Submitted by Kurt Birdwhistell / Loyola University New Orleans on Mon, 05/05/2008 - 14:51

Hi everyone,
 Someone at the recent ACS meeting mentioned an initial HW assignment
that they give their students in Inorganic chemistry to keep from
reviewing several of the inorganic topics from general chemistry.  
I think
this would be a useful object for this website. 

Does anyone have something like that already started or completed?


We essentially have a 1 semester course to teach everything inorganic; so, reviewing the begining material takes up a couple of weeks and many times prevents me from teaching any special topics.

Kurt Birdwhistell, Loyola New Orleans

Joanne Stewart / Hope College

This is a really interesting idea. I have found it absolutely critical to review 1) quantum numbers and electron configurations (which goes quickly), 2) Lewis structures and VSEPR (which they still struggle with), and periodic trends with a strong focus on the concept of shielding, which our students hear about in gen chem but certainly don't "get."

I have found that, for me, the most effective way to review is to get students to first dredge up their vague gen chem memories (and misconceptions). I have posted to VIPEr a short in-class activity called "Atomic orbitals brainstorm" that does this for atomic orbitals. Wonder if I could develop something analogous for the other review topics?

Joanne Stewart

Tue, 05/27/2008 - 21:38 Permalink
Adam Johnson / Harvey Mudd College

In reply to by Joanne Stewart / Hope College

I also feel like I need to review.  In fact, I spend almost a week on Lewis/VSEPR as a buildup to MO theory.  This is right after a 2-3 lecture unit on symmetry that I start the semester off with. It amazes me that juniors and seniors still have a hard time with simple Lewis theory.

I used to teach (review) QN and electron configurations, but our students have had p-chem already so I don't feel like I need to.  But, its amazing how few of them remember the 5 d-orbitals.  I tell them they WILL need to know the names and orientations of all 5 (not just 3 or 4) and most of them usually believe me before the first exam.  All of them do afterwards.

I have done a section on periodic trends as part of my descriptive chemistry unit, but that whole unit  has moved to the back burner for the last couple years.

Wed, 06/18/2008 - 16:48 Permalink
Maggie Geselbracht / Reed College

In reply to by Adam Johnson / Harvey Mudd College

I agree with Adam and Joanne that reviewing Lewis structures and VSEPR is a must!  I learned that the hard way when half my students thought the point group for sulfate was D4h.

I don't like to take class time to do it though.  So, I give them a point group homework on the first day of class that has many examples that test whether or not they remember Lewis structures, VSEPR, site preferences in 5 and 7-coordinate compounds, etc.  Then I tell them, THEY need to spend the time reviewing in order to do the homework correctly. 

Fri, 06/20/2008 - 16:54 Permalink
Keith Walters / Northern Kentucky University


You might be talking about me for the initial HW assignment (it was part of my talk in New Orleans, along with others I believe). Actually, it's a little more than that. I give a take home test on the first day that serves as a review. It covers atomic orbitals, electron configuration, periodic trends, lewis structures, inorganic nomenclature (gen chem level), VSEPR, and organic functional groups. I also throw in some stoichiometry and limiting reagents to help out in the lab as well. Students have a week to work on it and can utilize other faculty members (and myself) as resources. We don't discuss any of those topics to great degree in lecture (well, not in the sense of what's in the first couple of chapters in any inorganic text). I'll touch some of these topics later in the term as we need to, but with everything I want to / have to cover in the course, I just don't have the review time.

Naturally, students do quite well on the assignment (As and Bs mostly), but I don't mind. My tests get much more difficult as the term proceeds, so having a good exam grade can be a life saver!

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one doing this!

Mon, 06/23/2008 - 17:20 Permalink
Kurt Birdwhistell / Loyola University New Orleans

In reply to by Keith Walters / Northern Kentucky University


would you mind posting a version of your review test?  I would like to see it.

 I don't like to spend time on VSEPR or lewis structures, but i feel like the students definitely need a review of all the nonorganic structures they have not seen since general chemistry.


Mon, 06/23/2008 - 22:29 Permalink
Keith Walters / Northern Kentucky University

In reply to by Kurt Birdwhistell / Loyola University New Orleans

There's a problem set item in review containing the review test.
Tue, 06/24/2008 - 13:53 Permalink
Hilary Eppley / DePauw University
Hi Kurt, I also do a pretest based on our slightly different version of the freshman "Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry" that we teach at DePauw. I have students take the test first thing on the first day of class, then turn it in. I then make comments (no grades since they would be pretty awful) and then recollect the problem sets as the first homework set of the semester. I will post my pretest later in the day today. Look for it in the Fundamentals Section! Cheers, --Hilary
Mon, 07/14/2008 - 09:08 Permalink
Kurt Birdwhistell / Loyola University New Orleans

In reply to by Hilary Eppley / DePauw University

Okay, Hilary  I look forward to seeing your pretest.


Sat, 07/19/2008 - 10:52 Permalink