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Report On ‘The Sophomore Physical and Inorganic Courses’

The Chemical Educator
Publication Date
  • Chemistry
  • Education


In this workshop, Mark M. Banaszak-Holl and M. David Curtis took turns elaborating on the recent changes and evolution of The University of Michigan’s introductory inorganic chemistry course, in light of an initial switch to teaching organic chemistry as a first-year chemistry course. The resulting weaker background of second-year students in traditional chemistry, particularly in physical chemistry topics, was noted. This situation prompted the following changes: creating a new physical chemistry course for second-year students to make up for the deficiencies in physical chemistry and narrowing the syllabi topics in the following inorganic course. It was reported that the overall curriculum shift brought about a fundamental re-evaluation of how teaching is approached at U of M with respect to the role of the person of the instructor as a traditional ‘purveyor of facts’ or a ‘motivator of learners.’ The use of Internet/multimedia sources to streamline class organization and improve learning were presented, including a proposal to integrate an interactive online question-and-answer site for the inorganic course. Interaction with workshop participants focused somewhat on comparative aspects of these curricular changes to their respective educational institutions but most heavily on test making and grading styles. The major problems associated with the curricula shift at U of M appear to have been identified and addressed, and work is continuing on further fine tuning of the classes.

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