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Yoffe is an intelligent researcher with a passion for thermodynamics HOWEVER, he is by far the worst professor I have ever had. Due to Yoffe's intelligence, he goes on explaining concepts in poor detail and does not talk about the assumptions he makes. I will be fair, the first three weeks of this class that had partial derivatives was an absolute nightmare, but by around week five, his lectures became significantly better so hats off to him for that. Regardless, even after his improvements, he continued to teach material poorly. What bothers me about Yoffe the most is not his teaching ability but rather his attitude. During office hours and even lecture he would make rude, sarcastic, arrogant comments when students asked questions and did not handle himself professionally. His office hours are okay but it's hard to show up when your intelligence as an upper division biochemistry student and the best public university in the world is constantly being ridiculed. His TA Chen was terrible and would mutter as he wrote equations on the board. Even after getting terrible TA reviews last quarter, Yoffe continued to let him teach. The other TA KJ was amazing. Although even she was sometimes confused, she was clear about the knowledge she could provide you. Outside of little things like Yoffe constantly showing up late to class and erasing the chalkboard before you could even write everything down, his exams were poor. He emailed us that Jule Thompson Expansion wouldn't be on the midterm when there were then conceptual questions about it. During week 2 I wrote in my notes because he explicitly stated only Pressure Volume work would be tested but on the final, he brings out tension work out of nowhere. Yoffe's curriculum is also lackluster. Although he has taught this class before and at community college, the homework questions often do not provide you with all the information you need, they are often irrelevant and do not prepare you for the exams, and you are not prepared to answer them with what you have learned in lecture. People who get the best grades on the homework are those who have Chegg accounts or money to buy online homework services, not kids who start the homework early. Yoffe lectures based off of another professor's notes, tells us to read the textbook and the other professor's notes. Between three different sources of information and a variety of handouts and emails that Yoffe constantly sends (I've received more than a 100 emails from this buffoon this quarter), it is hard to understand what you need to know for the exam and what is trivial. Yoffe also doesn't even seem to take his own final seriously because his phone went off multiple times in the middle of the exam. Yoffe is a physical chemistry genius and has a true passion for thermodynamics, but he has no business teaching students due to his poor curriculum, attitude, and inability to handle things logistically. 110A is a tough class, especially for people who will never use it again in their lives, but having a professor who can teach, can make this class which some consider the hardest one in the biochem major, much more tolerable.
I understand why Yoffe got the reviews that he got the first quarter he taught. Logistically, having two sections where he gave two different midterm and subsequently different final exams where he effectively punished students for their good performance to artificially create a curve was bound to make students angry - for good reason.
It was for that reason that I spent most of spring quarter super wary of him even though I did like him for the most part. And I will say, naturally, this wasn't an issue in spring, and I believe he took the feedback he got and has tried to be more understanding/patient.
I HAVE seen him be randomly snappy sometimes, as others have commented on him being sarcastic/mean, but this is pretty rare. More often than not he is patient and won't criticize you for curiosity. He's a big nerd so he's the type to appreciate that (I honestly say this in a good way, as a big nerd myself). This is good for creating a conversation around thermodynamics but on the flip side it sometimes it can be distracting and it really is tough to get into the meat of thermodynamics (just generally speaking, unrelated to Yoffe). The learning curve can be enormous for the first 3-4 weeks of the course.I ended up with an A but I thought I was going to fail for those first 3-4 weeks as I was scrambling to figure out how to approach such a new way of learning, with excessive definitions and partial derivatives etc. Again, I am certain this is just the nature of upper div thermodynamics and not particularly related to Yoffe.
For what it's worth, Yoffe wrote very fair exams, although I think KJ was crucial for making this class more bearable since she would tell Yoffe what problems were issues for us on the homework sets and then she/Yoffe would then go over those problems in more detail. Then, like a third of the midterm were just those "difficult" problems.
The final exam had some weirdness but you have to come to expect that from any sort of physics (and in this case physical chemistry) class, I think. I freaked out when I saw the problems and on my initial run-through didn't do shit except for MC, but after re-reading the problems and thinking about them, realized they weren't as bad as I had thought and I actually appreciated the thought exercise.
With that said, it does still suck that the homework problems don't necessarily correlate so well to the exam problems. Some do, some don't, and it's kind of up to you to figure out what's appropriate. But the fact that we had 2 cheat sheets front and back (4 sides total) meant that if you made a stellar cheat sheet, you were essentially set for the exams, and I did feel that way for both the midterm and final exams.
The worst part though was the fact that we would be doing homework problems when we hadn't covered the content in class yet, which just caused more confusion. Yoffe as a lecturer was not terrible - he had his good days and his meh days, but more than anything the structure was just not perfect. The errors in the solutions and the constant emails to follow up just added to the clutter and to the anxiety while taking the course.
In the end, though, Yoffe was way more generous in grading for spring quarter than I would have ever expected. The fact that he gave ~36% of the class that took the final A+'s or A's (9 and 28 out of 102 students respectively) is astounding. If you include A-'s that number goes up to over 40%. And again, the exams were fair and I appreciated his attitude toward teaching overall and desire to improve despite the flaws.
Bottom line, at least for spring quarter he doesn't deserve a 1-something on BruinWalk and Chem 110A is tough at all times. I genuinely believe that I got lucky taking it with him this quarter, so that has to say something. IMO this man certainly deserves above a 3, although he still has room for improvement.
CHEM 110A: for a class mostly comprised of biochemistry majors who are usually not interested in thermodynamics but are required to take it anyway, it seems extremely hard for any professor who teaches this class to receive positive reviews. As a chemistry major interested in the field of physical chemistry, I would like to provide a slightly different viewpoint on CHEM 110A and Professor Yoffe.
I liked Professor Yoffe's lectures and teaching style. He uses a combination of Professor Gelbart's lecture notes which are posted on CCLE (he was Prof Yoffe's PhD advisor, and he is without a doubt one the best professors in the UCLA Chem dept), his own notes (he doesn't post those on CCLE though) and the textbook for his lectures. During his lectures, he clearly explained each and every step behind certain concepts, derivations or practical problems, and everything made sense (at least to me). I agree that the first few weeks of the lecture can be daunting for students as they were heavily math-driven, especially with all the partial derivatives, total differentials and state function shenanigans; however, if you have previously mastered MATH 32A, you would face no or very few issues understanding the material. More importantly, I felt like he really cared about student learning and he always sought for feedbacks and improvements for his lectures. One of the questions he asked the most frequently to students and TAs was "was my lecture clear enough?". He also sent a Simpsons thermodynamics video to the whole class during Week 2, which was intriguing. Contrary to the previous review, I cannot recall a single incident where he made rude comments towards the students.
I liked his office hours. He hosted three office hours a week; Monday office hours were mostly for homework-related questions (since the homework was always due on Tuesday), and Thursday/Friday ones were more for conceptual understanding of the lecture materials. He often expanded outside of the lecture material during the Thur/Fri office hours, talking about more thermodynamics, chemistry in general, and even hiking in the Temescal Gateway Park(!). Again, I felt that he was very clear in his explanations of homework problems and confusing concepts in his office hours.
I liked his exams. There was one midterm and one final, and the questions were both interesting and solvable. I especially liked the phase diagram, Clapeyron equation, and "prove with the math" question (Final Q1). He allowed 2-page double sided cheat sheets for both exams, which was very helpful to everyone. The midterm had an average of 69%, and the questions with the lowest average % were derivation of Tf of adiabatic VAN DER WAALS gas given the expression of dU and P, and adiabatic IRREVERSIBLE expansion of an ideal gas. The previous review states that he tested on the Joule-Thompson experiment (I assume this is Midterm Q3) despite him emailing to the class that he won't be testing on that material (this is true), but what this question was really about free expansion of ideal and real gases, the fact that dU=0 for isolated systems, and the effect of potential energy between real gas particles in the change of its kinetic energy (i.e. temperature) when the volume changes. I still haven't received the results for finals, but I can definitely assure you that just like the previous reviewer mentioned, there indeed was a question about stretch work (you either had to derive dA for stretch work from scratch using the definition of A and U, or recognise that dw=Γdl for stretch work is just a variation of dw=-P dV for PV work). If he had explicitly stated before that only PV work is going to be tested (I can't remember this because I have bad memory), it could be said as an unfair question, but still it wasn't impossible to solve. He also included some funny cartoons at the end of the midterm and the final, including the xkcd dimensional analysis (https://xkcd.com/687/). After the final exam I claimed the dimensions were wrong, but the professor explained they were actually correct!
That being said, I am not just equipped with compliments for Prof Yoffe. There were definitely some aspects that could be improved.
I wasn't entirely fond of his homework. His homework sets included problems he had created and problems straight from the book. I had no issues solving problems falling into the former category (they were mostly derivations), but I felt like there was a disconnection between the materials covered in lectures and the homework problems in the book. If you go to his Monday office hours, then he *basically* tells you the answers to the homework problems. However, other than that, I found myself not being able to solve some of the problems entirely from my lecture notes, in which case I had to resort to Chegg. In that sense I fully agree to the previous reviewer; some homework problems were not designed to test your understandings gained in professor's lectures, but to test your ability to search through the Internet.
I also have to say that his phone ringing during the finals not just once but three times, to be frank, is totally unacceptable and deserves heavy criticism.
In terms of TAs, Chen was alright, nothing special to comment though. However KJ was excellent, both in terms of marking the homework and the midterm (Weeks 1-6) and TAing in discussions (Weeks 6-10).
Overall, I loved Prof Yoffe and CHEM 110A. I was overwhelmed by Prof Yoffe's sheer passion in the subject and care to the students, and him alone influenced my decision to stick to the chemistry major (I was conflicting whether I should switch to math major or not, after getting demolished by organic chemistry series). While he wasn't perfect, he definitely does not deserve absolute criticisms like most of the reviews here.
Tips for success in this class: Review the partial derivatives from MATH 32A and total differentials from MATH 33B. When studying and preparing cheat sheets, ALWAYS consider the assumptions made and the reasons behind each step of derivations (try to use arrow to depict those, just like putting "reagents" or "reaction conditions" in organic chemistry!). Do the readings, since some of the homework questions require you to use the information from the book, not just from the lectures. Even if you hate this class, still try to go to his Monday office hours for homework problems. In the exam, ALWAYS UNDERLINE all the relevant information given to you. IF IT DOESN'T SAY REVERSIBLE, DO NOT ASSUME IT IS REVERSIBLE (looking at you, Midterm Q5). IF IT DOESN'T SAY IDEAL GAS, DO NOT ASSUME IT IS IDEAL GAS.
Good luck to others who will be taking CHEM 110A with Yoffe!
Professor Yoffe, if you're reading this, please don't kill me with the curve. You failed me last quarter and now I have to delay my graduation and pay thousands of extra dollars. I tried really hard this quarter and I've always loved physical chemistry. 20B and Math 32A were my favorite classes but 110A was just really tough for me. Kids who took professor Baugh's class had a 50%A distribution and it's really unfair how we have to work so much harder. Please don't make me spent another quarter at UCLA, my depression is really bad and I don't want to be disowned by my family. Chinese families have really high standards.
After reading the reviews from RateMyProfessor I was scared to take Yoffe, and after the first couple weeks of Chem 110A I have to admit that I was absolutely lost. This sense of being lost was not the professor's fault, however. Thermodynamics can be inherently hard for people who haven't taken a math class in a couple years, mostly because the bulk of the class requires students to work with partial derivatives as well as other concepts of calculus (31A/B and 32A stuff). Overall Chem 110A can be seen as more of a math-based course rather than a chemistry-based course.
With that out of the way, I believe that Professor Yoffe did a great job with the class, being that it was his first time teaching at UCLA. What I love about Yoffe is that he lives and breathes thermodynamics and you can tell that it's his lifetime passion. Whether it's his goofy UCLA Thermodynamic Club T-Shirt that he wore on the last day of class or his silly email about thermo in the Simpsons, Yoffe cares and you can really see it. He hold countless office hours, he responds to emails in the blink of an eye, and he's not afraid to notify the entire class via email about the slightest updates going on in the class (perhaps a little too much haha).
As far as the course itself goes it was relatively simple. Yoffe would post his lecture notes online, which were borrowed from Professor Gilbart, an established thermodynamics professor at UCLA. The grading scheme consisted of Problem Sets, Question Cards, a Midterm, and a Final.
Weekly problem sets that were assigned which were graded based on a check-plus/check/check-minus, but I found that as long as you put effort and did all the problems you should get full credit.
Question cards are essentially an automatic 100% if you attend discussion and turn it in.
For our section he made the midterm extremely easy with an average of 91%, however to counteract this average, he spend 27 odd hours preparing a difficult final with an average of 58%. He allows students to have two pages (front and back) for cheat sheets which are extremely useful to write down relevant equations. Tests are more mathematical and numerically driven rather than conceptual. To do well on the exams I would recommend establishing a solid basis of calculus which will make the concepts taught in class a lot easier to apply. I would also prepare for tests by reworking problem set questions (he posts the solutions online) and working through problems in the book.
TL:DR The course itself can be difficult for students who don't have a strong math background, however, I think Professor Yoffe does a good job teaching and I admire his passion for the subject.
Dr.Yoffe is a decent professor. 110A is a very hard class but Dr.Yoffe put in so much amounts of efforts and passion into teaching thermodynamics. My favorite part about his teaching is that he does not derive formulas with variables out of nowhere. He explains clearly about why certain variables are defined rather than simply skipping the explanation. In addition, he cares about teaching very much. I mean, how could a sarcastic professor remember a student’s question for several days and try his best to think of a perfect answer, and then reach out to the student to give his answer? How could an arrogant professor say “I do not know, but I will try my best to think an answer for you” to a student so frankly and honestly? It is true that he has flaws in teaching this class. But I would say this for sure, he is definitely not a bad and mean person. Rather, he is a super good and caring professor. If he teaches 110B next year, I would definitely take it with Dr.Yoffe!
Yoffe definitely stepped it up throughout the quarter. The class started extremely math heavy much to my concern (I told him in lecture and office hours that I just... don't know math) but really all you have to know are partial derivatives and how to integrate 1/x to be ln x. That's it!
HOMEWORK: The homework at the start of the quarter was extremely abstract and weird and also really messy lol. Throughout the quarter, I found that homework was not really relevant to the types of questions you'll be asked on exams, and it's really a matter of who can Chegg the best. Though, the homework does help you to read the question carefully!!!! You will be asked to look at very similar systems and carefully seeing the difference between reversible and irreversible will determine which route you take to solving problems.
EXAMS: woo boy after the first midterm I was pissed! I mean I scored above average but lost every single point on a question worth 25% of the midterm! the standard deviation was 20% and to me it all came down to who got that question right or not. the formula sheets are useful as hell. If you have an iPad, it makes life so much easier to scale your notes down if you're too lazy to make a proper formula sheet lol. final was very doable! to be honest, the exams aren't that bad, and you really do have to understand the systems and what you're doing and mostly logic things out if you're stuck. if something is adiabatic, write q=0 boom 2 points. basic test taking tips like that
LECTURE: this shit was disorganized as hell. he kind of just jumps from topic to topic sometimes and the concept of tutorial is weird and isn't always on thursday. just show up to lecture everyday because you never know what you'll miss. Yoffe mostly reads off of the lecture notes, so you won't need to be writing much if you annotate them. The one time that I looked at the notes ahead of time and took my own notes then followed along in lecture helped tremendously, but at the cost of two hours of my time. do what you will. I only did that once and never looked back at my notes. Just try to LISTEN in lecture more than anything. write down all the little conceptual tips he mentions because although Yoffe is a bit messy, he's pretty damn smart and will leave u little crumbs of information that will build your conceptual understanding of the material. Also, the lectures improved so much because Yoffe legit loves thermo. Like, he gets really excited and his last lecture was actually really entertaining and informative and just... good?? Like damn I clapped for him even though a month ago I booed him in lecture (he said "I heard a little boo over there" hehe)
THE MAN HIMSELF: office hours kind of sucked because he doesn't answer questions but makes students do it by asking questions back but I guess that's good for understanding but damn I'm going because I want the homework answers....... I appreciated how he would remember student questions from earlier in the week and go and try to find the answer and actually follow up! Also office hours weren't necessary before class because immediately after them was lecture and he would rehash what he told us in OH lol. I grew to like him a bit more as the quarter progressed. he's awkward as hell sometimes but I guess not the worst prof in the world because he tries more it seems
OTHER THINGS: okay KJ made the class so much more bearable. I'm honestly scared by her because I have to work with her for another class and she probably thinks I'm an idiot but u gotta respect the woman. She makes discussion worksheets, she's big on learning strategies and she's very clear and admits that she doesn't know everything. her effort shines and she gives a lot of feedback to Yoffe on how to improve the class. tbh she probably taught half of it behind the scenes. she Intense but I'm glad she exists
Chen is okay. I see him sometimes outside of class and mans is in workout clothes looking sweaty af like damn u have time to exercise but not put our HW in alphabetical order? respect
WOULD I RECOMMEND? tbh it's yoffe or felker or baugh. ur pick. christian beren is never teaching this class because they love feeding him to the freshies since he's so precious so don't wait around.
This class was extremely frustrating and hard. Yoffe uses notes from his old professor 110A professor. Since they are not his notes, he is not well prepared for lectures and makes many mistakes. When people ask him questions during class, it takes him a while to explain it or he says he will address it in an email later. He sends tons of emails weekly fixing his mistakes, but it is often confusing since there are like 10 other emails from him. The midterm was difficult and long. He tests on material that he does not really address in class. During my quarter, he was teaching 2 sections. Each section had a midterm that was one week apart, so of course the second section whose midterm was one week after the midterm for the first section was given, did way better overall. I was in the first section and the average was a C, while the second section midterm average was an A. That is insane, considering this is an extremely difficult class.
I would avoid this professor if you can unless you want to be confused and struggle with trying to do well.
Prof. Yoffe is definitely the best professor to take Chem 110A with. I'm sick of hearing people complain about him as a professor when they have no idea how much more straightforward he makes it when compared to Felker. Felker doesn't even bother to explain why we derive things with certain variables and he just gives you the math straight up, whereas Yoffe gives you tons of background and explains things to you conceptually before diving into the calculus that you need to know. He actually cares about student learning and doesn't make you feel terrified to ask a question and then make you feel dumb with his answers. Also, his tests aren't very difficult at all. As long as you go to lecture, read the textbook, and do a bunch of textbook problems, you'll be fine. Just make sure you've written down all of the derivations he went over and the ones in the book/in the homework and you'll at least get the average score on the midterm. He's really patient and kind, albeit disorganized. He definitely needs to improve his organizational skills, revise the problem set answers before posting them, and maybe practice his lectures before giving them, but his cons pale in comparison to those of Felker, Baugh, and the other pchem professors who have taught this class.