Submitted by Nicole Crowder / University of Mary Washington on Thu, 07/19/2012 - 14:05
My Notes

This learning object has the student search the chemical literature for a paper focusing on a catalytic cycle (Wilkinson’s, Grubbs, Heck, Wacker, Suzuki, Click, etc.). They answer a set of guiding questions for reading the literature, then analyze the catalytic cycle presented in the paper to assign oxidation state, d electron count, valence electron count, and preferred geometry for each complex in the cycle. They also identify the process(es) occurring during each step in the cycle.

Learning Goals

After completing this assignment, the student will be able to

-          Critically evaluate the chemical literature

-          Assign oxidation state, d electron count, valence electron count, and preferred geometry for “real-life” organometallic complexes

-          Identify reaction processes occurring in a catalytic cycle

Implementation Notes

I assign this learning object towards the end of the course, when we are discussing organometallic reactions and catalytic schemes. I have assigned it when I have been able to fully cover catalysis in class, but I have also used it when we haven’t gotten through all of this material as a way to cover more of this. I do make sure that we have gone through at least one catalytic scheme in class (like Wilkinson’s catalyst) so they know what to expect/what I will be looking for, and we have covered the classic reaction processes (ligand substitution, oxidative addition, reductive elimination, 1,1 and 1,2 addition/elimination, etc.). I find it is a good way to tie all of this material together as well as see “real-life” examples of material we cover in class. I give students a week to complete this assignment.


Students have done a previous literature project using this set of reading questions, so they have gotten feedback on the appropriate level for their answers.


I have not included the catalytic cycle portion of this assignment before.

Evaluation Methods

Submissions are evaluated on the basis of the answers to the questions, specifically looking for critical evaluation of the article. The assignment of d electron count, oxidation state, valence electron count, and geometry of the complexes in the catalytic cycle and the analysis of the catalytic processes should be evaluated for correctness.

Evaluation Results

In the past two years that I have used this learning object, students have scored 30/35 points. Students typically lose points for superficial answers to the questions. I have not included question 7 in the past, so this was not included in the previous assessments. I have also added the section on identifying the oxidation state, d electron count, valence electron count, and the processes in the catalytic cycle since I last used this learning object, so they were not included in the assessment.


Students are allowed to pick their own article, so they tend to pick one that they understand and are interested in, which leads to better results. One great quote from a student was, “I understood everything in this paper!”

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