This is the second year that I’ve taught JMU’s foundation level course in inorganic chemistry since VIPEr has been around. VIPEr has allowed me to adapt and adopt ideas from the community, and I think my course is much the better for it. This year, both the existing LOs and new ones generated from our community challenges have positively impacted my class.
My foundations course is geared towards sophomores and first year students who have finished the general chemistry sequence in 1 semester. It’s a moderately large class (~50) and I try to have students work on problems in groups every day in class. My favorite in-class activities are the ones that really push my students to think deeply.
One of my favorite problems to use was Nancy’s LO on Crystal Field, Sigma/Pi Properties and Color. I tried to use a simplified (and personalized) version of this on my exam last year, but found that it was too complicated for my students. This year, I used an edited version for my in class activity and we had a great discussion. My students talked through ideas including how the Lewis structure of a ligand relates to its sigma/pi bonding abilities, why do things have color, and how does color relate to the energy and wavelength of light absorbed. After struggling with these concepts in class, students were able to formulate better questions about crystal/ligand field splittings.
I’ve also used a number of LOs on my exams. The first community challenge was a big help with my first exam. My favorite question was Peter’s LO on the periodic trends and the noble gases. I didn’t keep good enough records, but I know that many of my students answered this correctly and were able to provide a reasonable explanation. (I also used Hilary’s question on the role of the lanthanoids on d-block radii, Maggie’s questions on the radial wavefunction, Sheila & Joanne’s questions on resonance and Lewis structures and of course, a few of my own.)
Now that my semester is over, I’ve decided that it’s time to give a little help to my friends… with an end of semester community challenge. Now that grades are in, I’m going to devote one afternoon to (1) rate the LOs I’ve used, (2) comment where I can AND (3) contribute at least one original question from my exams. (More would be great, but I’ve learned to set the bar where I can be successful.)
Will you join me in this end of semester community challenge?