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I see that none of the reviews here are newer than 2015, so let me provide a quick update. The first lecture seemed promising and Professor Bruinsma came off as a sweet Dutch man who would make this quarter enjoyable and manageable. If only that were the case.
The weekly homework assignments usually consisted of a MasteringPhysics assignment (10ish modules) and a written portion due in class. The MasteringPhysics was manageable and honestly quite helpful, but the written portions of the homework assignments (anywhere from 6-9 multipart questions) were A.) illegible, B.) more conceptual based and confusing (my excellent TA, God bless his soul, had issues understanding what was being asked sometimes), and C.) ultimately not helpful in terms of the midterms or final exam.
The lectures were 1 hour 50 minutes long and were boring beyond belief. You could just chalk that up to the material at hand, but from my experience, physics doesn't have to be boring. Corbin's physics lectures are informative, engaging, and as entertaining as physics can get (seriously, take Corbin if you can). Perhaps it would've helped if I could actually read what Bruinsma was writing on the board. I kid you not, at one point Bruinsma had a student from lecture REWRITE his notes in real time and have them projected on the big screen. Where's the logic in that? He also made mistakes quite often that had to be corrected by students in lecture.
Lecture attendance was "mandatory" in a pretty loose sense. Every so often, a sign-in sheet would make its rounds, but this happened so sporadically and seemingly with no rhyme or reason. Discussion section attendance was mandatory, but I'm glad it was because my TA (Patrick) did such a good job at explaining loose ends from lecture, as well as helping us figure out the homework assignments. Seriously, thank you Patrick.
As for the exams, both midterms and the final had "bonus questions" that could be a blessing or a curse depending on what side of the curve you find yourself on. For example, the bonus question (worth 25 points) on the first midterm brought the average up to near perfect, with some people scoring 100/75. I personally didn't care too much about the bonus questions being included, but when you explicitly state that the second midterm WILL NOT have a bonus question, and it ends up having one, it's not the best look.. Similarly, Bruinsma stated that the final exam would not have a double-slit problem, but lo and behold question #6 I think was a double-slit problem. There also was not a single question on optics, despite putting quite a bit of emphasis on it in lecture and the homework assignments. I don't know if Bruinsma was deliberately misleading us, or if he just doesn't read his exams before making 200 copies and distributing them (typos galore as well), but come on, get it together.
Overall, I can not recommend this class to anyone taking 1C. You'll likely ending up teaching yourself from the textbook and Mastering Physics. There is also the chance that by the grace of God, have a TA like Patrick who makes life so much easier, but that's not a guarantee. Take Corbin if you can.
He was an okay lecturer, but he wasn't the clearest, so I had trouble keeping up and ended up just tuning him out and trying to learn from the textbook during class (which you had to attend, because he sporadically passed around an attendance sheet). His tests were fair, and he uploaded handwritten notes to CCLE, which helped. The median on the first midterm (which was very easy) was 100%, though, which kind of screwed with the curve. He made the second midterm and the final more difficult, though. Overall, I would say that his class was pretty doable.
Those who complained that they cannot read his writing do not know how to read cursive, which is not a comment on the intelligence of others but rather the differences in educational standards between countries and generations. American students no longer learn cursive script and 60-year-old Dutchmen apparently did. If you can’t read cursive, then you’d better learn it you take this class.
His tests are fair and the material is quite interesting. The other reviews are pretty much accurate, but the average for the final happened to be 68%. Having taken Bondarenko for 1B and Musafa for 1A, I’d say he’s very good at what he does and is about on par with Bondarenko in terms of approachability and clarity.
What the fuck. Who in the right mind curves a class to a b- ???? I got over a hundred percent on the first midterm and a low a on the second midterm but his grading scheme makes pretty much everyone get a b- . bullshit grading scheme, really shitty lectures, don’t take this class if u can.
tl;dr Overall, he is a good professor, who teaches better than most professors in the Physics department and gives fair tests compared to what he teaches in class, to what he assigns for homework, and to what he assigns for readings.
- Mastering Physics online
- Questions from the textbook and written questions by him.
The Mastering Physics questions all help you understand conceptually what's going on, but if you don't care about that, then just Chegg the answers because they really weren't tested on.
The questions from the textbook and the written questions by him that he gives out are where the gold is at. At least one of the questions from each of the tests are from this part of the homework with values of variables changed.
- Midterm 1:
- Average 93%
- Midterm 2:
- Average 63%
- Final: Not given
How to succeed:
- Do the homework (I found it useful to Chegg the answers then understand how they came to those answers)
- Go to lectures to get an understanding of what you should read from the textbook because he's actually a lenient professor in that he says he'll only test on what he teaches in class.
- Read the textbook to better clarify concepts you didn't understand in class and write down all the formulas on the cheat notecard(s) he allows on tests. His tests are just knowing how to manipulate the formulas.
- He gives 1 side of a notecard for the first midterm
- He gives 2 sides of a notecard for the second midterm
- He gives 4 sides of a notecard for the final.
- The discussion is mandatory, but you can just sign in and leave if you want to; however, the TA, Patrick, was actually a good TA so most students stayed.
- He's a great teacher who teaches concepts well and gives a good overview of topics that you need to solidify when reading the textbook. He may use vector calculus sometimes to explain concepts, but he doesn't test on it (unless it's a bonus question)
- Most of the people that I know who complain about the class didn't read the textbook because they expected the information to be hand fed to them by the teacher and TA. That's not how school works. We have books for a reason.
- Having taken Corbin and Coroniti for 1A and 1B respectively, I can say that I learned more from Bruinsma than I did from Coroniti and felt that the tests were fairer compared to Corbin's.
Having taken Coroniti and Kusenko for 1A and 1B, respectively, I found Bruinsma was much better at explaining concepts than they were, and overall made Physics 1C a much more bearable class than 1A and 1B were for me. As I'm writing this, I haven't gotten my final grade back, but I scored 68/70 on the first midterm, and 78/90 on the second, which were in the "low-end" A range, based on the median and what Bruinsma said approximate grades were. I got an A- in 1A, and a B in 1B, so I'm generally in that B->A- range for physics courses.
All in all, he runs the class pretty fairly, and it breaks down as follows:
Pretty much each week, you'll get a set of problems, usually split between 5-8 Mastering Physics problems, and either 3-6 problems from the textbook, or 3-6 problems from Bruinsma himself. Contrary to the other review, I think the Mastering Physics portions were a waste of time. They generally hyper-stressed "deriving" the formulas, which was entirely pointless - you just ended up painstakingly typing equations into Mastering Physics after reading them in the book. It was more of a "read and write this back at me" exercise, than a learning exercise. The textbook problems were just standard textbook fare, and were good both as practice for the exams, and for reinforcing concepts. Bruinsma's custom problems were a mixed bag - he had mostly normal, textbook-like problems, but there was usually 1 or 2 conceptual (often vector calculus heavy) questions that were more frustrating than enlightening. Even then, though, the TAs would go over the confusing homework problems (often at the direction of Bruinsma). Plus, homework was 5% of the grade, so, at a certain point, you learn to just do your best and roll with it.
Discussion was very helpful. Patrick McMillin was one of the TAs, and he made sure to address the class' points of confusion, and give homework help, if needed. Discussion was mandatory, but you could just check off the sheet and then leave, so... not really mandatory. I'd say it's worth it to go.
I think lecture was extremely helpful. Typical 1 hour and 50 minutes, with a 10-15 minute break halfway through. Lecture was said to be "mandatory" at the start of the quarter, but he passed a sign-in sheet around maybe 3 times the rest of the quarter, so just keep that in mind. He forbids the usage of laptops or phones during lecture, and encourages you to step outside if you need to take a call or something. To me, it wasn't a big deal: physics is hard for me, so I usually do my best to focus and take handwritten notes, but that policy may annoy you.
As for the lectures themselves: whether you read the book before class, after class or not at all, Bruinsma does a good job of introducing the concepts, and explaining them clearly. He also made a point of it to go over more examples, based on our class feedback. I think the most important thing to note is that you will have to speak up if you think he's going too fast, if you have a question, or you'd like to see an example; he can get a bit carried away (usually trying to do a proof in vector calculus, which he likes a lot). However, he's more than happy to slow down if someone asks.
Midterms (Each midterm: 22.5%)
There were 2 midterms, in weeks 3 and 7. For the first midterm, you can bring one notecard, with one side filled with equations and notes. For the second midterm, it's one notecard with both sides filled out. Midterms were 3-5 questions long, typically with 1-2 of those being problems pulled directly from the book (usually from the "example" problems that are in most sections of the University Physics textbook). The other questions were of Bruinsma's own making, I'm sure, and were generally pretty fair. He does like to make at least one part of one question harder or more deeply involved than the rest, to differentiate grades, I suppose, but it's doable. He gives you practice exams before each midterm, and they generally reflect the real thing in terms of difficulty. Each midterm also had a bonus question (which was odd, because he did specifically say that there wouldn't be a bonus question on the second one, but I'm not complaining). The bonus questions stressed in-class examples, generally. They also weren't pure extra credit in the sense that you couldn't get over 100% on a test. If you had a 60/70 based on the rest of the test, for example, and the bonus question gave you +15, you would just get a 70/70, not a 75/70.
Final (50% of the grade)
The final was 7 normal questions, and 1 bonus one. You could bring two notecard, with notes and equations written on both sides of each. One question was a direct repeat of a question from the first midterm, which itself was a direct repeat of an example from the book. The rest were questions of his own design, and were pretty fair, I thought - of the same caliber of textbook examples and the practice exam. Overall, I think it was slightly easier than the practice exam, which actually had me a little scared going in. Know that he did seem to make more questions have those harder, more in-depth subsections (where he asks something that might require you to make a little leap to get there), but, overall, it was very doable, especially in the 3 hours you get for a final. Also, I feel like I ought to mention that Bruinsma brought grapes and tangerines for the class, as a "healthy snack" for the exam, which was pretty awesome.
Overall, I think Bruinsma's one of the good physics professors. I actually learned the material with his help, instead of just figuring out how to regurgitate proofs or formulas, like I did for 1A and 1B. At the end of the day, it's still physics: it's not particularly fun or engaging, unless you like it enough to major in it. But Bruinsma does his best to make it interesting, and he's got a pretty wry sense of humor. Plus, he genuinely cares about your understanding of the material, and will do his best to answer any questions you might have. I'd definitely take it with him again.