Thomas Humensky

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Apr 2019

I remember reading the reviews about Humensky before I signed up for his Physics 1 class. After taking 2 semesters with him I feel obligated to change the tone of his reviews. Preface: I am a Postbac Premed and I finished my undergrad 8 years ago. I was very apprehensive going into this class, as physics was never fun or easy for me in high-school, and remembered NOTHING. YES Humensky has a SIGNIFICANT work load. You will work, but you will LEARN physics. I went from zero understanding to a reasonably thorough conceptual understanding of the material. Humensky gives quizzes on Sundays and Tuesdays, but they're usually just 3-4 preparatory problems that make sure you read some of the material before you go into class for lecture...its online...its a quiz grade. It's SUCH a good system. Unless you're one of those people that reads every chapter before going into class on your own accord...cheers. I'm happy for you. Perhaps a bit jelly too. His hw ensures consistent lecture prep, and the problem set every Friday is a recap of the material he lectured that week. It's on wileyplus, you have 4 tries to get full credit,8 tries total. Beneath each problem is: a link to the specific chapter in the text, videos of similar problems being done, math help, a hint to help you if your stuck, and sometimes a step-by-step tutorial which walks you through the problem. Yes it has it's annoyances(interactive exercises), but it is designed to help you learn the material, through multiple problems with all of those resources at the ready. This is a class that is structured around this problem based learning; it works if you work. He has 1 hour and 20 min to teach you some complex ideas, so you have to do your part. I've had professors that offer ZERO office hours, Humensky started with 2 days of 2 hr blocks. He was later informed that this wasn't always enough and he added a third day to make himself more available. RIGHT??? He is one of the FEW teachers that truly wants you to understand the class material. He shows examples in class frequently. Yes, the derivations sometimes get me a little cross-eyed, but everybody learns differently, and some classmates definitely benefited from them. They didnt help me much but he presented so much other material that did. He always answers questions in a kind and thoughtful way and doesn't patronize, EVER. He promotes a very healthy dialogue with the class. He admits if he doesn't know something, and will always follow up after he's answered it. He is extremely responsive to student questions on piazza as well. Humensky will drop your lowest exam grade if it helps your average. He WANTS you to do well. He made one midterm really difficult last semester and the class averaged way lower than he expected. He acknowledged making it too hard, he regraded every test himself and gave the max amount of points possible. Most professors would just shrug and move on. He puts more time into his class than I've ever seen from any Prof before. -Also just have to add that he has the warmest disposition, is so approachable, and always rocks the classic dad style. #polosjeansandnewbalance. Hw "only hurting you" is BS if you actually do it and do it well. It also serves as a really great study tool to go over older material before an exam. I wanted to be able to retain this information for the MCAT. I wasn't just trying to get an A with as little amount of work as possible. If that's you, sign up someone with no hw assignments. If you learn by doing, you're willing to work, and you haven't taken physics in years/ever. Humey is your man.

May 2015

I was instructed by Professor Humensky for the Physics I and II cycle this past academic year. Unfortunately I cannot recommend him as a professor at this or any institution. An amiable enough guy, its clear that after 4 or 5 semesters of teaching that it doesn't suit him. Via reports from my peers who were with him during his first semester, back in the spring of 2013, he has made little to no improvement in his lecture style or the format of his course. Please note that I did well both semesters, receiving grades in the "A" range, so this is not the review of a slighted, disgruntled student. Professor Humensky is unable to do what I feel is the most important job of a professor in the sciences: distill complex information from the text into meaningful, understandable ideas that the eager student can use to navigate problem solving. While lecturing, he stays exclusively to his prepared notes which he reads almost as if they were a script. Later, these notes are posted to courseworks; the language and structure of the notes, and thus his lectures, are almost carbon copies of the textbook. What's wrong with this? We already have the textbook, which of course we have paid an inordinate amount of money for. To sit in lecture where it is read back to us, equations derived in turn with little additional explanation, is a disregard for the value of the instruction that should be expected. I had a hard time understanding the ideas in the text, as many students do. In an ideal world, lecture is able to help decipher what seems on first read to be a foreign language, but instead I was left to spend excessive time finding quality instruction via youtube videos. The interesting thing is that quality instruction IS out there, as evidenced by what I was able to learn with youtube supplementation of the text. Student questions in lecture were often met with the Humensky 1000 Yard Stare, as he was forced to grapple with the information himself instead of merely restating it to the class. 20% of a student's final grade is determined by weekly problem sets, which everyone has the answers to; in this way, your homework grade can only hurt. The other 10% is decided by mandatory prelecture quizzes on the expensive WileyPlus online learning tool, which also seems to only be able to hurt your grade. Humensky defends this meaningless 30% of your class grade by actually arguing for the utility of assignments that give incentive via their ability to hurt you. A student is only able to distinguish him or herself through the midterms and final. Here, Professor Humensky is mostly fair: you are allowed to drop 1 of your three midterm grades, and with one exception the exams were composed of 1.5 to 2 dot-level problems (difficulty scale per the textbooks) which were extensions of the ideas reinforced in the problem sets. The exception to this was the Physics II final exam, where he chose to put several 3-dot problems on the test which were not reflective of applications of the course material emphasized at any point in the semester. Two of the problems were taken verbatim from the textbook, I learned upon later review. If this isn't intellectual laziness, I don't know what is. Professor Humensky is institutional failure personified. Again, I cannot recommend him as a professor at this or any university. It stands to reason that I cannot recommend his class. Consider all other options first and then be ready to find outside sources to supplement your understanding.

Jan 2014

Professor Humensky was a good instructor. His lectures were ambiguous at times (especially when solving some of the examples that were intended to supplement/clarify concepts). However, he reviewed the theory and math behind all of the important concepts, and didn't base his tests on the material that wasn't covered in a thorough fashion. I believe the biggest strength of the course was the amount of practice material made available for review. Homeworks and pre-lecture problems reappeared on the exams, with slight variations. Furthermore, the Professor instructed his TAs to be very generous with partial credit for work, emphasizing method and conceptual understanding over mathematical calculations (plug 'n' chug). This class was certainly challenging, but not impossible by any means.

Dec 2013

Professor Humensky genuinely tried to be a good professor. He made us use WileyPlus (which is ridiculously expensive considering you can only use it for one semester) and he assigned problem sets and posted the answers on his coursework's in a timely manner. From his class design, he had the makings of a solid professor. The problem with his class is that he would only go over how to do problems during the class period rather than go over theory. Those promises he made to go over topics people had difficulty with in the pre-lecture problems were never fulfilled. He does seem to be a nice, down to earth guy, but he isn't an effective professor. There was no balance between teaching theory and going over problems. The redeeming quality of the class is that if you can do the problem sets he assigns, you can do the tests. I was in his first class of General Physics I and so we didn't have any practice tests or material to prepare for exams. The class has a generous curve since the average is somewhere between 50%-60% for each test. If you're premed, I would highly encourage you to take Shaevitz instead of Humensky. Humensky is not an easy A (you can get an A, but it won't be easy) and he does not make it easy to take his class with Mowshowitz bio as he unwittingly has tests scheduled for the day before Mowshowitz bio tests. He's not the worst option and it really depends on what you're trying to get out of the class. If you're just looking for an easy A, this isn't the class.

Jul 2013

I have to admit I was at first hesitant about taking Humensky's section of Intro Physics; he was a new professor but I decided to give his class a try. At the end of the semester, I have to say I was pleased with my decision. Not only do I feel extremely prepared for the MCATS but the tests were pretty fair. His teaching methods improved throughout the semester, thankfully. The workload isn't that bad and the quizzes made sure you were keeping up with the material. If you actively understood the material, and didn't just cram for the midterm/final, then you didn't really need to study at all for the exams. In comparing Shaevitz and Humensky, I would definitely recommend taking Humensky if given the choice. You actually LEARN the material in his class, compared to getting a "GPA booster" class and stumbling on the MCATS which actually matter. I never had taken physics before, so it was a struggle learning everything with Mowsh's class, but it was worth the pay off. The class average was around B+/A-.

Jul 2013

I really enjoyed the class. A lot of material was covered in this course, and he was good at streamlining it and focusing on what were the most important. He also explained concepts and answered student's questions well. He derives formulas in a way that is intellectually satisfying for students with a math background, without intimidating those who didn't, which seems like a nice compromise. He was also nice enough to provide his lecture notes on Courseworks, which was really helpful when studying for quizzes. The demos in class were entertaining as well. Humensky also just strikes you as a decent, nice, down to earth guy, for whatever that's worth.