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Learner Reviews & Feedback for General Chemistry: Concept Development and Application by Rice University

985 ratings

About the Course

This course will cover the topics of a full year, two semester General Chemistry course. We will use a free on-line textbook, Concept Development Studies in Chemistry, available via Rice’s Connexions project. The fundamental concepts in the course will be introduced via the Concept Development Approach developed at Rice University. In this approach, we will develop the concepts you need to know from experimental observations and scientific reasoning rather than simply telling you the concepts and then asking you to simply memorize or apply them. So why use this approach? One reason is that most of us are 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. 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. Suggested Readings: Readings will be assigned from the on-line textbook “Concept Development Studies in Chemistry”, available via Rice’s Connexions project. In addition, we will suggest readings from any of the standard textbooks in General Chemistry. A particularly good free on-line resource is Dickerson, Gray, and Haight, "Chemical Principles, 3rd Edition". Links to these two texts will be available in the Introduction module....

Top reviews


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If I'd had access to this material when I first failed freshman chemistry 40 years ago, I probably wouldn't have failed. Kudos to Dean Hutchinson for bringing us his innovative approach.


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The calculations questions need practice questions within the material rather than just in the assessment components otherwise excellent.

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By Juan M S

Jan 7, 2021

My review can only be positive, very positive I would say. Being a Dr. in Mechanical Engineering, now retired, who learned some Chemistry (it was never be a major in my case) when I learned Engineering in a Basque Country University, it has been a pleasure to remember half-forgotten concepts, others even never learned before. The course lessons, the details, exactness of the presentations, the capacity of Dr. Hutchinson to transmit knowledge have been a delicious experience I would recommend to anyone who would like to enter into the marvellous world of Chemistry. I look forward to finding any other complementary course by Rice University on the same area of science. As a suggestion on aspects to improve on this course I would say, please make the hand calculations and presentations by Dr. Hutchinson bigger, otherwise in their present scale they are difficult to read on screen. To sum it up : An excellent course recommendable to anyone interested in Chemistry.

By Marco P

Oct 16, 2021

Good things first: 1) Concept Development makes a highly advantageous approach, far better than just trying to memorize those concepts without having a true grasp of their meaning. 2) A great teacher, capable of maintaining interest throughout all his lectures. 3) The use of century-old concepts following a contemporary approach, showing their long-lasting validity and usefulness in solving real-world problems once one understands their true meaning.

What to improve: unfortunately, the online course is ridden with several inaccuracies or even mistakes. Although these are never conceptual mistakes and, while attentively following the lectures, one can quickly pinpoint them as mere speech or transcription mistakes as the lecturer delivers his ideas, this fact can get confusing for a less experienced or slightly distracted student. This is the only reason why I gave the course four instead of five stars.

Congratulations! I truly enjoyed the course.

By David P C

Jul 19, 2020

I'm gonna give 4 stars to the professor and the course because I learned so many things that will (hopefully) help me in the future. The professor is really intelligent, clear, and concise. That deserves recognition. However, the course could've been way much better if it wasn't for the book and the quizzes. The book is great but sometimes it gets extremely confusing and without too many details (mostly on equations, viz. some of the equations are just written there without showing the math involved). And the quizzes, well, some of them were way more challenging than just learning from the lectures. In addition, some of the questions in the quizzes aren't covered in detail during the lectures, which makes it harder.

By David D V

Aug 28, 2016

Great course! This is the first MOOC that I've completed and I had a great experience overall. The CDS system is what drew me toward this particular chemistry course and it seems like an effective and natural way to have concepts stick in your head. Very clear and easy to understand explanations are also given in the lecture videos.

My only complaints are that there are some significant typos in the quizzes, and all of the course material seems to refer to a different version of the online textbook than the one that is currently provided. If the quality of the quizzes was better and if the course was more in sync with the most up-to-date reading material I would have easily given this course 5 stars.