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*please keep in mind that the people writing these reviews are probably upset about the final*
Surveys (built in extra credit as long as you do them): 1%
Learning Catalytics (clicker questions used for participation during lecture): 5%
Weekly Mastering Chemistry HW: 5%
PTLs (pre-lecture mini quizzes): 10%
POGILs (weekly discussion worksheet; graded based on completion): 10%
CMCs (actual quizzes; we had three this quarter): 12%
PRWAs (peer-review writing assignments; there were three): 15%
Midterms (there were two; each one is worth 10% with 8% coming from your own performance and 2% coming from a group submission): 20%
I took this class after taking 14AE with Dr. Casey. I do not have the most extensive chem background (no AP chem), so that's why I chose the enhanced series. I also heard good things about Dr. Courey.
I'll start off by saying that Dr. Courey is a really nice professor. He gave extensions to the whole class when he saw that many of us hadn't turned in one of the PRWAs on the night before it was originally due. He is very approachable and can easily break down concepts for students to better understand. His TAs are also very approachable and helpful. The teaching staff is fair overall.
This class is pretty assignment heavy. It will help solidify the concepts, don't get me wrong. But it is also a lot of time and effort. Take this class if you want to really understand the concepts. Don't take it if you are expecting it to take less time or effort. I think the main difference between 14BE and 14B are that BE has more structured time built into the class for you to practice and solidify material. But if you would rather do it all on your own, don't take this class.
With that being said, the grading in this class is generous in terms of the weight of each assignment. Dr. Courey listens and pays attention to his students. He gave extensions. The final was ridiculously long, so he curved it. That curve was appreciated, but didn't help that much (I went from a 60.8% to a 69% on the final... for reference, my midterm average was an 88.5% without the group portion, so I was pretty upset with the setup of the final). However, he redid the grading scale at the end of the quarter so that there was a wider range of percentages for people to earn an A, A-, etc.
The grade breakdown:
Discussion Worksheets: 10%
Pre-Lecture Quizzes: 10%
Peer-Reviewed Writing Assignments: 15%
Midterm 1: 10%
Midterm 2: 10%
EXTRA CREDIT: Surveys: 1%
As you can probably tell, there were a lot of different types of assignments, meaning this class was a bit heavy on workload. However, those took some pressure off of the midterms and the final, which I appreciated (so it just depends what you'd rather have more weight on).
Participation, homework, discussion worksheets, and pre-lecture quizzes were time consuming, but you should get 100% on all of them if you do them.
The writing assignments were often tedious, as you had to write short essays on different topics that would usually take 3-4 hours (at least for me). However, if you did put the time into them, the prompts were fairly straightforward and your average on the three assignments will probably end up being an A of some sort.
The 3 quizzes (worth 4% each) were on CCLE and were a little tricky. Being open-source (like all exams in this class) definitely helped though, as there were a lot of conceptual questions you'd be able to find on his slides. With enough preparation you could probably score very well on these as they weren't insanely hard though. After the second quiz, however, a lot of the class complained so he made a policy where he'd replace your quiz average with your final grade if that was beneficial to you, so that was pretty nice of him.
The midterms were definitely doable and I'm pretty sure the majority of the class did well on these. 80% of your midterm grades were based on your individual score and the remaining 20% would be based on your group midterm score (same exact exam, just done with your discussion group after the individual attempt).
As the other reviews have already said, the final was really long and difficult. It was not a fair exam at all especially considering the precedent he'd set (with both time and difficulty) on the midterms. I genuinely think this was an accident though; I don't think Courey meant this maliciously at all. Also, I think most of the difficulty stemmed from the exam length itself– the questions were all doable with enough time to think them through and check your work. I know his bruinwalk reviews are tanking because of this exam, but tbh I don't think he's going to administer a final this long again, because he definitely got a lot of backlash for it. He did curve the final by making it out of 88 instead of 100, and he also lowered the grade cutoffs for the class (A became 91, A- 88, B+ 83, B 78, B- 73, etc). Still, I'm not giving him any excuses for the final– it was unfair and even with the curve/cutoffs it tanked a lot of peoples' grades, which really shouldn't have happened in the first place if we were given a final similar to the midterms.
In summary I totally understand where all the negative reviews are coming from, because I was extremely scared for my grade after the final as well. However, Courey really is a kind professor and a great lecturer, so I personally would probably still recommend his class with caution (as I think that difficult final won't be a trend). If you want a more comprehensive understanding of chemistry/have less of a chemistry background like I did, I'd still say take this class over 14B. If you have a strong foundation already, maybe the lower workload of 14B would be more beneficial for you.
I'm honestly shocked by how overwhelmingly positive Courey's reviews are after experiencing this class firsthand. I truly think most of these reviews are a bit biased, seeing as Courey's past exams were online and grades were extremely curved in 2020-2021. As a first-generation student who did not take AP Chem, this class had me absolutely lost and it truly ruined my motivation to pursue biochemistry. I initially was very excited for the topics covered in CHEM 14BE, but the way Courey taught the lectures and responded to all of my questions passive-aggressively, completely burned out my passion. I ended up spending over 40 hours a week studying and completing homework for this dreadful class, just to receive an awful grade after failing the final because I was sick when I took it. (Taking an 8 am chemistry final directly after taking a 24-hour calculus final while having the flu is insanely brutal.) He also offered little to no accommodations when I explained to him that I was ill and immunocompromised with privileges given to me by CAE.
I can't believe that the stupid exam was worth 30% of our grade on top of midterms being 30% and quizzes being a staggering 9%. Especially since we spent so much time working on homework, just for these exams (with very little time to prepare for; AKA 3 days to learn very complex topics) to completely obliterate our grades. I think Courey is a great researcher, but I difficult professor that I do not recommend for people who don't have a very strong background in chemistry.
I would never take this course again, nor would I recommend to any love one. He is the king of not being accommodating. He did not care about any input you had. It was his way or no way!! His extra. credit was worthless. The TA did their best, but the issue was him.
Professor Courey is pretty understanding and after the terrible and long final, he made accommodations to the grading of the class which was really nice. At first, he was going to divide the overall final score by 0.88 (which did not do much for those who did not score too high, like me lol) but then he also curved the class and made an A from 91-98, A- from 88-90.9, B+ from 83-97.9, and etc. This was really great to see, but before taking the final, I was at an A and then dropped all the way to 84% which sucked lol. The PRWAs are time-consuming and homework is also quite difficult and takes a while to complete as well.
Honestly, my major complaint would have to be the fact that the final included so much new material. He dedicated a whole FRQ with 6 parts on a topic that we barely covered in the last lecture which was super annoying. The midterms are fairly simple and not too hard to do well on if you study the class material. The CMCs can get tricky with confusing wording. He had LA workshops which were great for diving into the class content more deeply but were not that helpful for studying for the exams.
Be ready to pace yourself on the final exam because that was what honestly screwed everyone up.
If you want to teach yourself chemistry, take this course. The final and exams were extremely difficult and worth the biggest part of your grade. Oftentimes, Courey did not know the answers to most questions and whenever questions were asked, he simply responded with "ask on campuswire". This class will burn you out.
TL;DR: I would not recommend this course to anyone. Keep in mind that this review is also for 2022, so there was no insane final like Winter 2021.
Weekly homework: 4%
2 peer review writing assignments: 7%
10 POGILs: 8%
iClicker: 3% (65% of lectures had to be attended to get full credit)
12 PTL quizzes: 8% (3 attempts given)
3 CMC quizzes: 9% (1 attempt given)
2 midterms: 30% (1 online due to COVID, 1 in-person)
Final exam: 30%
There was an overwhelming amount of assignments throughout the quarter, individually worth very little credit, yet not negligible. The weekly assignments and PTLs were very time-consuming. The 3 CMCs were very stressful, and only 1 attempt was given for each of these, despite multiple students asking for 2 attempts throughout the entire quarter. The average on the 1st CMC was 14.2/20, 14.3/20 on the 2nd, and 16.4/20 for the last. However, Courey did replace the overall CMC grade with the final exam grade if you did better on the final exam.
The 2 writing assignments were frustrating, as it was unknown what Courey specifically was looking for until it was time to actually peer review. It seemed like he expected in-depth knowledge despite a 500-word limit, which required a lot of time, along with guessing games as to what to focus on in these assignments. Despite the abundance of assignments, the exams were still worth a large portion of the grade, not too much of a safety net compared to 14B.
Since the first 4 weeks of the course were online, we had 1 online midterm, 1 in-person midterm, and 1 in-person final. The online midterm was of much more difficulty than the in-person exams, but that does not detract from the overall fact that all of these exams were difficult. The only saving grace was one of the TAs, who sent out review documents that were very helpful and demonstrated what to focus on for these exams (however, this TA will no longer be at UCLA).
The weekly POGILs were often written to be very lengthy. Outside of the 2-hour discussion sessions, my group would have to meet for a couple of hours most weeks just to finish these.
As for the lectures, he read off the slides (he does provide the slides beforehand, which is useful), although he often skipped over slides. A significant portion of time was given to a few students who asked questions (often straightforward or just repetitions of what he had just said).
Personally, I also did not find Courey to be very accommodating or friendly, unlike some of the other reviews. For example, this is a very small thing, but he would never acknowledge students saying goodbye to him; he'd either just stare at them or just pretend not to hear it, even though others could obviously hear it.
All in all, I would HIGHLY not recommend this course or this professor.
This class was brutal. I easily spent hours studying for it every day (when they asked how many on the mid-quarter survey I sob-laughed), and if the other two classes I was taking hadn't been relatively easy I'm not sure how this would have gone.
However, I might still recommend this class if you like having extra padding for your grade compared to 14B (it's not much, but at least it's something). In general, the TAs were great - Mariah was a godsend and hosted review sessions before the CMCs and final, and I also attended my TA's office hours religiously every week (they were very helpful, but that should help give you an idea of how much of a time commitment this class is).
In terms of materials though...after taking Queen Casey for 14AE I was expecting the ones for 14BE to be useful and manageable, but they were not.
The LA worksheets were extremely long (so long that the LAs began to just go over the answers without giving us time to work the problems), and my group only finished the POGIL within the two hours allotted for discussion about three times. In complete honesty, the LA worksheets were not super helpful for the assessments, but if you plan to attend the workshops I would recommend trying the worksheets beforehand. However, even the LAs sometimes struggled with solving the problems.
You'll be expected to read chapters of the textbook and Courey's PowerPoint(s), watch a short video, and complete a PTL quiz as part of every module (before lecture, so kind of like the LS7 series' flipped classroom setting). In 14AE I could understand what was going on even without having read the textbook, but reading the textbook is ESSENTIAL to Courey's class. His PowerPoints are extremely long and dense (with lots of clarifying information written in the Notes section), and it can be hard to pinpoint the really important information. During lecture he often skipped slides ("because they were in his videos") and didn't show all the steps when solving the math problems (if you are confused, ASK HIM!! He was pretty good about explaining things as long as someone asked about it).
There were two CPR assignments. The second involved a primary source research paper as well as a secondary source web article. A lot of people found the prompt difficult, and I sat in on office hours just to understand what he was asking. For some reason, a lot of people were also pretty harsh graders, so just remember to be kind to your peers - you all need the points. In addition, pray that you don't get such a bad grade you need to dispute the peer review part of the CPR, because he very rarely granted it.
In terms of assessments, there were a lot of trick questions on the CMCs, so as a class we performed pretty poorly on them. However, the worst part was that many of us didn't realize they were trick questions until we got our grades back - I feel like I only understood how important some of the concepts were after I got them wrong, which was not ideal. The midterms (one was online this quarter and one was in person) and final were more manageable, and he always gave enough time. I generally think the final was fair, but it was worth a big part (30%) of our grade. However, he offered to replace our scores in the CMC category with the final if we did better on the latter.
Some final notes:
In terms of studying, I would recommend making a study guide of the important equations and concepts (he gives you a sheet with the equations, but you need to know WHEN/HOW to use them). There were a lot of conceptual questions (T/F) on all of the assessments, so make sure that your understanding of the concepts is ROCK SOLID.
In the beginning of the quarter we didn't have a class Campuswire (he made a few discussion threads on BruinLearn, but no one used them), so if that happens again ask him to make one.
This class was certainly something. It forced me to develop new study habits I didn't know I could develop even after a year at UCLA. I wish you the best of luck.
Dr. Courey is a great prof who genuinely cares for his students and wants to see them succeed. I definitely learned a lot in this class and although the material was tough, especially since I hadn't taken AP chem, Dr. Courey provided plenty of resources (extra OHs, CLC worksheets, extra videos) for us to learn. I think Dr. Courey did a great job given this was his first time teaching 14BE and I think he deserves more credit for how much time and effort he put into the class and into teaching us. When reading the rest of the reviews it's important to keep in mind that most people commenting are frustrated with their final exam grade.