Humboldt State University ® Department of Chemistry

Richard A. Paselk

Chem 109
General Chemistry

Section 1; MWF 0900-0950 SCIB 135

Syllabus - Spring 2011

Office: SA560a
Office Hours: MTWF 1000-1050; W 1400-1450; other times by appointment
Phone: x 5719
Home: 822-1116

Course Information & Learning Outcome Goals

Catalog Description:

CHEM 109. General Chemistry (5) FS. Fundamental concepts: stoichiometry, gases, atomic theory, solutions, bonding, acid/base theory, kinetics, equilibrium, thermochemistry, aqueous equilibria. For students in science, engineering, and related majors. Letter grade only. Prereq: math code 40. Weekly: 3 hrs lect, 3 hrs lab, 1 hr disc.

Learning Outcomes:

CHEM 109 addresses the following Department of Chemistry learner outcomes at low intensity, in which the learner outcome is included implicitly or occasionally. Successful students will be able to demonstrate:

  • an understanding of what chemistry reveals about the nature of physical reality;
  • proficiency in the application of mathematics at the pre-requisite algebra level to solving chemical problems;
  • proficiency in abstract reasoning;
  • sound ability in written scientific communication;
  • an understanding of the use of physical and mathematical models;
  • an understanding of the relationship of experimental observation to chemical theory and knowledge;
  • proficiency in spatial perception;
  • ability as critical independent thinkers;
  • the chemical knowledge and skills needed in chemistry as well as in other disciplines;
  • proficiency and skill in performing laboratory techniques and in making and interpreting laboratory observations; and
  • an understanding of the theory and operation of fundamental modern laboratory instruments.
CHEM 109 also addresses the following Humboldt State University learner outcomes at low intensity, in which the learner outcome is included implicitly or occasionally:
  • critical/creative thinking, information acquisition and application and
  • social justice, environmental responsibility,  and economic improvement.

Chemistry 109 is an Area B Lower Division General Education course. The GE goals for Chem 109 include:

  • Successful students will be able to distinguish a scientific explanation of a phenomenon from a non-scientific explanation.
  • Successful students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the basic language and concepts of the science field under study through proper use of the technical/scientific language of that field in the development, interpretation, and application of concepts.
  • Successful students will be able to critically evaluate conclusions drawn from a particular set of observations or experiments.

Texts, Required Materials etc.:

  • Zumdahl, Chemistry, 8th ed., Houghton Mifflin
  • Chemistry 109 Discussion Manual Spring 2011 (ALL students)
  • Chemistry 109 Laboratory Manual Spring 2011 (Not needed by "Discussion only" students)
  • Safety Goggles. Approved eye protection is required to do any lab work! (Eye protection must meet ANSI Z87.1 impact standards and have indirect ventilation splash protection - available at the HUB, or see your lab instructor.)

  • A Scientific, non-programmable calculator.  Programmable Calculators or Cell Phones are not allowed for quizzes or examinations! To improve your success in chemistry, your quiz/exam calculator should also be used for homework.

General Information

My attitude towards texts is that they are references to repeat, expand, clarify (or confuse!), and otherwise aid you in your endeavor to understand chemistry. I do not "require" that you buy a text - you're an adult, you should know what you require to "get through" a course. It's your decision. However, I strongly recommend purchasing a book. Zumdahl will be the central text for most of this course. Zumdahl and I may sometimes disagree. In such cases of disagreement between a text and myself, I will give you credit for either interpretation, but you may need to see me if you did not recieve credit on an exam or quiz for a different but "correct" answer.

OWL (Online Web Learning)

I am trying a "new" (to Chem 109) learning aid this semester, OWL, an on-line learning and homework system. Because I have agreed to do it on a trial basis and have agreed to have myself and my students fill out an evaluation of the system, it will be provided free of charge to all students in my section for this semester only.

Note that OWL participation is required and contributes a significant number of points to your grade. Note that OWL is a learning environment - it is designed to enable you to 'master' chemistry and get full credit for participation. If you are conciencious and work hard on OWL you should get 100 points towards your grade.

Instructions for registering with OWL etc. are availble on the course Moodle site. OWL access codes were provided to registered students via email 10 January. If you registered late contact me via email for an access code.

Lecture Notes

I will post copies of my lecture notes on the course web site after each lecture. (If you want to "look ahead" you can get a good idea of what is next by looking at my archive for the Spring 2008 Chem 109 notes.) These notes are intended to help you amplify and correct your own notes. It is generally a bad idea to use my notes instead of taking your own! Taking notes is an essential learning mode for most students. You should be very critical when using the posted lecture notes - it is incredibly easy to screw up and enter small errors into these notes. If you use the notes and think you've found an error please tell me via e-mail so I may correct them immediately rather than forgetting your comments on the way to my office!

This course will emphasize problem solving. I will attempt to put all of the lecture examples (and links to others) into my web notes to help you out.

Recommended Learning Strategies

  • DO NOT rely on my web notes - they have served many students in my courses as an excellent way to check their notes, but make sure you do take your own notes! Most students find taking notes a very valuable learning experience.
  • Don't miss lecture or lab. You will be tested on lecture and lab material.
  • Go to class and take thorough notes. This will greatly improve your chances of getting a passing grade.
  • Review the assigned material in the text and lab manual before and after lecture and laboratory sessions. This can seem like a lot of extra work, but doing this will help you understand the material more than you may realize.
  • Do the assigned on-line (OWL) homework regularly and KEEP UP.
  • Generally, all the problems in the textbook and in the notes are the types of problems that will appear on exams (I sometimes take exam problems from the text with only slight modification).
    • Work these problems daily.
    • If you don't understand something come see me or your lab instructor during office hours, make an appointment, or just drop by my office. If I am there I will most likely be able to help you. You can also seek a tutor or a study group.
    • Note that some text problems are available on OWL as Tutorials(not required).
  • Don't procrastinate! Chemistry is not a subject that one can learn overnight."

Supplemental Instruction course

There are two supplemental sections (Chem 199) scheduled for our section of Chem 109 this semester. Enrollment occurs after school starts. These course are run by advanced chemistry students as instructors. The supplemental instruction sections for our section of Chem 109 are:

The first meetings of these sections will be announced in class and electronically.

Time Commitment:

Most students find chemistry to be a challenging and time consuming experience. An average student should expect to spend two hours out of class for each hour in class for a "C" grade, that is about 12 hours a week in study, homework and lab write-ups.


Lecture/Discussion Schedule: See General Chemistry on my Web Page (

Laboratory Calendar: See General Chemistry on my Web Page (

Grading Information


Lecture: Attendance in lecture will not be taken, nor will it be used by the instructor to influence your grade in any way. HOWEVER, you are most strongly urged to attend every lecture and to take thorough notes. Historically this approach has worked better than missing classes and taking sketchy notes.

Discussion: Attendance is mandatory. Missing three or more discussion sessions will reduce your final grade by one step (e.g. "C" to "C-"). Just showing up for the quiz is NOT counted as attendance for the discussion.

  • It is expected that you will work on the problem set for a given discussion several days in advance of the laboratory period and be prepared to participate in the discussion.
  • I am "tuning-up" my on-line learning supplements for Discussion this semester. Study Modules may not be available for all discussions - you will have to check the Lecture/Discussion Schedule each week to determine the assignments/modules for that week!
    • You are expected to do the "required" exercises in the Module prior to coming to the appropriate discussion!
    • These exercises will substitute for lecture for these discussion topics - your discussion instructor will expect you to have completed these exercises and be ready to ask questions and to work on the pre-quiz problems in discussion.
  • Bring a non-programmable scientific calculator to every discussion - there will be a quiz given the last ten minutes of each discussion period.

Lab: Laboratory attendance is mandatory. Missing three or more laboratory sessions will result in an automatic "F" for the course! Each three scores of "0" (Laboratory attendance but no report turned in) and/or 3 "U"s will reduce your final grade by one step (e.g. "C" to "C-").

Unless you are informed otherwise, the written report for each lab exercise will be due at the beginning of the following lab. Late reports will not be accepted, except when they are necessitated by illness or some other unavoidable circumstance. Your lab reports will be graded "S" (satisfactory), "U" (unsatisfactory). Your course grade will be lowered by one or more letter grades for three or more "U" (unsatisfactory) reports. Lab reports will not be graded thoroughly, but will be superficially checked for completeness. It is impossible to overestimate the potential value of the lab and of the preparation of the lab reports in helping you to learn chemistry. The work you put in on the preparation of your lab reports will have a direct effect on your quiz and examination scores.

  • Bring a scientific calculator to every laboratory.
  • Come prepared to the labs - i.e., know what you are about to do in lab.
  • Be punctual. Laboratory instructions and safety information is given at the beginning of lab. You will not be allowed to do lab work if you have missed this information!

Exams: Note the in-class exam dates and be certain you can make them:

Exam I (Weeks 1-5) - Friday, February 25

Exam II (Weeks 6-10) - Exam II - Friday, April 1

Final Exam (Comprehensive): Monday, May 9, 0800-0950


There will be a quiz at the end of each discussion period.The dates and topics for the quizzes will be available the preceeding week on the Lecture/Discussion Schedule. Note that only the top 10 quiz scores will be counted for 100 pts total. If you miss a Quiz it will be considered one of your low scores.

The subject areas covered on each quiz are be posted on the Lecture/Discussion Schedule by the Friday before each quiz.

I do not generally give make-up exams or quizzes, but can often make an accommodation if notified in advance. So if you think you can't make an exam or quiz, please call me in advance. If you can't reach me, leave a message with the Chemistry Department secretary or on my voice mail.

Lecture Points

Connect Plus (OWL) Homework
100 pts
100 pts.

10 @ 10 pts each

  100 pts.

Laboratory Unknowns
3 @ 15 pts. each
45 pts
Midterm exams:

2 @ 100 pts. each

  200 pts.

Final exam:  

  200 pts.


 Total =

645 pts.

Grading Rubric

  • Lab is graded PASS/FAIL as noted above. You MUST PASS lab to pass the course.
  • Assuming you pass the lab, your grade is determined on your total "lecture" points based on the percentage cut-offs listed below:
      • A = 95
      • A- = 90
      • B+ = 87
      • B = 84
      • B- = 80
      • C+ = 75
      • C = 70
      • C- = 65
      • D+ = 58
      • D = 50
  • The actual distribution will be adjusted at the end of the semester with 100% set to a number less than the total number of points based on class performance. In the past I have often used the percentage of total points achieved by the "top student" as 100%. For example, if the top student received 90% of total points, then an "A" would be 95% of 90% = 85.5% and a "D" would be 50% of 90 = 45% etc.

Withdrawal/Drop Policy (from HSU Academic Senate):

You may drop this course for any reason without record up through the fourth week. After the 4th weekand until the 13th week withdrawal requires a "serious and compelling reason (see below) and will be recorded as a "W." After the 13th week only catastrophic withdrawals (see below) will be given - a grade of "WC" will be recorded.

When contemplating a Withdrawal, you should also be aware of the new CSU policies (Executive Order 1037; August 1, 2009) that place significant new restrictions on course repeats and withdrawals for undergraduate students. As a summary:

  1. Students may withdraw from no more than 18 semester-units (between census and the final 20% of instruction, with a serious and compelling reason).
  2. Students may repeat courses only if they earned grades lower than a C.
  3. Students may repeat up to 16 semester-units with grade forgiveness.
  4. Students may repeat up to an additional 12 semester-units with grades averaged.

Incompletes (from CSU Executive Order 1037)

"The “I” symbol shall be used only when the faculty member concludes that a clearly identifiable portion of course requirements cannot be met within the academic term for unforeseen reasons. An Incomplete shall not be assigned when it is necessary for the student to attend a major portion of the class when it is next offered."

"A student may not re-enroll in a course for which he or she has received an “I” until that “I” has been converted to a grade other than “I”; e.g., A-F, IC."

Campus Resources for Students

Students with Disabilities

  • Disabilities may interfere with your success in this class.
    • If you need accommodations for a disability, please contact our campus Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) and follow up with me as soon as possible.
    • Our campus SDRC can assist you with the accommodation process and can be reached at (707) 826-5392 (TDD). The SDRC is located in the Learning Commons in the Library basement.  Such accommodations may take up to several weeks to arrange. <>
  • Students needing accommodations should also contact the lecture instructor as soon as possible to facilitate/optimize their situation in both lecture and lab. FYI:
    • All quizzes are designed so the all students get double-time to complete them. If you are registered with the SDRC (and get extra time) and feel you need extra time speak to your Discussion Instructor ASAP to make arrangements.

Student Support organizations

HSU Add/Drop Policy

Emergency Evacuation

  • Please review the evacuation plans for the lecture room and for the laboratory room (posted in the rooms).  For information on campus emergency procedures, see the following website: <>
  • During an emergency, information can be found about campus conditions at:
  • You are encouraged to register your cellular telephone to receive campus emergency text messages through WebReg, the Humboldt State University Web Information System.

Academic Honesty

Attendance and Disruptive Behavior

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C109 Laboratory

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C109 Home
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C109 Lecture Notes

© R A Paselk

Last modified 24 January 2011