Student Feedback

Princeton University GEO371/PHY371 : Global Geophysics

These comments have not been edited (not even for spelling), although only a selection appears.

2017

Every paragraph below is an individual student's answer to the question: "How would you describe the overall quality of the lectures?".

Professor Simons is hilarious.
Frederik has it all: organization, planning, detail, and most of all, humor. Very funny and friendly professor. Also, he goes out of his way to make sure you get one-on-one time if you need it. He will literally spend two hours explaining stuff to you if you ask him. Awesome instructor!
I would always read ahead, which made the lectures much easier to understand. It helped that I had taken differential equations before this course because I was able to easily understand the math involved in our calculations. The lectures jogged my memory about physics I had forgotten and taught me quite a lot of new material that I will continue to synthesize over the next few years as I take more courses in this field.
The lectures were good, and covered a lot of ground. Occasionally, they could move a little too fast.
He does a great job of motivating the lectures and emphasizing the important points of the discipline
HIGH quality, though the style can be very confusing. I think it really takes some active thinking, reading, and creative imagination to understand what Frederik was teaching. There must be a more simple and clear way of presenting the basics, but Frederik's style really draws on the beauty of derivations, patterns, and symmetries. Probably would be much more appreciated if I already knew the material, but exciting nonetheless.
Suuuchhhh a nice guy and really funny. I would have fallen asleep though if it wasn't for his personality. His style is stream-of-consciousness in terms of equations.
Prof. Simons' lecture style is great, his dry wit keeps the sometimes likewise dry material engaging. Lectures were highly math based, which, despite his clear explanations of the math involved, made it initially difficult to connect the material we were learning to what we encountered on problem sets, but upon hearing we were having difficulty following, he agreed to give an outline of where we were going in each lecture before we launched into it. That was quite helpful. I appreciated his philosophy of learning in class, then clarifying with external material at home.
Excellent!

Every paragraph below is an individual student's answer to the question:"Please comment on the overall quality of the course."

The best final exam I have taken in a quantitative course--I really feel like it gave me a chance to explain my understanding of the course rather than losing points because I misread a problem, ran out of time, or dropped a negative sign. Other math and physics courses should use Professor Simons' essay format.
Very quantitative, but overall enjoyable
Great course for anyone with solid calc background, especially for GEO and PHY concentrators. Would recommend. Also did I mention that Frederik is awesome?
Great! I definitely enjoyed this course and am inspired to continue taking geophysics courses. I took this course to see if I enjoyed geophysics, and I loved it! Frederik was an amazing teacher and definitely inspired me to push myself and really dig into the material.
A very unique and thought-provoking intro to geophysics
Great course
Interesting material, which I didn't realize until I fully understood the material while studying for the final.
Overall, it was an interesting and well taught course
The combination of lectures and homework worked very well - I went from not knowing much about geophysics, to feeling like I understand the field quite well. Perhaps even better than the individual units, the course helped me understand how general scientific models are structured
Frederik is great
I took this class as a departmental outside of the Physics department. Frederik is great, he's really engaging.

Every paragraph below is an individual student's answer to the question:"What advice would you give to another student considering taking this course? ."

take but be prepared to decipher Frederik's cryptic style of talking to truly understand what he is trying to say
Take this course if you want an overview of gravity, magnetism, wave propagation, and heat as they apply to planetary bodies, in particular, Earth. Most work during the semester goes into a few problem sets, which are fair and reasonable. Challenge yourself to keep up with Frederik during lecture and you'll get way more out of the class.
I definitely recommend this course! Frederik is a great teacher and really pushes you to learn the material. It is a challenging course, but is very rewarding.
If you are interested in physics or geophysics, I recommend this class. The lectures definitely focus on the beauty of derivations, patterns, and symmetries in the physics and notation, sometimes at the expense of clearly presenting the basic math and geology. Physics, mulitvariable calculus, and linear algebra background are necessary, and some personal reading about the GEO side of things may also be necessary. Also, background in differential equations, spherical harmonics, and spectral analysis will all be very helpful. The more you already know the more you will get out of this course. Although I often felt lost in lecture, by the end of the semester I had actually learned a great deal. And Frederik is a great lecturer and guy in general.
Professor Simons is a great guy. This course is a good intro to geophysics if you have already taken GEO 203 and have a good understanding of introductory physics and math. Knowledge of partial differential equations would also be very beneficial. Be prepared to do a lot of outside reading--Professor Simons will expect you to learn it that way.
Frederik is fantastic, and the problem sets are manageable. It often seemed like the lecture and the problem sets didn't really support each other, so a lot of the physics I had to learn on my own; however, the course was overall worthwhile.
Ask questions outside of class. It's the only way you will learn. Frederik is so funny and nice, and so I don't regret taking the class, but lectures were very puzzling and the reading wasn't really laid out. The material is actually really interesting though and not super tough. I wish I would have known what was going on during the semester rather than right before the final. Go do some of your own reading and you will be fine.
Take good notes, go to office hours.
Take it if you want to know about geophysics. Psets are really practical while lectures seem theoretical.
Psets are (usually) not too hard. Class is much more math than application/theory. Prof. Simons is a great lecturer and was very open to making the changes that the students requested. I think that, the next time that this is taught, it will be a very smooth course.

2013

Every paragraph below is an individual student's answer to the question: "How would you describe the overall quality of the lectures?".

Frederik's lectures are fast-paced, informative, and fun
Very in-depth lectures that build up the mathematics and theory from the ground up.
Frederik is awesome
Lectures were great, Frederik is great, informative, and very passionate.

Every paragraph below is an individual student's answer to the question: "Please comment on the overall quality of the course."

This course worked well because Frederik is an engaging teacher who is willing to help students.
Overall, very good course.
Great course - I enjoyed it, and the graduate students were very helpful and approachable.
if i were smarter i would probly love this class so im still going to rate it highly.
I learned so much.

2009

Every paragraph below is an individual student's answer to the question: "How would you describe the overall quality of the lectures?".

I thought he was a great lecturer, his style made asking questions easier than it is in any of my other classes which allowed me to get a lot more out of the lectures classes then I think I normally would have.
Prof. Simons is an excellent lecturer and very knowledgeable. He obviously has a lot of experience teaching this class. His lectures were engaging and clear. I am curious to take more class in the geology dept. I really appreciate his devotion to teach this class in the evening. Thank you so much for caring for our learning.
The lectures were well prepared but also interactive. The professor always welcomed interruption for the sake of the students' understanding. There was a good balance of fill-in-the-blank style participation from the class.

Every paragraph below is an individual student's answer to the question: "Please comment on the quality of the readings in the course."

I thought the readings were interesting, I wished I'd have more time to go through all of them, but I really like how papers were handed out in the beginning simply for our interests.
The reading as a supplement for the lectures were very good.
The readings served their purpose: not so much to present material but rather to demonstrate the currency and relevancy of the material we were learning. The contemporary articles gave us a bit of an immersion test to see if we were becoming literate in geophysics.

Every paragraph below is an individual student's answer to the question: "Please comment on the guidance of the instructor(s) in preparing you to do [...] problem sets to the course".

Problem sets are quite good, and help us to learn the material related the class.
I thought the problems sets were a good mix of material we had done in class, material that was covered in the books, and material we needed to work out on our own.
The problem sets were difficult, very difficult.
The problem set were helpful.
The problem sets were interesting and well written. I often only felt like I really learned the material after completing the problem set.

2008 (when it was called GEO320 : Introductory Geophysics)

Every paragraph below is an individual student's answer to the question: "Please comment on the strengths of the course".

The professor has a very strong depth of knowledge on the material and the class is a good introduction to a variety of important tools in the geosciences.
Intensive overview of the subject field. Stimulating topics!
The course was a great introduction to geophysics. It did not assume any prior knowledge of the subject. The clear division between the topics we covered helped.
It was a good overview of the subject matter. It covered everything thouroughly. The professor was very understanding and forgiving of late work.
Lecture was very informative. Good problem sets. No midterm.

Frederik Simons
Last modified: Wed Sep 11 13:32:59 EDT 2019