Professor Johnston is one of the most enthusiastic teachers I have ever had, and is certainly a good fit for this intro class. She is extremely approachable and helpful, so do not hesitate to her ask questions or ask her for advice about the class material or anything else related to astrophysics. The material can be confusing at times, but never too challenging, and Kathryn does an excellent job of breaking down the different topics and relating them to other parts of the course. Her lectures usually consist of Powerpoint presentations, with breaks here and there to write out proofs or do examples. This course is usually one of the first courses students take in astronomy, so it provides some background material and a basic understanding of concepts in astronomy that can often be used in the more advanced astrophysics classes. Kathryn's excitement about the different lecture topics often showed, which made the class more enjoyable. She does not drone on in a boring fashion, but rather keeps an upbeat sentiment when discussing everything. The most disappointing feature of this class, though not a worrisome issue, was the grading. Kathryn was a very picky grader, so you might lose a point or two on each problem unless they are thoroughly thought out. Ultimately, this was for the better, and helped provide a deeper understanding of the material. The grading was not super harsh, but do not expect an effortless A either.
If you have taken science since 4th grade, frontiers is in the bag. A few vocab words for each section of the course (4 parts) and basic stats/bar graphs. I don't understand why the core is able to leave the humanities classes at an acceptable level, but feels that it must dumb down science. I was bored out of my mind most of the time. DON'T go to the lectures, it is a waste of your monday morning, read the slides online or listen to podcast and fast forward. The homework usualy took about an hour to hunt down the answers in the slides or do calculations--mostly BS anyway. P. Johnson was good because she actually knows sciences, and has a funny class. this was my least favorite class this semster due to the course, not her specifically. i hope that the administration will revamp frontiers significantly in the next year, as it is now, no one really learns anything, as far as i can tell, but my clas also had a few people who didn't know what the hell was going on, so i guess it's variable. it was easy to hold around a 97% in this class, due to grammar errors in the midterm essay.
I thought this was an absolutely delightful course! Professor Johnston is a cheerful, open and extremely friendly person who, at least in our class, was really good at engaging the class and lecturing engagingly. It would probably help a lot if you are naturally interested in galaxies, space, or physics, but in general this class wasn't too difficult. It is challenging, and I found myself having to go to see Professor Johnston on a number of occasions for homework help/talking about random interesting things. I didn't take the lab, so i have no idea what happened there, but in terms of this class i would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in astronomy. The only problem i had with this class was that we had to move on to different topics- aka i found everything fascinating.
A great course and a great professor! Professor Johnston was able to successfully engage the class in discussions and lectures about the universe, a topic which many people don't really know much about. I can't recommend this course to people interested in the physics behind everything, though. Take an astrophysics course you are one of these people. But if you are even remotely interested in gaining an in-depth layman's understanding of the way galaxies are formed and how the universe is structured, definitely take this course!