professor
Sarah Hansen

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

It's impossible for Hansen to possibly be any more in love with (as mentioned in another r view) her "creation!" She acts like it's everybody's only class, assigning ungodly amounts of work (useless, busy work) and expecting victims to treat chem lab like a part time job. You get out of lab just to be thrown into more lab work. Maybe if this class were not so redundant people would see the value in it.

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.

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.

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.

Nov 2009

Worst experience I've ever had with a professor. I agree with the above review of the course overall--very tough and time consuming--my right hand hurt so much from writing lab reports that I actually tried using my left hand as much as possible. Besides the course, though, I found Sarah to be threatening and pushy. She takes her creation (this course) too seriously and has complete disdain for anyone who has questions or concerns. She outright yelled at me on a couple of occasions--a situation I have never had with any other professor thus far. As well, the TA I had was an undergraduate (I am a postbac) and I found the age and maturity gap very difficult to work with. They clearly have their own stuff to deal with and never return emails, even general questions.

Dec 2007

This is more a review of the class and less a review of the professor. This class will make you rip every hair out of your head for 3 months, but is very rewarding at the end. The nature of the class is to penalize for every tiny, insignificant error (sig figs, rounding, measurement-error agreement, badly labeled graphs, etc), which can turn an otherwise great lab report into a B or C. Until you learn to give them what they want, it feels like guesswork trying to predict what they are going to be picky about next, but in the end, you turn out very neat, organized, intelligent work. You learn a ton of material, and acquire great confidence in a lab setting. Regarding the professor: The lectures are very fast and very worthwhile and are always on the next quiz. Sarah and Kim co-teach the class and both are hard to reach, but the TAs are usually very helpful. A word to the wise: This class is VERY competative because it is mostly a class of pre-meds and also your grade is based on standard deviations from the class mean, so everyone wants everyone else to fail. Not fun.