Review Comment

Solid Earth System (V2200)

January 07, 2011

Malinverno, Alberto and Tolstoy, Maya
Solid Earth System (V2200)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

A miserable experience. The professors simply read from the lecture slides and labs are a disaster. The TAs who run the lab are ill-prepared and it takes up an insane amount of time. The text (Earth: Portrait of a Planet) is helpful and dumbed down but tests are based on the lecture slides. It is important to STUDY THE LABS for the final, which mostly consists of the questions from three labs. If you attend class religiously and get the labs down, you *might* have a shot at doing well. Also, the field trip will be boring and useless--be prepared.

Workload:

About 2-3 chapters of text for each lecture, one long and time-consuming lab per week, one midterm and one cumulative final.

December 30, 2009

Malinverno, Alberto and Tolstoy, Maya
Solid Earth System (V2200)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This class is dry, boring, and poorly organized....seriously. Let's get real here, it takes a pretty stellar professor to make the study of rocks and plate tectonics interesting; however, don't come into this class expecting that.

While both profs who teach the class are very sweet and seem to care very much about the students, the lectures are painful. The lecture format is about 50-80 slides a class with pictures and diagrams copied from the text book and bullet points taken directly out of the text. I suppose this is nice because it gives you the option since you can succeed either by reading the text or attending the lectures, both is completely unnecessary. However, the class size is small enough that by about the second week they know who each student is and who does/does not attend lecture. Problem set were more like mind puzzles to figure out the answer, once you got it you couldn't believe how simple the answer was.

The mandatory lab which is associate with the class is HORRIBLE. Every week attendance is taken even though its all done on the computer, generally it's typing number into excel and making graphs or searching for the answers online using google. This wouldn't be all that bad except for the fact that the directions go in circles so what is expected is very unclear. Consequently, everyone in the entire lab gets a horrible grade, I think most of my labs were in the low 70s which is frustrating to see week after week when you're spending 6 hours on a dumb worksheet. The two TAs are PhD students at Lamont who are forced to TA an undergraduate class and while they were both very knowledgeable they oftentimes did not understand the lab directions themselves which was frustrating. Both were very helpful outside of class when they could meet one on one but in the circus which was commonly referred to as lab, you had to wait behind 5 other confused classmates to have one question answered. I usually signed into lab and left about 20 minutes in.

Workload:

5 problem sets, 1 lab report due per week, midterm, final, mandatory day long field trip

December 21, 2004

Menke, William
Solid Earth System (V2200)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

If you are looking for a FUN and EASY class then STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM THIS ONE!!!! The only reason that anyone should be taking this class is because it is required. This is probably the worst class I have ever taken at Columbia. Even if you love earth science (and somehow decided not to major in it) you will hate it by the end. It's 4.5 credits of torture. Normal lectures and a 3 hr lab every week. The labs suck and usually result in you banging your head against the wall/table due to the sheer monotony and confusion (one lab required you to draw 20 seismic profiles to detail... totally unnecessary). The TA's were pretty cool (although I still havent gotten back labs from October) and do stay around for the labs.

Now on to Menke. Part of the problem with the class. I find it interesting that such a space cadet could know so much about our planet. Ask him a question and watch him stare into space for 5 minutes before giving you an answer. His lectures were basically an outline on the course website with links to other pages and images... Switching between pages gets really frustrating and annoying after a while. He also never stays for the labs and is out of class quicker than the students. The midterm was just as weird as he was. Awful.

The one saving grace was Professor Ryan, who teaches the second half of the semester. The complete opposite of Menke. He's very interested in everything the student has to say. His lectures are all powerpoint and are coherent and organized. He is very open to questions/comments and is always willing to help. The labs still sucked, but unlike Menke, he sticks around. During the first lab he was around, he said before it "this is a hard lab. But don't worry, if you need help call me. We'll get through it". He was an overall really nice guy and wanted us to understand the material and succeed more than anything. It's a shame that he has to teach the class with Menke. It could be so much better if it was only him. For our semester he gave us an essay final. Not bad at all-straight forward that made you consider the environmental impact and implications of our actions.

Workload:

PURE EVIL. Weekly labs with lab reports that usually say 1-2 pages but require more, 7 homeworks over the semester, midterm and final. 4.5 points doesn't do it justice. Like one review said: makes you want to jump off prominent geomorphological features to your doom.

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