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Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.
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So the Spring 2020 quarter was online due to the COVID19 pandemic. Professor Russell is not the best at technology and since everything was online (and the transition to remote learning was really fast), the first few weeks of chem 20L was pretty rough and disorganized. In my opinion, this class had a little bit too much work for a lab class.
Lectures: attendance is not mandatory I believe (I stopped showing up after week 8), and Professor Russell herself is not engaging and pretty dull. She records and posts her lecture presentations online. I think her lectures are alright; for me, I would read the supplemental readings on CCLE to get a full understanding of the material.
Labs: Pre and Postlabs are due before your lab section, but since this was all online, we were allowed to turn in our labs on Friday with no penalty. You basically had two different kinds of labs to turn in most weeks so it may feel like you have a lot on your shoulders. Some postlabs were done with a partner. Sometimes labs will only make sense if you ask your TA how it's done. IMO Russell is very consistent in not making sense on her directions on labs, so that's when TAs come in to address what's going on (I praise the Chem 20L TAs this quarter shoutout to them). I think labs, in general, are doable if you allow yourself time to do them.
Quizzes: I swear quizzes were the only component of the class that didn't stress us out. There was a deadline to do them, but we are given unlimited attempts and she counts the highest score.
CPR: The Calibrated Peer Review is a drag to the soul. It's a program that has its own assignments that students must complete, students have to write a text/essay about a certain topic that we have learned (for example, we wrote essays about significant figures, scientific graphs, and titrations). I'm pretty sure these assignments took most students more than a few hours to complete. Besides writing an essay, you would have to go through a calibration, grading and self assessment process. In the end, your grade is based on how other students in the class grade your essay.
Midterm: I kinda forgot what happened during the midterm. I remember going "?????" in my head though. It was mostly multiple choice and some were free response.
Final: all of it was free-response so you had to show your work. the final practice exam was helpful though. For both the midterm and final, how you do your work may be very different to how Russell does the work so keep that in mind.
Arlene Russell herself: to the student reading this, you are much better off teaching yourself with the supplemental readings on CCLE, recorded lectures, and your TAs. Russell is somewhat helpful and she is sometimes clear on her instructions. We're allowed to ask her questions on piazza and I remember at one point Russell went M.I.A. on piazza when we had an entire lab due soon. Whenever she did answer questions on piazza, her explanations can be vague, sometimes a little rude and she'll just say "yes," "no," or "look at *attached message*" She does upload practice problems for midterms and for the final. She also provides the lab manual on CCLE.
As I am writing this I am feeling angry so to finish this review, I started referring her as Arlene instead of Professor Russell.
Most of what I think has been covered in other reviews. I actually showed up to lectures (which I thought were alright) but really just to be reminded what's going on, cause I wasn't sure half the time. I just wanted to say as someone who genuinely likes chemistry but is in a pretty unrelated major, I thought this class was pretty perfect. There was quite a few deadlines to keep track of, but nothing individually was too bad. I quite enjoyed the analyzing data and going into the chemistry behind the experiments without having to actually conduct them. (Titrations bore me out of my mind.) Definitely if you have no intention of ever working in a chem lab and don't care for the hands-on experience, I would very much recommend this online class. Bonus that I didn't have to buy a lab coat or any of that.
As a disclaimer, this class was fully online during Spring 2020 because of quarantine.
The class is very much what you would expect out of a lab class, but requires much more work on assignments than what you'd expect for a 3 unit class.
The class is uncurved, and each quarter depends on lab participation (3 hours mandatory in breakout rooms), lab reports both before and after the lab, quizzes, some peer-review writings, one midterm, and one final.
The online labs were very simple. The TA would give a demonstration, and would split us into groups to either work on postlab reports or work on a worksheet related to the week's lab topic.
Lectures were not worth going to, and slides were posted online. Usually, the class would probably require a textbook, but since the quarter was online, we could use electronics and CCLE during lab. Quizzes are easy and Prof. Russell allowed multiple retakes up until the deadline.
Midterms were super duper difficult, but final was much easier. Overall, the professor had some lenient allowances, but the transition to online wasn't smooth and she isn't exactly tech savvy. Her answers to questions were kind of vague, so definitely find a friend to work with in this class. The material isn't difficult but she and the TAs are particular with formatting and grading. The class doesn't really require prior knowledge from 20A and 20B.
I think that the transition to the online lab format was a bit too much for Prof. Russell. The CCLE was incredibly disorganised, the only reason I was able to keep up with the seemingly random due dates was because of my TA (shoutout to Kat lol), and the lectures just weren't very engaging. I stopped going to the lectures after about week 2 and just did the assignments by looking up the assignment topics, and they were straightforward enough that I was able to do well on them (although I was taking chem 20B at the same time so I think that may have helped as well, so maybe take that with a grain of salt). The final was very straightforward as well, however the multiple-choice format for the midterm was not great (hopefully that was just because the class was online). Overall, I think Prof. Russell wasn't a great lecturer, had rather arbitrary due dates, and gave us a lot of loosely related busywork (those calibrated peer reviews were such a pain) but she listened to student concerns, especially at the end of the quarter. Maybe this class will be better when we're actually able to take the class on campus (rip)
So it was online, so for lab section it lasted about an hour sometimes doing busy work and then you have an hour lecture in person which was helpful, but tbh just looking at her recorded lectures beforehand were enough. It's best if you take this class with 20B, but not a huge deal because a lot of this stuff is surface level chem stuff.
BUT, the workload was annoying. There were so many typos in her directions and would sometimes take forever to respond to us on Piazza with the answer. How well you do on the labs also depend on how chill your TA is. Mine was really sweet and lenient and definitely utilize your TA, they give better answers and are on your side and they want you to do well. I spent so long doing the lab reports and they're tedious and sometimes doing calculations over and over again. The midterm and final were fair, but I did have to study for them. We also did quizzes, but write them down because about 5-6 out of 18 questions from our midterm were from those quizzes and it was online multiple choice so we didn't have to show work.
Arlene is really nice, but not the most organized and not always the best at explaining some stuff and technologically challenged so CCLE was a mess. Overall thought this class was gonna be easier, but it was not, you spend a lot of time doing the lab reports (post and pre) and at least for me as a Mat Sci major, I will never have to use most of this stuff. She was accommodating and sent out a survey on how she could improve so that was nice because she wants you to do well, but sometimes accidentally gives us more work than we can handle. But use her lecture notes to study and the problem sets she gives out because some of those questions were really similar to those on the midterm and final. Also, try to get a friends old lab notebook, they do a lot of the same experiments with the same questions.
Arlene was not helpful at all throughout the quarter. She's pretty rude and inconsiderate. Her assignments often have various typos and misleading instructions that even confuse the TAs. This was overall a fun class, chemistry labs are always more fun than the lecture but Arlene was no assistance whatsoever. Her due dates also made no sense. I highly recommend chem 20L just not with her.
Disclaimer: I had an easy TA grade my labs, some of my friends didn't. I also ended up in a group of three so it was easier to split our work and we were good lab partners. One partner was also very, very intelligent, kind, and really good at delegating tasks (shoutout to you, just know you carried my dumbass). The other guy was cool too, overall I got lucky.
Lab partners (or in my case groups) are assigned for the first half and then picked yourself for the second half.
For the test.
Midterm: Do the practice problems she gives out, the midterm is entirely based off of them. Same questions, different numbers, no tricks or anything you need to think about. Average my quarter was ~45/50. If you do better on the final, she ignores the midterm grade and just counts the final. (crazy right)
Final: I got lucky and did an old final. Its pretty much the same, even had some same questions. Again do the practice problems, but only for the ones she puts on the study guide. If I hadn't done the old final the test would've been a lot trickier.
Lectures: You don't need to go. Trust me, everything is covered in lab or in your manual and she posts pretty thorough power points.
Pre/Post Labs: The hardest part about the course, try to get a friend's old ones to compare answers because some of the pre and post lab questions are hard, but most are pretty manageable though. A lot of busy work and they take a long time to do.
Labs: Again, I had a lab group of 3, so we were ALWAYS the first ones done. Some are fun, some are frustrating (looking at you titrations), but we always ended up leaving at least an hour early, most of the time an hour and a half, and some times 2 hours early.
Professor Russel seemed nice. She went out of her way to email me to schedule a time to pick up the lab manual I had lost. She also seemed very lenient about grading (midterm thing + gave some extra credit). Nothing is curved so what you get is what you get. An A is 100-90% though. I didn't think she was a very effective lecturer that's why I never went to lecture. Also the head TA guy was pretty annoying and borderline creepy. Overall, it was fine. I would take her again if it was something easy like 20L but definitely not if I actually had to learn something like in 30a.
Rusell is the most adorable professor ever! She's a sweet, elderly lady who is always willing to help. I know, her lectures are not the easiest to follow, but whenever I went to office hours to ask about lecture, she was very kind an patient to answer my questions. Her availability was awesome too! Two office hours each week, plus during finals week, she and the TA's had 16 hours of office hours among themselves! Her tests are very fair: 1 normal midterm with calculations and short answer, 1 online final that was doable but very time-restrained. Overall, a very nice person, fair lecturer, and a useful resource at office hours.
You only see the professor once a week, so it really matters who you have as TA. My TA was much harder than the other TAs; I think this makes a difference in my grades. The first midterm was hard, but the final was manageable within the time limit (50 mins for both exams). Make sure you practice for the midterms and finals beforehand, as they were time constrained. The book Oxtoby or Zumdahl (textbook for Chem 20A/20B) helps me a lot studying for Lab, because basically it's just the same concept. Try to do as well on lab reports as possible; these account for 60% of the actual grade. If you don't get something and can't make it to office hours, go to Pang's lecture if you can. To be honest, I don't think having a good professor for labs matters as much as having a good TA though.
i don't think she's that nice... she was mean to me in office hour. even though u can look at notes for the midterm and final, they don't help at all. her exams really have not that much relevance to the materials. her lectures are boring too!