Fall 2019 - I had previously taken AP Chemistry and other advanced chemistry classes in high school but Chem 14A with Lavelle was definitely still challenging. The first test was alright, but his midterm and final were pretty difficult. Make sure to go to class because a lot of the seemingly extraneous content he talks about on his slides will end up on future exams. That being said, I thought his exams were a little unfair because a lot of the information he emphasized in lecture wasn't even tested; the things that were tested were small details that required you to study facts about specific compounds. It was doable if you knew the information, but I wish there was more communication about what exactly we should and should not have known. He does provide a lot of review session resources but definitely pick and choose instead of sitting in on sessions where you aren't being challenged (when you could study on your own!). Overall, this class is doable but prepare to dedicate a lot of time into absorbing all the information you can because the exams are pretty unpredictable.
Fall 2020 - I took this class fall quarter of my freshman year which was online due to covid and I'm currently in 14B with Lavelle. Even though there are already a lot of reviews for Lavelle and this class, I'm gonna try to make this as unbiased as I can. For context: I've taken honors and AP chemistry in high school so going into this class I was already pretty well versed on general chemistry but I'm gonna try to write this with consideration of those who have little to no background in chemistry. Pros: -Lavelle is one of the most caring and compassionate professors I've had so far and I think it's so evident even if you dont like him for other reasons you cant deny that this man truly cares about his students and wants them to succeed. Every email he sends is so heartwarming and filled with smiley faces. He is constantly encouraging students and assisting them on chemistry community in any way that he can. He even filmed all the lectures in the normal lecture hall to give us the sense that we were on campus which was a small effort but one that I think a lot of people appreciated. He also plays music at the beginning of every lecture and jams out. 10/10 Very wholesome. And he gave a lot of bonus points both in 14A and 14B (bonus questions on the midterm and an extra 10 points on the 14A final just to be kind even though he didnt have to because the average was already pretty high) -Sooooo many resources provided by Lavelle. Basically any time of the day you want to get help you can attend an Undergraduate Assistant or TA office hours on zoom for help. Or you can ask on Chemistry Community and your question will be answered by another student relatively quickly. Cons: -The main con I would say is that Lavelle isnt the best lecturer. You can tell that he is very enthusiastic about what he teaches but his delivery isn't the most student friendly in the sense that he doesn't convey information the most clearly. I can say this with confidence because I'll often think back to how I learned it in high school from my AP chem teacher and see that he couldve explained it much better/clearer if he had simply done in so-and-so way instead. He's definitely not the worst lecturer but there have been times where I was confused on what he was saying even though I've learned it before. -He always goes way over time in (virtual/recorded) lectures. Almost every lecture will be around 55 min and at least once or twice a week (out of 3 total lectures per week) they will be over an hour long. I think theyve only been under 50 minutes a few times total each quarter. This is annoying when you consider the fact that the lectures would probably be a lot shorter if they were more concise and straight to the point. -Lack of examples in lectures is another annoying con. I feel like most students learn better by doing and seeing the concepts being applied/in action. Instead we have to do all that by ourselves in the homework and textbook problems which is annoying because for people with little to no chemistry background those problems can seem insanely difficult/confusing to do on your own the first time. When we learned electrochemistry, he barely taught us how to balance redox reactions but then all the homework problems were way more difficult and complex and required concepts he never even mentioned before in class. If I didn't have my notes from AP chemistry then I would not have been able to do them and I feel bad for the students who had to figure it out on their own because of this. Other notes: -The sapling homework and textbook assignments are very reflective of the exam difficulty. The midterms and exams are completely fair and not tricky at all. People just love to exaggerate in the GroupMe and say they are hard but truthfully, they are not. The averages are always 80% or above. TIP: do the textbook problems 2-3 days before the exam because you can always count on seeing AT LEAST one question copied word for word from the textbook. On one midterm prof explicitly stated that 30% of the midterm questions would be from the textbook. -If you've taken AP chemistry in high school and didn't suck at it, you will be totally fine in this class. Itll be mainly review of AP chem. Just put in the time and effort and you will get an A. Near the end of 14A I slacked off a little to focus on my other classes and as a result I scored a little lower than normal on the final but that was expected and all my mistakes were silly ones that I could've corrected if I had just put in a little more time. The point: if you stay on top of things you'll be set. -If you've never taken any chemistry before or only have taken a low level chemistry class in high school, honestly you're probably gonna struggle a little. There were people in my class who have never taken any chemistry before so you definitely wont be the only one but it wont be easy. If I took this class with Lavelle without any background in chem I probably wouldnt have gotten an A. Even though he starts off each new unit with "review" before moving onto the newer concepts, it still doesnt really make up for having previous chemistry knowledge. There are some things that he will simply assume you already know like molarity, how to do dimensional analysis/converting between units, what the numbers on the periodic table mean, basic polyatomics, and much more. That being said I don't know if other "better" professors will go over these things either since they are considered so fundamental to chemistry. -DONT overlook the conceptual concepts in each unit. Even though most of the homework and textbook problems are calculation problems (depending on how math-y the unit was) the exam always has a good amount of conceptual questions which generally shouldnt be an issue if you have a good understanding of the concepts we learn and understand WHY something is happening.
Fall 2023 - Dr. Lavelle should get more credit. Even if he is not an amazing lecturer, and the lectures often make me fall asleep, he makes up for it by providing a plethora of different resources. If you are struggling you can review the lectures on Bruin Learn, ask a question on his "Chemistry Community" website, or attend one of the numerous UA (undergraduate assistant) sessions that happen every day. You can tell that he really cares about the students, and he'll often drop a question on exams if most students get it incorrect. One difficulty is that it's so easy to make a mistake on a midterm, and be screwed for the quarter. Each midterm usually has 15 multiple choice questions, so if you mess up on 2, you're at a 52/60 or B for the midterm. Since you can't drop midterms and there's only one grading scheme, this becomes a little bit stressful.
Winter 2018 - This class is great, as we gain a strong foundation in general chemistry with both a mathematical and conceptual understanding. Dr. Lavelle goes above and beyond to assist students to the highest possible extent. I attended a few of his office hours; he was super helpful. After lecture, he always answers questions and is a very friendly guy. *HOW TO SUCCEED IN THIS CLASS* YOU NEED TO DO ALL THE HOMEWORK QUESTIONS IN ORDER TO GET AN A OR A+ IN THIS CLASS. This is the main thing in order to get an A or A+. The second thing is DO THE OLD MIDTERMS AND FINALS. Combined, these two things are almost everything you need. No matter what people recommend, whether it’s attending lecture or going to any type of review session, the #1 and #2 things you need to do is the HOMEWORK AND OLD EXAMS; everything else pales in comparison. The professor even copies one or two questions from the homework — verbatim, including the same numbers. UA Sessions - MY THIRD RECOMMENDATION! HIGHLY recommend Michael Johanis, Sean McCauley, Lindon Bui. Without them, I would have only gotten around a B+, and not an A+ or A (I’m expecting an A+, but at the minimum I’m getting an A). They both do weekly worksheets, which is SO helpful. Michael Johanis’ review session included a bunch of practice questions, and these questions alone constituted literally at least 80% of the entire exam (slight variations in wording and scenarios, but essentially the same thing). This kind of makes me suspicious that all the UAs see the exams well in advance of the midterm. They CLAIM to not see the exam, but how do their weekly sessions and review sessions capture the midterm, test, and final content so accurately; or maybe they’re just experts, I don’t know… Anways, Sean McCauley’s weekly sessions also have a FEW conceptual questions, which I thought were okay/good practice. I went to a few other UAs, but they made me more confused and used weird analogies/stories to explain things; I won’t say names, but I can only vouch for the two guys I previously mentioned. GO TO THESE TWO GUYS. THEY GET A REALLY HIGH VOLUME OF STUDENTS FOR A REASON. TA Office Hours Never attended these, because I thought it was smarter to ask UAs for help. TAs sometimes can’t answer questions, and UAs actually took the course and all did very well. UAs also teach you tricks. No offense, but my TA didn’t know anything and simply assigned us practice questions from the textbook; please, I could’ve done that independently in my dorm… SIDE NOTE 1: Buy old midterms and finals if you can. My friend let me borrow his DECADE of midterms and finals. SIDE NOTE 2: It’s good to pick a discussion late in the week, so you get more time to study for your quiz. Also, you have to turn in homework, so I dreaded waking up for my 8AM discussion — on a Friday… Try to get a convenient time!
Winter 2020 - Same format as his Chem 14A class. Due to COVID-19 however our final was changed to an online Multiple Choice quiz, which for sure was WAY easier than any 3-hour exam he could have made in person so my grade got kind of saved on it. I feel like I should have done better for my efforts but oh well. Grade Distribution I got: - Chem Community: 100% (easy points) - Homework: 100% (also, easy points) - Test 1: 100% (I studied through the pre assignments he assigned over break, only had to review a bit to do well) - Midterm: 69% nice (STRAIGHT BS for this test, studied really hard on the new concepts... in the end it tested 1 problem from new content covered through class, the rest of the test was Test 1 content but more tricky, CHEM14A material, and THERE WAS NO FOLLOW THROUGH POINTS! Lost 16 points for messing up a calculation on Step 1 even though the concept was right) - Test 2: 96% (Studied my butt off for 2 days through homework problems) - Online Final: 100% (blessed that I went to every single lecture, took detailed notes, and had a ton of homework problems done that I can look at and refresh my memory when taking it online) I Took AP Chem and did really well on that in high school. You need to have a pretty solid understanding of the material to do well. Proceed with Caution but Lavelle is a great teacher and you certainly will learn a lot of Chem material from him! He does do a lot of things outside of lecture to give students resources to succeed, so if you enjoyed taking him with CHEM14A then you should still take him!
After taking Chem20A, I thought this class was almost a joke! The material is much easier, because it's less conceptual than 20A. The class was not that difficult at all, but then again, I wouldn't say that it's an easy A either. He's very straight forward with his HW and most of his midterm questions. As long as you do the HW, you'll do fine. He doesn't go by the physical science book that we have. Instead, he uses the Chem14B book, and their problems are easier! I never read the book, but I managed to get good grades on the quizes and midterms. I have to admit, the final was unexpectedly really harder than his midterms. Overall, Lavelle is a good prof. He explains the concepts clearly. He'll answer all the questions you may have and he won't make you feel stupid for asking them, unlike some profs. I don't know why people say he's a bad lecturer. I don't think he's bad at all. He may not be the most exciting, but he's not the worst either.
Spring 2014 - Doing an SRP with Dr. Lavelle helped to increase my depth of knowledge with chemistry. Using ChemBioDraw and Chem3D, I made over one hundred three-dimensional molecules that show the correct bond angles and shape. Developing these molecules to upload to Chemistry Community, I was able to fully grasp how reaction mechanisms work. Seeing the space-filling models and regions of electron density, I was able to tie everything together about organic chemistry and understand not only why the nucleophile always attacks the electrophile, but the importance of orientation of these molecules in reaction mechanisms. Chem99 was a great, more hands-on way to study chemistry in a manner not taught in lecture.
Fall 2016 - Bruinwalk reviews are really so inaccurate, as often students who did really poorly feel the need to condemn the professor, whereas those who did well don't take the time to write reviews. Be weary when you read these reviews to choose professors for your classes. That said, Dr. Lavelle is one of the most thoughtful professors at UCLA, offering more resources than any other professor I've encountered. He is extremely clear during lectures and lays everything out step-by-step from the beginning for students who haven't had much chemistry exposure. Working with him in a smaller setting through 192C only reaffirmed what I thought when I took his 300+ student chem 14A/B classes. He takes pride in his many resources and he's truly so kind, not only to his students but also to his TAs and UAs. I appreciate being able to work with such a great professor here at UCLA, and hope everyone gets the chance to experience his classes and what he has to offer!