Humboldt State University ® Department of Chemistry

Richard A. Paselk

Chem 109
General Chemistry

Section 3 (crn 27032); MWF 1500-1550 SCIA 564

Syllabus - Spring 2013

Office: SA560a
Office Hours: MWTr 1000-1050; WF 1100-1150; other times by appointment
Phone: x 5719
Home: 822-1116

Course Information & Learning Outcome Goals

Welcome to Chemistry 109, the foundational course for your future in science!

Recommended Learning Strategies–chemistry is a challenging course for most students. To assure your success start planning HOW you will succeed immediately!

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. Successful students will be able to demonstrate:

CHEM 109 also addresses the following Humboldt State University learner outcomes:

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

Texts, Required Materials etc.:



General Information & Learning Resources

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 "master" 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 requiring OWL, an on-line learning and homework system being provided free this semester by the publisher.

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 the full 100 points towards your grade.

Instructions for registering with OWL etc. are availble on the course Moodle site (NOTE that Firefox is the preferred browser for Moodle on both Mac and PC!). OWL access codes will be provided free by the publisher as we are participating in a "test" of the new version. You will be asked to fill out an evaluation for the system at the end of the semester as part of this testing.

Discussion/Study Modules

These modules are intended to aid your success in specific topics/quizzes in this course. I have written them over a period of years emphasising step-by-step problem solving strategies.

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 2011 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.

Supplemental Instruction course

A supplemental section (Chem 198) is 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 section for our section of Chem 109 is:

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 14 hours a week in study, homework and lab write-ups.


Lecture Schedule: See General Chemistry on my Web Page (

Laboratory/Discussion Calendar: See General Chemistry on my Web Page (

Grading Information


Lecture: Attendance/Participation in lecture will be taken via "Clicker" use in class and will contribute up to 40 points to your grade. In addition, you are most strongly urged to attend every lecture and to take thorough notes as historically this approach has led to greater success 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.

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.

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

Exam I (Weeks 1-6) - Friday, March 1

Exam II (Weeks 7-10) - Friday, April 5

Final Exam (Comprehensive): 1500-1650 Monday 13 May


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 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 learning modules etc. on each quiz are be posted on the Lab & Discussion Schedule by the Friday before each quiz (if you don't see it email me!).

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.
40 pts
40 pts.

10 @ 15 pts each

  150 pts.

Laboratory Unknowns
3 @ 20 pts. each
60 pts
Midterm exams:

2 @ 100 pts. each

  200 pts.

Final exam:  

  200 pts.


 Total =

750 pts.

Grading Rubric

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

Student Support organizations

HSU Add/Drop Policy

Emergency Evacuation

Academic Honesty

Attendance and Disruptive Behavior

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C109 Laboratory/Discussion

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C109 Home

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C109 Lecture Notes

© R A Paselk

Last modified 22 January 2012