As my semester break begins (break? What break?), I'm thinking about things I'm going to change for the Advanced Inorganic Chemistry course I'm teaching in the Spring. A little bit of background: first, this is the second time I've taught the course, the first being last spring. Second, the course is primarily Seniors, with some Juniors (all have had P-chem, or are taking it concurrently). Third, this is the "first" exposure to inorganic the students have had. They will have had some inorganic in P-chem and gen-chem (some general periodic trends, electronic structure, and some descriptive chemistry), but this is their first true exposure. Finally, the course is, essentially, taught as a graduate level course. As such, I'm thinking about what things to change next semester.
The textbooks we're using are a group theory text by Carter (we pretty much go through the whole text), and, for more general readings, Inorganic Chemistry by Housecroft and Sharpe (2nd ed). We also read a number of papers from the primary literature. My topic list last semester was:
- General electronic structure (students held responsible for things like general periodic trends, radial distribution functions, etc).
- Group theory and MO theory. This was the biggest part of the course, and was the undercurrent for the rest of the semester. This included MO diagrams from simple diatomics to more complicated organometallic molecules dissected using group MOs.
- Crystal field and ligand field theory of coordination complexes.
- Visible absorption spectroscopy. We talked about spectral shapes as a function of electronic structure. We also talked about Tanabe-Sugano diagrams and Racah parameters.
- Organometallic chemistry. We counted electrons using the 18-electron rule, and analyzed a number of complexes. We also looked at the NMR of fluctional complexes.
- Electrochemical methods, specifically cyclic voltammetry.
The course had a number of problem sets and lit reviews built in.
Now, the question is, which topics should I leave out or shift focus on? The biggest problem I had (in that I wasn't sure I should have covered it) was visible spectroscopy, and the depth in which I covered it. Is it "necessary"? To be honest, I would rather give focus to other methods such as EPR and, maybe, crystallography. However, we only have one semester (regretably).
All this being said, I'd like to get some feedback from others about what they think is important, and what their experiences have been teaching inorganic. I will say this-- I'd like to keep the course as "molecular" as possible at the moment, i.e. not delve into solids. I know this might upset some, but I don't want to cram too many things into the semester.
Thanks for reading this (very long) message!
Happy New Year!