27 Jun 2016

Online Homework for a Foundations of Inorganic Chemistry Course

Web Resources and Apps

Submitted by Sabrina G. Sobel, Hofstra University
Categories
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.

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
Evaluation
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.

Creative Commons License: 
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