professor
Gerard Parkin

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Apr 2021

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)

Jan 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed this class! I know many people have mixed opinions, but this class is the most straightforward A I have ever received at this school. There are no tricks and he lays out exactly what he expects. If you want to succeed simply read the slides, do practice questions, and go to his and the other TAs office hours. Please take this class! He has some of the best TAs at Columbia! They held extremely organized and informative recitations and gave their all for our review sessions. I found my TA, David Vaccaro, to be super organized and always available. I liked TA Matthew Hammond as well for review sessions! Also, Parkin himself is extremely knowledgeable! Look him up he's an expert if I've ever seen one!!! Here are some tips on how the class is run. Much of the confusion about the quality of the class comes from the setup (which I actually preferred). - The actual class time with Parkin is NOT where you learn most of the material. To be completely honest you could not even go to class and get an A. The content of the lecture is just him reading the slides quickly with the occasional joke or magic trick. It is NOT meant to be a place to take notes and retain the info. I would suggest going to class mainly to see what he focuses on in the slides. This will give you an idea of the importance of each topic! - Show up to your recitation! This is where you will learn the most material. Take notes because they don't post the slides. - As suggested by the pre-class quizzes, you are meant to show up to class already having read the lecture slides. - There is a lot of self-studying, but it is not rocket science. Everything you need is on the slides and they are well written and very informative. He only asks you what you are meant to know. Here is a breakdown of how I received a great grade and the shortcomings I saw from my peers. - First GO TO OFFICE HOURS! Parkin is quite nice, just a bit eccentric. If you listen to his specific idiosyncracies you won't have an issue. I went to his office hours every week for clarification on the slides and to my TAs (and the other TAs) office hours for clarification on broad topics, concepts, and applications. - Come to office hours with questions prepared!!! He says this so many times but people come time and time again unprepared and wonder why he is upset! Make sure your questions are specific. If you came to chat make that clear. He is not a fan of the empty theoretical questions seas kids love to give. Please don't do that! - The best thing about this class is the curve. You would be surprised at how many people do not have the ability to listen, read, or reach out when they need help. Honestly just pay attention and you will be ok. 30% of the class gets an A. It isn't super hard to outwork other people. There will be an insane cushion. Getting an 85 average gets you an A. - There was rampant cheating because of the online format, but in a normal year, I will assume that the tests would not be so strictly timed. If that is normal though, make sure to practice how fast you do problems!! People don't practice at all, let alone practice for speed. Just finishing your exam will get you way above average. - Exams are multiple-choice!! If you are not acquainted with standardized test-taking strategies that might be a helpful thing to look into. - GET AHEAD!!! He posts all the slides just read them. - Do the bonus outreach. Not sure how much it helps but it is surely appreciated. Put actual effort into it. - Do the homework early!! It takes about 3hrs. It will go a lot faster if you actually know what you are doing before you start. You technically don't need to read the textbook but at least skim it. Owl online has an option to read it to you which is nice. - Make sure to understand the way things are graded and get as many points as you can. - Trust the curve! If you do above average on every assessment you will get an A. Especially the final. That really weeded folks out. Make sure you are learning to retain because everything will come back :) Ok that is all I got. The class was interesting and fun. I would 10/10 recommend. If you are taking other heavy workload classes you can still take this one just keep a schedule so you don't get overwhelmed.

Jan 2021

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.

Dec 2020

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.

Dec 2018

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.

Jan 2014

Disclaimer: I got an A in the course. Parkin is a horrible professor. Not only is he not engaging and boring (although his in-class experiments from time to time make it somewhat bearable), this course teaches extremely hazy and disconnected concepts that most students have no clue what's going on and find it hard to relate to. For example, we are given random graphs and formulae to memorize throughout this course without being told how it's derived or its function. We have to take the statements made by the professor for granted, and practice plugging in numbers into these equations. His course is designed so that the final grade is out of 550 points. 100 for quizzes, 100 each for 3 midterms, 200 for the final and 50 for OWL. The lowest 100 point equivalent is dropped. A friend of mine switched into this class a month late and he gave zeros on all the homeworks and quizzes that she missed that first month she wasn't there. Anyway, as mentioned, his lectures are dry and soporific, and I never made the point of going to class. He claims he gives "bonus points" if you use the iClicker in his class, but after reading past CULPA reviews in that his way of incorporating them are mysterious and there is no curve in the end anyways, I figure his "bonus point" scheme was just to make students show up to class. Getting an hour and a half more sleep will prove a much more valuable use of your time. That said, he uploads his lecture slides to Courseworks which in my opinion is the best aspect of his course. They are clear and concise, and have a multitude of diagrams and colorful fonts that are really help understanding the material. Going through these lecture slides the day before a quiz, midterm or final is the key to success to this class. His midterms (as well as the material in general) increase exponentially in difficulty as the semester progresses, and you focus on irrelevant models and arbitrary formulas that have no foundation. Every midterm undoes the previous one (telling you that everything you learned before was a complete lie), and by the third midterm and final, you realize you have no way of catching up to the material and you're royally screwed. That said, memorizing these ridiculous formulas successfully will inevitably lead to a decent grade. Don't leave the OWL assignments till the last minute because it will screw you over. His TAs are horrible, and therefore the recitation sections are pointless to go to unless you have a quiz that day. I found it completely okay to skip every other recitation. In general, I recommend Parkin if you HAVE to take general chemistry (ie SEAS/pre-med). If you're taking it just because you like chemistry (like me), then I'm sorry to disappoint you, but you won't get much out of this course. I thought chemistry would be one of my potential majors here at Columbia and I now despise chemistry (thanks, Parkin!). If you're also taking this course because you want to fulfill the science requirement or just for the heck of it, get out of this class now. Seriously. Note: most students in this course are SEAS kids (most of which have taken AP Chemistry or the equivalent already) and pre-meds (who...well, are pre-meds) and therefore there is almost little to no curve (according to my knowledge, the mean is a B), so if you're looking to get an easy A, this is definitely not the right course. An additional note to pre-meds: many pre-meds are under the self-conceived notion that pre-meds have to get a good grade for med school. While this is true, I recommend taking Organic Chemistry (if you can) instead of this course since if you wait till sophomore year to take orgo, the curve will destroy your GPA that you managed to build up freshman year. From what I hear, freshman orgo has an extremely generous curve.

Dec 2013

Professor Parkin is pretty much universally agreed upon as being the best General Chemistry teacher. He is also pretty much universally agreed upon as being a bad teacher. The order in which material is presented makes little sense. For example, Lewis dot structures and Periodic Trends are discussed without mentioning the word “orbital”, though knowledge of orbital structure is necessary to understand the topics. Parkin frequently uses vocabulary that he doesn’t explain. In addition, he wants everyone to have a very deep understanding of chemistry. As a result he moves quite quickly (especially after midterm 3) and instead of having a deep understanding, most students just memorize a bunch of facts. He is not very good at understanding student questions. If you have a question go to your TA. The OWL homework is ridiculously tedious and rarely reflects what you actually need to know for the class. His Practice Exams are very good predictions of how you will do on the actual exams, and his exams are fair. He likes to test random exceptions to rules on his tests so make sure to study exceptions on his slides carefully. I would suggest studying well and performing well on the first 3 midterms so that your final counts for less, since Parkin rushes through the last 2 chapters in the last 2 classes. If you spend some time during your Thanksgiving travel to read the textbook chapter on transition metals, you will be much less stressed when the final comes around. The clicker questions are a very good gauge of how you are doing in the class. If you get one wrong, make sure you understand why. I would like to note that my unfavorable review for Parkin is not a result of my grade. I got an A+, but I attribute that mostly to my high school chemistry preparation. This class covers plenty of material not covered on AP Chemistry so don’t get cocky. Parkin is the best choice for chemistry but still a bad one. DO YOUR BEST TO GET PATRICK AS A TA. He is amazing, and will hopefully continue to teach after his PhD. Patrick attended every lecture and thus knew what Parkin didn’t explain properly and knew how to teach those concepts in a straight forward manner to us. He also created extra practice problem packets for us which were helpful if you needed the practice.

Jan 2013

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.

Jan 2012

Professor Parkin taught an interesting and fair semester of Gen Chem I. I never made a point of going to office hours, but he was engaging and entertaining in class (lots of demonstrations and magic tricks). His TAs were awesome, hosting review sessions before exams and returned emails with questions very promptly. A breakdown: LECTURES: Clear and concise, with step-by-step examples and lots of opportunities to practice (clicker questions). Yes, it can be frustrating to get a series of clicker questions wrong, but the point is to test yourself. As long as you are participating, he doesn't really care if you're getting them right or not. In preparation for quizzes and exams, I found myself returning to missed clicker questions repeatedly in order to make sure I really understood the topic. HOMEWORK: Parkin assigns homework using the OWL (Cengage) system rather than Zumdahl. There are some errors here and there, but on the whole it is a great way to get lots of "drill-down" practice. For example, if you have problems drawing Lewis structures, there are whole exercises that just focus on that subject; Zumdahl problems tend to incorporate several concepts into one problem, which can be helpful and challenging, but not when you're trying to learn the material. While OWL doesn't mirror the types of questions found on exams, it is a useful skill builder. Some assignments were longer than others (oof, Stoichiometry -- so many questions on mol/gram conversions), but you generally have plenty of time to complete (except for the last 2 weeks of the semester when 2 chapters are introduced in a week). Completion of homework is a gimme, 50 points tacked on to your final grade. QUIZZES: Quizzes are administered in recitation and range from easy-moderate to very tricky. The key here is to review your lecture slides and any subtle notes that Parkin makes during lecture. An exception to a rule on electron configurations might be mentioned very briefly in lecture, but will be a 5 point question on a quiz. Doing well on the quizzes was the clean-up hitter for the semester, as your 4 highest quiz grades average together to make an exam grade. EXAMS: Standard Gen Chem I exams, 25 multiple choice questions ranging from easy to difficult. To do well, make sure you understand the principles behind the rules (eg: periodic trends, shielding, etc.), not just memorizing the rules alone. Parkin will definitely challenge you, but he's not out to crush you on the exam. Study hard and you'll do well. Note: The course goes along at a pretty moderate pace, until after the 3rd exam, when Coordination Chemistry and an Introduction to Organic Chemistry are covered within the span of a week (right before finals). It's doable, just stay ahead of the reading and work with OWL to clear up any confusion.

Jan 2012

I highly recommend Professor Parkin as a General Chemistry professor. He presents the information in a clear and concise manner, while maintaining enthusiasm and high class participation throughout the semester (eg: clicker questions, in-class demonstrations, frequent magic tricks). The material is not exceedingly difficult, but you do need to invest the time in order to do well. There are frequent quizzes (recitation) and exams, which allow you to gauge how well you are mastering the material. The Fall 2011 TAs were fantastic about answering questions and hosting pre-exam review sessions. Tips: come prepared to class, jot down the clicker questions (or at least participate, as the material presented is relevant to the exams), attend recitation

Jan 2012

Before you begin reading, please keep in mind that according to reviews of other professors it appears that professor Parkin is the best of a bad lot. The good: -Professor Parkin knows his stuff. He is very proficient in the material taught, even the more theoretical parts. This might sound obvious but as some of you have already noticed, or will notice, this is not always the case with professors. -You will have plenty of opportunities to improve your grade. Professor Parkin has a rather complex system that ultimately benefits the student. The worst exam and quiz grades are dropped, and with 6 exam equivalents throughout the semester it is hard to screw up. -On the technical side of things, Professor Parkin is well organized. He posts slides before class, which are well written, and updates them after the class to match exactly what was covered during that class. Practice exams are posted quite early as well as the answers. Answers for the midterms also go online quite fast. -Professor Parkin is very liberal with his office hours and is very willing to meet with you at other hours as well. The bad: The bad things, weirdly enough, are derivatives of the good things. -Because Professor Parkin know his stuff so well, and deals with much higher chemistry on a daily basis, he cannot understand most of the questions that are asked in class. You might think this is not the case in his office hours, but I dare you to go and ask him a question. Not only will he not understand what you want from him (too simple, I guess) but he will also go on and talk for fifteen minutes about something totally irrelevant. -The number of quizzes and exams is crazy! 5 quizzes, 3 midterms and a final are a lot and turn out to be very stressful. -While Professor Parkin’s slides are very neat; one very important thing that he still has not figured out is the semester schedule. We spent plenty of time reviewing material that was supposed to be quite familiar to most people, assuming they have the required one year of high school background, and we were left with two lectures to cover the last two chapters from the book in which nobody actually had former background. -While he is often very flexible with his office hours he is also, in fact, absent from many of them. Going to his office before an exam and finding that he is not there is quite disappointing. -The online assignments are a joke; they are very repetitive and every insignificant typo will cost you the answer. The effectiveness of a written homework assignment, even if it is shorter, is far greater than any of the questions that are presented online. Additional info: -Be ready for some cool magic tricks throughout the semester (even though they are partly the reason for the bad schedule). -The clicker questions, which are easy at the beginning of the semester, get really hard so don't get too hyped. -A smart thing to do is to take a logic class prior to taking any of Professor Parkin’s exams as he’ll do his best to turn simple question into logic problems rather than chemistry problems

Dec 2011

Parkin was a waste of time. Why would you ever go to lecture? The hall is pitch-black so he can have his slides. Once, someone asked him to keep the light in the back (on for whatever reason at the time), and he refused, even though it was better that way. At 9:25AM, going to class when lectures were online wasn't going to happen often. So why go to lecture? Clicker points. If you miss high school-style competition, show up for class so you can click on your $40 waste of a device on some tricky questions. You can see stats (generally only half the class or less gets the right answer), and you can score bonus points, whose effect are still a mystery. When approached and during lecture, Parkin skims the surface. You know that what you're asking is deeper than what he's answering, but you have to take it like it is. Luckily, I had a TA who was willing to put her money where her mouth is, and pick up a colored chalk and work on the board with me on drawing structures, for example. Next, the homeworks. These were due on Sundays at midnight, and if you left them for Sunday, prepare to work 8-9 hours on average. And prepare to realize that often, at least 1/3 of it has nothing to do with the material in class. One of the first OWLs (ridiculous waste of money for the skills it builds) assigned had hours of "nomenclature" of molecules to learn. But in class, Parkin specifically wrote in the slide we wouldn't be responsible for it. Right, except for the hours we have to learn it on our own. So just like you might find yourself skipping class (ie clicker points), you might find yourself forgoing a couple points here and there on the HW. I'm saying this because these issues lead to one main point: Parkin runs his class like High School, and those of us ready for a college-level challenge are so turned off by this that it negatively affects our academic experience. Of course, there are plenty of "highlighter girls" doing pre-med who must love this, and that's why premed is going to be one pain in the ass for sure... The textbook (Zumdahl) was the most expensive one for me to buy, and it really, no exaggeration, belongs in the trash can. It's like smoke and mirrors, like a mirage: when you read, and you spend time on it, you come out with barely anything. It's actually incredible, how someone wrote an entire textbook so badly. Check it out on Amazon; I wasn't the "Columbia student" who left that review. There were 3 exams, in increasing difficulty. Yes, be aware that the course gets harder fast, because its focus on bs models keeps growing. Just when you master this basic model of the atom, they tell you, wait! we lied! there's a better one! forget all your freshly-learned concepts because they're wrong! So really, every exam is undoing the last one, because it's on the Valence Bond theory instead of Lewis Structure, etc. Together with the final and homeworks and quizzes, Parkin drops one equivalent. Often what's strange about these multiple-choice tests is that they feel like an SATII subject test - they're all tricky devils. You come out of a test thinking, ok, I probably got 2-3 wrong, after looking them over twice (there is good time for them). Then you find out it was like 5-6. In the final, I thought I'd got 5 wrong, maximum. I really went over them all three times, from scratch; walked out in the last 5 minutes. Nope, I got those 5 wrong, plus another 7. But did I mention that sometimes there were questions on the tests - especially the final - that were completely from left-field? It was obvious they were from past years, when he covered different things. I know that, because I had some practice exams from previous years. So even with the answers to many questions that appear, you have a guarantee that you're gonna get f****d. With dropped first exam, 89% of the HW done, 22/25 on second exam, 23/25 on third exam, and 63/75 on final, that's a B. No B+, no A-. Just B. And I was told to take this guy because he gives more As. This is one of those classes where you had better get everything right, because out of 200 kids only 25-30 are gonna get an A, even if 100 kids more or less deserve one. My advice: skip the "highlighter" courses for tough mofos who teach them - those that scare off people looking for high-school style education. There, you will be challenged in a non-frustrating way, possibly learn more (since you're not learning on a highschool level), and probably end up making the same grade or better.

Dec 2011

His class starts off super easy, and you think that this will be your one high-school-like course. FALSE. Come midterm #3, you realize that you're absolutely screwed, there's no way of catching up, and he keeps giving you 20 page lecture after lecture. My advice: keep up with the workload, make sure that you ace the first three midterms, and all of the quizzes so that the final doesn't matter at all, as he drops 1 quiz and 1 equivalent.

Jan 2010

If you need to take Gen Chem I, Parkin is a good choice. His lectures are clear and helpful and he went through them very thoroughly (with the exception of the final, mammoth lecture). Maybe he even goes over his slides a little bit too in-depth. When he spent ten plus minutes reading and explaining one slide in painstaking detail, I felt my attention wane. Also, on the subject of his lectures, he took questions but seldom answered them thoroughly, slowing everything down in a manner I found unproductive. Conversely, the plentiful videos, demonstrations, and magic tricks Parkin employed were great and helped me get through the less-than-exciting lectures with a minimum of pain. Parkin also makes use of "clickers" during lecture, which were a fun way to earn some bonus points. Finally, beware of getting too cozy in this class. After the first exam, things got much more difficult, but if you study for the exams and quizzes, do all the optional homeworks and practice exams, bring your clicker to class for bonus points, etc, you'll get a good grade.

Dec 2009

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.

May 2009

After a semester of Gen Chem II with Kaufman and Gonzalez, I have new respect for Parkin. While he is not the absolute best lecturer in the world, he comes to class enthusiastic and prepared. His slides make sense, are logical, and are concise. You could easily do this class without reading the book and just reading the slides. Tests are easy as are quizzes. If you compare Parkin to a great professor in some other departments (Gulati, Brinkley, etc), he will fall short. But ultimately, when you consider everything, he is quite good. Highly recommend him.

Feb 2009

I enjoyed being in Professor Parkin's class because his exams are reasonable and he is very organized. Although his note slides are a bit hard to understand, it helps a lot for the tests if you read it multiple times. I read and printed out the slides before the class then reread them before taking the practice exams and assignments. Going over previous lecture helped studying for clicker questions (small part of the grade, simple basic questions covering previous lecture). If there is some concept that I can't understand book covers it pretty well and sometimes explains it better. I got an A in his class by 1) reading slides 2-3 times 2) reading text book once maybe twice 3) doing assignments, practice exams 2-3 times 4) going over clicker questions twice before exams Often I felt like he got annoyed by questions during the lecture so I asked him few questions after class he was unenthusiastic. Although Professor Parkin seems hard to approach in person, I would give him an A as a teacher because his exams are fair and predictable and he does his job just fine.

Jan 2009

Columbia is fortunate to have someone like Dr. Parkin. Not only did he manage to engage us by demonstrating experiments or using multimedia in lecture, but also he would more than once emphasize the critical points. His lecture slides are straightforward and tell a coherent yet interesting story of general Chemistry. If you ever stumble over a question at any point, you can always ask him as well as Aaron or Wes. They are always prepared to answer your questions. The homework and practice midterm problems are followed by detailed answers to all questions. Dr. Parkin and his TAs are truly invaluable to Columbia.

Dec 2008

Brutal. If you have never taken chemistry before, this is class is going to kick your ass. The overall course structure is a complete disaster, the textbook is your only hope for survival. Even once you think you understand these obscure and overly-complicated theories, it's difficult to apply them. Be wary - don't let Parkin lure you in with the promise of magic tricks. He'll wave around some cheap magic-trick toys, blow some stuff up or pop some balloons - but it's just to lead you into a false sense of security. He'll also spend the first few lectures on "what is an atom?" and "what is an element?" - but do NOT get comfortable. The course material gets completely convoluted and crazy complicated in the later lectures... But maybe I'm still a little bitter since virtually the entire final was based on the most over-your-head concepts he'd introduced by jam-packing it all into 80 lecture slides just days before. Professor Parkin, if you're out there...Why?! Why would you do that?!?

Dec 2008

Professor Parkin is great--he's an interesting and to-the-point lecturer and the vast majority of the information you are tested on comes directly from his lecture slides. The first few classes have magic shows to get them going, but things stay interesting after that. The homework (not part of your grade) is very helpful and often test questions come directly from it. He provides practice exams before each test that are also very useful and again sometimes picks the actual exam questions from there. The class isn't easy--sometimes the information is difficult to get through and you need to spend time outside of class to make sense of things, but in our case the TA's--Wes & Aaron Sattler--were very knowledgeable and helpful and good teachers themselves. Ultimately the tests aren't easy but they are fair--they stretch your ability to manipulate your knowledge of the information and, if you are taking the MCATs, I think this is a good thing to get practice with. Overall, I would say take this class.

Dec 2008

Parkin, simply put, is horrible. He started off friendly and easy and did those "magic tricks" he's said to do. But towards the end, he turned kind of nasty, not just as a professor but as also as a person. The chemistry he teaches is vague and useless. Ruined my chem experience.

Jan 2008

Out of all the choices for Gen. Chem. (Brydges, Turro, and Parkin), Parkin is definitely the best. Still, that's not saying much. He teaches in the most roundabout way and makes everything much, much, MUCH more difficult than it ought to be. In the beginning of the year everyone did well because we knew the simple way to do things, but later we started learning RANDOM STUFF that nobody knew how to do and it was ridiculous. Parkin did not explain well at ALL. Still, though, he is better than Brydges and Turro. And he does magic tricks, which is cool.

Jan 2008

Parkin is a very personable professor, he peppers lectures with magic tricks and videos to keep students amused. This sometimes takes up time that could be better used going over the course material. All midterms and finals are multiple-choice, many of the questions are copied exactly from the sample quizzes and ungraded homework he posts to Courseworks - make sure to go over these before exams. Some are trick questions but many are pretty straightforward. Grades also depend on quizzes given by TAs, these are announced in advance and require written work, diagrams, as well as fill-in-the-blank answers. He figures out your grade with a complicated formula, you can drop the worst component and the worst quiz grade is automatically dropped. Parkin posts his lecture notes online before class, but he sometimes adds tidbits in class that aren't in the notes, so it's worth going to lecture (even if you don't like magic tricks). Some midterm and final questions come from the textbook and aren't emphasized in the lecture notes. Even though there's a lot of stuff in the text that isn't covered in the course, make sure you know the material that is covered, since the overlap between the text and lecture notes isn't complete.

Jan 2008

At the beginning of the semester, Professor Parkin did a magic trick during each class. Once he stopped during magic tricks, I stopped going to class. That is not to say he wasn't a good teacher with a charming accent, but that the tricks were more interesting than the material and full lectures and sample problems with solutions were readily available on Courseworks. The class gets noticeably harder after the first midterm so don't start slacking. The textbook is not that useful because all the important material is contained in the lectures which are posted online.

Dec 2007

I'm not sure where to begin. Just like Gerard Parkin. He'll start out lecturing on complicated material, and then just briefly mention the fundamental basics that are necessary for understanding later on. Thankfully, you've got the lectures online to save you. The textbook's a mess, as is the chem department's Gen Chem 1 curriculum (which he can't do anything about). Homeworks and Practice Exams are really the only way to learn the material, which is fine because they closely resemble the actual exams. The curve is nice, and he apparently does magic tricks or something, but be prepared to not learn anything worthwhile (that, supposedly, comes in Gen Chem 2). Oh, and don't expect your 5 on AP Chem to give you an edge...you've never most of this material before. The Gen Chem professors are all pretty lackluster, so I guess he's one of the better options. Things I Learned This Semester: Something about plastics in The Graduate, the Ultraviolet Catastrophe would devastate the countryside, I do not understand how my eyes work, my electron is over here and way out there....at the same time! and plastics are everywhere! (even in The Graduate). Yes! I'm gonna ace the MCAT's now! Overall, it's more the course that sucks than he does. The Chem department needs to seriously revise it, ASAP. I went from being a prospective chem major to choosing not even to take another semester of chemistry.

Dec 2007

Dr. Parkin is a wonderful teacher. He has a masterful ability to elucidate complex concepts and infuses the class with a sense of humor that is sorely lacking elsewhere. Tests are almost entirely fair, as soon as you realize that all you need to know is every single chart, diagram, and detail on every single one of his lecture slides

Apr 2007

Really great chem I professor. His lectures are interesting, his tests are fair and as long as you go over the lecture slides, you really don't need to read the text.

Jan 2007

Great professor.

Dec 2006

he is an awesome teacher. he is very interesting lecturer and does magic tricks to keep it interesting and entertaining. his test came mostly from the practice questions. like exact questions. NO HOMEWORK. only practice questions in the book to prepare for the test, but can do well without doing them. only do them if having a problem with a topic. do whatever you can to take this class!!!

Nov 2006

Ged is a great teacher, no questions about it. Had to take a painful 9:10am course but he is lively enough to make it worth going to class. For the first 6 weeks or so he had a magic trick to do every class which corresponded in some zany way to the lecture. Very approachable and likes class interaction. Posts all his lectures online but still worth it to go to class as he stresses certain things more than others (which are then on the quizes). I think this was the 1st time he had taught the class though and he didnt have a feel for how fast he had to go to cover X amount of material in X amount of time so at times we went painfully slow (the 2nd midterm was supposed to have 3 chapters on it, only had 1). Overall: good chemistry teacher, would take him again in a heartbeat.