Chemistry: Concept Development and Application

This introduction to fundamental chemical concepts of atomic and molecular structure will emphasize the development of these concepts from experimental observations and scientific reasoning.

About The Course

This course will cover an introduction to the atomic molecular structure of matter, similar to a typical first semester General Chemistry course.  The fundamental concepts will be introduced via the Concept Development Approach developed at Rice University and utilizing a free on-line textbook, Concept Development Studies in Chemistry, available via Rice’s Connexions project.  In this approach, rather than simply telling you the concepts you need to know and then asking you to memorize them or apply them, we will develop these concepts from experimental observations and scientific reasoning.  There are several reasons for using this approach.  One reason is that most of us our inductive learners, meaning that we like to make specific observations and then generalize from there.  Many of the most significant concepts in Chemistry are counter-intuitive.  When we see where those concepts come from, we can more readily accept them, explain them, and apply them. A second reason is that scientific reasoning in general and Chemistry reasoning in particular are inductive processes.  This Concept Development approach illustrates those reasoning processes.  A third reason is that this is simply more interesting.  The structure and reactions of matter are fascinating puzzles to be solved by observation and reasoning.  It is more fun intellectually when we can solve those puzzles together, rather than simply have the answers to the riddles revealed at the outset.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I get a certificate after completing this class?

    Rice University does not award certificates or issue transcripts or other credentials for student work in this course. However, Coursera will maintain limited data regarding student progress and performance in this course and, with your permission, provide authorized third parties with access to such data.

  • Will I know the basics of Chemistry if I complete this class?

    Yes, assuming you have done all the reading, watched all of the lectures, and successfully completed all assignments.

  • Does this cover an entire first year of Chemistry?

    No, this class covers the first semester of a standard two semester sequence. The second semester will be made available at a later date, assuming sufficient interest.

Recommended Background

The class can be taken by someone with no prior experience in chemistry.  However, some prior familiarity with the basics of chemistry is desirable as we will cover some elements only briefly.  For example, a prior high school chemistry class would be helpful.