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Maggie Geselbracht, Reed College
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Joined: 11/17/2007 - 11:00am

Course Learning Goals

Thanks to some guidance and support IONiC colleagues, I sat down to critically think about what I want students to learn from my inorganic courses before I wrote my syllabi this spring.  For the first time in 16 years of teaching (shamelessly admitted), I included course learning goals on my syllabi.  I thought it would be interesting to share these and compare to what other folks are doing.

My first course is Chem 212: Introductory Inorganic Chemistry.  I call it "a sophomore course on steroids."  The pre-requisite is a year of General Chem, and the course includes a lab.  Here are my learning goals for this year:

By the end of Chem 212, you should be able to:

• Identify any element from its symbol and place it in the correct region of the periodic table (s-block, p-block, d-block, f-block)
• Use concepts from quantum theory and atomic orbitals to explain periodic trends in atomic properties and relate these to inorganic chemistry
• Predict the structure and using an appropriate model, describe the bonding in main group molecules
• Identify the symmetry operations and the point group of a molecule
• Extend acid-base concepts to inorganic systems and use different models to predict chemical reactivity
• Describe the structures and properties of common crystalline and ionic solids
• Describe the band structures of metals, semiconductors, and insulators and relate these descriptions to the electronic and optical properties
• Use crystal field or MO theory to explain the electronic structure and magnetism of transition metal complexes
• Describe different synthesis techniques for the preparation of inorganic molecules and extended solids
• Explain the use of multinuclear NMR, IR, and UV/Vis spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, thermal analysis, and electrochemistry to characterize inorganic molecules and extended solids
• Read and discuss an article from the inorganic chemistry primary literature

In addition to these content-related goals, you will:

• Improve your problem-solving ability
• Improve your writing skills
• Improve your skills for working successfully in small groups
• Increase your enthusiasm for learning chemistry

My second course, Chem 334: Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, is an elective, lecture-conference style 0.5 unit course.  Here are the learning goals for this spring:

By the end of Chem 334, you should be able to:

• Identify any element from its symbol and place it in the correct region of the periodic table (s-block, p-block, d-block, f-block)
• Apply tools from symmetry and group theory to solve problems involving vibrational spectroscopy and molecular orbital theory
• Describe the frontier orbitals for a variety of ligands (i.e. H2, N2, alkenes, arenes) and how these interact with a transition metal complex fragment
• Use MO theory to rationalize the structure, bonding, and properties of transition metal complexes including those with metal-metal bonding
• Count to 18 (use of fingers and toes allowed) and explain the use and limitations of the 18 e  rule
• Understand the extension of MO theory to band structure and derive useful information from an E vs. k (spaghetti) and/or density of states diagram
• Explain the use of various spectroscopies, X-ray crystallography, thermal analysis, and electrochemistry to characterize inorganic molecules and extended solids
• Pick an article from the inorganic chemistry primary literature and summarize the purpose of the research, explain one or more techniques used, and discuss the conclusions of the authors
• See the Energy Nuggets syllabus for additional course goals

In addition, you will have an exposure to the following advanced topics:

• Organometallics (the metal carbon bond)
• Bioinorganic chemistry (metals in biology)
• Solid state chemistry (battery materials, superconductors, solar cells)
• Lanthanide and actinide chemistry


Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College
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Joined: 11/17/2007 - 10:55am

Great idea Maggie! 

Here are my course goals for an upper level (ochem prereq and p-chem pre- or co-req) course.  The course is a full course (3 units) that has an associated lab (but that is a different course).  {full disclosure, I have included course goals for my course for several years, but only updated them into actual student learning objectives for this year}. 

By the end of the course you will…

  • know some of the history and breadth of the field through the inorganic Nobel Prizes
  • describe the structure and bonding of inorganic compounds using an appropriate theory
  • use MO arguments to explain bonding and magnetism in transition metal complexes
  • draw mechanisms for common inorganic reactions
  • construct qualitatively correct MO diagrams for centrosymmetric molecules
  • know the structures and properties of common crystalline and ionic solids
  • be able to describe the composition of more complex solids
  • know the chemistry of some of the representative elements
  • know the application and limits of the 18 electron rule
  • be able to describe the impacts of inorganic chemistry on the energy crisis

    In addition, you will have an exposure to one or more of the following advanced topics:

    • organometallics (the metal carbon bond)
    • bioinorganic chemistry (metals in biology)
    • solid state chemistry (semiconductors, superconductors, solar cells)
    • Lanthanide and actinide chemistry


    note- not all topics are covered each year, but these topics have been covered in prior years


    Hilary Eppley, DePauw University
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    Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
    Joined: 11/17/2007 - 11:03am
    Great thread! Alas I am not teaching inorganic this year, but here is a recent set of goals from my course (which, though titled inorganic reaction mechanisms is more of a general inorganic course): By the end of the course, you should be able to:

    1. Extrapolate and rationalize chemical properties from atomic structure.
    2. Recognize and predict the products of the main types of inorganic reactions
    3. Recognize and evaluate the relative importance of the various thermodynamic (and kinetic) driving forces for inorganic reactions to be able to predict whether a particular chemical reaction will occur or not.
    4. Apply bonding theories for a variety of inorganic compounds and use bonding arguments to explain reactivity
    5. Interpret and explain the applications of certain types of inorganic reactions in industry, organic chemistry, biology, or the environment to your peers in the class.
    6. Read and interpret papers on inorganic reactions in the chemical literature (and get ready for comps!)

    --Hilary
    Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College
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    Last seen: 3 weeks 2 days ago
    Joined: 11/17/2007 - 10:55am

    I attended an assessment workshop at work last week and I updated my goals so they were more active and represented actual outcomes I wanted my students to achieve.  Here they are for 2011.

    By the end of the course you will be able to…
    - explain the history and breadth of inorganic chemistry using the inorganic Nobel Prizes
    - use an appropriate theory to describe the structure and bonding of inorganic compounds
    - construct qualitatively correct MO diagrams for centrosymmetric molecules
    - explain bonding and magnetism in transition metal complexes using MO arguments
    - draw mechanisms for common inorganic/organometallic reactions
    - demonstrate how the structures of common crystalline and ionic solids are derived from simple lattices
    - describe the composition of more complex solids
    - explain the trends in the chemistry of the representative elements
    - interpret spectroscopic methods (especially NMR) for inorganic compounds
     

    Marites A. Guino-o, University of St. Thomas
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    Last seen: 2 years 3 months ago
    Joined: 02/25/2010 - 4:31pm

    After writing these course learning goals, how do you assess your students' performance toward the goals?

    I ask this question because our department is currently thinking/editing our course assessments.  And since I am the only Inorganic person in the department, I would like to know how you guys do it.

    Currently, I am using the ACS Inorganic Exam (2009).  I adjust the grade depending on the topic, if I covered it in class, I give more points to the question for grading purposes.  But, for the departmental use, I utilize the raw score and compare it to the national mean.  My department is okay with this, but are you guys using other means of assessing your courses?