General Chemistry

General Chemistry (CHEM 200)

About the Instructor

Theresa Carlson, San Diego State University

The majority of students are freshman, although there are occasionally sophomores and juniors as well.  Freshman tend to make up the largest percentage of students in this course.  The vast majority of students are STEM majors.   The students come from a wide range of socio-economic demographics.  This course is a prerequisite for many of the STEM majors.

  • San Diego State University  
  • Briefly describe the population of students who take the course: Biology, Engineering, Kinesiology, Chemistry, Pre-Med and their incoming knowledge is introductory level Chemistry and a working knowledge of Algebra.

OER Adoption Process

1.  Briefly describe what motivated you to adopt OER for this course 

For example:  save students money, improve the learning materials, or customize materials for special needs, other?

I know the textbook cost is a big concern among student, especially with a course that has a lab component which adds to the cost. I wanted to do what I could to help ease the financial burden they face each semester when buying books.

2.        How did you find and select OER for this course? 

For example:  consulted librarians, other faculty, browsed OER sites, read peer reviews, evaluated resources, etc. 

I worked with other faculty to see what they were doing and browsed OER sites myself until I found one that I thought was a good fit for my class.  Once I identified a OER text, I evaluated the resources that were available to see how they might contribute to my course.

3.        Describe any challenges you experienced and how you resolved them.

For example:  incomplete OER, lack of printing facilities, bookstore confusion, academic senate support, missing ancillary materials, articulation requirements.

I had to make sure that the General Chemistry II, CHEM 201, instructors were okay with the changes of the book since we are a linear course. Otherwise the bookstore and the library were great resources in helping me move to OER.

Course Description

General Chemistry I (5 units): 

CHEM 200 is the first course in a two-course sequence in general chemistry.  Emphasis is placed on the principles and laws of inorganic chemistry, including quantitative, mathematical problem-solving.  This course is intended for science majors and all students interested in chemistry.  This syllabus is subject to change. This course is intended for science majors and all students interested in chemistry and must be taken concurrently with the Chem 200 lab. 

General Student Learning Outcomes:

Below is a summary of what students should be capable of upon the successful completion of this course. 

  • Perform calculations with the correct number of significant figures with a variety of SI units. 
  • Name and write a range of simple ionic and molecular formulas. 
  • Describe the structure of atoms and the various classes of compounds that they can form. 
  • Classify the different states of matter and describe each state at the molecular level. 
  • Use Avogadro’s number and reaction stoichiometry to calculate the amounts of reactants and products involved in chemical reactions. 
  • Write and balance chemical reactions. 
  • Describe the major classes of chemical reactions at a molecular level and perform stoichiometric 
  • calculations related to these reactions. 
  • Describe, manipulate, and use the ideal gas law. 
  • Describe the kinetic-molecular theory of gasses and how it deviates from real gas behavior. 
  • Perform calculations on the exchange of heat in thermochemical processes. 
  • Calculate the enthalpy of chemical reactions. 
  • Describe and apply the quantum theory rules of atomic structure. 
  • Describe the electron configurations of many electron atoms. 
  • Use trends in atomic properties to compare different elements. 
  • Differentiate and describe the various models of chemical bonding. 
  • Compare and calculate bond energies. 
  • Draw and identify molecular structures based on the Lewis and VESPR models. 
  • Describe covalent bonding in terms of the valance bond and molecular orbital theories. 
  • Define the various changes of physical states for a substance and quantify the related enthalpy changes. 
  • Describe and differentiate the various forms of intermolecular forces. 
  • Describe and predict solubility in terms of intermolecular forces. 
  • Quantify the influence of solutes on the colligative properties of solutions. 
  • Quantify the enthalpy changes associated with dissolution of solutes.

Curricular Changes and Student Access

1. What did you change as part of the OER adoption?
For example:  textbook, syllabus, learning activities, assessment rubrics, developed additional materials, others?

I did change both my textbook and syllabus do to this adoption.  The biggest curricular changes involved definitions and chapter numbers compared to my previous text.  I tried to stay consistent with the definitions in the textbook and altered the chapter sequence to set the course up in the sequence that I prefer to teach the material.  Additionally we changed the homework system to be more in line with the OER book we were using.

2. How and where do students access materials?
For example:  learning management system, external server or OER repository such as MERLOT or Connexions, printed text from bookstore or online printing services, mobile device.  Include links.

Most students access the book online  at

although it is also available as a pdf, as a print copy, and as a download for ibooks.

Teaching and Learning Impact

Describe effects on teaching and learning that resulted from adopting OER e.g.

  • Do you collaborate more with other faculty now or use a broader range of teaching materials and methodologies, etc.? Yes.  I now use a wider array of internet based resources.  I have also discussed teaching materials with my colleagues who also use OER texts.
  • Have student grades improved or stayed the same? Y
  • Did student retention improve? N
  • Did you experience any unintended results? What were they? Students don’t seem to read the book nor know that we have a book. I think students feel if they don’t have to pay for it then it must not be essential to the course.

Student Feedback or Participation

Please describe what students say or how they responded to OER usage.
For example:  responses to the content as well as the new ways for accessing or learning with open educational resources.  Feel free to include student quotes and videos.


Cost Savings

The original book we used costed students $200 and now they have the book for free.

Accessibility, Affordability, and Diversity

Consider providing as much feedback as you feel comfortable with.  

  • Are the technologies used readily available and affordable for students? Y
  • Do the pedagogical strategies support learners with diverse cultural, ethnic, and gender backgrounds? Y

Sharing Best Practices

The sustainability of open education relies on sharing with others.  Please give suggestions for faculty who are just getting started with OER.  List anything you wish that you had known earlier.

It takes time to adopt a new book and making sure it fits how you teach as well as what you want the learning outcomes to be.

How do you plan to share this OER experience with other faculty, staff, etc. who develop curriculum and teach? By informing others during conferences, meetings, or platforms catered to education and how to improve education.