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.
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.
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.