(1) Check students' ability to use correct calculations and techniques to prepare solutions of known concentrations;
(2) Review students' fit of first-order and second-order integrated rate equations to a kinetics data set, and discuss with them their choices of which data to use and which to reject; Also check their calculation of the observed rate constant from this fit.
(3) Review students' analysis of how changes to the concentration of the excess nucleophilic entering ligand affects the observed rate constant, and how this relationship establishes the best rate law for the reaction.
(4) Poll students on what follow-up experiments they might use to test their conclusion or resolve uncertainties.
(5) Read lab report (includes this and related experiments involving this coordination compound) to ascertain how students' use data to support a conclusion (proposed mechanism) and address uncertainty and error.
Not all students who enroll in this advance lab course have completed Introductory Chemistry, so this is the first exposure to experimental kinetics for some. Most of my discussions with students address their confidence in knowing solution concentrations (a reflection of lingering difficulties with lab technique and calculations). Nearly all students can satisfactorily fit first-order and second-order integrated rate equations to data for a single kinetics run, but some struggle to understand the purpose of running trials using varying thiol concentrations and how these results are important for determining the form of the rate law. Inviting students to compile their results with those of previous year’s students and primary research literature raises important issues about reproducibility; some students, though, become disappointed when their results display evidence of poor lab technique. Stronger students recognize, in their lab report, how their results relate to relevant research literature and make connections to other experiments they perform with this coordination compound.