f-block Chemistry

27 Jun 2016

Online Homework for a Foundations of Inorganic Chemistry Course

Submitted by Sabrina G. Sobel, Hofstra University
Evaluation Methods: 

Students are graded on a sliding scale based on the number of attempts on each question. An overall grade is assigned at the end of the semester, adjusted to the number of points allotted for the homework in the syllabus. 

Evaluation Results: 

Student performance on the overall homework assignments for the semester includes questions assigned on General Chemistry topics that are part of this class syllabus. 

 201420152016
Number404741
Average89%80%83%
S.D.15%19%23%

In addition to gethering data on overall  performance, I and my student assistants, Loren Wolfin and Marissa Strumolo, have completed a statistical study to assess performance on individual questions, and to identify problem questions that need to be edited. We identified two separate issues: incorrect/poorly worded questions, and assignment of level of difficulty. Five problematic questions were identified and edited. The level of difficulty was reassigned for eight questions rated as medium (level 2); six were reassigned as difficult (level 3), and two were reassigned as easy (level 1). I look forward to assessing student performance in Spring 2017 in light of these improvements. Please feel free to implement this Sapling homework in your class, and help in the improvement/evolution of this database.

Description: 

The Committee on Professional Training (CPT) has restructured accreditation of Chemistry-related degrees, removing the old model of one year each of General, Analytical, Organic, and Physical Chemistry plus other relevant advanced classes as designed by the individual department. The new model (2008) requires one semester each in the five Foundation areas: Analytical, Inorganic, Organic, Biochemistry and Physical Chemistry, leaving General Chemistry as an option, with the development of advanced classes up to the individual departments. This has caused an upheaval in the treatment of Inorganic Chemistry, elevating it to be on equal footing with the other, more ‘traditional’ subdisciplines which has meant the decoupling of General Chemistry from introduction to Inorganic Chemistry. No commercial online homework system includes sets for either Foundations or Advanced Inorganic Chemistry topics. Sapling online homework (www.saplinglearning.com) has been open to professor authors of homework problems; they have a limited database of advanced inorganic chemistry problems produced by a generous and industrious faculty person. I have developed a homework set for a semester­-long freshman/sophomore level Inorganic Chemistry course aligned to the textbook Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry by Rayner-Canham and Overton (ISBN 1-4641-2560-0, www.whfreeman.com/descriptive6e ), and have test run it three times. Question development, analysis of student performance and troubleshooting in addition to topic choices, are critical to this process, especially in light of new information about what topics are taught in such a course (Great Expectations: Using an Analysis of Current Practices To Propose a Framework for the Undergraduate Inorganic Curriculum: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acs.inorgchem.5b01320 ).This is an ongoing process, and I am working to improve the database all the time.

Prerequisites: 
Corequisites: 
Course Level: 
Learning Goals: 

1.      Increase understanding in these topic areas:

a.      Acid-base chemistry and solvent systems

b.      Bonding models of inorganic molecules and complexes

c.      Bonding models in extended systems (solids)

d.      Descriptive chemistry and Periodic Trends

e.      Electronic structure of inorganic molecules, complexes and solids

f.       Extended structures: unit cells and other solid-state structural features

g.      Molecular structure and shape of inorganic molecules

h.      Inorganic Complexes nomenclature, bonding and shapes

i.       Redox chemistry and application to inorganic systems

j.       Thermodynamics as applied to inorganic solids and inorganic systems

2.      Practice using knowledge in these topic areas:

a.      Acid-base chemistry and solvent systems

b.      Bonding models of inorganic molecules and complexes

c.      Bonding models in extended systems (solids)

d.      Descriptive chemistry and Periodic Trends

e.      Electronic structure of inorganic molecules, complexes and solids

f.       Extended structures: unit cells and other solid-state structural features

g.      Molecular structure and shape of inorganic molecules

h.      Inorganic Complexes nomenclature, bonding and shapes

i.       Redox chemistry and application to inorganic systems

j.       Thermodynamics as applied to inorganic solids and inorganic systems

Implementation Notes: 

The database of homework questions is available through Sapling Learning. They can be implemented as an online homework set for a class. Students need to buy access to the Sapling online homework for the duration of the class, typically $45.

Time Required: 
variable
12 Sep 2014

Maggie's LOs

Submitted by Chip Nataro, Lafayette College
Corequisites: 
Prerequisites: 
14 Aug 2014

Luminescence

Submitted by Vivian Ezeh, Clemson University, Department of Chemistry
Description: 

This is a 5-slides on luminescence. It contains introductory and basic description of different examples of luminscence. Since, this is a community of inorganic chemists, only inorganic compounds are discussed as examples.

Prerequisites: 
Corequisites: 
Learning Goals: 

Students will be able to:

1) Define and recognize the phenonmenon of emission

2) Recognize the colors of inorganic compounds could arise from emission not just absorption

3) Know some applications of emission

Course Level: 
Implementation Notes: 

This 5-slides is an introduction on the topic of luminscence. Anyone who wishes to adopt it is free the add to the content. Some references are added in the notes for primary literature search.

14 Jul 2014

The Japan syndrome

Submitted by Carmen Gauthier, Florida Southern College
Evaluation Methods: 

I use this assignment as a review and to expose students to science contents in non-scientific publications.  In the honors course I used in an exam question:

  1. In your opinion, was the flooding of the nuclear plant [in “The Japan Syndrome”] effective? Explain why or why not. (a copy of the paper was attached to the exam)
Evaluation Results: 

I will collect data in the futue

Description: 

This is an in-class discussion of an article that appeared in The Economist.  It can be used to review several topics covered in the first year chemistry class.

Corequisites: 
Prerequisites: 
Course Level: 
Learning Goals: 

In answering these questions students will be able to:

Articulate how fission work

Use the periodic table to predict properties

Compare and contrast units of radiation

Apply their understanding of nuclear chemistry to nuclear disasters.

Evaluate scientific evidence publish in non-scientific publications

Implementation Notes: 

This is a literature discussion activity for a second semester general chemistry course, I have also used this paper in an environmental insights and investigation course in the Honors Program at my school.

Students get the assignment two days prior to the class discussion.

Time Required: 
30-40 minutes
1 Jul 2014
Evaluation Methods: 

Students were evaluated on how completely they answered the pre-class reading questions.  

In-class discussion questions were collected at the end of the class period.  For these, students worked in groups of 2 or 3.

Evaluation Results: 

Most of the students grasped the major concepts by the end of the class, though there was a lot of initial confusion as to how to make sense of all the structural data in the paper.

The biggest hurdle students had to overcome was shifting their thinking from absolute terms (e.g., sodium is hard) to relative terms (e.g., sodium is harder than potassium).  Once they did this, the rest of the activity becomes very simple.

Description: 

In this literature discussion, students are asked to read an article describing a series of uranyl halide compounds that contain an alkali counterion that interacts with one or more of the uranium's ligand atoms.  This paper stands out as a great example of the binding preferences of acids and bases, and can be explained very well using simple HSAB concepts.  Also notable in this paper is the fact that the authors claim that HSAB concepts explain their results very well in the introduction, and then only bring it up again almost as an afterthought in the short discussion section at the end of the paper.

Corequisites: 
Prerequisites: 
Learning Goals: 

A student should be able to rank Lewis acid and bases in terms of relative hardness

A student should be able to interpret X-ray crystallographic structural data and identify structural motifs

A student should be able to explain the affinity that atoms have for one another in terms of HSAB theory

 

Implementation Notes: 

This activity is fairly straightforward, and my students needed little help working through the discussion questions.  For most students, this was the first time they had seen molecules represented as thermal ellipsoids, so they had a little trouble identifying the atoms inside molecules, but everyone got it by the end of the class.

Time Required: 
One 50 minute class period
13 Mar 2014
Description: 

 

    Every day when I teach Inorganic Chemistry (and in most of my problem sets and take home exams) I create Web pages to show 3D images of selected molecules to my students.  I am a visual learner and I find the structures beautiful and informative.

    In the past few months, you likely have found that web sites scripted with Jmol scripts calling a Jmol applet (which is a Java applet) are blocked. 

    The following short document walks you through how see Jmol images and animations that are currently blocked as security risks when calling a Jmol applet to load.  Ultimately, many of us have and/or will begin creating web pages with molecular images using JSmol, HTML5 or other solutions to avoid this problem, however there are many great web sites out there scripted in Jmol that are now blocked, including our interface to WebMO at Carleton.  The block is imposed on web pages that call a Java applet due to security breaches that occurred through Java in 2013.  Java has since been updated (Java 7 version 51) to address those issues, however in the meantime, the sites are still blocked and labeled as a security risk by the browsers.  Of course this will be an ever-moving target; browsers will update, Jmol has already updated and will continue to do so, Java will update, security breaches will occur, and all these computer-assisted tools will continue to evolve.  The document I have attached titled “Viewing_Jmol_Images_that_call_a_Java_applet3-14-14” describes two methods (that work as of 3-14-14) to override the security block; either by accepting a higher security risk overall or exempting sites from the security block.  Hope this helps anyone who is interested.  Please feel free to edit this document to fit your needs for your courses.

 

 

Prerequisites: 
Topics Covered: 
Corequisites: 
Learning Goals: 

To learn about molecular structure, symmetry and molecular motiions by viewing images of molecules in 3D.

The more specific goal of this LO is to allow us to view the numerous web sites that are already scripted in Jmol and are currenlty blocked.

Time Required: 
10 minutes to test one site
24 Jan 2014

Student choice literature-based take home exam question

Submitted by Hilary Eppley, DePauw University
Evaluation Methods: 

This question was 30 points on a 100 pt take home exam (the year I did this, there was also a 100 point in class exam as well).   I've included the title page of the take home exam as well as this question.   

The grading scale allowed most of the points for the student chosen course content to highlight.   Of the 30 points, 10 focus on chemical information skills, 20 on summarizing the article and analyzing it using concepts from the class.   

Evaluation Results: 

I gave back a number of the exams before I was able to tally, but of the ones I had remaining: 

60% got full credit on the part a (those who missed neglected to include a summary) 

100% got full credit on part b

60% got full credit on part c (those who missed searched by formula rather than connectivity or provided an insufficient explanation of what they searched on 

100% got full credit on part d

On part e, answers varied widely from 7/17 to 15/17, with an average of 12/17 or a 70%.  

In some cases they lost points for just repeating things verbatim from the paper without explaining them to show they understood the concepts.   The main reason for loss of points however was just a lack of effort at picking apart the paper for parts that were relevant to the course content.   

They were able to successfully apply things such as electron counting and mechanism identification in a catalytic cycle, point groups, descriptions of sigma and pi bonding in ligands.   

 

Description: 

During my junior/senior level inorganic course, we did several guided literature discussions over the course of the semester where the students read papers and answered a series of questions based on them (some from this site!).  As part of my take home final exam, I gave the students an open choice literature analysis question where they had the chance to integrate topics from the semester into their interpretation of a recent paper of their own choice from Inorganic Chemistry, this time with limited guidance.  I also included a number of questions that required them to make use of various literature search tools to show that they had mastered those skills.   I gave them a list of topics that they could incorporate, but based on the poor quality of the responses I received, I encourage you to be more specific in your instructions.  I'd love to see some new versions!      

Corequisites: 
Course Level: 
Prerequisites: 
Learning Goals: 
Students will
  • choose a recent paper that interests them from Inorganic Chemistry
  • summarize why a particular paper is important to the field of inorganic chemistry
  • use literature search tools including Web of Science, Cambridge Structural Database, and SciFinder Scholar to find information aobut cited references, structurally similar compounds, and the authors of the paper
  • integrate ideas such as bonding models, symmetry, spectroscopy structural data, and chemical reactivity from class into a detailed analysis of aspects of the paper

The instructor will

  • get up to date on new literature for possible new literature discussions
  • get a chance to stretch his/her own intellectual muscles on some papers perhaps outside of his/her area of expertise
Implementation Notes: 

The students were given the take home exam about 1 week before it was due (but that was during the final exam period).   The format of the chemical information questions were similar to things they did earlier in the class, however the analysis of the paper was much more open ended, giving them the freedom to choose a paper that interested them and to presumably focus on concepts from the class that they felt comfortable with.   I gave them a date range from April 1 - April 30, 2012 for their paper because those were the most recent issues at the time.  If you use this LO, you will probably want to change those dates to more recent ones.   

Time Required: 
at least an hour, possibly more depending on the student
5 Sep 2013

IC Top 10 first day activity

Submitted by Sheila Smith, University of Michigan- Dearborn
Evaluation Methods: 

This is my first day activity, so its true purpose is a warm-up.  I want to get the students talking in class, and talking about inorgainc chemistry.

Evaluation Results: 

I had to lead the students more than expected on the sub-disciplines question.  When it became apparent that they did not understand the question, I modelled what I wanted them to do by characterizing PChem in the same way.

The students turned in the last three questions in the next class period.

Selected comments from student responses:

Re: unexpected topics and themes

  • studies of carbon based molecules
  • C-C bond formation
  • a high emphasis on biological processes/molecules
  • polyaromatics

Re:  graphical images

  • "I think the images helped my understanding of the paper and made it more interesting to me"
  • "There was an image of a somewhat playful grid of brightly colored locks and keys.  This makes me believe the information might be easy to digest.  On the other hand, I feel like it might be oversimplified and it might be leaving out some important information."  (from the mouths of babes...)
  • "the way in which the panels are presented by making them the shape of leaves... made me think of the idea of 'going green'"

Re: techniques

  • "The multiple use of amines, which I know as organic molecules"
  • "I would expect spectrocopy to be used in several disciplines, including orgainc, analyitical and inorganic"
Description: 

I modified the Barb Reisner/Joanne Stewart/Maggie Geselbracht First Day TOC activity (https://www.ionicviper.org/class-activity/introducing-inorganic-chemistr...) to take advantage of the quarterly list of Top 10 Most Read articles that IC sends out.  This is delivered to me as an email from ACS pubs and I am sure that it is available to anyone who wished to subscribe to the updates.  I have attached a pdf copy of the August 2013 update as an example.  ACS also keeps a running (monthly) list of the top 20 most accessed articles on the website for IC (http://pubs.acs.org/action/showMostReadArticles?journalCode=inocaj) which could be used in a similar way.

This change (away from a complete TOC) provides a smaller list of possible articles for the students to look through covering what  are the most exciting new developments in the field.  

 

I have also modified the question list to get at something I am very interested in personally:  the interdisciplinarity of Inorganic Chemistry.  I did this using the last question about the techniques used in the paper of their choice and the discipline (Physical, analytical, organic. etc) with which they normally associate those techniques.

Learning Goals: 
  • A student should be able to identify the various sub-disciplines of inorganic chemistry.
  • A student should be able to discuss the interdisciplinarity of inorganic chemistry in light of the papers reported quarterly in the Top 10 IC articles
Corequisites: 
Course Level: 
Equipment needs: 

N/A

Topics Covered: 
Implementation Notes: 

I had the students work in pairs to brainstorm and then choose an article that mutually interested them.  I had asked the students to bring electronic devices to class on the day of the activity.  As it turned out, the discussion went long and I sent them home to answer the last two questions, which made it even easier for them to look at pics and abstracts on the web.

Time Required: 
30-50 minutes
9 May 2012

VIPEr Screencast

Submitted by Chip Nataro, Lafayette College
Evaluation Methods: 

If we can attract one person to VIPEr through this screencast it has been successful.

Evaluation Results: 

When I first created this screencast, the VIPEr administrators seemed to enjoy it.

Description: 

This screencast is a brief introduction to some of the features of VIPEr.

Topics Covered: 
Prerequisites: 
Corequisites: 
Learning Goals: 

Publicity, pure and simple.

Course Level: 
Implementation Notes: 

I would not use it in my teaching, but I hope it teaches others to visit VIPEr.

Time Required: 
5 minutes and 30 seconds
26 Jun 2011

Marie Curie

Submitted by mike knapp, UMASS
Evaluation Methods: 

Peer and faculty evaluation. Each student answers a two-part question:

How did your contributions influence learning for the class? How did the contributions of another student influence your learning?

Exit quiz: Propose 10 uses of radioactivity. Faculty can provide summary of the results to the class, and suggest further commentary. A follow-up question might be: How are these uses are beneficial?

Description: 

This is written for a freshman seminar course, "Nuclear Chemistry and Medicine," open to all majors.  It meets once per week for one hour, and is meant to facilitate the transition into college for first-year students by providing an informal educational experience. 

In order to facilitate participation, I break down the daily topic into smaller parts, and make student groups responsible for that part. Each class meeting will consist of a mix of brief student presentations and discussion.  Break students into groups of 3-4 students. Assign one sub-topic to each student group; each group presents to the class for ~10 minutes.

Learning Goals: 

Explain the effects of ionizing radiation on matter

Compare potential uses of radioactivity

Identify radioactive elements on the periodic table

Compare the significance of Marie Curie’s two Nobel prizes

Prerequisites: 
Corequisites: 
Course Level: 
Equipment needs: 

Computer with presentation equipment and a display screen.

Subdiscipline: 
Implementation Notes: 

Assign one sub-topic to each student group; each group presents for <10 minutes.

Biographical

Summary of 1903 Physics Nobel prize

Summary of 1911 Chemistry Nobel prize

Charitable work

Pages

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