Cliff Bakalian

This professor has taught: CMSC250
Information Review
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Expecting an A-
log_n
08/04/2022
Just took CMSC330 with Cliff over the summer. The main issue with Cliff has been with his structure and administration of the course. Unclear deadlines and typos in assignments, quizzes, and slides were extremely commonplace when taking this course. Even what material we were going to cover over the condensed course was questioned a lot by the instructors and TAs. At one point, they even outright lied (probably not intentionally) about what was going to be covered/not covered on the final exam. All of this had a direct impact on the class, and this run of CMSC330 had some of the lowest exam averages on record (the class was curved substantially to make up for this). Apparently, this was due to Cliff somehow not being told that the course was going to only be 6 weeks long instead of 12 weeks long, but I digress. As a lecturer, Cliff was not the worst. He typed things out in Vim to demonstrate concepts, but he went fast and it was largely hit or miss if this approach beat out just sticking to dense slides. For instance, typing out code in Vim made sense, but once we got to NFAs/DFAs and grammars... Why not use whiteboarding software instead? One plus is that he'd post "Lecture Recap" videos for each lecture for those who couldn't make it to class. Although, these videos would often be posted 3-5 days after the lecture they covered, so relying on them to keep up is ill advised. While I didn't personally go to in person office hours (both in person and online OH were offered), those who did described the TAs as "rude" and "bothered by questions." This doesn't affect my evaluation of Cliff himself, but I felt that it was worth mentioning and pointing out that this is unacceptable behavior for TAs. Overall, I would still recommend taking courses with Cliff over many alternatives simply due to his approachable nature as well as his modern online approach to teaching. He is still young and can only improve with experience and I believe Cliff has the potential to be a good professor. He cares and is accommodating to students, but as of now, he still has a way to go (and needs new TAs) before being truly exceptional. Oh, and his hair was stunning.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Expecting a C-
Justacoder
07/08/2022
I understand this is an accelerated summer class, that said some of the expectations made in this course were simply unacceptable. I found it quite obnoxious when Cliff would say we have 10 days for a project then proceed to wait a week before teaching us all the content needed for said project. The projects were honestly a pain. Some of the requirements felt more like tick questions designed to frustrate us rather than to actually display what we learned. That said lectures don’t get uploaded during the weekend; perhaps Cliff also needs a break over the weekend; however it would be nice to have something to reference when we have projects to work on over the weekends. In any case, Cliffs lecturer's examples were usually inadequate and not clear; they were not a good foundation for these projects. The difficulty between what we learn in class and the projects is too large of a jump, perhaps it’s not that surprising considering they are just reused projects from other professors, who gave weeks to work on the same projects we are given 6 days for. The lecture quizzes were quite a headache. The slides don’t get uploaded the same day and so we are basically expected to just retain everything we had learned that day. The exams weren’t great and averages weren’t very good. We were provided older exams to reference; however working on projects consumed way too much time away from studying. A Lot of us had to make a choice between getting the project done or studying. Even now at this moment we have a 4 part project due Friday the same day as our final worth 27% of our grade. I must seriously question if anyone would find this reasonable. The class honesty left me feeling helpless at times, there needs to be more reasonable standards for projects and adequate time allocated on par with what we learn. I believe Cliff does care about these students but he needs to sort of look at things on our level and set reasonable expectations.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Expecting an A
Anonymous
06/02/2022
Chill guy, nothing wrong with his teaching per say. He mainly seemed uninterested in teaching, and had zero enthusiasm when lecturing. Didn't really go into a lot of detail when doing example problems in lecture, and I had a hard time not falling asleep. Exams and projects were manageable. For projects just start early and got to OH asap if you are stuck.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
05/28/2022
To do well in this course, study Justin's notes. For quizzes and exams, showing how you got the answer is important and you will lose points. However, Cliff doesn't teach how to do it, he just scribbles all over the board leaving the class confused. His class is manageable, but I would rather take it with someone who grades harder and teaches better.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Expecting a B
Anonymous
05/25/2022
Class lectures were a bit dry, though I would also blame the extremely dense powerpoints given for 330. While Cliff did at times do a good job explaining concepts to students and making sure to answer any questions, I ended up learning more by going to outside sources, and by doing the lecture quizzes and projects required for the course. Cliff definitely does care about his students though, and I don't think you'd do poorly if you had him as a professor.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Expecting a B+
Anonymous
05/25/2022
The class pacing was fast but at the same time, I didn't want to learn the content because it was so uninteresting. In class, I did barely anything and I just looked at the slides during the lecture quizzes to learn the material for the day. He just seemed so tired after teaching CMSC250 that he didn't feel like teaching 330 at all. Seems like people were not fans of cmsc250 either. My TA was great though.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Expecting an A
Anonymous
05/21/2022
Very nice guy, I think that's evident based on all the reviews, and if you take any course he teaches you will feel the same. I feel like the reviews given for him for CMSC250 don't represent him as well. I had him last semester and got an A-, but he was pretty amazing for me. He did speak in a monotone manner though, which can be easily to cause you to daze a bit. People were saying he only has good reviews because he was co-teaching with Justin, but Cliff made his own slides for CMSC250 last semester and taught his own way, so I do feel he's being slandered a bit. Maybe it was because he was the main one to manage CMSC250 and Justin was the main one to manage it last semester, and if that's what people meant, then I suppose so. I felt he did great overall, but maybe this semester is different. I can't speak on that because I didn't take CMSC250 with him this semester, so my opinion may not be as valid as the others, although I feel the other reviews may be a bit over-exaggerated. In terms of CMSC330 though, he was pretty solid too. Not as much as 250 for me last semester, but he was still pretty good. He's very understanding as well. He doesn't question anything, as once I showed him what a TA said on a regrade request on my exam and fixed it on the spot, and he has a lot of sympathy for students. Sometimes he does get thrown off on a slide and gets confused or something, and sometimes he does blatantly read off the slides so going to lecture may not be optimal (he had lecture quizzes online so some people didn't really go to lecture, including me to be honest). The slides posted online helped me navigate through CMSC330 and helped build an understanding for each unit/topic we covered, along with understanding the whole purpose of the course. Sure, it may not be hard to post slides or he might have recycled them, but at the end of the day all the professor has to do is deliver information and make sure you understand it, and I felt like he accomplished that. The exams, quizzes, lecture quizzes, and projects of course were all online and open-note/internet as well, making it less stressful for students too. Overall, it was hard for me to pay attention in lecture at times, but that's just me. I sometimes even daze off even in Justin's lecture. Sometimes Cliff's lectures felt like "I can just look at the slides when he posts them", but then that turns into "I have to look at 15 slides the day before an exam" which i found myself doing a decent bit lol. I didn't give him a 5 star because his lectures are somewhat dull because he's monotone, and that makes it harder to pay attention, especially when you're already lost on some topic. He's very sympathetic, and has great potential to be a great professor though. Currently, I'd give him 4 stars, and for the future when he adjusts to lecturing, managing and leading courses, and overall improve over time, I'd say he's easily at-least a 4.5 star.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
05/20/2022
really bad organization of the class
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a B-
Anonymous
05/20/2022
Just gonna say, this class was so rigged and I'm so glad I'm out of the woods. Most people cheat and screw others over by making the exams have an unusually high average. Cliff is nice but also delusional when it comes to this issue. It was survival of the fittest/"get a high grade by any means possible" all semester long. The exam reviews were not that helpful and were recycled from last semester. Additionally, we were given wrong answers for them. I felt like two of the TA's at office hours took more of the role of professor than Cliff did in lecture. Can't even read his hand writing because he uses a super pixelated drawing program. He also took out learning about logic circuits from the class which really sucks considering this is a computer science course it'd be nice to know about those. Just be prepped to be at office hours regularly and maybe you'll do okay.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
05/18/2022
I stopped going to his lectures and went to DVH's instead. In hindsight it was the right move as I went from having a 100% success rate of falling asleep in class to actually paying attention. I will say Cliff seems like a really chill guy and is approachable, however, I felt like he wasn't that interested with the content of 330, hence really dry lectures. Most of the material can be found on the slides or recordings so there's no need to show up. Exams were very fair. Projects weren't terrible(don't go to office hours last second). Quizzes were tough in terms of limited time, but doable.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
05/18/2022
People are correct about his disorganized class, but I think he still is a great prof to take. All exams and quizzes were online which was nice, and the overall was just a great and accommodating person. His lectures were tough to understand at times as his handwriting is pretty horrible. If he continues to keep the content online take him, if not then run.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
05/17/2022
I think some of the bad reviews that he is getting on here are a bit unfair (especially the comment about his speech impediment) considering how accommodating he was to students this semester. He made all quizzes and exams online, moved multiple quizzes because of upcoming exams in other courses, and was generous in providing make-ups. Also after students complained about it taking too much time to take the first exam, he made the second exam and final shorter and easier. Grade averages this semester were pretty high for this semester, so not much of a curve will be needed. For the most part his lectures went at a decent, if not a tad slow, pace. However, there were certainly some issues in the structure of this course. Grades took a very long time to come out for many assignments, and many times the TA's made mistakes in grading. But they were all rectified with regrade requests. Overall, I do think that taking this course with Cliff is a good experience, and I thought that all-around he was a very solid professor. There is no doubt that he truly cares about his students and wants them to succeed in his class. His luscious locks make attending lecture worth your while.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
05/17/2022
Cliff is a great person and a decent teacher. He is definitely understanding of students' concerns and I feel that he teaches the material in the course properly (wish Cliff was more engaging though and enthusiastic). However, I think his management of the class was rather poor. Assignments were never graded correctly and very few TAs seemed to care about teaching the course material properly. There would be several times when a student had the correct answer and approach to solving a problem but would get graded incorrectly. I think that through better management and more enthusiasm for the content, Cliff could easily become a great professor. He is young and has a lot of time to improve. Hopefully, the class will go much better next sem.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a B
Anonymous
05/16/2022
Pros: The class was entirely online and open note this semester so was not particularly difficult (stress load/work wise). His exams are more or less fair although a bit of a time crunch. Cons: This man is a genius in everything EXCEPT teaching. His lectures are straight from Justin’s Notes (which carried me through the course), but the way he explains everything so disinterestedly makes them so hard to watch. Plus, the examples he provides in lecture are not well explained and incomplete. Honestly I ended up just using Justin’s notes for most of the class and the only reason I watched his lectures were to make sure I was using the style he wanted for proofs. However, there was no point as he is EXTREMELY inconsistent in grading. I don’t know if it’s him or his TAs. He goes back in what he says about style numerous times and the only reason I’m even finishing with a B is the amount of regrade requests I submitted. Overall, the only positive about taking Cliff this semester compared to the other professor is that his class was online. I feel bad for whoever has him in coming semesters in person. I honestly don’t know how I would pass the class with his terrible teaching and inconsistent grading .
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a B+
Anonymous
05/16/2022
I took Cliff in the Spring of 2022, and I probably have a totally different experience than everyone else. Cliff was a super flexible guy who cared a lot about his students, and he did try to set us up for success. I believe the downfall of the course was the disorganization and laziness of most TAs throughout the semester as the grading had a lot of errors for people with it being inconsistent as well (since everything was online). There were a lot of errors on assignments as well, which I hope Cliff is more cautious of next semester. However, i never really got affected by any of this and I really did enjoy and felt like I learned a lot in this class. Cliff offered tons of OH, and I know some cannot make it to OH, but i found it to be super helpful I could come anytime to OH whenever I had a question, and I would say all the in person TAs were super helpful this semester over the ones online. I will stand by my 5 star rating because I thoroughly enjoyed the class, I never had anything wrong happen for me, and Cliff (and all In person TAs) were super helpful to me this semester to learn discrete math. If you are willing to just get out of your bubble and try to use the resources Cliff gives you to the best of your ability, the class isnt too bad. Some materials that really helped me in the class was: The lecture slides, IN PERSON OH, Justins Notes, the recommended textbook, discussion slides and recordings from some TAs, and answer keys for every single assignment despite the errors. I think Cliff will do a better job next semester and will eventually shape how he wants to structure his class in an organized manner soon.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
05/16/2022
Solid guy, seems pretty chill. However, his teaching and course organization abilities are frankly dismal. Most assignments have errors in them, adding to that there would be grading mistakes for almost everything. Lectures are boring and hard to follow. The pacing of the material is extremely poor, with some lectures covering seemingly nothing important and others leaving many students confused. The worst part of the class, however, are the TAs. It is obvious that the TAs don't care about the class whatsoever, the discussions are poorly led and the TAs often give contradictory information. To do well in the class, students are forced to constantly haggle for points on blatantly ignorant grading. The material should be easy to understand but being in Cliff's section made this class far more stressful and difficult than it had any right to be. The silver lining is that Cliff is a new teacher and should learn from his mistakes as he gets more experienced, oh, and he has cool hair... I guess.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a B
Anonymous
05/16/2022
Immaculate hair, but his TAs are quite disorganized and grade inconsistently from each other. His handwriting Isnt stellar so you have to pay extra attention to what he is saying and his lecturea overall arent too good for note taking since its almost all just examples, each being implement in a different manner. Regrades take ages and the autograder has had mistakes in almost every homework, 8/11 if im counting correctly.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A
Anonymous
05/16/2022
CMSC250 with Cliff started off very well, but it ended with some noticeable flaws. This may be due to lack of teaching experience, miscommunication with the TAs, or some TAs slacking on their share of grading work. But PLEASE NOTE, I'm not considering class management in this review. Homework grading took a considerable amount of time, and there were often incorrect problems/solutions in exam practice problems. Whether this was Cliff's fault or the TA's, this was a major issue that stressed out many students and must be taken care of for future classes. Considering lectures, I thought Cliff was a solid instructor. Sure, some content could have been explained better, but Cliff made an effort and answered every question during or after lecture. I think the best way to prepare is to read Justin's 250 notes alongside regularly attending lecture. Other than doing the homework (yourself!), you should understand the general content. To me, lectures felt well paced and taught. Some content was boring, but well, it's 250. Just attend lectures and take notes and do your share of studying and you'll be fine. Exams were fair. Quizzes were fair. Got extra credit opportunities sometimes. Like others have said, Cliff is one of the most understanding instructors. If you approach him and explain your situation, he will accommodate. Super nice and chill guy. I genuinely think that in a few years Cliff will be a top-tier instructor. Hopefully 250 will not have these issues with grading/TAs moving forward. Side note: Cliff might keep exams/quizzes online moving forward. Don't cheat with others. Not worth the risk and 250 content is important in later courses. You'll get imposter syndrome if you do.
Cliff Bakalian

Anonymous
05/16/2022
not super organized, TAs grade suppppeerrr randomly, but cliff is rlly considerate online/take home exams were nice, all you need are justin's notes and you'll get an A in this class.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Expecting an A
fiftyseven
05/16/2022
Cliff is generally a great guy and a pretty solid professor. He's very approachable and definitely tries his best to make the class interactive though it can be difficult given the lack of participation sometimes. He showed examples in REPls like irb and utop and I came out of lecturers feeling like I knew the content well. His style of drawing things out when they're complicated and showing examples in that manner gave some depth to his teaching that I really appreciated, especially in the finite automata units. Though I sometimes felt like the content was a bit dry, I found him to be a more than good professor. The exams and quizzes being online were also very nice.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
05/15/2022
Cliff's 250 this semester was quite an experience that could (and should) have been much smoother. As already mentioned, his biggest flaws are much mismanagement (having no work graded until 1 week before the final, including the second exam, very little explanation as to why points are taken off and what is expected, hardly responding to emails). A decent portion of my grade lost would be from assignments that I was not able to send or resend in time from not having a printer which stifled numerous questions on quizzes and exams. Additionally, there were some times when he muddled up material, or said things incorrectly and didn't follow a set standard that TAs may have graded. However, given that Cliff is a relatively new professor, and was handling 2 huge CS courses this semester, it seemed he did try to put a good deal of effort in both courses. In addition, the hybrid structure of in person lectures and exams/quizzes being online was weird to adapt to and caused numerous issues, which is not Cliff's fault particularly. He definitely has a chance to grow and despite the problems, he did an alright job handling the teaching/lecturing he needed to do this semester.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
05/15/2022
This class had the potential to be good. Cliff structured the course in a "hybrid" kind of way that was very understanding towards students—lectures were-in person but basically everything else was online and/or asynchronous. Homeworks were encouraged to be done collaboratively; quizzes and tests were open-note. Lectures are dull but not notably duller than any other 3-star CS professor I've had so far. Incredibly poor organization, however. Slow and inconsistent grading. Takes off points for style yet the lecture examples—Cliff handwrites proofs and screen shares—are a mess. I stopped showing up to discussion because my TA didn't seem to care about the content, and because what we were told in discussion didn't always line up with what we were told in lecture and/or what was expected on graded assignments. The proof style guide was helpful but only for the first few units, and then it was no longer maintained. Most of my learning in this course came from provided practice material, which was okay in the beginning but once we started getting to more word problems—proofs, statistics, combinatorics, etc.—hilariously poor quality. Hilarious because if someone just proofread the material once, 90% of the problems could be fixed. They're obviously copied and pasted from other sources—they'll be talking about pizzas one sentence and party hats the next, which isn't so bad until you try to check your work and they didn't even bother to change the answer key to match the new question at all. Answer keys are wrong or just plain irrelevant on a good chunk of the questions. Unclear phrasing and the questions can be interpreted many ways, which isn't great when they're expecting one solution. Ask three different people these questions and they're bound to interpret the question three different ways. I only grasped the combinatorics and statistics unit because of Justin's notes and through group studying in order to figure out what the question is really asking.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Expecting a C+
Anonymous
05/15/2022
extremely cool and also based professor. do not listen to the other girls. he slays too hard.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
05/14/2022
Lectures might be a bit boring but all of the content you need to know for the exams is explained pretty well. Quizzes and tests were online and open-note for us which made them very stress-free.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Anonymous
05/13/2022
Cliff skips over important material in lectures, paces poorly, and does not truly attempt to check for understanding among the class. When nobody raises their hand to answer his lecture quiz questions, it would suggest that few are following the material. The class was still not particularly difficult, considering that exams were online and very fair. Watching David Van Horn's lecture videos were also great for getting up to speed. Cliff's lectures, however, are inadequate for engaging with the important material in this class. TLDR; the TAs and Van Horn's videos carried me through this class; would not currently recommend Cliff
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
05/12/2022
Took him for CMSC250 his first semester teaching, and had a pretty decent experience. The class was mostly organized and he knew the content pretty well. Unfortunately 330 this semester wasn't the same. While the class was organized well, cliffs lectures were very difficult to follow along with. He seemed to not be interested in the material, and would speed through content and wouldn't/struggled to break down complex topics. This was especially a problem when it came to Rust, which is pretty complex and we covered in the last 3 weeks of the semester. I went to almost all lectures this year, and for each I found myself feeling disengaged with the content. I found myself learning most of the content by carefully reading the lecture slides after the lecture was over, and looking at outside resources. All in all cliff is a great guy and clearly cares about his students, but his lectures weren't up to what I was expecting for a CS course.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A
Anonymous
05/12/2022
Very disorganized class, grading was extremely poor, examples were convoluted, and it seemed that there was no consistent standard for how proofs should be written, as Cliff seemed to change his style at random between lectures. Would definitely recommend avoiding Cliff.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
05/11/2022
While there were a few snags this semester, Cliff clearly cares about the class and is doing his best for his first-time teaching independently. At most, the late turnaround on assignments and errors in grading were inconveniences, and did not impact my understanding of the class at all. His lecturing style worked for me, and I always felt set up to complete all the assignments just from just the lectures. Most of all, Cliff is simply the most compassionate and understanding professor I've ever had. People here put that in as an aside, but if some roadblock suddenly emerges mid-semester, you will be very glad to have Cliff instead of a more apathetic professor. Overall, I think it is only fair that we give Cliff the same level of compassion that he extends to us. Given that it's his first time alone and he's clearly trying his best, I'm willing to let a few things slide.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a C-
Justacoder
05/09/2022
TLDR: Nice dude, poor teacher Look I want to be fair. Cliff is a nice person and I feel like he understands what we go through. With that said I really felt hopeless at time during his class. I didn't really understand these concepts until I started reading Justin's notes. (I guess that's sort of my fault, if I had looked at the notes earlier maybe I would have done better) His lectures honestly jumped around a lot. When showing us steps he would sort of pull out solution from thin air. He didn't show us the intuition and the though process behind what he was doing. This lack of clear steps really frustrated me. Grading wasn't great. His examples in lecture don't go into enough details and so on exams and quiz's I would miss several points because of formatting or slightly different methods. The grading was also inconsistent at times. Several regrade request were sent.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a B+
Anonymous
05/08/2022
Cliff is nice and understanding but his teaching style is very subpar. He's constantly unorganized and doesn't respond to emails. Although he records lectures to post online, he is constantly late and posts the material needed for homework on the day it's due. It seems he doesn't understand how to take responsibility and maybe that's because this is his first class he is teaching without help, but over the course of the semester, I started to realize that he continues to fall below normal standards.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a B+
Anonymous
05/07/2022
Great person, horrible teacher. Every single paper or lecture has has a mistake, even answer keys and en exam. Don’t expect to get scores back for anything until 2 months after you submitted it. Cliff doesn’t look at Piazza doesn’t post lecture videos until weeks after you need it. Terribly run class but I believe he has potential ti be great, just not anytime soon.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
05/07/2022
immaculate hair but terrible class management
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
05/07/2022
Cliff's class is the most awfully organized class I have every taken. Nothing is posted on time: lectures, grades, etc. Good person, but highly overrated as an instructor because he co-taught with Justin. All of his content is recycled from Justin's material, and it doesn't even feel worth going to lecture. His practice exam for the final consists of a copy paste of the Exam 1 and Exam 2 practice exams, with like two additional questions, even when he stated that over half the final would be on stuff after Exam 1 and Exam 2. Probably because this was all the content available from Justin. It's overall a horrible experience to constantly be frustrated with nothing being graded properly, posted on time, having no idea what your grade is, and feeling like you aren't set up to succeed in the class. I would not recommend taking Cliff if there is a better alternative.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a B+
Anonymous
05/06/2022
Honestly has the potential to be a great teacher but is completely unorganized and seems like he doesn't care. Grades for assignments are not released until 2 months later which does not help you for exams or homework at all.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A
Anonymous
05/06/2022
Maybe the material just came quickly to me, but the organization of this class was a mess. I understand Cliff is young and stressed and new to teaching, but oh my Took about 2 months to get an exam graded, multiple questions were messed up. I am not joking when every single assignment/homework/quiz/exam he gave us had some sort of mistake on it. I have never seen a group of TA's who have cared less about what they're doing, and honestly, it was extremely insulting. Every single homework had an issue with grading, as well as quizzes and exams. I understand that this isn't Cliff's fault, but it felt like my future in CS was being determined by his TA's who must've had their eyes closed while grading any assignment. It honestly felt like the entire team gave up halfway through. With all that being said - He understands what he's doing. My guess is that he just needs time - AND NEW TA'S.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a C-
Anonymous
05/06/2022
Don't take him. Period.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a B-
Anonymous
05/06/2022
DO NOT TAKE CLIFF!!!! Confuses himself in lectures, illegible handwriting, speedruns lecture slides in monotone, doesnt post lecture slides for weeks, takes 3 MONTHS to grade EACH homework, and once it is graded there are mistakes everywhere with autograding and TAs. The previous ratings were when he co-taught with Justin so he had high ratings, but now that he is on his own, he is beyond awful. Perhaps the worst class and lecturer I ever had. If you are fine with not having half your homework, quizzes, and exams graded when you take your final exam and are fine with a disorganized monotone speedrunning professor with illegible handwriting then take this course.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
05/06/2022
Cliff has good intentions but is far from being a good, or even an average instructor. This was his first semester teaching and the class has been a disaster. Mistakes on every assignment, weeks to grade, slow responses - overall a really frustrating experience. His class was the worst organized class I have ever taken.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a B
Anonymous
05/05/2022
Cliff doesn't know the material he is teaching and recommends us to use Justin's notes because he even confuses himself during lecture. He didn't post lectures until weeks after the material was covered in class and in those videos, usually posted after the homeworks were due for that material, he would correct himself about something he said during the in person lecture. He didn't hold his TAs to any standard and he was very behind in grading and we had to go into every quiz and exam without knowing the grades of the relevant work we turned in weeks prior. He told us at the start that he came from a philosophical background and not CS and it showed. He would trip up on his wording and sometimes would scrap half of the work he was writing because he was lost himself. I would try to avoid him in future years if he ends up teaching anything more than 250 because I can't deal with being taught by someone who acts like a student themselves and can't stay on top of their own responsibilities. I know this was his first semester teaching on his own but it was even worse than I thought it could have went.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a B
Anonymous
05/04/2022
Great guy, terrible teacher. Cliff cares about his students, but the structure of the class and lectures was god-awful. There was seemingly little communication between him and the TAs, leading to a lot of misunderstandings and extremely delayed grading. Lectures were either incredibly trivial and boring or very confusing. Lectures also often didn't prepare us fully for the homework or exams. The grading was super questionable for everything, and almost everyone I talked to in the class submitted multiple regrade requests throughout the semester. Mistakes on seemingly every homework assignment were only fixed several days after being released. I actually learned most of the content in Discussion thanks to my GOAT TA. Cliff bases his lectures and content off of Justin's notes, but often presents them in a more confusing manner. The previous positive reviews were from when he co-taught the course with Justin, so I guess it was drastically different than this semester, because the general consensus is that this class was a mess.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Anonymous
05/03/2022
While I don't vibe with his lecturing style, Cliff is a very knowledgeable and nice professor! I had external issues this semester and was really scared to talk to him about it, but he didn't ask any questions and was extremely understanding-- more so than I thought any professor here would be. He obviously cares about the class content and students. He's new to teaching and has said he's constantly thinking of how to change the class for the better, so I think he'll only improve from here. If he's an option, definitely take him :)
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A
Anonymous
04/29/2022
Cliff is a very understanding person, but he has very boring lectures, keeping me and others very disengaged. Handwriting is not good so it’s hard to follow, and when it comes to grading, there will either be a lot of mistakes or grades just won’t come out until a month after the assignment.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC330

Expecting a B+
Anonymous
04/28/2022
In the Fall 2021 semester, Cliff Bakalian was the new instructor for CMSC250, and many of my friends who took him left with very positive impressions. Because of this, when I saw his name listed on Testudo for CMSC330 the following semester, I was very excited to sign up for his lecture section and learn more about the organization of programming languages. Unfortunately, I was left rather disappointed. CMSC330 is a very content-heavy class - the sheer amount of information being packed into a single week is astounding. However, students have already taken or gotten credit for CMSC131, CMSC132, and CMSC216 by this point, so learning new material should not be a foreign experience. Sadly, Cliff's lecture style left something to be desired. He usually seemed to prioritize covering as many slides as possible as opposed to focusing on the fundamentals. For example, one week we had a PowerPoint nearly 70 slides long - Cliff blasted through as fast as he could, and many of the pertinent examples provided he would go "I don't care about this," and skip straight past them. Consequently, by the time we got to more complicated topics, I was lost and confused as we didn't spend enough time on the fundamentals. I stopped going to his lectures about a month into the semester and decided to watch Professor Van Horn's recordings instead - while he could be monotonous at times, he took much more care with the material, and besides, there are a great number of very helpful TAs both in in-person and online office hours, so I got by that way. Overall, I wouldn't recommend taking CMSC330 with Cliff unless you can absorb lots of material very quickly. At least he responds to questions effectively.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
04/28/2022
Very boring and unorganized teacher. Don't expect anything graded for weeks.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A
Anonymous
04/25/2022
Not very engaging as a teacher but gets the job done. Handwriting isn't the best so sometimes it's hard to follow, and examples in class aren't nearly as hard as the homework/exam questions. Class is unorganized as a whole, as documents and solutions always seem to have some typo or mistake. TA's are not that helpful and sometimes can't answer certain questions. Grading is very poor, as graders often make mistakes when grading and it takes very long for assignments to be graded. Regrade requests aren't looked at for a long time as well. Cliff is an understanding and nice guy, who keeps the students' best interests in mind, but there are definitely many things that can be improved.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
04/25/2022
Hard HWS but can do with friends. Generous to students about quizzes and exams. Lectures start off slow, but speed up. Never got too fast tho.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
04/14/2022
He does not respond to emails. TAs are as unresponsive as him. They mess up grading and answer keys.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
04/10/2022
He does not read his emails, TAs are unresponsive. Assignments take forever to get graded and graded incorrectly a decent amount of times. Not great.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting an A
Anonymous
02/13/2022
Great hair and a good lecturer who likes legos.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
01/22/2022
Lectures get a bit confusing at times, but he answers questions clearly. He’s also very understanding and really wants everyone to succeed. Would take this class again if he were teaching it, if the material itself wasn’t so confusing at the end o_o
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
01/21/2022
Cliff is amazing. 250 itself is hard but he made it as easy as possible to understand the material. 10/10 hair and 10/10 teaching.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
12/22/2021
First of all, his hair is amazing. Second, he is a really nice guy and he wants you to succeed. The co-taught with Justin WG this semester, and the exams were reasonable. Some of the homeworks were pretty difficult, but they are not impossible if you utilize office hours. I would recommend him!
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
12/09/2021
Cliff teaches really well. He's young and relatable, his lectures are organized, and he does a great job of answering questions and clarifying on points of confusion. He seems like a nice person too. My only qualm would be with the class itself, which was that the homeworks often covered really complicated or difficult applications of what was covered during the lectures, especially towards the end of the semester.
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Expecting a C
Anonymous
12/06/2021
Solid professor, super nice. Couple times had some confusing examples and lectures but super understanding with student concerns
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
11/30/2021
impeccable hair, 10/10 teacher
Cliff Bakalian
CMSC250

Anonymous
11/08/2021
Great guy