Professor

David Smallberg

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4.0
Overall Ratings
Based on 329 User s
Easiness 2.8 / 5 How easy the class is, 1 being extremely difficult and 5 being easy peasy.
Workload 2.6 / 5 How light the workload is, 1 being extremely heavy and 5 being extremely light.
Clarity 4.1 / 5 How clear the professor is, 1 being extremely unclear and 5 being very clear.
Helpfulness 3.9 / 5 How helpful the professor is, 1 being not helpful at all and 5 being extremely helpful.

Reviews (329)

1 of 25
1 of 25
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Dec. 25, 2019
Quarter: Fall 2019
Grade: A

Smallberg seems to have plenty of reviews already that give a pretty good gist of him and the class. Here are some things I'll emphasize:

1) He does an excellent job of teaching the material, showcasing every detail, and making sure the class can follow along with him.
2) His lectures can get very dry, especially since they are almost two hours long.
3) He does not use slides. He just writes out different programs that illustrate what he wants to teach the class. This worked for me as it showed me the actual application of each lesson, but it requires you to take good notes.
4) Midterm 1 and 2 were combined this quarter and it was fairly easy with around a 90 average.
5) Final was more difficult than the midterm but still manageable. Average was around an 80.
6) Projects aren't too bad but there are a lot of them (7 in total) so just make sure to manage your time properly.

Helpful?

9 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 31
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
April 10, 2021
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A

If your correctness score is 60 or below, it may not be because of a lack of
understanding of C++, but something more fundamental: You ignored
repeated admonitions in the spec and in class to avoid specific foolish
mistakes, yet you made them anyway. Whatever your field of study is, you
must fix this characteristic about yourself. No employer would dare hire
someone who ignores repeated spoken and written directives: You'd pose a
risk to the safety of yourself and others if you ignore safety rules, a
risk to the financial health of the company if you ignore legal regulations,
and a drain on productivity if your ignoring specifications causes you or
others to devote more time later on to correct your mistakes.

What's exasperating is that despite all that was said above, there will be
people who will ask for a re-examination of their correctness score
without saying which test case numbers to look at or without having tried
those cases under multiple compilers or without running the Project 2
tester mentioned in FAQ #7. Those people are exhibiting the exact
characteristic that may have caused them to make the mistake that cost
them so many points: They don't pay attention to what they read.

Helpful?

7 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 32
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
March 16, 2021
Quarter: Winter 2021
Grade: A

Had taken CS 31 and CS 32 virtually with Smallberg. He does not usually use slides, he sometimes writes codes in Word, and the lectures can get boring. BUT STILL, he's an absolute legend and a wonderful man. Let's boost this man's rating.

Helpful?

4 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
June 19, 2020
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: A

Smallberg is a legend. I'm just here to add to the abundance of reviews for this beautiful man.

Helpful?

12 3 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 32
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
June 23, 2020
Quarter: Spring 2020
Grade: A

A lot of people were ragging on him for being slow with grading this quarter (Spring 2020), but objectively that's a pretty minor consideration when you're evaluating the effectiveness of a professor. Smallberg teaches the class very well. As a lot of reviews have already said, he's not the most engaging lecturer due to how much he pores over the details, but if you pay attention, you'll find that he really does such a good job explaining concepts. I always came out of lecture understanding a new topic pretty well.
There's obviously a lot of complaints about the workload, which does get pretty heavy after week 6. But it's NOT unmanageable. Yes, Project 3 is extremely tedious and does take 20-30 hours to complete, but we get two weeks to do it. If you plan properly, you'll be fine. Smallberg was actually lenient this quarter and gave a relatively easy Project 4, and yet people still love to complain.
Honestly I don't get all the hate Smallberg gets. This dude works harder than any professor I've ever had. He designs unique projects each quarter for CS32, and that means he also has to come up with new test cases every time. Grading in this class is a more intense process than others, so it's obviously going to take longer than other classes to get grades back.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this class with Smallberg. I never attended Nachenberg's lectures so I can't give a comparison, but I will say that this class with Smallberg taught me a lot, and is a very valuable class to have under your belt.

Helpful?

9 2 Please log in to provide feedback.
Aug. 29, 2019
Quarter: Fall 2018
Grade: A

Smallberg is an absolute legend. He probably knows more about C++ than Bjarne Stroustrup and Dennis Ritchie (whom he mentions a lot). This is class is one my all-time favorites! It's also quite easy if you're willing to put in the effort with a good attitude. If you took AP CS in high school, you're chilling.

Helpful?

9 2 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 32
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
June 23, 2020
Quarter: Spring 2020
Grade: A

Though Smallberg was quite slow on grading (thanks to his dual 31/32 teaching workload), he was an effective and thorough lecturer. Overall the content was far more interesting than CS 31, with the homeworks and projects not being terribly difficult (concept wise). Since the content pacing was kind of slow, reading Nachenberg's slides helped a lot. Project 3 was a huge time suck, but good enough planning (and starting early) made it mostly manageable in the end. Due to COVID, the midterms were a weird single question format, and the final was made no-harm (though it was significantly harder than the midterms). TAs and LAs were helpful and responsive. Good luck!

Helpful?

6 1 Please log in to provide feedback.
Sept. 14, 2019
Quarter: Spring 2019
Grade: A-

As others said, the projects can be time consuming. Being a complete beginner, it took me several hours every day to complete the projects. Tests were hard for me and I completely tanked the first midterm, but pulled through for the second which saved me.

Smallberg is a good professor who clearly knows a lot about what he teaches. Discussion sections were not helpful for me unless I had a specific question. Textbook was beneficial to me.

Helpful?

2 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
Dec. 6, 2022
Quarter: Fall 2022
Grade: N/A

Smallberg is a good professor and explains concepts well, but I'm REALLY not a fan of the "flipped class" format we had this quarter. I can't focus while watching online lectures, so I really disliked the fact that ALL of our lectures were online while in-person time was only for Q&As.

Helpful?

2 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
Jan. 3, 2023
Quarter: Fall 2022
Grade: A

I must say, Smallberg is NOT the hype that he is made out to be. While he is obviously a brilliant professor, extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter, and has his engaging moments, there are a few notable caveats in his teaching style I want to draw attention to. (Note: if you're a first-year CS or EE major, you basically have no choice but to take him, as he is the only professor for CS 31 in fall).

Smallberg uses a flipped classroom style of teaching. He does a meticulous job of prerecording an entire quarter's worth of lectures that you watch on your own time, and the listed class time is spent in Q&A sessions. While I can see how some may like this, I thoroughly hated it, as the lectures were sooooo dry. In Q&A sessions (think about them like 200-person office hours), Smallberg is actually pretty funny: at the direct expense of an unfortunate few. He is not afraid to humiliate you in front your hundreds of peers if you ask questions that he deems "beneath" him, to the point where I would feel uncomfortable asking questions (even through I was fortunate enough to never be directly called out by him). It doesn't help that the class is 80% men, so I can only imagine the impostor syndrome my female peers could potentially have felt. Additionally, grading and curving is BRUTAL. The class is a war of attrition. There are no defined cutoffs for specific grades when the class begins; your projects and tests basically go into a black box that gives you a letter grade at the end of the day, so hoping and praying is the name of the game. Everyone is so smart that even the extremely difficult final was not curved. Despite getting a solid B- on the final, I was lucky enough to scrape by a 93%.

Helpful?

2 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 31
Quarter: Fall 2019
Grade: A
Dec. 25, 2019

Smallberg seems to have plenty of reviews already that give a pretty good gist of him and the class. Here are some things I'll emphasize:

1) He does an excellent job of teaching the material, showcasing every detail, and making sure the class can follow along with him.
2) His lectures can get very dry, especially since they are almost two hours long.
3) He does not use slides. He just writes out different programs that illustrate what he wants to teach the class. This worked for me as it showed me the actual application of each lesson, but it requires you to take good notes.
4) Midterm 1 and 2 were combined this quarter and it was fairly easy with around a 90 average.
5) Final was more difficult than the midterm but still manageable. Average was around an 80.
6) Projects aren't too bad but there are a lot of them (7 in total) so just make sure to manage your time properly.

Helpful?

9 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 31
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Fall 2020
Grade: A
April 10, 2021

If your correctness score is 60 or below, it may not be because of a lack of
understanding of C++, but something more fundamental: You ignored
repeated admonitions in the spec and in class to avoid specific foolish
mistakes, yet you made them anyway. Whatever your field of study is, you
must fix this characteristic about yourself. No employer would dare hire
someone who ignores repeated spoken and written directives: You'd pose a
risk to the safety of yourself and others if you ignore safety rules, a
risk to the financial health of the company if you ignore legal regulations,
and a drain on productivity if your ignoring specifications causes you or
others to devote more time later on to correct your mistakes.

What's exasperating is that despite all that was said above, there will be
people who will ask for a re-examination of their correctness score
without saying which test case numbers to look at or without having tried
those cases under multiple compilers or without running the Project 2
tester mentioned in FAQ #7. Those people are exhibiting the exact
characteristic that may have caused them to make the mistake that cost
them so many points: They don't pay attention to what they read.

Helpful?

7 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 32
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Winter 2021
Grade: A
March 16, 2021

Had taken CS 31 and CS 32 virtually with Smallberg. He does not usually use slides, he sometimes writes codes in Word, and the lectures can get boring. BUT STILL, he's an absolute legend and a wonderful man. Let's boost this man's rating.

Helpful?

4 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 32
Quarter: Winter 2020
Grade: A
June 19, 2020

Smallberg is a legend. I'm just here to add to the abundance of reviews for this beautiful man.

Helpful?

12 3 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 32
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Spring 2020
Grade: A
June 23, 2020

A lot of people were ragging on him for being slow with grading this quarter (Spring 2020), but objectively that's a pretty minor consideration when you're evaluating the effectiveness of a professor. Smallberg teaches the class very well. As a lot of reviews have already said, he's not the most engaging lecturer due to how much he pores over the details, but if you pay attention, you'll find that he really does such a good job explaining concepts. I always came out of lecture understanding a new topic pretty well.
There's obviously a lot of complaints about the workload, which does get pretty heavy after week 6. But it's NOT unmanageable. Yes, Project 3 is extremely tedious and does take 20-30 hours to complete, but we get two weeks to do it. If you plan properly, you'll be fine. Smallberg was actually lenient this quarter and gave a relatively easy Project 4, and yet people still love to complain.
Honestly I don't get all the hate Smallberg gets. This dude works harder than any professor I've ever had. He designs unique projects each quarter for CS32, and that means he also has to come up with new test cases every time. Grading in this class is a more intense process than others, so it's obviously going to take longer than other classes to get grades back.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this class with Smallberg. I never attended Nachenberg's lectures so I can't give a comparison, but I will say that this class with Smallberg taught me a lot, and is a very valuable class to have under your belt.

Helpful?

9 2 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 31
Quarter: Fall 2018
Grade: A
Aug. 29, 2019

Smallberg is an absolute legend. He probably knows more about C++ than Bjarne Stroustrup and Dennis Ritchie (whom he mentions a lot). This is class is one my all-time favorites! It's also quite easy if you're willing to put in the effort with a good attitude. If you took AP CS in high school, you're chilling.

Helpful?

9 2 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 32
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Quarter: Spring 2020
Grade: A
June 23, 2020

Though Smallberg was quite slow on grading (thanks to his dual 31/32 teaching workload), he was an effective and thorough lecturer. Overall the content was far more interesting than CS 31, with the homeworks and projects not being terribly difficult (concept wise). Since the content pacing was kind of slow, reading Nachenberg's slides helped a lot. Project 3 was a huge time suck, but good enough planning (and starting early) made it mostly manageable in the end. Due to COVID, the midterms were a weird single question format, and the final was made no-harm (though it was significantly harder than the midterms). TAs and LAs were helpful and responsive. Good luck!

Helpful?

6 1 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 31
Quarter: Spring 2019
Grade: A-
Sept. 14, 2019

As others said, the projects can be time consuming. Being a complete beginner, it took me several hours every day to complete the projects. Tests were hard for me and I completely tanked the first midterm, but pulled through for the second which saved me.

Smallberg is a good professor who clearly knows a lot about what he teaches. Discussion sections were not helpful for me unless I had a specific question. Textbook was beneficial to me.

Helpful?

2 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 31
Quarter: Fall 2022
Grade: N/A
Dec. 6, 2022

Smallberg is a good professor and explains concepts well, but I'm REALLY not a fan of the "flipped class" format we had this quarter. I can't focus while watching online lectures, so I really disliked the fact that ALL of our lectures were online while in-person time was only for Q&As.

Helpful?

2 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
COM SCI 31
Quarter: Fall 2022
Grade: A
Jan. 3, 2023

I must say, Smallberg is NOT the hype that he is made out to be. While he is obviously a brilliant professor, extremely knowledgeable about the subject matter, and has his engaging moments, there are a few notable caveats in his teaching style I want to draw attention to. (Note: if you're a first-year CS or EE major, you basically have no choice but to take him, as he is the only professor for CS 31 in fall).

Smallberg uses a flipped classroom style of teaching. He does a meticulous job of prerecording an entire quarter's worth of lectures that you watch on your own time, and the listed class time is spent in Q&A sessions. While I can see how some may like this, I thoroughly hated it, as the lectures were sooooo dry. In Q&A sessions (think about them like 200-person office hours), Smallberg is actually pretty funny: at the direct expense of an unfortunate few. He is not afraid to humiliate you in front your hundreds of peers if you ask questions that he deems "beneath" him, to the point where I would feel uncomfortable asking questions (even through I was fortunate enough to never be directly called out by him). It doesn't help that the class is 80% men, so I can only imagine the impostor syndrome my female peers could potentially have felt. Additionally, grading and curving is BRUTAL. The class is a war of attrition. There are no defined cutoffs for specific grades when the class begins; your projects and tests basically go into a black box that gives you a letter grade at the end of the day, so hoping and praying is the name of the game. Everyone is so smart that even the extremely difficult final was not curved. Despite getting a solid B- on the final, I was lucky enough to scrape by a 93%.

Helpful?

2 0 Please log in to provide feedback.
1 of 25
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