wise the whole semester and refused to discuss anything about the curve/distribution. There was no mandatory homework, but the exams felt pretty difficult. Overall, not the best experience. I probably should've taken Parkin just so I could at least get some extra credit.
I had a hard time in Professor Beer's class. I didn't have a strong chemistry background from high school, and even though I went to his 'office hours' (basically 10 minutes he allots after class for quick questions), I didn't feel supported by this professor to succeed. His lectures are hard to understand as he moves really quickly and scribbles sometimes unintelligible notes on a whiteboard in chalk. I ended up withdrawing from the class, and taking it again in the spring but with Professor Savisky instead. I did WAY better - if you struggle with chemistry or are not as STEM-inclined, I really really recommend Savisky. His lectures were much clearer, he provided all his notes and powerpoints ahead of time, and the weekly homeworks gave me a much better grasp of the material. Professor Beer is not a bad guy, and if you are a strong chem student you will probably be fine. But if you didn't take AP chem, or need more hands-on teaching, I strongly recommend Savisky instead.
Completely agree with the review under me! Professor Savizky was incredibly kind, caring professor. I really feel like he wanted me to succeed, and was really accessible and available for help. His lectures are really clear and well organized - if you are debating between him and Beer, go with Savizky. Content was difficult for me, but studying hard really pays off. He also was really accommodating during COVID and adjusted to an online format really well.
I had Professor Caccuito for Gen Chem II during Spring 2020 semester. If you want to learn chemistry in all its detail, then take this course. While he does strive to give students the deepest understanding of chemistry, he often relies too heavily on re-working derivations rather than the content students actually need to know for the exam. With that being said, Professor Caccuito is a very approachable professor. He welcomes students to ask him questions during class, after class, during office hours, and over email. It's very easy to fall behind in this course, so I would advise making use of the aforementioned opportunities to clarify your knowledge of the required course material. Just FYI, he posts his powerpoints after (NOT before) class. If you keep up with his lectures, do enough practice problems, and supplement the lectures with occasional textbook readings, you should be set to perform well in this course.
He is the best. Truly. He is so passionate about chemistry, and it makes all the difference in how his enthusiasm is conveyed through teaching. He has both breadth and depth in the foundation of general chemistry, and has a great sense of humor. That humor translates both to lecture and to the exams themselves. He is a very mathy chemist, so you should be prepared to crank out some difficult math questions. Most of the material is fairly straightforward, but he likes to put a tricky question or two in each exam (read: Know Your Math). I did not find it an easy course -- even the most straightforward of concepts require a great deal of time studying, just to practice some of the problems. He is a delight of a professor and goes above and beyond for his students. Go to office hours and establish a relationship with your TA. Ask a ton of questions and don't be afraid to sound dumb. Go to lecture - I am not in the "you can learn it on your own/with his slides" club, but that's just me.
Savizky is an ok professor. His lectures can sometimes be boring but he does a pretty good job of explaining concepts, though oftentimes it is necessary to learn concepts on your own since the power points can be vague. He always gave old exams as practice for all the midterms and the final exam, and the lowest of the 3 midterms is dropped. You know what to expect during the exams and he and TAs hold review sessions to answer any questions students might have. Homework is online and is of varying length, never too hard. Overall, Savizky's class is not too bad if you understand the homework and do the old exams.
I took Savizky’s Gen Chem I with only high school Honors Chemistry under my belt, and I thought this was a fair and doable class. Attending lecture may not be the best use of time for everyone; as previous reviews have said, he mostly reiterates what’s already on his slides and occasionally throws in some advanced applications that won’t be tested. However, if you attend his office hours or the review sessions prior to an exam, he will patiently walk you through any problem. In addition to the optional Zumdahl problems, he now assigns weekly Chem101 problem sets which are required and a good indicator of what to expect on his quizzes and exams. Speaking of quizzes, do your best to get Chris as your TA. I had Yufeng, but I heard that Chris’s section usually performed 2-3 points better than the class average since he telegraphed exactly what would be covered on all the exams. The final grade is out of 148 points, and Savizky normalizes the scores from each exam and quiz, which I thought was a fair approach to the curve given how drastically the quizzes seemed to vary in difficulty between recitation sections. If you’ve taken AP Chemistry (or you’re a postbac pre-med with ample time to thoroughly grind all of Savizky’s practice material), you will have a much easier time scoring in the A-range. If not, the Organic Chemistry Tutor and Khan Academy will be your best friends. Regardless, Savizky’s class is a fairly painless way to knock out the chemistry requirement.
Beer is a pretty boring professor, but his class does the job. He teaches pretty much straight from the textbook, and his exams are also pretty much out of the textbook. He always gives 2-3 practice exams for each exam, which are pretty helpful. Overall, a good gen chem class to complete a requirement. TAs can be super helpful depending on the semester. This class was graded on a Z-score curve during my semester. Exam averages dropped from about 80 on the first exam to 60-something on the last one.
Definitely recommend Gen Chem with professor Roy. I came in knowing very little chemistry and believing that I suck at it, I ended up really enjoying it and got a very good grade. The class isn't easy, but totally manageable. Honestly, for a 4 credit course, I thought it would be much worse. It's one of those courses where you have to study rather than turn in problem sets, so it's a bit more of an independent work on your part, but all the info is provided in lectures. Here's a very important piece of advice: put prof. Roy's office hours on your schedule. It's basically free, fun tutoring. You don't even need to have any questions - if you ask him, he will re-explain the material to you.
Just to mention, I scored in the B range and I don't mind the grade at all. Chemistry was just hard for me, but that being said I wanted to say my thoughts on the teacher. Parkins is a great person, but at times he rushes things and starts to confuse people. He later ends up doing a magic trick in the end which, even though entertaining, doesn't really fix that confusion. He is a good teacher, but definitely not a great one. He has his days. I didn't like the clicker quizzes because it was rushed and I would have rather had him continue the lecture. Even though I scored in the B range, I don't feel it is that hard to score in the A range. My advice to get in the A range is this: -> Go to the recitations. The TA I had was great and I honestly relied on him more than Parkins to answer my questions. They are a strong and vital resource, use them. -> For the quizzes, make sure you know what you did in recitation. The quizzes would almost always just be about the material covered in the previous recitation. ->For the midterms, I can't stress this enough, REVIEW THE PRACTICE EXAM. The practice exams are great representations of the actual exams. The moment you get the practice exam, make sure you do all the questions and understand the solutions for the questions. I had exams where I wasn't prepared at the slightest and was absent frequently because I was greatly ill. I went to the TA and reviewed the practice exam and managed to beat the curve. Again, I strongly believe that the practice exam is the best way to study for the exams. If you want to score in the A-range, make sure you study the homework assignments and the lecture slides. -> My final tip is in regard to the final. In the practice exams for the midterms, the structure of the question was almost identical, thus you can get away with not "really knowing" chemistry, but doing decent. I warn you that the final isn't going to be like this. The practice final exam would cover the latter half of the course, but the actual exam would literally cover everything. Including the beginning. I would strongly recommend studying a lot for the final. In addition to studying the final practice exam, go through all the lecture slides. My final recommendation is to try to enjoy the course. Chemistry is beautiful and we are the portion of the population that can actually explore the foundations of our world. Look at the course from that perspective if it helps. If you feel Parkins isn't good enough for you to learn the material, and that the TAs didn't offer that much help, I would recommend applying for the school run tutoring service. It does an excellent job of helping students. A side note about the "bonus points." I don't think you should rely on those points that much. I feel that those points favor you only if you are between two grades. Don't depend on them too much.
Seems like he was the easiest of the gen chem teachers this semester. Very, very little homework. Exams are straight-forward and questions are very reasonable. This class is very manageable for someone who has prior chemistry experiences (like AP Chem). But the lectures themselves are very hard to follow and the class is probably very difficult/a lot of self-studying for someone who has little to no chemistry exposure prior to taking it.
I saw the last few reviews for Professor Polisar were pretty old, and that they were also for when he was a TA. Now he's back with a PhD in hand. I felt compelled to give an updated review. Given how terrible the previous reviews were, and that scraps of parchment have a way of augmenting douchey behavior, I was expecting Dr. Polisar to have aged about as well as a used diaper in a hot car. But I was pleasantly surprised. He was a consummate professional throughout the course. The notes and handouts he provided were on point, and he made every attempt to make the material relatable and understandable. Yes, there is a lot of information that's expected to be memorized, but that's not Professor Polisar's doing, thats just the nature of chemistry. A lot of rules, a lot of exceptions to the rule. The guy literally gives you handouts that cover each rule and prioritize the exceptions, what more do you want from him? Short of breaking out the crayons, I can't picture any way he could've possibly made the class any easier while still covering the depth/breadth required by the curriculum. He tries very hard to set you up for success for the later chemistry courses. Even the class TA regularly noted how well his class prepared you for later chemistry courses. If you're moderately interested in Chemistry, do not be chased off by these old reviews. Maybe he's mellowed out over time, maybe he's one of the few professors who actually cares what's being said about him on Culpa, but given the stark contrast between the reviews and his actual personality, I have to conclude that they were either written about a different person, or that they were written by some poetry majors who watched too many episodes of Breaking Bad (their dates fit the run of the series) and thought it would be fun to tourist their way through a chemistry class. Seriously, the class is not bad. And as a physics major with a math minor who watched too many episodes of Breaking Bad and thought it would be fun to tourist through a chemistry class, I can honestly say that Professor Polisar is far above average for the hard science faculty.
This is one of the easiest classes I've taken at Columbia! Professor McDermott often goes indepth during the lecture on topics that are not tested on except on the final. The curriculum only covers a few basic chapters of chemistry and is thus significantly easier than AP Chemistry in high school. McDermott gives practice exams before each midterm, which are great practice and are almost identical to the real test. Quizzes are identical to homework problems with just a change in numbers, so it's extremely easy to score well in the class. The class is broken down into 6 sets of 170 points, with the worst set being dropped (totaling to 850 points). Each midterm is 170 points, and the weekly quizzes in recitation combine into 170 points. Your worst quiz of all your quizzes is also dropped! The final counts as 2 sets, and if that is your worst, then it only counts as 1 set for you instead. I ended up with a 99.8% in the class and I'm a comp sci major, only took honors chemistry in high school, and put much less effort into this class compared to multivariable calc or comp sci. Do keep in mind that you will be learning a lot of this material on your own and doing practice on your own, as you don't need to pay attention in class. She has these OWL clicker points, you just have to show up and click a button it doesn't matter if you're right or wrong
Oh, Ann McDermott. Let me start off from what I got in this class, a high B. I had an A- before the final exam. I'm a premed and had other science requirements to fulfill. If you are taking other science-heavy courses with this, it is not easy to get an A. First off, she makes you hate the word "lead." Lead this lead that -- nowhere in the textbook did we learn about "lead concentration determination in soil of nyc." If this topic sounds fascinating to you, go ahead and click to enroll. If not, please don't, because : 1. you won't understand what she is talking about 2. you'll find yourself digging through soil and you really have no idea why (except for the sake of participation points that worths 15% of your grade) 3. these seemingly irrelevant topics come up on your exams and tear your soul apart She is very research-focused, like comments below, and inserts random questions on exams that you've never seen hw assignments or practice exams. At the end of the day, you hate yourself for not being an overly passionate science scholar -- because if you were, you probably asked lots of questions in lectures (that you have no idea what she's saying since she gets distracted easily + you get distracted) and did all the hw problems *and* was so interested in her projects and other textbook-irrelevant chemistry. We didn't take this course because we were so interested in your project, professor. Lastly, she makes it sound like she's doing so much for you by making the participation a free giveaway point in the beginning of the semester. Well, surprise - even if you have a 100% attendance on recitation, you won't get that full 15% of your grade. So, if you are taking this course, please please go to recitations and talk. If you talk and TA thinks you talk a lot - and by a lot, I mean "ok stop talking I get how amused you are" a lot - you will get the 15% free. Each exam had different number of questions. You never know how many there are - they are different from practice exam. The practice exams helped a lot in preparing, though.
Literally the worst professor/teacher I've ever had in my entire academic career. Reads directly from her slides, and barely teaches otherwise. And half of the time her slides have mistakes that students have to point out. DO NOT TAKE HER CLASS.
Patrick is the best TA I have ever had. He conveys the material in a concise and clear way and is the best General Chemistry TA.
Professor Beer's class is very straightforward. He doesn't deviate too much from the lecture notes he hands out and he's very predictable in terms of his exam style. His practice tests are good indicators of what the exam material is like. Lectures can be a bit dry but he does a fine job answering questions and teaching the material. He's definitely is not one to intentionally put out tricky material unlike other CU professors - so I would recommend.
Savizky is a terrific guy. Funny, too. My class was a night class, and it always felt cozy in the dark lecture hall listening to his calm voice. I also appreciated his love of Breaking Bad, and I'm pretty sure he had a Metallica ringtone, which is sick. Those things being said, Sav's class can be tricky at times. His ppts are easy to parse, and all of them are posted before the semester starts (god bless), but his tests are kind of much at times. My advice? Do all of the practice exams, and then do them again. Mind you - I learned a ton! It's definitely doable, I would take it again. Thanx Ruben!! To all my homies who have to take this class: Good luck, my dudes.
This was the single worst class I have ever taken at Columbia. Maybe it was because he just came back from a break from teaching, and maybe he was rusty. But this class assumes you already have a solid foundation in chemistry before you even step foot in the class. Things start out simple but then skyrocket and all of a sudden you're sitting in a quantum physics lecture with no idea of what is going on. Piazza is very active, which can be both a blessing and a curse. There's valuable questions there, some of which he uses for quizzes. However there is so many questions it is nearly impossible to sift through it all. Additionally, there are times where what he is saying verbally contradict what is on the lecture slides or in the textbook. This creates confusion that carries over into exams
I took General Chemistry I with Professor Savisky in Fall 2016. The lectures in this class are fine, but I didn't find them particularly helpful. Savisky generally just regurgitated all the information that was on the lecture slides, which he posts online. If he did add any additional information, it generally was not all that helpful. He does crack a few jokes though. Essentially, you don't need to attend lectures to get a good grade in this class. Something that I found really helpful in this class was the amount of study material Savisky gave you (practice problems and previous exams). They really helped you get an idea of what the exams would be like and helped prepare you for the quizzes. I found using the solutions manual to check your answers for the practice problems to be a productive way to learn and practice the concepts taught in class. Just studying the practice problems from Zumdahl is sufficient. I didn't study any of the recommended textbooks, and it was fine. The lecture slides can also be a good way to review all the concepts, but I didn't use them as my primary source of information. Online resources (e.g., Khan Academy) were pretty good at explaining complicated topics. The exams can be tricky, but they're quite manageable if you had previously practiced with previous years' exams. I didn't really attend office hours, but Savisky and the TAs hold them quite often, so you could ask them questions from the previous exams and practice problems if you need help or clarification. I think the difficultly of the quizzes varies with each TA. I found the quizzes my TA gave to be particularly easy, especially if you had done each week's practice problems, but they probably were harder in other TAs' recitations. The practice problems are never due for a grade. All in all, this was a fine and fair class. Savisky explains how grades work during the first lecture, and I think his approach towards the curve and normalization is pretty fair.
It is hard to explain how amazing a TA Patrick Quinlivan is. If he was was teaching a higher level chemistry course I would seriously consider taking it even though it would be unrelated to my major, simply because he would make it super interesting, fun, and understandable. I typically don't pay attention in Parkin's lectures and just read his lecture slides at a later date. Most of what I have learned in this class though is simply from attending Patrick's recitation sections. You would have to be crazy to skip one. He goes over the hardest parts of the lecture and makes them crystal clear and easy to understand. He does a good job of writing his thought process on the board in great detail for the first one, then slowly cutting back as he does more examples. He does a good balance of teaching the material, and doing example questions. He clearly has worked with Parkin for a while now as Patrick seems to know where Parkin falls short in teaching and fills in well during recitation. One week Patrick went out of order relative to Parkin's lecture so he could explain the next weeks material that was complicated so the next lecture (a more complex one) would make more sense. He does a good job of answering questions, and from what I know of my friends who have asked him for help in office hours he is as fantastic then too. I have talked to him after recitation on multiple equations asking about chemistry stuff semi-unrelated to the material simply out of curiosity and he has always taken the time to answer my questions thoughtfully. Lastly, he always has either an Irish football (soccer) shirt or sweatshirt on. Can't say enough great things about Patrick. He is the only Teacher/TA that I will miss from this semester. If you are in Parkin's class, sending you luck in getting Patrick as your TA
i haaaaaaate him
I took Prof. Savizky for Gen. Chem II in the Spring semester. The key to success in Savizky's class is knowing how to play the game. I attended all lectures (after reading the chapter) but this is not strictly necessary -- he tends to just read the slides. Importantly, and this cannot be stressed enough, he DOES NOT use Zuhmdahl even though he does not say this explicitly. The recommended textbooks are the basis of the class, including where test questions are taken from. Reading these books and completing their practice problems (esp. Atkins and Hill) is the key to success. My exam grades improved 20% once I started preparing this way (I just wish I had learned sooner than after the first two midterms). To his credit, Savizky is very responsive to email, and quite genuine in his interactions with students. While office hours can be packed, he will meet privately and does take care to build relationships with those who demonstrate commitment. The class may be boring and feel like a game, but he really is a nice guy. TAs are given very poor supervision and the quality of recitation suffers for it.
I took Chem 1403 with him. I got a C+ with a 50 on every exam. -teach yourself, read the textbook -OWL IS NOT MANDATORY (it does bring the eBook though) -You do not need to buy the clicker or workbooks Lecture: -he does practice problems in class like the ones on the test -he tells you what questions will be like and gives hints to what questions will be on the exam -he teaches you how to solve problems time efficiently
The only reason I took Gen Chem with Beer was because it was the only one available when I registered for classes. Beer is a horrible lecturer and you will find that you will be teaching yourself the whole course. Nevertheless, it is important that you go to lecture so that you know what was emphasized so that you can do well on the weekly quizzes given by the TAs (who actually do not do much to improve your understanding of material in the course). Exams are multiple choice, so if you're not great at MC or guessing you will definitely not do well in the course. Beer uses Z-Scores so you will not know your grade in the course until it is posted on SSOL. If you have the option, do not take this class with him.
Friesner was a pretty distant professor, but that is to be expected for a large lecture class. In general he was pretty fair but just an average lecturer as he merely read off his slides and only rarely divulged things we might actually need to know. You could easily skip class. To do well on his tests, you really do need to know the material and especially minute details because he asks about those often. I didn't think he was a bad prof, but he's not necessarily great.
This class was interesting and very lenient in terms of homework. Unfortunately, and I am not exaggerating, you will have to teach yourself the material by reading the book and working on the homework assignments (which are not collected). Going to lecture is optional, for the most part. Professor Friesner provides an overview of each chapter and drops hints about what will or will not be tested. Lectures are, in a way, an overview of what you should have taught yourself. You cannot expect to learn the material at the lecture or even in recitation. Many of the formulas are long and involve 4-5 steps to complete, with missing variables at any step. Just because the Professor and TA's only briefly mention a topic/formula does not mean that it will not be a major part of the next exam/quiz. The quizzes and tests are usually an even mix of highly conceptual problems and involved computational problems. Some of the formulas that I was tested on were literally only mentioned once in lecture and recitation. The best way to succeed is to learn what kinds of computational problems you'll be tested on (usually assigned in the homework) and drill them in all their permutations. After you get good at them, the computational problems will be money in the bank for exams. For the conceptual parts, read the chapter early and let the concepts roll around in your head as you do the homework. Don't be afraid to use YouTube and Khan for some additional help. Recitation was the worst part of my week. Right off the bat, you have a 15 minute quiz, most of which are super stressful. The remaining 45 mins were simply not enough for the TA to review all of the lecture material. The Quizzes can be soul crushing, even if you studied hard. My class average, across all of them, was somewhere around a 65. Even though I knew there would be a curve, I definitely had a few long walks home after getting wrecked on a quiz. Expect it, it will happen to you. I would only recommend taking Gen Chem with Prof Friesner if you're a certified self starter. You'll have to teach yourself the course, flat out. I never went to office hours or attended a study group and got an A-. Just be aware that the material is highly conceptual and you'll have to know the formulas and concepts like the back of your hand.
I will copy my review from the course evaluation: I have several points of contention regarding Andrew Pinkard 1) Direct quotation from an Andrew Pinkard email that I hope is read by someone in the chemistry department and that you determine whether this aligns with your values: "If you have questions you are unable to answer, please ask your classmate email partner, and feel free to ask me via email or office hour if you are still unable to find an answer." This statement may appear to be neutral, but every week we are continually urged by Andrew Pinkard that we should NEVER email him with a question, as this is not allowed. The purpose of the TA is to answer questions, but Andrew Pinkard continually deflects this duty towards "our classmates." Andrew Pinkard should encourage us to ask questions rather than reprimanding us for asking him questions. Another passage from Andrew's email "A note about quizzes" sent on April 2, 2014. "I've been getting many emails from students asking "what's the quiz going to be on?" While I understand your curiosity about this, please know that you already know the answer: the quiz will be on any material covered since the last quiz, up through Monday's lecture of the quiz week. This has always been the case for the last 5 quizzes and will continue to be the case for the rest of the semester. There is no need to ask me via email about this because this has not changed and will not change for the duration of our recitations. The quiz will cover where you left off from the last exam (free energy), up until Monday's lecture about free energy and it's connection to equilibrium. The quiz will have content from Chapter 10 and your Chapter 10 homework assignment." I'll close read this passage. "While I understand your curiosity" is a demeaning statement used to tell students that Andrew Pinkard does not like receiving emails from them. "please know that you already know the answer" is a false statement made by Andrew Pinkard in order to camouflage his own ineptitude in following the syllabus that he created to describe what material we would be quizzed on. If this isn't passive aggressive, then I don't know what is. This is unacceptable that Andrew Pinkard reprimands the class for posing questions that he refuses to answer. Every week he changes what was on the quiz, for our thursday recitation, there was often significant material from the wednesday class even though Andrew Pinkard clearly stated that this material would not be included on recitation quizzes. Since Andrew refuses to clarify the material that we would be quizzed on, he cannot fault the class for asking questions. 2) Andrew Pinkard spent an entire recitation explaining the unknown parable of oxidation states to the class. I KNOW ALL ABOUT OXIDATION STATES! He refuses to actually go over difficult material, instead choosing to teach us how to determine oxidation states, one of the few things in this course that I actually learned about in high school.
I took gen chem I and II with Savizky in spring 2013 and summer 2014, respectively. He's one of my favorite teachers at Columbia. He's very easy to talk to and friendly, and he gets back to emails very quickly. If you're in an opportunity to start the gen chem sequence in the spring as opposed to the fall, I would highly recommend doing so since you'll end up with Savizky. If you put in the time, you can easily get an A+ both semesters. Definitely buy OWL and do as many problems as you can. More importantly, Savizky prepared us VERY well for organic chemistry, especially spectroscopy! I am currently finishing orgo II and I still encounter basic fundamental principles that Savizky taught us very well.
Where to begin... Pagnotta is a nice guy, really. He seems to try hard to engage students with tiny offerings of "chem in real life" examples and "use your phone to text in an answer" practice questions. But when it comes down to it, his lectures seem somewhat disorganized and his powerpoints are not helpful at all. 80% of the class seemed to have disappeared after the first two weeks of the semester - left to their own devices to try to stay afloat in what ends up being a sort of weed-out course. While OWL work is optional, tests and quizzes are, unfortunately, not. ...and those tests and quizzes are killer. Quizzes are based off of who TAs the class. Unfortunately, none of the TAs this semester seemed to be too great - quiz averages were in the low 60s. Tests went the same way. Students were left frazzled, frustrated, and wanting to never touch chemistry ever again. It's a very discouraging class. Really. And this is coming from an engineer. Pagnotta supposedly curves everything at the end of the semester, but he doesn't tell anybody by how much, or when, so you're stuck hyperventilating over what your grade could possibly be right up until the end. I wouldn't recommend him, but considering the fact that almost all of the chemistry professors seem difficult to handle... he might be one of the better of the worst. Maybe. ...just maybe.
I've just completed two semesters of Gen Chem with Savisky. I agree with other reviewers about his low voice and his tendency to mumble, but he is responsive to feedback. The class just needs to remind him from time to time and Savisky will make an effort to speak more clearly. Or just sit closer. I found the audience thinned out quite a bit over the course of the semester so there's plenty of room in the orchestra section. He seems like a nice guy and always stops to take questions. The real problem is that his lectures are out of order with the course textbook. I didn't figure this out until second semester, but his class is really based on Petrucci and not Zumdahl. This is why he skips around so much and will do things like use U instead of E for internal energy. Do yourself a favor and get the "real" textbook for this class. That said, it isn't necessary to go to lecture. He posts his notes online and it's all pretty much straight from the book (Petrucci, that is). Grading seems relatively fair, he's very clear about how the class will be curved and he drops your lowest exam and quiz scores (2 dropped out of 7 in the summer semester). Really get comfortable with your algebra. At least half his exam questions are just long math problems and I found both his finals to be even more "mathy" than the rest of the exams.
I personally found that Professor Parkin taught a very fair section of General Chemistry. I can't say it was particularly engaging nor was it something that I thought was thought provoking. The occasional magic tricks and demonstrations were kind of cheesy at times but nonetheless fun. That being said, I still found his lectures notes the best way to study for the tests and learn the material. He doesn't do too well with questions. I found the best way to get my questions answered was to email the TA. They tend to have more time to talk you through your questions and exam questions. Exams: Professor Parkin gives practice exams that are pretty much on par with the exams. I think if you study and take the practice exam, that will be a good indicator of the grade you will receive. Curve & Extra Credit: Clicker Q's and other ample amount of Extra Credit. If you take a survey you get extra credit and such but the way this is incorporated into your grade is mysterious and unknown. I'd say strive for it but don't think it will do much. Also, the curve is not something to depend on. The mean is a B. that means little to no curve. Grading: there are a total of 6 "equivalents" in your grade. Quiz composite grade, 3 Exam grades, and a final worth two equivalents. Your lowest equivalent is dropped. This may end up being an exam or your final exam may end up counting half the amount it normally would, etc. Conclusion: If you are looking to fulfill a requirement, go with Professor Parkin. I found his class to be relatively low stress and very fair.
Professor Beer seems like a really nice guy, but seriously -- avoid taking his class if you can. Especially if you want to major in science and actually want to learn the material. It's very hard to stay awake and jumps from topic to topic pretty sporadically. He also doesn't use PowerPoints, which is more annoying than you'd think. Sometimes you just have a gap in your notes (because he moves really quickly and isn't very good about writing down what he says on the board) and you simply want to review -- BUT YOU CAN'T! I found it incredibly annoying. Students who have already taken AP Chemistry tend to find his class pretty easy (apparently his tests are easier than most), but if you have just high school honors chemistry under your belt, it's not likely you'll get above a B+.
I feel obligated to write a review for professor Friesner, because I think he does get a bad reputation from all of the other CULPA reviews below. Friesner is a good guy, but a bad professor. However, that is not to say that it is impossible to get a good grade in his class. Although he teaches straight out of his slides, be aware that his slides are based off of the Zumdahl book and that his exams are based off of his slides. So therefore, his exams are straight out of the book. I went to maybe 50% of the lectures, and got an A+ in that class. The easiest way to do well in his class is to read the book at the same pace as he teaches. The Zumdahl book is straightforward, and so are his exams. As long as you read, you'll do fine. Also, the TAs are extremely helpful, because they know that Friesner doesn't do a good job of teaching such simple topics (he often goes on ridiculous tangents into really advanced chemistry), so go to office hours and recitations, because they will help. Friesner posts practice exams with answer keys before each midterm, and posts the actual midterms with your answers after each test. He is very generous with giving back points, so argue for your points! Also, know that he is teaching GEN CHEM I, which means that there are a lot of people who think that they're going to be pre-med, but can't handle the workload in that class, creating an extremely generous curve. He's a good guy, bad teacher. But by the end of the course, if you put in the effort, your grade WILL be an accurate reflection of how much chemistry you learn.
It would be unmerited to characterize what happens in Friesner's lectures as "teaching." He simply reads verbatim from the extremely elementary PowerPoint slides that he has managed to throw together. These same slides are always posted on CourseWorks, so by the third or fourth lecture, most people eliminate the middle man, read the slides themselves, and stop wasting time at his classes considering that they are simply an opportunity for Friesner to recite the information to you. Unfortunately, most of what's covered during the semester will essentially need to be self-taught, which is no small task considering the complexity and the inherently confusing nature of the material. Needless to say, the best part about this Chemistry class for me was when it came to a conclusion.
This was a very fair class. The lectures were not particularly interesting, as Friesner essentially read off his slides. Occasionally, he offered some extra information but the tests did not contain any material outside of the powerpoints and the textbook. The midterms were very fair. Most of the material is covered in the powerpoints and the review before the midterms (25 MCQ) covers a lot of the topics that will be on the midterm. The questions on the midterm were sometimes quite annoying (lots of which one of these is not true) but they were doable if you studied well. The recitation was also very fair. My TA was not an exceptional teacher but he did a fair job. Overall, this class was fairly easy. You don't need to go to lectures to do well (I stopped going after the first three weeks). Just self-study and look at the powerpoints. Midterm One: Class Average: 70-75 Midterm Two: Class Average: ~65 Midterm Three: Class Average: 70-75 One midterm is dropped and there are 7-8 recitation quizzes (2 dropped; average of quiz grades is equivalent to another midterm). Midterms are 20 percent each Final is 50 questions and counts for 40 percent. The class is curved ridiculously. The class average is curved to a B and one standard deviation above is an A. For those who have previous chemistry experience, an A is not very hard to obtain.
Professor Kaufman is an O.K. professor. She teaches basically straight forward from the book. It is more than possible to never attend class and do just fine if you are a diligent reader of the textbook. She seems kind of stand-off-ish, and not willing to help, but I could be wrong; it was just the vibe I received. Her teaching is mediocre. She doesn't present the material in the clearest way and goes on awkward paces. I am not saying she is a bad teacher, but she isn't a good one. She doesn't give homework which is bad and good, depending on how you look at it. She also makes you do clicker questions for extra credit, but it isn't necessarily useful, just a trick to attend the useless classes. Her tests are completely retarded, but not in a good way. It is one way to expect you to be creative in solving problems, but the stuff is completely different from what we learned in class. The tools necessary are not given.
I think the previous review was a bit harsh. Yes, he makes a bunch of mistakes in his notes. But I never had trouble contacting him by e-mail. Although I never tried to go to his office hours. I also think if you find it hard to learn things from him, his two TAs are amazing. I had Zak, who is really on top of his chemistry and goes out of his way to teach you anything you ask about. Zak's quizzes are tough, but the curve is generous. I'm a chem or biochem major, and I honestly didn't find this class bad. It's very straightforward. The notes are put up on online on the first day, and there really is no point to showing up to lecture, which I appreciated considering my other classes were kicking my ass. My only recommendation is not to take this class in the evening. Taking tests this late in the evening really has an effect, and I think my grade might have suffered from that.
Louis Brus is a nice man, and is evidently knowledgeable about his subject. That said his lectures are hard to follow because of the poor acoustics of the chemistry auditorium, and his inadequate microphone system. General Chemistry is a let down of a class, even for those interested in the field. The second two midterms basically cover orbitals and nothing else, and it can get very tedious. That said, Brus's lecture slides are phenomenal. I gained very little through my attendance, and simply read through the slides to achieve a decent grade. The midterms are challenging, but the final basically used the same questions. So study those answer keys! Also, don't forget to attend recitation in its entirety every week. The TAs are great and you'll learn a lot more through them than from the lecture.
He is really hard to follow. Not because he is too fast or too complicated but because his voice is the most monotonic voice in the world. I really try hard. It just doesn't happen, his words don't go through. If you want to take genchem from him and you don't have a chem background, get ready to spend time with the book. I'm surviving via my TA. This is personal opinion though shared by many others.
Parkin is a fun teacher. His magic tricks are hilarious, and I'm sure he's better than a lot of professors in the chem department. However, his class is not nearly as easy as everyone makes it out to be -- particularly towards the end. The final focuses on material learned on the last day of class, in a huge fifty slide long lecture on organic chem...? Weird. Just be wary of his teaching -- and stay on top of your stuff -- the exams get harder as the semester progresses. On the flipside, the curve and opportunities for bonus points are wonderful.
Jason is clearly very excited about the power that he associates with being a TA. He was available and held review sessions when the other TA (Matt something) hardly even attended class. Other than that, I cannot think of a single positive thing to say about him. He is one of the rudest individuals I have ever met. He got into arguments with multiple students and has some serious aggression issues. He regularly and openly belittled students. For example, he made fun of one student's poor grades in front of a large group of students. His favorite quote is "memorize it." I think that he honestly didn't understand a lot of the concepts and was ashamed of this fact. Whatever the reason, his role as a TA is to explain concepts and not just tell us to memorize things. His lack of chemistry knowledge also made it very difficult for him to lead section. He was, frankly, the worst TA I have ever encountered. Not only did he not have a firm grasp of the material, but he is such an offensive individual that I did not even want to be in the same room as him.
He sucks!!! His powerpoints are straight off the text book and he doesn't really explain anything. All questions are answered with "you don't need to know that for the exam" What if I want to know just because I'm actually interested in Chemistry beyond passing the exam? If you have him, make sure you pick a good TA.
Professor adams is a nice guy, but expects you to really already know a lot of chemistry before he gets to you. He taught the organic chemistry section of the semester and wound up just scribbling complicated equations on the board. But if you go to lecture, and try to generalize the information he provides in class, you'll be ok. If you end up skipping class all the time, you'll get burned because he sometimes talks about stuff not in the book and likes to test you on it. Overall, he's not so bad. but make sure you go to class and do some of the problems he gives.
A little quirky but nice. don't bother going to class, he lectures straight out of the textbook and answers to the test problems come right from the book. if you read the textbook, you'll be in good shape. as for lectures, not really worth it.
Professor Fine is a harmless old man. He makes jokes and likes to praise anything and everything associated with Columbia. He knows chemistry, but his teaching is not as stellar. For the majority of the time, he rambles on and on about submarines, dye, space ships, and anything else that seems to have nothing to do with learning chemistry. He goes thru his slides so fast that trying to takes notes is really hard. and if you do go to lecture (which not many do) make sure you take notes on his demonstrations and the way that they work.... He loves to test on them. in general, not bad but can be very boring at times.
Ok, Professor Morrow is a nice guy. He teaches chemistry and he tests on chemistry. You do have to work hard in this class, but if you study hard, you'll get the results. He is a good alternative to Professor Fine.
A nice little old man. Understands chemistry very well. The only problem is teaching it. His lectures are boring (if you go to them) and he tries to praise Columbia every chance he gets. His textbook probably ranks in the top 10 worst texts in America. If you have to take this class then good luck.
I really don't seewhat's so bad with this course. If you attend lecture at least half of the time and do the reading the exams are not difficult at all. True, Prof. Adams is awful, but Fine and Brus are both decent lecturers who convey their chemistry well. The recitations are helpful and the grading is done in such a way that it can only help you. This course isn't particularly inspiring but it could be a hell of a lot worse.
By the second day of class, no one was showing up. Maybe that's because gchem is so incredibly boring and over everyone's head. The profs do nothing to make the material remotely interesting. It is mindless work. Studying simply doesn't pay off...the grading is completely ridiculous. Don't get me started on those ferocious multiple choice tests given at night, of all times. Recitation sections help, but not nearly enough. Brus is the best out of the three professors that switch off. Unfortunately, he comes last when there is no time to save your grade or your motivation.
Terrible terrible terrible! It's Prof Adams' first year teaching, to be sure, but that's no excuse. His teaching style includes droning on and on, scribbling arcane things on the board with little explanation, and an utter dearth of in-class demonstrations. Then, it seemed like he was trying to punish people who skipped his lectures when he wrote his test, but can you really blame students for walking out on a lecturer who obviously cares so little about whether they understand?
If you are not VERY interested in chemistry or in any major that absolutely requires this sequence, then do yourself a favor and don't take it. Each semester is taught by 3 different teachers, so there is no continuity. The teachers went from bad to worse. These are people who should lock themselves up in their labs and never come out so subject undergrads to their extremely boring lectures. Most people stopped coming to class and just studied straight from the book. That's another thing - the book used is an experimental text written by one of the teachers, and it is full of mistakes. Most of the teachers have an annoying tendency to relate everything they teach back to the environment, mostly to global warming and different types of polution. The tests are multiple choice, and quite difficult. The one easy test was so easy, and the mean was so high, that it was impossible to get an A even if you got all the questions right.