C1500 General Chemistry Lab

May 2021

This class is a lot of busywork. None of the work was difficult, just tedious. If you can keep up with the workload, I think it’s an easy A regardless of your chemistry background. Joseph is an extremely kind professor. During his Monday lectures, he always ensured that everyone understood the material before moving on. In addition, he seemed flexible and understanding with handling accommodations for extenuating circumstances. I would highly recommend his section.

Apr 2021

The class is pretty much alright! It's easy in terms of content, a lot easier than gen chem. Also getting an A in this class is not impossibly hard but it is a lot of work, expect to spend about 20 hours of your weekend working on lab reports and studying for quizzes. But the work is straight forward just busywork.

Jan 2020

Contrary to previous reviews, she is both nice and gives ample opportunities for students to master the material. She gives you a PowerPoint, a worksheet handout, a lecture, videos, and practice problems all to master a very reasonable amount of material. She is also very clear and articulate. If you don't require being coddled and can follow directions, you'll be fine.

Dec 2019

This class is very time consuming and has a very heavy workload. A lot of the work is not hard, it's just time consuming and not really helpful for midterms, quizzes, and the final. There is a weekly lecture where a quiz is held on last weeks topic. There are videos and pre class quizzes of new material which must be completed before the lab lecture and you must also study for the quiz. The videos are not very helpful but you are expected to have a pretty good understanding of the topic before attending class on Monday where worksheets are given and the topics are quickly and poorly explained. Oftentimes there is not enough time to finish the worksheet and a lot of questions are skipped. You often leave lecture with very little understanding of the topic and must work on a very tedious and time consuming prelab on an online notebook. I often had to go to office hours to actually understand the material on the worksheets and on the study questions given before every quiz since lecture was always very rushed and not very helpful. The quizzes were not too bad if you could do the study questions and last weeks worksheet. A practice midterms is given but there is no practice final. Studying from the experiments and old study questions/ quizzes will not be very helpful for the final and midterm as they are mostly based on general chemistry questions and questions cover the "big themes" of the class. Joseph held review sessions before the midterm and the final that where very helpful. There is a lot of busywork in this class and will require you learning a lot of the topics on your own to do well on the quizzes and exams.

May 2017

Disclaimer: I got an A. Sarah has a Master’s degree in teaching. She has a PhD in science education. She has a lot of ideas about how students learn effectively and how best to teach them. You know what else she has? No. Clue. How. To. Teach. Instead of explaining the concepts behind the week’s experiment and giving an overview of the procedure in lecture, she tells you to watch lecture videos she posts on Canvas. Some of the videos were made by a previous teacher, and they’re not so bad. Some of them were made by Sarah herself, and they make absolutely no sense, because she cannot explain a concept to save her life. Usually, I didn’t have time to watch the videos before class. Guess why? Because I needed to study for the quiz at the beginning of the lecture on the previous week’s experiment. That’s right. She wants us to learn new material before lecture, as we’re studying the old material for a quiz during lecture. After the quiz, we get to lecture. Sarah does not explain anything about the concepts or procedure of the upcoming experiment, expecting that we’ve watched, understood, and memorized her videos. She immediately presents a practice problem or hands out a worksheet, and tells us to do the problems and then confer with our neighbors. Fine, right? Not if you have no clue what’s going on, because she didn’t bother explaining it. Now, Sarah practically yells during class because she refuses to use a microphone. She talks as if she were supervising the teaching staff of a kindergarten, always explaining exactly why she is doing what she is. “Here, try these problems and then confer with your neighbors. Studies have shown that this is the best way for students to learn.” F*ck off with your ivory tower bullshit, Sarah. I learn best when I’m taught, not by being thrown in the deep end. At least when we’re done trying and failing to do these practice problems on our own, she’ll explain the solutions, right? Wrong. You should’ve known better. Often, Sarah will say she has the solution on the PowerPoint presentation and tell us to look at it at home, so that way we’ll be teaching it to ourselves and learning it better. If I’d wanted to do that, I’d have taken a cheap online course. Explain the goddam solution, Sarah. But it doesn’t matter anyway, because her explanations are usually clear as mud. I’m not even going to mention how obsessed she is with her precious surveys and polls. Or, how anal she is when she supervises the actual lab. She’ll tell you off for pulling out your phone during a 20-minute wait period during an experiment. To sum up, Sarah is not good. Joseph, on the other hand, is a darling. Carry on with your day.

Mar 2017

Don't take Sarah's lab or class ot anything. Either take chemistry at Barnard or take it with Joseph if you have to take it at Columbia. Joseph is a great teacher and is very helpful and Sarah is the complete opposite. Her along with her TAs tried to screw me and other students over because they didn't care about how we did in the class. Everything was pretty much self taught. Also her and the TAs are just rude and have talked back to me as well as ADULTS in the post-bac program for absoloutely no reason. Do not take this class.

Dec 2016

Professor Hansen's class is a lot of work. Before each weekly lecture, Professor Hansen would post videos that would "cover" the material that was to be gone over during lecture. The videos varied in length from a minute to over twenty and there would usually be four or five videos to watch. In lecture, there was usually a weekly quiz and then this period of 50 minutes where Professor Hansen would ask everyone to solve questions on material that was only covered in the assigned videos. The TA's were completely unhelpful during lecture and would usually respond to questions with "didn't you watch the videos?" Expect to put a lot of time into this class. With any section of gen chem lab expect to devote a few hours to writing your pre lab report, studying for the weekly quizzes, and actually going to a potentially four hour lab. However, if you're in Professor Hansen's section expect to double that. You are going to be responsible for most of the learning you do. Go to the help room, but don't expect to learn anything during lecture.

Oct 2014

Wow. I don't know if Chem Lab changed radically over the past year or so, but I definitely didn't take the same class as those who gave it raving reviews, claiming they learned so much. I spoke to a lot of the people in my lab last semester as well and they agreed -- there was little to nothing redeeming about this course. It's designed so you feel like you're constantly thrown into its vicious, tedious cycle week after week and makes the semester drag on and on. Even as somebody who received an A in the class (it's not hard to), it felt like a COMPLETE waste of time doing so. So. The vicious cycle: 1) Go to lab lecture, which is basically just Sarah talking about stuff you've probably learned or will learn in General Chemistry. Be forced to "work with the people around you" in an attempt to make it engaging (it's not). Take a 15 minute quiz that, half the time will have a 70% average. Watch points get deducted over the most anal errors, thus making you feel like you're absolutely awful at chemistry (you're not that bad, stay strong, friend). 2) They take attendance at the end, so guess what? You're not getting out of lecture. 3) Go to lab. 3-4 hours of pain, depending on if Hansen wants to tack on EXTRA labs/lab stuff to make her class seem more legitimate and less like a high school chemistry lab. The room has poor air circulation, but somehow it's always a bit nippy, and the TAs are half snarky, half nice. Once you finish (YAYYYYY!) you get out of Havemeyer, your spirits raised... until you realize you have to do it again... but only after... 4) Completing pre-lab (the most USELESS assignment ever, designed to force you to thoroughly read and copy down all the lab instructions... that have been altered by Hansen... and compare that to what's in the actual manual and write them all down). 5) Completing report sheets, that you will inevitably lose points on somewhere. 6) Dry lab! Because your time in the lab wasn't enough to convince you guys this class is taken [way too] seriously. 7) Writing assignments. (...really?) 8) Repeat for the next few months. I'd like to point out, all the work would be 100% fine in my books if it felt like it was reinforcing something, or clarifying my understanding of chemistry. But nope! It just felt like my time was getting sucked away from other classes and into this. I don't know what Hansen thinks, but this class is NOT her students' only class (nor, based on the conversations I've had with many, remotely close to their favorite). Prepare to have a sense of "Ughhh, not again..." overwhelm you each week.

Aug 2014

Though this class is a lot of work, it's a great class. Joseph is a wonderful teacher and person- he makes it very clear what is expected of you from the start, and the whole course as well as the labs are all meticulously planned out. He's also very accessible, kind, understanding, and explains things very clearly (he cleared up a lot of things that I was still confused about from Chem I & II). The workload includes weekly quizzes, pre-lab assignments, lab reports, writing assignments etc.. None of it is too difficult, just kind of tedious. The labs themselves are fun and useful. Definitely recommend sticking around for the whole lab lecture as it usually includes information to successfully complete the labs, and gives you info on what to look out for during the actual lab. Be very diligent about writing your observations in your lab report during lab- that seemed to be where most students (myself included) lost points.

Aug 2013

Joseph Ulichny's chem lab is one of the best science courses I've ever taken. I took the 12-week summer session version, and the students were mostly premed postbacs. - Joseph is just a really nice person. He was friendly and relaxed, knows the material very well, and was super-available to students. He also has this quirky interest in art history which he includes in his lectures from time to time. - The lectures, which were largely theoretical, really did explain what was happening in lab. Looking back, none of the 10 labs was pointless, or do I still fail to understand what we were doing or why. Sometimes that theory was complicated, but by the end of the course everything did make sense. - A lot of students studied together in the otherwise abandoned chem library in Chandler, which is where the TAs held office hours. I really hope that they keep that space open for this purpose. We mostly collaborated, rather than competed, as could have been tempting for a premed class. - Unless you're a science genius of some kind, it's wise to work closely with your TA in this class. That person will be grading your lab reports. Each TA has different things he or she is looking for, and you want to be able to match that. I got hit a little hard on the lab grading because I had to work at my job during my TA's office hours. However, once I started communicating with him by email and meeting with him separately, I got the hang of what he wanted. - I don't know how the people in the 6-week version of this class do it. For the 12-week version, it's already a lot of work. I'd say that I put in about 20 hours a week work, outside of the labs and lectures themselves. - Better to take this after gen chem, rather than concurrently. There are a lot of concepts that need to sink in, and they change rapidly from week to week.You don't want to be encountering them for the first time in lab. - DO ALL THE EXERCISES AND PRE-LAB STUFF BEFORE THE PRE-LAB QUIZ. Know the lab inside and out a week beforehand. That way, you won't be blindsided by quiz questions about the labs, you'll know what you're doing before you go into lab, and your brain will have a chance to cognate a bit about what you're going to write in your lab report, before you rush to get it done.

Dec 2010

Before this class, I hadn't taken a Chemistry class in over three years and had forgotten absolutely everything I'd ever learned about the subject. Despite this handicap, I'm thrilled to say that I'm doing promisingly well in the class. Sarah and the TAs are the sole reasons for this. In the weekly lecture, Sarah tended to rush through topics - probably to cater to the needs of the more advanced students that made up the majority of the class - which tended to be frustrating. However, she always made up for this by being an endlessly patient and fantastic teacher one-on-one. She was unfailingly happy to answer any questions I had. And I mean literally happy - she always had a smile on her face and made energetic gestures of emphasis when answering my questions. If I ever didn't understand, she would repeat what she said or find a new way to illustrate the concept. The TAs for the course were surprisingly knowledgeable, understood my questions, and could communicate concepts very well (unlike the TAs in some other departments). Some extra information I wish I had known before taking this course: the weekly time commitment is quite a lot. You have one four-hour weekly chunk of time in lab as well as a one-hour weekly lecture. On top of this, you need to keep up for the weekly quizzes and do a weekly prelab and lab report.

May 2010

Joseph is a great teacher and a great lecturer. In lab he is extremely helpful, and out of lab he is great about answering questions. He is approachable and fair. Overall, the course was a fair amount of work, but it was the most fair course I took throughout freshman year. For every quiz, there were practice problems and the TAs were always available. USE THE TA'S OFFICE HOURS! They spot your lab errors and help you fix them!

Apr 2010

Honestly, I am a little surprised at the last two reviews for this class. Perhaps it was worse in previous years; I know that the course was modified in Fall 2009 when I took it, and I found it an enjoyable experience. First about the reports themselves. You are required to basically copy the manual's introduction, materials, procedure, and data tables each week. This takes a bit of time and seems tedious, but it allows you to get things done quickly in lab because you actually know what is going on. The reports themselves are not so bad; for about half of them (there are 10 total) you have to write a 2-page discussion about the implications of the results and places for error, etc. And of course you have to do some calculations and graphs. Basically, if you are well-versed in general chemistry, these will be very straightforward (the manual also walks you through most concepts and equations). In all, I found that this class took 5 hours a week outside of lab. There was also the lectures and quizzes. The concepts are mostly review of things learned in AP chem and Gen Chem, with a few new things here and there. Sarah Hansen is very decent lecturer and is helpful if you have any questions. The quizzes are 10-15 minutes each, about 4 easy questions to review what has been going on. Sarah also posts study materials for these, which is exactly what you need to know. The midterm and final are very similar to the quizzes, so just review them and you will do fine. Overall, there was nothing stressful about this class - just put in a few hours a week writing the lab and review for the quizzes, and you should do fine.

Dec 2009

Joseph was a great TA. He is a good lecturer and simplifies difficult information well. Before each lab, he really emphasizes what you should do to get the best results. He is also very helpful while in lab and will immediately come to your aid if you have a problem. He responds really quickly to e-mails which is extremely convenient. He responded to my emails while I was completing the lab reports. He is also patient and helpful in reviewing difficult material for the midterm and final. The quizzes really require you to know how to do specific calculations as well as understand the theory of the labs so I recommend doing the lab study problems and going to TA office hours if you have questions before taking the quizzes. I found most of the TAs in the General Chemistry Lab department accessible and helpful during office hours, so you should go to them if you have any problems.

Jan 2002

It all depends on which TA you have. Try to pick a friendly one or at least a member of the opposite sex so you can flirt your way to a better grade. Watch out for the omniverous premeds.

Jan 2002

Joan is such a nice lady. Her pre-labs are well organized and very understandable. She covers subjects not already taught in lecture so well in such a short amount of time. She gives quizzes on the previous lab, but they count for so little and no one really does that well on them. She's very willing to help if you have questions. Joan is great!