CHEMISTRY 120B Redesign

Beena Matthew

California State University Fullerton

Course Name & Description: CHEMISTRY 120B General Chemistry Laboratory, 2nd semester

Project Abstract:  The purpose of this laboratory course redesign is to better align virtual lab components with the second semester general chemistry course curriculum specifically in the areas of kinetics, equilibrium, acid-base chemistry, thermodynamics and electrochemistry.  This redesign will incorporate OER (Open Educational Resources) and other free simulations, such as PhET Interactive Simulations (University of Colorado, Boulder) to better align with the curriculum. The simulations will be integrated with both individual and small group activities during the virtual component of the lab, aiding in visualization of chemistry concepts at the molecular level and promoting active student learning.  This redesign will also incorporate a lab management program, through Hayden-McNeil,  which is designed to integrate assignments to an online platform. Use of this program would enable students to complete pre-lab assessments online as well as watch background videos on specific lab procedures to be carried out in the experimental wet lab, and any specific review of the chemistry involved in the experiment can be touched upon before the student even enters the wet laboratory.  How well students perform in these assessments can be viewed by the course coordinator across all sections.  Because of the transparency across all sections, additional lessons can be incorporated into the labs so that we can ensure all students are getting the additional help on the topics they are not completely understanding. 


Instructional Delivery:  In class and online

Pedagogical Approaches: Active-based learning in groups with use of visualization at molecular level

About the LIT Redesign (Stage 1)

Background on the Redesign

Why Redesign your Course?

  • CHEM 120B is our second semester General Chemistry course which includes both lecture and laboratory components that are taken concurrently.  CHEM 120B is not only a required course for Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Biology majors, but also serves Health Science and Kinesiology majors with career paths in the health professions field.  
  • Students have a hard time with learning the topics of kinetics, equilibrium, acid-base chemistry, thermodynamics and electrochemistry in lecture.  The goal of the lab is to better align with the lecture curriculum so that students are exposed to the material in lecture and also when they are in lab, and thereby increase success in the course.  Problem set activities are being created using OER resources to help students to visualize chemistry concepts at the molecular level.  In addition, we are trying out a lab course management system that would allow the course coordinator to see how students perform as they complete pre-lab assessments to address any areas of the learning quickly and effectively across all sections.

High Demand/Low Success/Facilities Bottleneck Issues

  • Prior to the laboratory course redesign in 2013, when limited lab availability was addressed by changing the two day a week wet lab to one day wet lab and one day virtual lab, the percentage of students with repeatable grades averaged 27%.  Since the inception of the virtual lab component, the percentage of students with repeatable grades has decreased. Over the past four semesters repeatable grades ranged from 18 to 23%, with the exception of Fall 2018.

Course History / Background

  • This course is the second semester of general chemistry and students need to pass this lecture and lab component in order to move on to the organic chemistry course.  

(Upload syllabus from pre-designed course)CHEM 120B - Lab Syllabus -Spring 2019_BMatthew.pdf

About the Students and Instructor(s) (Stage 2)

Student Characteristics

CHEM 120B is our second semester General Chemistry course which includes both lecture and laboratory components that are taken concurrently.  CHEM 120B is not only a required course for Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Biology majors, but also serves Health Science and Kinesiology majors with career paths in the health professions field.  

Students who enter CHEM 120B have taken the first semester of the course, CHEM 120A which includes lab one day a week in addition to having a lecture activity section.  Most students who enter into CHEM 120B are still inexperienced with the chemistry laboratory and the different techniques and glassware used.  In addition, it is in this course that students are given instructions on how to compose a formal laboratory report.  

Advice I Give my Students to be Successful

  • CHEM 120B students are generally overwhelmed with the lecture and lab component of the course.  Not only are they responsible for lecture material, but they have multiple assignments with the wet and virtual lab components.  In addition they must spend time on writing formal lab reports for the first time and are required to learn how to use Excel to analyze data and to make and edit graphs and tables with it.  These skills are introduced and built up over the course of the semester, but is still an overwhelming task for the students.  My biggest advice to students is for them to listen to my advice and to use their time wisely in class.  There is time after the completion of an experiment to start on data analysis and students are encouraged to use that time to finish up a lot the work so that they can ask questions and get help.  Additionally, much work has been done to align the lecture component subjects with the lab and so while students are being introduced to a topic in lecture, it is also being touched on in wet lab and or virtual lab and so students are given the chance to build on their learning in multiple ways.  I also encourage students to ask for help when they need it.  Students are sometimes reluctant to ask for help and it is one of the biggest setbacks to their continued success in the course.  

Impact of Student Learning Outcomes/Objectives (SLOs) on Course Redesign

  • Become proficient at visualizing processes at the atomic/molecular/ionic level.
  • Use standard laboratory equipment, modern instrumentation, and classical techniques to carry out experiments.  
  • Master laboratory safety, including the use of personal protection equipment and proper procedures for the safe handling, use and disposal of chemicals.  
  • Learn to report, record, calculate, graph and interpret observations and results in a laboratory notebook using appropriate techniques employed in a variety of industries.
  • Communicate the concepts and results of laboratory experiments through effective laboratory report writing.
  • Gain group effectiveness by developing interpersonal skills, leadership skills, teamwork, listening skills and oral communication skills.

Alignment of SLOs With LIT Redesign

  • One of the course redesigns was to build into problem sets the use of free online simulations that would allow students to look at and learn concepts at the molecular level as they work in groups to solve problems that solidify their understanding of material from lecture.  Additional redesign would allow for the management of all sections by the course coordinator.  The course coordinator will be able to view pre-lab assessments and know what problems students are having and can address this with instructors prior to lab and ask them to review this material in class so that students have a complete understanding.  This also allows for those students who may not want to ask for help on the questions they are having difficulty with be addressed to the class as a whole so that no one is left out of the learning process.  

Assessments Used to Measure Students' Achievement of SLOs

  • The grading scheme for this course is as follows:
  • Assignment

    Individual Points

    Total Points

    Pre-Lab Quizzes:

    • Standardization of Sodium Hydroxide-Day 1-2


    • Kinetics Days 1-3


    • pH and Hydrolysis of Salts Days 1-2


    • Preparation and Properties of Buffers


    • Synthesis of Aspirin Days 1-2


    • Building a Galvanic Cell



    Pre-Lab Notebooks:

    • All 6 Experiments in Wet Lab

    (2.5 for each)


    General Topics Activities:

    • Kinetics Activity


    • Equilibrium Activity


    • Acid-Base Activity


    • Thermodynamics Activity


    • Electrochemistry Activity



    Virtual Lab Assignments:

    • Excel Workshop


    • Lab Report Writing Workshop


    • Equilibrium and Le Chatelier’s Principle


    • Titration of Strong and Weak Acids


    • Enthalpy of Reactions



    Wet Lab Assignments:

    • pH and Hydrolysis of Salts


    • Building a Galvanic Cell



    Formal Lab Reports:

    30 points are allocated as follows:

    • 15% for completed rough draft (4.5 points)

    • 5% for peer review (1.5 points)

    • 80% for final draft (24 points)

    • Standardization of Sodium Hydroxide


    • Preparation and Properties of Buffers


    • Synthesis of Aspirin



    Technical Document:

    • Kinetics of Bleaching of Methyl Orange



    ACS Exam:






    We will look at the overall course averages at the end of the term to see the differences and compare to the previous terms

  • We will also look at the standardized ACS exam scores

  • We will also look at a chemical concepts inventory exam at the start of the semester and at the end of the semester

Accessibility, Affordability, and Diversity Accessibility

  • The technology used in the course through the use of PhET simulations have accessibility for those students with disabilities.  The Hayden-McNeil course management system is designed similar to Moodle and has the functionalities that would provide accessibility.  


  • Cost was an important factor for this redesign and by redoing the lab manual and making it available online through HTML version makes the cost for the students lower than it has ever been.  In the past students were paying about $20 for the laboratory manual and then paying an additional fee of about $25 for the use of Late Nite Labs. This price then went down when we bundled the two for about $35
  • Currently with the new redesign, students will have access to a lab manual online, the use of lab assessments, videos, smart worksheets, and Late Nite Lab software all for the cost of $25.65 for a two year term after which the price can be re-negotiated.  


  • Learning is supported in various forms and support is given to all students in an equal and fair manner.  Should additional help be requested outside of class time, instructors are available during office hours and by email.  Additionally, the course coordinator can be sought out for other instances.  Group work is encouraged during the virtual lab activities and the instructors are advised to make sure all students are participating and comfortable in their groups.  

About the Instructor

  • Beena Matthew. 
  • As a full time lecturer in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, my main tasks involve around the coordination of CHEM 100 lecture (Survey of Chemistry), CHEM 100L (Survey of Chemistry lab), CHEM 120B (second semester general chemistry lab).  
  • I generally teach CHEM 100L, CHEM 120A and CHEM 120B laboratory courses.  
  • I want to see all students succeed in the courses I coordinate and teach.  I strive to provide a friendly and open atmosphere in the classroom where students feel comfortable with me and with their peers to ask for help, to question anything they don't understand and to additionally ask for help in and out of the classroom.  To have that sense of knowing your teacher wants you to succeed and is pulling for the student to do well and is willing to help the student out gives students additional support they might need to succeed.     

Curriculum Vitae

LIT Redesign Planning (Stage 3)

Implementing the Redesigned Course What aspects of your course have you redesigned?

  • The course has been redesigned with a lab management software that contains assessment quizzes that are completed before each wet laboratory meeting.  There are videos that show students how the experiment is conducted and additionally, there are smart worksheets that were developed using traditional worksheets.  The smart worksheets allow students to add in their answers and will give students immediate feedback on the answer.  If the answer is wrong, they are prompted with some hints and they can attempt at the answer again.  If they decide they cannot solve it even with multiple hints, they can have the answer solved.  The advantage of such a smart worksheet is that it allows students to learn directly from the data analysis after experimental work is done.  Normally students will complete a worksheet and it will not be graded and returned to them for two or three weeks.  In that time, the learning opportunity is gone.  By the time they get their graded work back, it might be that they are learning new topics and it is no longer relevant to them to know what was done wrong.  
  • With the redesigned course, I am also able to monitor how all 12 sections are doing on the pre-lab assessments and can alert instructors to complete a more thorough pre-lab lecture based on how students are doing on the assessment quizzes.  This allows students who might not be understanding a concept to be caught up to speed.  There are always students who may not admit they understand something, and to have this assessment and know where or what they are not understanding is really something that can help an instructor address.

Describe the class size(s) What technology is being used?

  • The CHEM 120B laboratory has twelve sections and each section contains 24 students maximum.  There are eleven different instructors and it was necessary for me to set up the lab management software for all instructors and to give them training on the use of it.  

What professional development activities have you participated during your course redesign?

  • During the course design I did participate in a Quality Matters workshop.

Which Additional Resources Were Needed for the Redesign?

  • In order to do the redesign, I had to work with a team of project managers and content managers for the building of the various quizzes and also the smart worksheets.  The traditional worksheets had to be converted to smart worksheets and after all this was completed, I had to go in and verify that the answers were put in correctly, that the hints being given were adequate and that the final answers were correct.  It took a lot of collaborations back and forth in order to complete this.  In addition to this course design I also had edited the lab manual and made it from a print version to an HTML version that would be available to students through the lab management platform.  One of the issues that came up with having so many components online was that there was an ADA compliance issue with some of the elements.  So, in order to use the course management software, it was necessary to complete a VPAT through campus IT.  When the VPAT did not meet all the requirements, the purchase and use of the software was denied on certain issues.  In response to this an EEAAP (Equally Effective Alternate Accessibility Plan) had to be developed and addressed.  I had never imagined this to be a hurdle to overcome, but with specific responses to how I would help a student who would have an issue with specific areas of the course page was addressed, the EEAAP was finally approved by the campus IT.  

(Upload your revised syllabus here)

LIT Results and Findings (Stage 4)

LIT Redesign Impact on Teaching and Learning

  • How has the course redesign strategies affected your instruction and your students’ learning? Did your redesign strategy solve the issues that motivated you to redesign the course?
  • Describe how your students mastered the student learning outcomes. Were the students more successful in the redesigned course than in previous courses? Explain.
  • Did you experience unexpected results after teaching the redesigned course? If so, what were they?
  • Consider attaching a more in-depth report describing the impact of your activities and experiences during the course redesign as a document/link/image. If possible consider including samples of students' work that reflect the impact of the redesign.

Assessment Findings

  • Use table and chart template to report course data (required).
  • Upload table and chart from your template (required) and reflect on your findings with a short description. You must include a course grades comparison of pre/post student achievements.
  • Share how your students achieved the learning outcomes? Describe how they mastered the learning outcomes compared to previous courses?

Student Feedback

  • What did your students say or how did they respond to the redesigned activities? Consider including your students' comments about their learning. Include survey results if you are able to capture them. Include student video feedback (optional).

Challenges my Students Encountered

  • What challenges did the students encounter in the redesigned activities? E.g., technical challenges, organization of course, and redesigned activities.

Lessons Learned & Redesign Tips

Teaching Tips

  • What advice do you have for others who might want to use this redesigned course?

Course Redesign Obstacles

  • What challenges did you confront and how did you overcome them?

Strategies I Used to Increase Engagement

  • What pedagogical strategies did you use in your new redesigned course to engage students?


  • How do plan to sustain the LIT redesign beyond the funding period?

Instructor Reflection

  • Reflect on your participation in redesigning a course, development of an ePortfolio, participation in CSU Course Redesign Professional Learning Community Share any plans to disseminate/publish the findings of your course redesign activity.