3 Jan 2011

Student Literature-Based Organometallic Lecture

Literature Discussion

Submitted by Jeffrey Rood, Elizabethtown College
I taught an advanced inorganic chemistry course for the first time this past fall. I focused strictly on organometallic chemistry and we used Spessard and Miessler's book. Because this book is focused on transition metal organometallics, I wanted the students to appreciate some of the organometallic chemistry of the s- and p-block (and zinc). Students worked in pairs (the class size was 12) and had most of the semester to research the literature and develop a 40-50 minute lecture. I also had them develop homework questions and an in class activity to help engage the other students.
Learning Goals: 
A student should be able to perform appropriate literature searches to develop an understanding of the given topic and be able to to explain the findings to their peers. Additonally I tried to help students understand the similarites and differences between main group and transition metal organometallics.
Related activities: 
Implementation Notes: 

As described in the attached document, students were required to have a pretty good idea of the topics they would cover along with literature references by midway through the semester (Fall break). I reviewed their references and redirected where needed to ensure the presenation would cover the basics of the given area and some of the more common examples of reactions and mechanisms. It took a little work to help students find appropriate topics from the literature and narrow things down (my students did not object to my comment that a entire course could focus on something like organolithium chemistry!). I had them keep in mind that the purpose of the project was not to cover everything, but rather to just give their classmates a "feeling" for the given area. To help the students understand my expectations, I did a lecture on calcium chemistry in a similar manner to which  I expected them to present material.

I've attached an example of some slides and homework questions that some of the students developed for aluminum chemistry. The slides may seem somewhat incomplete because the students also made use of the white board while delivering their presentation.

Time Required: 
~ 50 minutes
Evaluation Methods: 
I graded the presentations given by the students. The project was equivalent to a semester exam (20%). The attached document contains the evaluation scheme I used. I've thought about having the students evaluate each other the next time I teach the course.
Evaluation Results: 
Overall, the students did quite well with the project. Most of them had already had a chemistry seminar course or were currently taking one, so they were quite comfortable in front of an audience. The level of explanation and detail did, of course, vary from group to group. I think due to a combination of the required in-class exercise and the fact the material was fair game for exams, the students seemed quite engaged in each session.
Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence

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