Professor

Brad Hansen

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Easiness 2.5 / 5
Clarity 4.2 / 5
Workload 2.5 / 5
Helpfulness 3.8 / 5
Most Helpful Review
I took Astronomy 5 (not physics) with Hansen in Fall 2015. I highly recommend the course, as it is a relatively easy and extremely interesting GE. Weekly homework assignments do a convenient service to you by keeping you up to date on the course material, as so long as you put reasonable effort into them, you'll do an effective job of getting the material to "stick" for the tests. Nice that this 30% HW grade contributes to that. The key is to put your all into every homework assignment - getting 100% of the questions right every week is essential to securing a solid A in the class. When in doubt on a question, don't leave it up to the grader to see where you're coming from like I did. Ask your TA on those before you turn it in to make sure you're getting the controversial/questionable ones right. Missing a couple questions on HW here and there turns out to have as much effect as missing a test question, so that's a crucial mistake to avoid. Prof Hansen's lectures are very dry and very boring - the subject material is exciting, thought-provoking, and engaging, but I found the professor to be quite the mumbler. There really isn't much point in going to lecture, as the PowerPoint slides are really the only useful tool that will come from the lecture (and those are available online). It is clear that Hansen is very intelligent and fond of Astronomy, but his lecturing is just too dry to be worthwhile. Weekly homework assignments are worth 30%, one midterm worth 30%, and the final is worth 40%. I studied the night before the midterm pretty hard and as a result found it to be pretty doable. With some luck and time spent poring over that 57 question Multiple Choice test, I ended up with a 98 on it. The average score was about 85, however. The final was noticeably more difficult, as after what I felt to be also a very strong amount of studying I ended up with a solid B. The average was an 80 and the high grade was a 92, so this one was definitely tougher. To do well on the exams, go over both lecture notes and the textbook. Start with lecture notes and get the gist of the concepts, then find all of those concepts in the book and read a little bit about them and why they're important. Many of the textbook's details will prove to be pretty important on the tests. There doesn't appear to be any curving in the class, so it frankly doesn't seem quite as easy as is suggested by those who call it a blue backpack class. The homework is a nice buffer for your grade, but you better be getting nearly all of it right, as well a getting at the very least an A- on the tests if you want to nab a solid A. I did end up with a solid A in the class but I doubt I made the cutoff by much, even with high scores on the homework and midterm. Overall, this is an excellent class to take. My favorite part was the interesting material, since the idea of Life in the Universe is really fun to explore and it results in a class that is less dependent on quantitative concepts. Be prepared to put some reasonable effort in if you want an A, but there's no doubt that it's definitely within reach.
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Easiness N/A / 5
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Easiness N/A / 5
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