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Chemistry Courses

Common Course ID: General Chemistry 1 (CHM 1210), General Chemistry 2 (CHM 1220), Modeling the Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry (CHM 3010), and Chemistry for Elementary Educators (CHM 2120)
CSU Instructor Open Textbook Adoption Portrait

About the Course

General Chemistry, CHM 1210 and CHM 1220, both are GE and Major courses

CHM 1210 Catalog: Fundamental principles and concepts of chemistry, including atomic and molecular structure; nomenclature; stoichiometry; solution chemistry, including acid-base and redox chemistry; quantum theory; periodic properties; bonding theory; thermochemistry; gases; and intermolecular forces.

Prerequisite(s): SAT Math>=550; ACT Math>=23; C or better in MAT 12, 105, 106, 112, 114, 115, 116, 120, 125, 130, 191, 214, 216, 224, MAT 1050, MAT 1052, MAT 1060, MAT 1140, MAT 1150, MAT 1200, MAT 1250, MAT 1300, MAT 1310, MAT 1910, MAT 2140, MAT 2240, MAT 2250, STA 120, or STA 1200; or C- or better in CHM 121 and CHM 121L.

Corequisite(s): CHM 1210L.
GE Area(s): B1
CHM 1210: Expected Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:  

  • Use appropriate significant figures and units in calculations.  
  • Determine the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons in atoms and ions.  
  • Use percent composition and molar mass calculations to determine empirical and molecular formulas.
  • Carry out reaction stoichiometry calculations, including limiting reactant and percent yield problems.
  • Name binary and ternary ionic compounds and acids.
  • Write balanced chemical equations, including precipitation reactions, neutralization reactions, and oxidation-reduction reactions.  
  • Calculate molarities of solutions and use them to do dilution, stoichiometry, and titration calculations. 
  • Understand and differentiate between covalent and ionic bonding. 
  • Understand the role of electromagnetic radiation in the determination of electronic structure, including calculations of atomic spectral lines. 
  • Use Quantum Theory to identify orbitals, determine quantum numbers, and determine the electron configurations of atoms and ions.
  • Identify and apply periodic trends, including ion configurations, ionic radii, ionization energy, electron affinity, and electronegativity.
  • Draw Lewis structures, including resonance structures. Use them to predict molecular shape using Valence Shell Electron Pair Repulsion Theory.  
  • Apply Valence Bond Theory to molecular structure to identify and sketch orbitals used in single, double, and triple bonds. 
  • Derive energies and enthalpies of chemical and physical processes from calorimetric data, Hess' Law, enthalpies of formation, and bond energies.
  • Carry out gas law and stoichiometry calculations on ideal gases, explain gas behavior using Kinetic Molecular Theory, and explain how real gas behavior deviates from ideal gas behavior. 
  • Identify intermolecular forces based on molecular structure and understand their impact on physical properties.
  • Interpret phase diagrams.

GE Student Learning Outcomes: 
1a. Write effectively for various audiences.
1d. Construct arguments based on sound evidence and reasoning to support an opinion or conclusion.

1e. Apply and communicate quantitative arguments using tables, and graphs (and equations as appropriate.
2a. Apply scientific methods and models to draw quantitative and qualitative conclusions about the physical and natural world. 

CHM 1220 Catalog: Continuation of the development of fundamental principles and concepts of chemistry, including kinetics; equilibria, including acid-base chemistry; buffers; titrations; thermodynamics; electrochemistry; colligative properties; and nuclear chemistry.

Prerequisite(s): C- or better in CHM 1210, CHM 122 or CHM 122B; and C- or better in CHM 1210L, CHM 122L or CHM122LB.         

Corequisite(s): CHM 1220L.
GE Area(s): B1
CHM 1220: Expected Outcomes 


On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:  

  • Determine rate laws from concentration and rate data, and be able to calculate changes in concentration with time.
  • Understand the information conveyed in reaction mechanisms and their relationship to rate laws. 
  • Understand how collision theory explains the effect of temperature on reaction rate, including using the Arrhenius equation in calculations.  
  • Understand how catalysts increase reaction rate.
  • Understand the definition of chemical equilibrium, including the relationship to reaction kinetics, and how equilibria are defined by equilibrium constants.  
  • Calculate equilibrium concentrations from initial concentrations.
  • Apply Le Chatelier's Principle to predict changes in equilibrium position.
  • Write balanced hydrolysis &neutralization equations of acids and bases.  
  • Calculate pH of both strong and weak acids and bases. 
  • Predict the acid/base properties of salt solutions.  
  • Recognize Lewis acids and bases based on Lewis structures.
  • Calculate pH of buffers, including after having added a strong acid/ base.
  • Calculate the pH at any point in a strong acid/strong base, weak acid/strong base, or strong acid/weak base titration.
  • Understand, predict, calculate entropy changes of chemical reactions.
  • Calculate standard/nonstandard free energy changes of chemical reactions.  
  • Understand the relationship between free energy, spontaneity, and chemical equilibrium.
  • Describe the functioning of galvanic cells, including the calculation of standard cell potentials.  
  • Use the Nernst equation to calculate cell potential at nonstandard conditions.  
  • Convert between standard cell potentials, equilibrium constants, and standard free energy changes. 
  • Describe the functioning of electrolytic cells for molten and aqueous salts, including quantifying the relationship between time, current, and amount of product formed.  
  • Understand factors that affect solubility, and calculate solution concentrations in molality and mole fractions.  
  • Calculate the effect of colligative properties on solutions.  
  • Understand the origin of radioactivity, and write balanced nuclear equations.
  • Understand the factors that affect nuclear stability, and be able to calculate mass-energy relationships.
  • Understand the nature of fission and fusion reactions and their importance in our world.
  • Apply kinetics to nuclear reactions, including applications of dating techniques.

GE Student Learning Outcomes: 

1a. Write effectively for various audiences.
1d. Construct arguments based on sound evidence and reasoning to support an opinion or conclusion.

1e. Apply and communicate quantitative arguments using tables, and graphs (and equations as appropriate.
2a. Apply scientific methods and models to draw quantitative and qualitative conclusions about the physical and natural world. 

Chemistry for Elementary Educators, CHM 2120, General Education course required for Liberal Studies majors in the Credential track.

Catalog Description: An introduction to chemistry including: properties of materials, chemical changes, recognizing patterns in order to predict chemical behavior, and chemistry's impact on modern society. Modeling of effective K-8 curriculum, teaching and assessment practices as described in the state adopted framework and content standards. Includes a fieldwork component.

Corequisite(s): CHM 2120L.

GE Area(s): B1
Expected Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Students shall be able to pictorially, qualitatively, and quantitatively describe how matter can be changed through chemical reactions.
  2. Students shall explain energy changes that accompany changes in matter and provide examples, and use this information to design hot and cold packs.
  3. Students shall describe multiple properties of matter and how to measure them.
  4. Students shall describe how properties of matter can be used to define and categorize materials.
  5. Students shall describe patterns in the properties of materials and use this information to predict the chemical behavior of these materials.
  6. The student shall plan and conduct investigations where they gather data, make observations, interpret their experimental results in the context of chemical concepts, and present those findings in written or oral formats.
  7. The student shall explain the relationship between experiment, scientific developments and application of science in general and chemistry in particular. 
  8. Students shall discuss chemistry's impacts on modern society and provide specific examples.
  9. Students shall adapt currently available experiments into inquiry based methods that meet the Next Generation Science Standards expectations.
  10. Students shall demonstrate safe practices for working in a laboratory.

GE Student Learning Outcomes:
Ia. Write effectively for various audiences.
Ib. Speak effectively for various audiences.
Id.  Construct arguments based on sound evidence and reasoning to support an opinion or conclusion.

Ie.   Apply and communicate quantitative arguments using tables, and graphs (and equations as appropriate.
IIa. Apply scientific methods and models to draw quantitative and qualitative conclusions about the physical and natural world.

Modeling the Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry, CHM 3010, upper division (synthesis) General Education course, required for a minor in chemistry, does not count in major other than as a General Education course.

Catalog: Examine models of thermodynamic properties of chemical species and mixtures, chemical kinetics, physical properties of molecules. Satisfies GE synthesis area B5. Not a substitute for CHM 3040, CHM 3050, CHM 3110, or CHM 3120.

Prerequisite(s): Lower division GE requirements in Areas A and B.

GE Area(s): B5
Expected Outcomes 

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
A: Use mathematical models and words to correctly describe: 1) the thermodynamic properties of chemicals and chemical and physical changes, 2) kinetics, and 3) electronic spectroscopy of large molecules.

B: As a General Education sub-area B5 course, also discuss how the course addresses the following associated GE Student Learning Outcomes:
1a. Write effectively to various audiences.
Students work in small groups to construct written explanations of the models they build of chemical processes and systems.  Students can also collaborate to produce a report on a class issue (e.g. a CHEMWiki entry)

1a.    Speak effectively to various audiences.
In order to construct written explanations of models, students need to discuss the results of the modeling assignment and its meaning.  The same is true for a group project – students must collaborate to produce a report on a class issue (e.g. a CHEMWiki entry)

1b: Locate, evaluate, and responsibly use and share data employing information and communication technologies.

Models are built upon data supplied in class that is accessible from Blackboard. Two of the data sets were obtained from Carl Yaws, Matheson Gas Data Book, June 25, 2001, McGraw-Hill Professional, New York.”), and http://webbook.nist.gov/chemistry/ and cited (as well as discussed) in class. 

During the take-home exams, students can explore the web to find strategies to solve exam problems, but must state the source of equations and other information used during the exam.  A statement about this is on the cover sheet of every exam and is contained in the syllabus.

1c.    Construct arguments based on sound evidence and reasoning to support an opinion or conclusion.

Following the construction of the mathematical model using Excel, students are asked to explain not just what the model is, but what it means during each assignment.

1d.    Apply and communicate quantitative arguments using tables, graphs, and equations.

Students work in small groups to construct explanations of the models they build of chemical processes and systems.  Students can also collaborate to produce a report on a class issue (e.g. a CHEMWiki (now LibreText) entry). Most of the explanations require students to include graphs, tables of data, and/or equations.  Each model also requires students to submit the Excel file containing the data, graph, and relationships discovered.

2d: Integrate concepts, theories, and examples from more than one field of study to identify problems, draw conclusions, and construct original ideas.

Physical Chemistry as a field of study uses the language of mathematics and the laws of physics to model chemical systems and the relationship of variables used to describe how materials behave.  This course integrates quantitative reasoning and physics to produce models of chemical systems using technology. The goal of this non-majors, GE course is to provide students with an appreciation of what physical chemistry is, how modern models of real systems are developed and used, how technology is used to facilitate quantitative reasoning, and how these models can help explain how our bodies and the world around us works.

Key challenges faced and how resolved: The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is not happy or supportive about my choice of an OER text for General Chemistry. The coordinator of the course is not willing to even consider using an OER text even when the schedule of readings for each topic has already been identified. As a full Professor, I’m not particularly concerned, but I wonder what the ramifications might be for a junior colleague that is trying to “do the right thing”.

OER/Low Cost Adoption

OER/Low Cost Adoption Process

Provide an explanation or what motivated you to use this textbook or OER/Low Cost option. 

I was motivated to adopt OER resources for these courses for a couple of reasons. In General Chemistry the motivation is cost. Most students in General Chemistry 1 do not take General Chemistry 2; the textbooks for this course are meant for students that take the full year of the course. These texts are expensive (in the range of $100-$300). The departmental required text retails at $250 from the publisher.

For the Modeling the Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry and Chemistry for Elementary Educators, there are no appropriate textbooks available; having students purchase a text that does not meet the needs of the course seems unreasonable with the cost of texts today.

How did you find and select the open textbook for this course? 

I found the General Chemistry text through an email from the publisher. After reviewing this free resource, I decided that it was sufficient and pedagogically appropriate for the course. (OpenStax)

For the Modeling the Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry course, I had previously participated in reviewing the resources at the OER site. As the number of resources grew, there were sufficient reading portions that fit my course. Best yet, these resources continue to be improved, grow, and are up to date in an ever-changing field. (LibreTexts)
For the Chemistry for Elementary Educator course, there are no available appropriate texts, but there were sufficient background resources available (ck-12.org) that I was able to construct my own text. That text is supplemented with online resources for topics required by the certification body.

What did you change as part of the OER adoption?

For all the courses I teach, the only change (relative to switching to an OER textbook) is the textbook recommendation. The rest of the OER resources I use, I have used before.

Teaching and Learning Impact

The only noticeable difference between now and prior to using OER texts is that students appreciate not having to spend the funds to buy a physical text. The number of students that read the required portions has probably increased slightly, but that is unclear and unstudied.

I have collaborated with the campus librarians and bookstore book purchasers more than before about sharing my experiences with colleagues. I do not collaborate with other faculty more about texts than before.

The student retention in my courses has not changed, nor have I experienced any unintended results.

Student Feedback or Participation

When General Chemistry students are asked about the OER text, many have complimented the chosen text for its clear writing, many examples, its “modern” look (full color), as well as the cost (free).

The students in both Modeling the Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry and Chemistry for Elementary Educators have expressed that they are grateful for not having to purchase a physical text.

Sharing Best Practices:

Although my campus has text affordability initiative, most faculty (especially older faculty) have not (and probably do not) want to consider the use of OER resources. I have shared links to many of the OER resources for texts and other learning resources (e.g. simulations), but to my knowledge none of the other chemists have ever used these resources. I have tried to engage chemistry colleagues in conversation about some OER resources; they have said that if they adopted any of these, they would have to change what they have done for years and are not willing to do that.

During a session about OER resources for campus colleagues, I did share which sources I have used, how to locate OER resources, and why using them could improve student learning. A few of the younger faculty that teach individual courses (not multiple section courses over which they may not have the authority to change a text by departmental agreement) have begun to use OER resources.

About the Instructor

Professor Jodye Selco

Cal Poly Pomona

I am a physical chemist and science educator. I believe in active learning through inquiry. Recently, I have taught General Chemistry 1, General Chemistry 2, Modeling the Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry, and Chemistry for Elementary Educators.

General Chemistry 1 has students from across the campus as it is a required course for most STEM majors and is a General Education (physical science) course. This is the first chemistry course at the college level for all its students. It does not have any prerequisites but requires students to have competency in Algebra.

The student population in General Chemistry 2 consists of STEM majors. Its prerequisite is General Chemistry 2.
Modeling the Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry is an upper division General Education course whose prerequisites are lower division General Education courses in communication and mathematics and science. This course primary uses data analysis using Excel; the Excel skills are taught throughout the semester to assist students in the analysis and modeling of data. The data used helps students make connections to how the world around us works using quantitative arguments.

Chemistry for Elementary Educators is a course for prospective elementary school teachers. There are no prerequisites for this course, and most students have been exposed to chemistry in high school, but not all the students have this background. This course’s primary mode of instruction is hands-on science along with discussion of what the results of experiments mean about how the world around us works.

About the Resource/Textbook 

Student access: 

Our current LMS is Blackboard, which is where links to the texts are located. For both General Chemistry and Chemistry for Elementary Educators, .pdf files are uploaded to Blackboard and available to students. For Modeling the Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry, links to specific readings from LibreTexts are provided in Blackboard.

General Chemistry: https://openstax.org/books/chemistry-2e/pages/1-introduction

Modeling the Fundamentals of Physical Chemistry: selections from https://chem.libretexts.org/

For Chemistry for Elementary Educators, I created a textbook a couple of years ago from the resources at https://www.ck-12.org/, downloaded the .pdf, and have posted that to Blackboard (.pdf download is no longer an available option at ck-12 though)


Prior to the COVID pandemic, I worried that not all students might have access to electronic resources; students could access online resources was from the campus library. Since all instruction has been online during the pandemic, I know that all enrolled students had access to an electronic device to attend classes, which would allow them to access the OER resources as well. 

The OER resources are usually more pedagogically appropriate to support diverse learners than hard copy texts since they are newer, are not subsequent editions of older texts, and have been produced with many of these strategies in mind. They are NOT perfect, just better than most of the hard copy texts available.

Cost Savings:

Currently, the department recommended text for General Chemistry is $150 for hard copy of text (120 for electronic rental + Mastering Chemistry). Although I use a free OER text, I do have students purchase access to an online learning system for homework at a cost of $55.

Most Physical Chemistry texts cost $100-$200 for a hard copy text. However, none of the available texts in this field are appropriate for the course I designed and teach.

For Chemistry for Elementary Educators, there is no appropriate textbook available. This course provides prospective elementary educators to teach hands-on science and is aligned with the state science standards for K-8, which in California is the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Note that there are no truly NGSS aligned textbooks for K-12 either.