Reviews for PHYS121

Information Review
Negar Heidarian Boroujeni
PHYS121

Expecting an A+
wmy78b
05/25/2022
Prof. Boroujeni is nice and helpful, she gives curve so that the average grade is around 80. However, this course is not easy at all. It has too much knowledge for you to learn within one semester. I've learnt all the things in China many years ago and I always solve these questions easily. I still think the midterm exams are so time-limited.
Negar Heidarian Boroujeni
PHYS121

Expecting a B-
Anonymous
05/15/2022
she's good. exams are straightforward, just practice problem set questions. she drops the lowest exam score too. take her
Negar Heidarian Boroujeni
PHYS121

Expecting an A
Anonymous
05/11/2022
I didn't show up to a single lecture after the first week, except for exams. All exams are curved, lowest exam grade is dropped. All the problems are very reasonable for a class of this magnitude. Can't really speak to her lecturing abilities since I never went, but her slideshows have all the information that you need to do well in the class. Labs often come across as incredibly pointless, but put in the time and you'll get a decent grade on the lab reports.
Negar Heidarian Boroujeni
PHYS121

Expecting an A+
mren
05/09/2022
I took her 121 last semester and now am working on her 122. She is a great professor even though she just started teaching at UMD since 2018 I got A+ for 121 and it's near the final of Spring2022, I'm also expecting an A+ for 122 The advantage of her course is that her lecture is clear and you can feel that she really wants you to understand. She gave two extra problems that account for 20 extra points for each exam(and these problems are not difficult, I can say that it's totally the same level as the other free-respond questions). Besides, she has three midterms and she drops the lowest one, you can see that she gives you chances to make mistakes. She sometimes curves the grade if she thinks the average is below her expectation(usually around 80) but there's no guarantee. You can ask questions on piazza or just directly email her/send a message on elms, she usually responds very soon. She also provides enough materials for you to review before each exam. The disadvantage is that they didn't grade exams very fast, usually takes 2 weeks or 3 three weeks. But on this point, I didn't care at all. Nevertheless, she will never curve/change your grade(for example if you are like 0.1 point below and get a B+ not an A-) on a personal basis because she already gives you chances to earn extra points at exams.
Negar Heidarian Boroujeni
PHYS121

Anonymous
04/19/2021
Honestly I feel like it is absolutely do-able to pass the class, but this professor/course bothers me a lot. Maybe just not translating well to an online course, I'm not sure. Don't get exam grades back until the week before the next test (almost a month later). You have to rush so much on the exams that it definitely took a toll on my grade, prof blames it on poor time management when we are not able to finish. I am generally an A student with over 4 years of college behind me, I've always been a good test-taker and never have I struggled to complete a test in the allotted time this way. Cutoff for an A is a 95. All of this compounded with the fact that she very specifically outlines how to succeed in the class and get the grade you want, yet I do every single thing she says (plus my own tried and true methods), do just about every single practice problem supplied, and I still have a low B in the class rather than the A that I wanted. Makes me hate physics which is sad bc I was excited for physics and to learn some of the concepts behind calculus, which I enjoyed despite the difficulty (and did well in). Also since the TA's grade the exams, and we pay for the expertta homework which is autograded, I'm not sure what exactly the professor does for our class besides record lecture videos with the textbook powerpoints. I do not feel that this class provides value compared to what I am paying for the course
Ki-Yong Kim
PHYS121

Anonymous
01/07/2021
I had never taken a Physics class before, and the amount of knowledge he expected you to know ahead of time didnt seem fair. He has a very thick accent, which I feel like isnt that big of a problem, but his way of explaining does not come off as very helpful. In my eyes, he's almost TOO smart to be teaching a basic physics class.
Ki-Yong Kim
PHYS121

Expecting a C
Anonymous
10/29/2020
I have never taken physics and I am disappointed with this. He is a sweet guy but the problems on the exams and homework make you infer so much... If you come into his class with no background knowledge in physics you will do poorly.
Wendell Hill
PHYS121

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
05/16/2020
The only reason I got an A in the course is because I paid for a weekly tutor after the first exam. He taught topics that shouldn't be covered in this course. When I would attend office hours and ask for help he would make comments such as "You should know this" obviously I didnt because I am hear asking for you to re-explain it. It seems he has a passion for physics and wants to share that but doesn't understand how to teach lower level non-physics major courses
Negar Heidarian Boroujeni
PHYS121

Expecting a B-
Anonymous
12/17/2019
weights the final the same as the homeworks, so if you’re not a good test-taker, there is still a lot of opportunities to pass the class
Negar Heidarian Boroujeni
PHYS121

Expecting an A+
Anonymous
05/19/2019
Great Professor, gives tons of extra credit so you're not left pulling your hair out to get an A.
Barbara Marchetti
PHYS121

Anonymous
10/11/2018
I feel like she has no idea of what's going on ever.
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

Expecting a B
Anonymous
01/29/2015
Beware, his homework is impossible. I would always go to the physics help classroom and spend 3 hours there with other students from this class. However his tests are not bad and he's a nice guy so if you know what he lectures on you will do fine on the tests.
David Buehrle
PHYS121

Expecting an A
tl
08/20/2014
Buehrle is a top notch professor. His lectures were very interesting and he is a really nice guy. His tests got progressively more difficult but he is a fairly easy grader.
David Buehrle
PHYS121

Expecting an A
Anonymous
08/19/2013
Explains things really well. Easy to talk to and willing to help.
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

Expecting an A
defeatthehuns
03/02/2013
Professor Shawhan is a great teacher. He doesn't do that many problems in class and the homework is difficult but in the end, that's how you learn. I really came out of this course with a solid understanding of the basic concepts, which is key to doing well on the MCAT. Take Shawhan! An A is definitely doable as long as you can follow the textbook, which is pretty good. He posts all of his notes online after class which is a really big plus.
David Buehrle
PHYS121

Expecting an A
anonymous052592
01/14/2013
I also disagree with the first review of the professor. He is one of the kindest individuals I've ever met and explains the concepts very well. His tests are not too difficult. Physics is one of those subjects you either get or don't. I would say I'm usually one of those students who wouldn't get it...but I truly excelled in this course. If you have taken physics in high school...then you will do absolutely fine. Usually 800+ out of 100 points is an A.
David Buehrle
PHYS121

Expecting an A+
Anonymous
12/22/2012
Buehrle is the king. Pros: EXTREMELY nice, presents the material in an understandable, friendly way. Tries to make sure all of his students get a concept before he moves on. He also curves a BOATLOAD apparently. He says an 80 is rounded to a 90, and looking at his stats in our umd he is really generous. Also, his homework is graded on completion and not correctness. Cons: Dude teaches you AP Physics. Straightup. He uses old AP physics questions for his own exams, and his final. You can google the questions from his key and ap exams from like eight years ago show up. This is a royal pain when you're studying class notes and from the book and he asks you something that you've never come across before, which none of the other current phys professors do. However, there's usually only one or two of those on each test, and other than that they're OK. IMPORTANT note: Make sure you have the old exams when taking this class. He reuses a lot of his questions, and this is pretty convenient. What I found was the best way to study was to study old exams, notes, old AP physics problems, homeworks. That's listed in order of importance. I walked away with a decent understanding of basic physics and an excellent grade (I got about 910 points looking at my total grades) Make sure you do the force and motion survey at the beginning, it's worth like 1.5%
Adil Hassam
PHYS121

Expecting a B
rose11
05/18/2012
Dr. Hassam is awesome! He is so friendly and funny – he tries to make lecture entertaining. The examples he gives in class are not nearly as hard as the ones on the exams, but if you go to discussion and understand MasteringPhysics problems, you will be very well prepared for exams. I had Jack for my TA and he was very helpful. Lab is hard, but I still managed to get an 89% for my total lab grade. There are also occasional quizzes in discussion, which count for 5% of your grade, about a dozen MasteringPhysics homeworks (15%), two midterms (15% each), the final (30%), and lab counts for 20%. Hassam gives a very generous curve. The midterms consists of about 4 multiple choice/ true or false questions and about 4 problems. I did well in lab and on homework, but I failed most of the exams and still received a B in the course. He assigns grades relatively, meaning you are graded according to how everyone else in the class performs. Dr. Hassam doesn’t like to fail anyone if he can help it. If you study hard, do all of the homeworks, and attend every discussion you will do well in this class.
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

Expecting an A
Anonymous
05/16/2012
Shawhan is one of the few professors I've had (in the three years I've been at UMD) that genuinely cares about his students; I would definitely take another class with him. I feel that most of the poor reviews he's gotten are from younger students who are just looking to get an easy A, and fulfill a physics requirement. While most of the material is complicated for someone with no exposure to physics, he realizes that 121 is for non-majors, and does everything in his power to make it as painless as possible: He has a tablet computer which he uses to annotate his lecture slides before posting online, clicker questions are not graded for correctness (despite the fact that they are a large portion of the grade), and he allows for note sheets during exams. His homeworks can be challenging, but that's the point of the homework; there is an abundance of resources to help with it; the homeworks are very straight forward. Anyone who thinks that Shawhan is not an excellent professor is in for an unpleasant surprise when they take any course beyond freshman level.
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
02/11/2012
I wish Dr. Shawhan was teaching 122 because I would take a class taught by him again in a heartbeat! He's a great professor who really does care about his students. While he focuses more on theory, he does go over actual equations in his lectures (as opposed to some professors). His homework is hard, but if you try it and then go to office hours, the TAs will help you. I don't think I ever got more than a point off on homework if I went to the TAs for help. Tests were definitely tricky, but very doable. His final was harder than the semester tests, or maybe just trickier. I got tripped up, and our class exam average was way below other test averages from the semester. He doesn't waste a lot of time on experiments, but when he pulls them out they're a nice way to break up the lecture. He gives clicker questions in lecture, but will give you exceptions if your clicker is broken for that day. He also carries extra clicker batteries with him to class. Labs can be graded a bit harshly. I felt that there wasn't a lot of guidance as to what they really wanted in a lab report. They felt like a waste of time, as did the discussions, which are actually "tutorials".
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

terpvet
12/11/2011
Dr. Shawhan utilizes technology really well and is always open to questions or review. He assigns a lot of homework, but it keeps you on top of the material. If you go to office hours, Dr. Shawhan or the TAs help a lot on homework or in general. I never had physics before this class, but I put in the effort and learned a lot. Overall, I really enjoyed his class. Tutorial and lab were pointless though.
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

Expecting a CB
PossePrincess
11/10/2011
This class was one of the most stressful classes I've ever taken (that includes orgos I & II). Dr. Shawhan gives a lot of homework every week. While he says it should only take about 1.5hrs/assignment, my study group found that it took us about 4-5 on average. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on this course, and look to do practice problems outside of what he assigns. The test questions are not always things you've seen before. His lectures are heavy on theory, but all the test questions are application questions. In short, this class is a lot of work, and Dr. Shawhan doesn't necessarily make physics easy to learn. If it weren't for my fiance having a masters in aerospace engineering, I would be sunk in this course.
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

Anonymous
10/26/2011
Professor Shawhan is a rare example of a professor who truly cares about his students. He is incredibly passionate about physics and provides you with all of the resources you need to do well. There is a lot of homework and sometimes the lab and tutorial can be pretty pointless, but all in all it is pretty helpful in learning the material.
David Buehrle
PHYS121

Expecting an A
Anonymous
10/13/2011
I completely disagree with the above review about this professor. He explained concepts very thoroughly and made lecture both fun and enjoyable (which is difficult especially for a 2 hour lecture). He is very responsive to students who do not understand the material, and knows how to teach it better than some of the other professors because he used to teach high school (so he isn't mainly a researcher). His tests and quizzes were difficult, but fair. If you did the practice problems he gave you then you would do fine. Clearly he is not too difficult a grader because his grade distribution is all A's and B's.
Adil Hassam
PHYS121

Expecting a B+
Anonymous
05/24/2011
He's a very nice guy, and a good lecturer. He uses a lot of demonstrations and generally wants everyone to do well. The curve this semester was ~5%.
Adil Hassam
PHYS121

Expecting an A
Phoenix_ourumd
05/24/2011
Hassam is ALRIGHT. I mean, he makes a lot of mistakes in lecture...and in the end you learn that lecture notes aren't even that helpful. He takes a lot of problems from MasteringPhysics and rewords them for his quizzes/finals. His syllabus is online if you just google "Hassam Phys 121" Overall, I thought he was both an enthusiastic lecturer and fair grader. You got to bring in cheat sheets to the exams (full pages). He's very understanding, I definitely recommend him!
Adil Hassam
PHYS121

Nader Ganjbaksh
05/05/2011
Class is strait forward. Attend lecture and practice problems and you will be fine. Dr. Hassam as a professor is a consummate professional and just an awesome guy in general. From the first day you can tell he is happy to be teaching and really wants you to do well in his class as much as he wants you to learn the material. I can understand everything he is saying and he doesn't speak in monotone. He care about his students and will always keep you in the loop of where the class is going. He sends e-mails to his students every day and is constantly looking for ways to improve your grade that will actually help you learn the material at the same time (he doesnt just throw you curves, he offers opportunities to raise your grade by showing you know the material), but even then he will still curve the class as he really doesn't want you to do poorly. Fair tests, fair homeworks, fair labs, Nice professor, helpful and relaxed TA. Couldn't ask for more...
Edward Redish
PHYS121

Expecting an A
Anonymous
03/31/2011
He has 3 exams, including the final. His test questions come from quiz questions that had poor average scores and from the homework. You will spend about 3-7 hours every week on homework. Labs depend on your TA. I had the fortune of having the best TA I have had at UMD. Redish's lectures are interesting and worth attending, but you will have to spend a lot of time outside of class learning the material because he doesn't really teach the content so much as teach you how to think about physics. If you want an A get help on the homework. Make sure you understand the answers to all the homework problems and the tests should go well. Overall a fantastic teacher, a cool person, and you will learn a lot if you put in the effort. If you want to learn physics for the MCATs you should definately take him. What I learned from Dr. Redish also helped me a lot in biomechanics.
Edward Redish
PHYS121

Expecting an A
Anonymous
12/24/2010
A LOT OF WORK. Syllabus says it takes 4-6 hours of the week to do lecture hw due on Friday, but I was working on a little bit everyday and I had a pretty high average on the hw. Almost every homework had an annoying problem that required arguing with classmates and consulting with several TAs. You learn in this class from experience, such as by getting quiz and hw questions wrong to learn the concepts for the exams. But helpful that he teaches conceptually so you feel like you don't have to memorize. Really puts in the effort to learn everyone's names. So it's a tradeoff between feeling like you really learn with a nice professor and having a class take up most of your time during a semester and whether you can afford to take it with your other science classes.
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

Expecting a B
Anonymous
12/21/2010
It really pains me to have to give this man a bad review. He's honestly a really nice man. I just don't think he understands that this is an INTRO to physics course. This means that a lot of people hadn't seen this material before. He gave weekly homeworks that required at least 3-5 hours of work. And yes you would think that would help you on the exams. However, all of his exams were at least 3 times harder than the homework he gave out. People did so terribly on the exams that he allowed people to redo 2 problems (~8-10% points) so that his curve wasn't so that people who received less than 50% got a C. Each test was worth 10%, homework was worth 20% and clicker questions were worth 10%. That is the ONLY reason why people got B's in this class. Other things besides your exam grade factored in. If you have to take Shawhan, if you get A's on the labs and homeworks and go to every class (for the clicker) and get C's on the exams, you'll get a B for your final grade. Like I said, he's a really nice man. You could tell he was really passionate about physics because he got so excited up there. However, it's in a HUGE lecture hall and he insisted on taking up half of the class time doing experiments that NOONE except the first few rows could see. They often didn't work. If you have the chance to take someone else, DO IT!
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

Expecting a B
Anonymous
12/20/2010
Sad to say, I agree with the other reviews. People who are just generally good at physics did well in the class. I hadn't seen physics in years so its safe to say it was new to me. He spends lectures going over proofs for the formulas, teaching concepts, and doing demonstrations. But when it came to exam time, it was all calculations of problems. The tests were so hard. He tried really hard to teach us and you can tell that he truly cares that you learn the material. He gave tons of practice problems to do before the exams but they didn't seem to help me at all. He gives an A LOT of homework. BY FAR, the most work I have ever done for a class. The reason he's not a good lecturer is because he tries to say too much in such a short period of time. It's way too much to keep up with. It's almost impossible to take notes when he's talking so fast. In my opinion, if you have to take Professor Shawhan, just make sure you have the ability to teach yourself from the book. And unless you are just inherently a genius, you shouldn't expect more than a B in this class.
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

Expecting an A-
BioTerp
12/18/2010
Dr. Shawhan is honestly one of the most engaging, enthusiastic, and passionate professors I have had at Maryland, as a junior, I have had a fair share of rotten ones. He does awesome demonstrations, and explains concepts but also does examples (which always tend to show up on the exams). The exams are short, 50 points, and he gives you the chance to "re-do" problems for more credit, this is his idea of the curve. It's really not that bad, just find a group of friends to do homework with every week (since it's work like a quarter of your grade and is easy points). Take good notes, don't bother using the textbook, the online homework and classnotes are perfect for studying. Relax, and remember he wants to CHALLENGE you to THINK. Unlike the other rotten Phys professors who ask you to memorize. Yeah it may suck, but if you plan on succeeding in life, taking the MCAT, or any other test, you're gonna need to know HOW to do physics, not just to memorize an equation, and he teaches you that! HIGHLY recommended.
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

Anonymous
12/07/2010
Professor Shawhan is probably one of the worst teachers I have had at UMD. He is a very nice person, but he cannot teach very well at all. He will teach a lot of concept based information in class, and give completely calculation based exams, without going over examples thoroughly. His tests are very difficult, and although he does curve, it does not help everyone out. If you have a background in physics, and are good at it, then he might be the one for you, but if you are new to the subject, I would avoid him, unless you are very good at teaching yourself out of the book (which still probably won't help you).
Peter Shawhan
PHYS121

Expecting a B
Anonymous
11/30/2010
I would definitely avoid taking Shawhan. He is very nice guy but is one of the worst professors I've ever had. I read the textbook, did the homeworks, attended a weekly GSS session, went to every lecture, studied extremely hard for every exam and never got above a C on any exam. This is because the test questions are 100% unrelated to anything he ever gives you before the exam. He spends too much class time going over demonstrations but not enough time explaining what the demo should be teaching us so that we can then apply it to physics problems. His tests do not accurately display your knowledge of the material presented to you. He does curve every exam but not enough to get you the grade you would like.
Adil Hassam
PHYS121

Expecting an A
genbiomajor
11/10/2010
You can actually understand Hassam, unlike a majority of the physics faculty. If you took physics in high school and actually remember some of the underlying concepts (such as F=ma), then you will have no trouble getting an A. His exams are straightforward, and most of the problems are just derivations of the homework problems. The best part about his exams is that you get to bring a one page cheat sheet (2 pages for the final).
Edward Redish
PHYS121

Expecting an A
Anonymous
12/27/2009
Dr. Redish has a very... unorthodox way of teaching, for his PHYS 121 class at least. He doesn't do any example problems in class, and skims over conceptual material in a hurry. There's a substantial amount of work to be put in for this class, even for a 4 credit class--weekly tutorial homeworks, lecture homeworks, labs, and quizzes. The lecture homework took at least 5 hours a week, and can be very frustrating and time-consuming. The tutorials are a joke. He's an OK professor to talk to be can be kind of condescending if you don't understand the material the first time round. His grading scheme is also kind of wacky; the quizzes and exams are not curved (with >75% and A), but the labs and homework are, dependent upon the harshness of your TA's grading.
Douglas Hamilton (Physics)
PHYS121

Expecting an A
rbterp
03/08/2009
Dr. Hamilton was a clear, fair professor for Physics 1. He was very understandable in lecture and did many demonstrations and example problems in class. Mastering physics hw was due each week.
Edward Redish
PHYS121

Expecting an A
Anonymous
01/16/2009
Dr. Redish is a education research professor. He will learn your name, interact with you, and he really does care whether or not you LEARN the material. You might get a slightly lower grade because his tests and homework require you to think really hard, however I highly recommend him. You will get something out of his class.
Douglas Hamilton (Physics)
PHYS121

Expecting an A
Anonymous
12/28/2008
Nice guy. Exams were fair. goes through a lot of demonstrations and example problems in class. class is curved.
Edward Redish
PHYS121

Expecting a B
Anonymous
12/08/2008
Very good lectures. The homeworks took up most of my free time during the week, you have to get help on them or work with others. Tests are difficult but there is a generous curve. The lab and discussion are a waste of time.
Edward Redish
PHYS121

Expecting an A
Anonymous
11/18/2008
A bit confusing and not clear. BUT, he tries his best. Do ALL the homework and classes, then you'll be fine.
Edward Redish
PHYS121

yellohswttart
12/15/2007
He's not the best teacher I've ever had-very confusing, not very clear, and his approach to teaching is very different from other physics courses. BUT, he does try to make the material interesting with interactive lectures. He requires a lot of independent work; I learned more from doing homeworks and talking to other students, rather than listening to him.