Based on 54 Users
This review is going to sound exactly like every other review. Kavner is an amazing person, and I'm sure for any topic that she knew the content she would be a great professor. However, there's a reason Epsi teachers teach Epsi and not Chemistry. You don't learn much in lectures or in class at all, but it's very easy to still get an A without knowing any Chemistry. You're paying for the degree so take this class to boost your GPA, but learn the content on your own because you're most likely not learning it in class.
I remember going to her first lecture for 20A filled with confidence as Prof. Kavner's positive attitude about everything spilled into the class. But, as the lectures went on throughout the quarter, it was clear that absolutely nothing was being covered. The workload was light, but lectures covered practically nothing except for random gimmicks related to chemistry and what we were supposed to be learning. The exams were online and all multiple choice but only conceptual questions. It seemed like almost every question was a mind game that could lead to different answers depending on how you thought about it. Do not take this class if you would like to actually understand chemistry.
If you want an easy class, take this one.
If you want to learn anything about chemistry, do not take this one.
If you want to be prepared for 20B and survive Barr, you gotta spend more time learning chemistry on your own time.
Look, professor Kavner is a super nice professor who clearly wants to help us learn chemistry. Now, it was her first time teaching this class when I had her, so you might want to cut her some slack when reading these reviews.
- To start, her lectures are useless, she rarely lectures on concepts that will be asked on exams and spends way too much time on unimportant topics. Just watch the recording on 2x speed to save time.
- The textbook is really bad. Honestly, just watch youtube videos on the concepts in this class (MIT has a pretty good playlist that I would definitely recommend). If you're really good at breaking down confusing textbooks that allude to difficult math concepts to explain easy chemistry ones, be my guest, but if you want to learn chemistry in a more efficient way, just skip the textbook readings.
- Homework isn't too bad, it might take a while so I'd recommend starting early.
- Exams are easy and usually online and multiple choice. They are HEAVILY conceptual based so be prepared for that.
Abby Kavner is a wonderful woman. Abby Kavner is kind, generous, and supportive. Abby Kavner loves to see her students succeed. Abby Kavner should NEVER teach Chem 20A. She would introduce each lecture saying "here's what I want to cover today" then proceed to not cover a single thing mentioned. We were somehow both always behind and completely off topic. Her midterms are so easy, but only if you've taken AP Chemistry or some other chemistry class, because you sure as hell won't be gaining any new information in this class.
Enjoy three lectures deriving the particle in a box model, which you will never be asked to remember.
I would never take this class again. I feel like I never really learned anything because it wasn't demanding at all. It's really important to have a good background in Chem 20A if you're going to take chem 20B, which I'm taking right now, which is so extremely difficult. You can tell she has good intentions but she doesn't execute them properly. She's actually really sweet and you can tell she cares about hers students but she doesn't put enough effort. Her lectures have never once covered the topic of the midterm, and the homework assignments were useless as I didn't learn anything. Everything was online. Honestly, don't even bother showing up to class because the lectures were so loosely connected to the midterm and the final. The midterms were okay, they were like 7/10 on difficulty, and the final was somewhat easier. I never really liked this class and if I could I'd take it with a different professor that can help me prepare for the difficulty of Chem 20B with Barr (avoid him at all costs). If you're looking for a class to basically sweep through and pretend like it doesn't exist, then this class is for you. If you're actually looking to learn, then turn the other way because she doesn't help you prepare at all.
Like a few of the other reviews on here have said: Kavner is a wonderful person, kind and caring. However, I do not think she is well suited to teach a "lower-level" level chemistry course. It's clear she has a vast and complex understanding of chemistry, but I think she sometimes fails to realize some students may not have the same intuition when it comes to chemical structure that she does. An AP Chem background/Chemistry tutors on YouTube are real assets in this class. I imagine she might be a better professor for Earth Sciences or something of that sort.
In short: I liked the course and it taught me some pretty interesting material, but Kavner's lack of clarity in addition to the tests/exams being almost nothing like the homework (after she and my TA said it would be), I can't recommend taking 20A with Kavner, especially for someone with a poor chemistry foundation.
Professor Kavner has a good heart; however, lectures were tough to follow ;-( & if your TAs were unhelpful, the course would be quite difficult. There was HW every week, but that was manageable! Quizzes & exams were online!!! The class is alright if you have some foundation; otherwise, you'd have to double your efforts.
I'll start by saying she has good intentions. She is a great professor but not as good a teacher. I did not find interest in the lectures. She has the habit of being either too simple or too complex. But I'll say she's a great test maker. Her tests and homework assignments are very fair and are meant more as a learning tool than testing. I recommend everyone take her class. She makes chemistry easy and accessible for people who don't like it.
To start, she's a great person with a lot of enthusiasm and joy, which made lectures a little more bearable since I had her at 9am. She's also very approachable and is willing to fix any issues that are brought up to her. However, she isn't really that great at teaching Chemistry. I feel like she's an amazing teacher for the Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences classes since she would often bring that up in class; however, it didn't really correlate to what we needed to know to do the homework. Most of the time the homework was different than what she was talking about in class, or she'd spend a lot of time proving a certain equation in class that wouldn't even appear on the homework. My knowledge from AP Chem definitely carried me through this class, and the homework would teach me the rest of what I needed to know to at least complete the homework. This is her first time teaching Chem 20A, so maybe this is just a rocky start for her. I can definitely say though that the doing the homework taught me more than her lectures.
Professor Kavner is super nice and eagerly greets the class— however, she is not a great chemistry teacher. Her lectures were often repetible and solely focused on a singular concept— one not emphasized in neither the homework nor midterms/finals. The assignments and tests and unrelated to her lectures. It’s an easy class but, perhaps will not prepare you enough for future chem courses.