Chemistry 02 - Principles of Chemistry

Chemistry Department

Saint Mary's College of California








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    Background   Instructor Contact


Principles of Chemistry is one-semester course designed primarily for Nursing majors and students pursuing other health related fields. (Note: This is not for Health Science majors). The semester will be divided into three parts. In the first part the course will cover basic chemical principles such as the structure atoms and molecules, chemical reactions and stoichiometry, and physical properties of compounds. The second part of the course focuses on the terminology, chemistry, and physical properties of organic molecules (with a emphasis on biologically relevant ones) will be covered. The class culminates with a look at some important biomolecules, their function and the interaction of drugs with important biomolecules.

The course will include a significant group component. Most classes will begin with a 20 minute “problem” which is a set of questions covering the reading material for that day. After completing the questions, the class will split into groups to discuss and rework the questions. I will circulate among the groups and help in the discussions and then we will go through the problem as a class. These discussions are intended to encourage group collaboration and a dynamic classroom environment and will form the basis for much of the material presented in class.

Learning Outcomes for the Course 1) Obtain a foundation in chemical language and an understanding of the scientific process; 2) Obtain a foundation in concepts of general, organic, and biochemistry; 3) Develop habits of critical thinking and problem solving that can reinforce many of the College’s core curriculum goals.

Prof. Jeffrey Sigman
BROH 312
email is my preferred method of contact

  Course Information    
        Office hours

Meeting Times Mon/Wed/Fri 1130-1230pm, Thu 110-210pm. BROH 114

Text Essentials of General, Organic, and Biochemistry by Guinn and Brewer. Text support site

Prerequisite One year of high school chemistry, one year of high school algebra or have passed introduction to biology (BIO10/11).

Homework Assigned chapter problems can be found from the daily links on the Calendar Page or on the assignments page. You should keep up with homework on a DAILY basis, therefore, the daily assignment is given on the calendar. The problems from the text will be assigned on a regular basis, but will not be collected or graded. Anyone needing help with homework assignments should visit me during normal office hours or schedule a one-on-one appointment. Other resources, such as small group tutorial sessions, will also be available to help students strengthen their problem-solving skills.

Homework assignments are designed to guide you in your study of the material and should be considered the minimum set of problems to do. Additinal problems are avalaible in the text and online via the assignment page. It is up to you to work as many problems as necessary to clarify your understanding of any particular topic.

The importance of working problems cannot be overemphasized!

Office hours Students have seen remarkable improvement in their performance in chemistry by taking advantage of the time available to ask questions of faculty. I will be available in my office or the lab during the scheduled times to offer assistance as you need it. You should also make it a habit to study in BROH during my office hours. The advantage is that it will make it easier for you to get feedback from me immediately upon encountering a problem with the homework.

Testing Weekly quizzes will be given every Thursday in-class or as an online quiz. The questions focus specifically on your understanding of the assigned problems. The quizzes will take 10-15 minutes of time. The quiz questions will be nearly exact replicas of the homework problems. Therefore, it is extremely important that you keep up with the reading and do ALL the homework on a daily basis.

A reading pre-quiz must be completed daily. These will be short 5-10 minute online quizzes that must be completed before each class. The quizzes will be available on the assignment page. The role of the quizzes is to encourage reading the chapter before coming to class for that day.

There will be 2 one-hour long exams during the semester. The exams will test your ability to adapt and apply your understanding and problem-solving skills to new and somewhat unfamiliar situations, rather than ones patterned exactly like those you have seen before. Simply repeating facts or mechanically producing solutions to familiar problems will not help you excel. In fact, there will be some questions/problems on every exam that are a bit different than the ones presented in class or in the textbook.

The comprehensive final exam will be scheduled during final exam week at our alloted period (see schedule below). No exceptions will be made.

Students will be permitted to bring a double-sided 3 by 5 inch notecard to the exams and the final. This notecard may contain any information (e.g. formulas, constants, definitions) deemed relevant by the student and will be collected at the conclusion of the exam. This approach is intended to motivate students to be proactive with respect to their exam preparation and study habits.

Exam Dates

Exam #1 TBD but ~March 17

Exam #2 TBD but ~April 21

Final Exam (All assigned Chapters, with emphasis on biochemistry chapters) Wednesday, May 18, 1130am - 130pm.

No alternate exam arrangements will be considered.

Group Presentation Each student is required to give a short (10-min.) group presentation of a news article relevant to science and/or medicine. The article can be from any “credible” news source (e.g., The New York Times online). We will assign times and presentation partners starting at mid-semester. I will be discussing examples of articles throughout the first half of the semester. The presentation is informal. You may use the WEB, Powerpoint, handouts or other formats to aid your presentation. The talk should include 1) summary of the article, 2) its primary findings, and 3) its relevance to scientific/and or medical fields and the topics covered in this class. Anything that will generate class discussion is favorable!

Grading Your grade will be based on your performance on 10 weekly quizzes (10 pts each), daily online reading quizzes (3 pts each), two midterm exams (100 points each), a comprehensive final exam (120 points), and a short (10-min) group presentation of a news article relevant to science and/or medicine (30 points).

Final letter grades will be assigned according to the percentage of points that you accumulate during the semester. The approximate ranges for letter grades will be:

A = 100-85% B = 84-70% C = 69-55% D = 54-40%

Your exact letter grade will be determined by a number of factors, including your performance on the final exam, the consistency of your performance during the term, and class participation.

Disability Services Reasonable and appropriate accommodations, that take into account the context of the course and its essential elements, for individuals with qualifying disabilities, are extended through the office of Student Disability Services. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Student Disability Services Coordinator at (925) 631-4164 to set up a confidential appointment to discuss accommodation guidelines and available services. Additional information regarding the services available may be found on the Saint Mary’s website.

Academic Honesty Students are expected to do their own work on all exams and quizzes. Violations of this policy will be vigorously prosecuted according to SMC Academic Honesty Procedures.

Tips for Success Your performance is based on exams and quizzes. Since questions on these will be based on the lectures, assigned problems, and reading (with emphasis in that order), it is important to attend lectures and do the assignments.

Keep up with the work! Assignments will be updated on a weekly basis. Check our website after each lecture for the assignments due before the next class. I cannot emphasis enough the importance of keeping up with the assignments. The material builds upon itself as the semester proceeds, so you must learn the early concepts to understand the later material.

Also, you are here at SMC to get the best possible education. Take advantage of the small class size and individual attention that a small liberal arts school can provide. Work together on assignments, and see me in my office as often as possible.

ON Calendar!
Additional Office hours

by appointment