Matt Severson

This professor has taught: PHYS102, PHYS121, PHYS131, PHYS132, PHYS141, PHYS161, PHYS260, PHYS261, PHYS270, PHYS271, PHYS476
Information Review
Matt Severson
PHYS131

Expecting an A
Anonymous
09/02/2022
I took him last year for 131 and 132 and honestly he's not bad. The class itself will make you cry and throw up if you care not feeling lost. However, you're good if you're fine with being lost most of the time. The material honestly just sucks bio+physics is a horrible combo. BUT you will do well in the course. Failed all the exams but did well on hw, reading and labs and did well overall. The curve is a blessing honestly. Severson is a chill dude and honestly I found him very funny. The echo in the lecture room and lighting sucks though and makes you want to sleep so I would recommend just listening to the recordings or reading the slides and self-teaching.
Matt Severson
PHYS131

Anonymous
07/07/2022
Class structure: Incredibly disorganized. Due dates constantly changing. One assignment is due, then the date is shifted, then it is no longer due. You already did it? Too bad. Am I in a physics class or a Kafkaesque fever dream? Teaching style: Goes through pre-written PowerPoint slides that make no sense even when he tries to explain things. He is not a good communicator so he dislikes teaching, which makes class a giant waste of time. Feedback style: Shockingly nasty. Says things like "it's not my job to teach you xyz..." "I guess you weren't paying attention during class..." "Any lack of success is your own doing." Office hours: One of my classmates said he showed up to office hours and Severson said he was busy "come again next week". Excuse me? Office hours is when you make yourself available to your students. Lab: 3 hours of blind confusion where you learn nothing about physics. It is just about decoding the instructions and then messing around on excel. They aren't even his labs but he doesn't care enough to change them. Difficulty: It was an easy class if you ignore him and just learn from online resources. Overall: He is an unfortunate reminder that not all teachers care about their students. He would just prefer to rant, ramble, and blame his students rather than take responsibility for the quality of his own course.
Matt Severson
PHYS132

Anonymous
04/26/2022
He curves which is a blessing but this class is just rough. I have no clue what I'm gonna get in this class and I have never been so lost in my life. I plan on dropping pre-med after this semester, this class was the last straw and it made me realize just how exhausted I am. I can't wait till the semester is over. Take 121 if you can.
Matt Severson
PHYS102

Expecting an A
Anonymous
02/18/2022
I liked him as a person. He was a decent lecturer and seemed to care about the content. The material itself was fairly easy, with just a couple of homeworks and three exams that were all equally weighted (with no cumulative final).
Matt Severson
PHYS131

Expecting an A
Anonymous
01/13/2022
Physics is hard for a lot of people. It is even harder for a teacher to teach it in a way students can understand. My experience with Severson was positive. While the lectures can be a bit dull at moments, it is not that hard to succeed in this class. I've heard stories of my friends in this class bombing exams repeatedly and still ending up with an A. Do the work, practice problems, and go to discussion and you will get an A. Overall, not too hard of a class and good teacher!
Matt Severson
PHYS102

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
12/27/2021
Very easy class. I was able to get an A- by sleeping through most of the lectures. Just make sure you get all the participation points. There's also no final exam.
Matt Severson
PHYS131

Expecting an A
Anonymous
12/25/2021
He’s a great and funny lecturer but honest to god the material is horribly presented at times. If this will provide some hope, I got a D average on all his exams (including the final) but came out with an A. Honestly was shocked when I checked my grade, but it’s a Christmas miracle. Just try to aim a bit above or around the exam average and you’ll be fine. When you flunk an exam during this class, it will be a shitty blow to your grade temporarily but once everything else comes in at the end of the semester that bitch will go up. He also curves. Focus on doing well on the HW, work hard in lab, and keep up with TopHat. Your other efforts can balance out your horrible exam grades lol. Came out learning some physics so that’s a plus too.
Matt Severson
PHYS131

Anonymous
12/21/2021
Honestly I don't even know where to begin. The structure of this lecture, discussion, and lab is something that I have never seen before in my 5 semesters at UMD. To begin, there is no syllabus for the course. There were supposed 10 homeworks, 10 quizzes, 2 exams, 4 labs and a final. Half of our quizzes were never even posted, the homeworks are incredibly difficult and never align with what we are "learning" in class. As other people have said, the due dates were constantly changing throughout the semester. The TAs hardly know what is going on during lecture which makes discussion and lab 10x more difficult (as they assume we know more than we do). The labs have no real rubric or structure, however you will receive poor grades on them if you do not follow exactly what they want (even though you don't know what that is until after your grade is posted). I can confidently say that I didn't learn a single concept in this course, somehow something as simple as gravitational force was made almost impossible to comprehend. Nothing in this class is straightforward and I really don't recommend it at all. If you can avoid PHYS131, do it.
Matt Severson
PHYS261

Expecting an A
florm
12/18/2021
Severson did a really solid job setting up 261. Every lab is done entirely through Excel and LoggerPro, with instructions on Expert TA. Prelabs are also on Expert TA, and you do get penalized for incorrect attempts. He gives you an Excel template for each lab which is very straightforward, there's just a lot of copying and pasting and typing out complex formulas, but nothing challenging. The instructions for each lab are easy to follow so there's no issue getting out early. After the first 5 labs, there's a makeup week for anyone who missed one of those labs, but if you didn't miss any you get the week off. There's another makeup week after labs 6-9, too. After that, the next week is a review for the final, and the week after that is the final, which takes place before the usual finals week. The final is not bad at all, and he gives you a bunch of practice questions (though not the answers to them), a couple of which were on the actual exam. The final was originally going to be in person, but he moved it online and mentioned that he'll probably keep it online in the future. One thing to note about 261, though, is that it may be the physics 2 lab, but the majority of the labs are on physics 1 concepts, like momentum, centripetal motion, and pendulums. Only the last two labs were on physics 2 concepts, waves and the ideal gas law.
Matt Severson
PHYS102

Expecting a B
Anonymous
12/16/2021
Not a great class. Mostly learning about sounds waves, frequency, and production but also a lot of memorization involved (especially about the different parts and characteristics of many instruments towards the end of the semester). There were 6 homework assignments, a lot of them I needed help with so definitely use the TA office hours for help. 3 exams, not cumulative, but a good bit of studying and memorization is involved. 1 final group project on an instrument of your choice. Honestly didn't feel like I learned a lot and there are definitely better options if you need to take a gen ed science.
Matt Severson
PHYS102

Expecting a B-
Anonymous
12/11/2021
not a great teacher. he knows what he's talking about but he complicates the topics. he's also pretty rude to students if they ask a question which is super weird of him. the only saving grace in this course was one of the TA's who would go over the homeworks and host review sessions. without her, I would be failing this class. don't take this class if you're looking for an easy natural science lab.
Matt Severson

Anonymous
12/08/2021
Great guy but wooooo this class sucks. I genuinely show up to class every day and walk out knowing less about physics than when I walked in. We're almost at the end of the semester and I genuinely do not know where I stand at all. I'm on the verge of dropping pre-med completely.... mind you I went back to back Anatomy, Anatomy 2, Genetics, Microbiology, Chem 1, Chem 2, Orgo 1, Orgo 2 etc, and never considered dropping. This is quite honestly awful. The exams are ridiculous and so is the hw. Every day I feel more and more lost. This class is truly useless and is a weird mix of theory, biology and rip-off physics. I do not recommend it. Just go with Buerhle, he sucks too, but at least his curve is better.
Matt Severson
PHYS131

Anonymous
11/14/2021
Nice guy but my god is this class awful. If you can take another physics. Genuinely have no clue what my grade will be in this class and the exams have made me reconsider pre-med. Survived orgo and all the other bs weed out classes just to get to physics and feel completely lost. The class is like 80% intuition and is overly complicated so it just really screws you over. I thought I would be fine because I loved physics in high school but I was wrong. We're almost done with the semester and I am genuinely panicking.
Matt Severson
PHYS131

Anonymous
11/09/2021
I agree with the person below (10/28/2021) and I'm coming from similar credibility, but I honestly give him a pass this semester due to family issues. He's a nice guy and I actually think he's a decent lecturer, people just need to stfu during class. That being said, the class is still disorganized (quiz and HW due dates not predictable) and is based on another professor's material. Homework sucks. It is often only loosely related to material from class, and requires unnecessary digging around and reading between the lines to sometimes understand what to do. It usually isn't super long though. Recitation currently sucks because there seems to be a disconnect between him and the TAs; the recitation content is often one or two weeks ahead of lecture, so you have no idea what's going on and the TAs don't seem to know that. They don't know where we are in lecture or even when our exams are. It's possible this will change though. Lab sucks but what's new. The experiments themselves are actually interesting but analyses and lab reports are a pain. It's true it's hard to prepare for exams or homework. It's not a straightforward physics class, there is a lot of time spent explaining concepts in-depth. Basically, they know we're premeds who don't actually care about in-depth physics so they build the class around trying to get us to learn how to think about physics instead of learning 50 million equations. Class isn't great, could obviously be better (will hopefully be better in the future), but if you take him you're not 100% doomed, just takes extra time.
Matt Severson
PHYS131

Anonymous
11/08/2021
Do not recommend this professor for anyone taking physics for the first time. Some of the material is intuitive, but he doesn't teach it like it is. Many times he takes the more complicated route to explain it than is necessary. Also, he is terribly disorganized and likes to push back dates of exams. The homework assigned is astronomically difficult because it does not always line up with what is being taught in class, so you just have to figure it out on your own, since he releases textbook chapters sequentially depending on how much you get through in class. I took one physics class in high school and it has helped a little, but this class isn't worth the time you put in.
Matt Severson
PHYS131

Anonymous
10/28/2021
Honestly, if you want to learn physics, take any other professor. For credibility - I am a pre-med student with a near 4.0 gpa. Dr. Severson has failed to teach his students effectively at all. He is incredibly unorganized, continually moving homework, exam and quiz due dates. I am under the impression he does not write his own material. It is impossible to prepare for the course. I took AP Physics in high school and was capable of understanding all of it and succeeding. This class has been a fraction of what I can remember from high school but I somehow unable to learn any of it with his horrible teaching. He has no power over the class. People constantly talk over him. This is due to the fact he has shown his students no respect and therefore shouldn't expect to get it back.... I am not cold hearted, nor have I ever written a review on PlanetTerp before... this class is just so awful. Every recitation students stare blankly at the screen as we haven't been taught how to do anything. The homeworks are far beyond anything learned in class. Can't recommend not taking this guy enough. I am halfway through this course and don't have much hope - nor do I have any idea what my grade could be at the moment as he doesn't input any grades. I hope he does better in the following weeks.
Matt Severson
PHYS271

Expecting an A+
Anonymous
06/26/2021
You barely really interact with Dr. Severson at all. He handles the logistics of the online pre-labs and the final exam. If you email him with a question that is already addressed in the syllabus or a previous announcement, he might call you lame.
Matt Severson
PHYS132

Expecting an A
Anonymous
05/24/2021
Dr.Severson is a great professor. His teaching style isn't the best but he still manages to explain things clear enough. There are some instances were he would get confused since he is using another professor's teaching material. My biggest concern with his class was that since it was online when I took it, there were a lot of people cheating on his exams and it showed on the averages. We had 2 midterms and the average on each of them was ~80% which is very high considering the difficulty of the exams. While this was not entirely Dr. Severson's fault, this could have been prevented if he had muted the exams after it was completed. When I took the class, he had it where you had the whole weekend to take the exam with about 75 minutes to complete it once you start it. When you finished the exam, it would tell you what you got wrong and the correct answers to the questions. This allowed some people in our class to cheat artificially raising the average and almost lowering the curve/cutoff.
Matt Severson
PHYS131

Expecting an A
Anonymous
05/24/2021
Dr.Severson was a great professor. I will admit that there were instances where I completely did not understand what he was teaching and sometimes he even confused himself. He uses another professor's material to teach which explains why it confused him at times, but did a decent job at explaining it. His grade cutoffs are fair and his exams are pretty difficult. I had a very hard time studying for the exams but managed to do well on other assignments like quizzes and homework. The lab is very annoying and the TA's are unhelpful, Dr.Severson has even admitted this. He responds to emails quickly and listens to all concerns that any of his students may have.
Matt Severson
PHYS102

Anonymous
01/19/2021
Matt was super chill and the class was interesting. The material was straightforward and the final ppt was fun to do.
Matt Severson
PHYS271

Expecting an A
Anonymous
01/05/2021
PHYS271 is a continuation of PHYS261. Your grade is comprised of pre-labs, labs, and a final exam. The course overall is an easy A as long as you do the pre-labs and read the lab manual before each lab. Be aware though that the labs for PHYS271 are longer than the labs for PHYS261 and more in depth. The final exam review was extremely helpful and problems from it appear on the final exam.
Matt Severson
PHYS131

Expecting an A
Anonymous
12/27/2020
He was an easy going professor but I don't think I learned anything in his class. He seemed like he really understood physics but because he was trying to teach using another professor's course material he often seemed really unprepared for class. He was not very approachable when asking questions and usually was a little mean to the person asking. I got an A in the course but I literally do not know any more physics than I did going to into the course.
Matt Severson
PHYS102

Expecting an A
Anonymous
11/10/2020
The class wasn't really hard but you can tell he's the type of guy that knows so much about his subject area that he doesn't realize what is common knowledge or easy to understand and what isn't. He also wasn't always that nice when people asked questions but I think that might be because he's a little awkward. He tries to be chill and relatable which is at least kinda nice and he would bring out his guitar and give demonstrations when we were talking about music theory which was cool. I wouldn't purposely take another class of his but he's not bad just kinda average. (I also don't really like physics and had never taken phsyics before)