CH102 General Chemistry

Spring 2017
Copyright © 2016 Dan Dill | Contact
Department of Chemistry | Boston University

Lecture and discussion office hours

Here is the schedule of lecture and discussion office hours. These optional sessions are for you to get your questions answered and to get help with the course. You may attend any of these sessions that you wish; no appointment is necessary. Also shown are holidays, exam days, and MWF lecture numbers

Lab office hours

Here is the weekly schedule and location of lab office hours:


Getting help with Mahaffy et al., 2e

Your Mahaffy et al., 2e, eBook subscription includes detailed help on all of the end-of-chapter questions. To access this help, and all of the other eResources in each chapter, do the following.

  1. Login to
  2. Next to the "MindTap Reader" listing, click on Open, to display the eBook Table of Contents
  3. Click any chapter you are interested in, to display its detailed contents.
  4. Select part of the chapter you are interested in to access all of its eResources.

We hope this will be helpful to you.

Suggestions for success

Learning chemistry requires persistence, diligence and hard work. We suggest that you plan to spend about 15 hours per week on this course over and above the scheduled contact hours. If you are willing to devote this time, and you spend it wisely and effectively, you will be able to perform your best. In an effort to provide some more specific guidance, we offer the following ideas.

One of our overall goals is to help develop your critical thinking and reasoning skills beyond the scope of chemistry concepts. The ability to skillfully utilize both quantitative and qualitative reasoning is essential in our modern society and requires training above and beyond what is typically taught and presented in high school. We will help you learn how to study and how to teach yourself in order to master the various nuances of general chemistry. You may have not yet experienced how to understand material. Understanding is different than simply memorizing facts and mechanically using them to solve equations or address questions similar to those that you have already seen. One of the challenges in this course is that you learn how to "own" the facts; that is, to be able to use them in different, new contexts and to fully understand their implications.

Although you have already demonstrated that you have mastered the skills necessary to perform academically at a high level, you may still confuse just spending time performing with studying effectively. A challenge for each of you is to adjust to the new expectations, to develop new, more efficient study approaches, and to develop the long-term intellectual discipline and work ethic necessary to succeed.

Here are six parts to helping yourself do your best in this course. If you put each of these parts into practice, you will give yourself great advantage. Really!.
  1. Lecture preparation (BEFORE you come to Lecture): You will get the most out of lecture if you have prepared the material to be discussed beforehand. A particularly effective way to prepare is to first read through several pages of the material in the course texts. Next, when you think you have understood what you have read, set the texts aside and then make a written summary of what you have understood. It is important to carry out this step without looking at the texts. Finally, compare what you have written with the material in the texts, to identify those parts that are unclear or where your understanding is incomplete. You should do this in the days before your lecture section discusses the material. That is, if you know you'll be talking about chapter 2, sections 1 through 7 (2.1-2.7) on a Monday, you should be reading and rewriting these sections perhaps on the Thursday or Friday before this lecture.

    If you follow this procedure, you will have a quite detailed idea of what will be covered in each lecture, and, most importantly, you can be particularly alert to those parts that are unclear for you. You may even want to collect your summaries in a journal that you can then update and refine throughout the semester... this would make an excellent set of notes for review prior to the final exam.

  2. ALEKS, Discussion handouts, and End of the Chapter problems in your text, particularly those sections that pertain to the upcoming lectures. It is imperative that you stay up-to-date with these.

    An essential skill in learning is knowing what you do not understand, and one of the best ways to do so is to solve chapter problems (perhaps 6 to 8) on a daily basis (OK, almost on a daily basis). Simply reading the text is insufficient.

    As we cover material in class, solve a set of related problems at the end of the chapter. Try not to do problems that look simple or that you can solve by inspection; find problems that you cannot immediately solve. This way, you are identifying gaps in your understanding of the material and can get help during office hours on a regular weekly basis, thereby staying up with the material covered in class. If a problem takes you less than three minutes to complete, you have wasted your time.

    When you go to office hours, bring your work (get a simple notebook for your problem solving efforts) so we can more easily identify which step(s) gave you difficulty in the problem solving process. By the time an exam comes around, not only will have solved over a hundred extra problems, you will have identified and filled in most gaps in your initial understanding of the material.

    Do not try to cram a large number of problems in a few days before the exam. Numerous controlled studies have shown that you cannot gain the necessary in-depth understanding of the material required for the class in several days before an exam. On our exams, there is a premium on understanding the concepts in order to solve the problems, not simply manipulating algebraic expressions. To help in this process, we have placed many additional general chemistry texts (filled with additional problems and answers) under closed reserve (simply ask for one at the front desk) in the Science and Engineering Library (38 Cummington Street).

  3. DURING lecture: If you have appropriately prepared, as above, very little you hear in lecture will be "brand new" to you. That is not to say you'll understand all you hear, but nothing will sound like it's in another language entirely. You should bring your rewritten notes with you, along with any items you noted that needed more clarification. If the lecture still doesn't clarify things, you should ask questions right in lecture.

    There are absolutely NO bad questions. If you don't know it, at least half of the rest of the class doesn't either. The purpose of Lecture is to refine the ideas you've read about and understood before you came. The purpose of Lecture is NOT to introduce the ideas in the chapter to you for the first time.

  4. Lecture follow up (AFTER each lecture): After each lecture, you should work through your lecture notes to be sure you understand everything that was covered. You may even want to rewrite your notes, verifying problems done in lecture and doing others suggested during lecture and that occur to you. This will also test your understanding.If material is still unclear, then be sure to ask for specific help with it on Piazza, in office hours or in discussion. In your Discussion section, you will work together on problems designed to consolidate, deepen and challenge your understanding. Through these problems you will gain experience learning how to identify things that are unclear and then how to master them.

  5. Make use of office hours: The weekly schedule of office hours is here. You may attend any of these, not just those given by your lecture professor or your discussion and lab teaching fellows. These sessions are set aside for your benefit and you are encouraged to make productive use of them.

  6. Questions, questions, questions: Finally, the online discussion forum Piazza

    is a great way to ask specific questions as they arise, without needing to wait for lecture, discussion or office hours. All posts to Piazza go to everyone in the course and so this is the fastest way to get your questions answered and to help your classmates with their questions. The more specific you are about what it is that is unclear, the more easily you will be able to get help. Should you have personal concerns, please email them to

Group tutoring

If, after the first month of class, you believe that you need additional help, group tutoring sessions may be arranged with Educational Resource Center,