CEM131 Class Syllabus

Introductory Chemistry (Fall 2017)

CEM131 – John Ireland, Ph.D.

Printable Course Syllabus

Lecture: M/W 1:00 – 2:30 PM or M/W 9:00 – 10:30 AM
Lab: W 2:30 – 4:30 PM or M 10:30 – 12:30 PM (Lab section is linked to Lecture section)
Office Hours: See Office Hours Page
Email: JC Email link

Course Description

Fills requirement for some non-science majors. Provides background for CEM 141 for those with no recent high school chemistry. Fundamental principles of chemistry such as states of matter, simple atomic and molecular structure, and the periodic classification of elements. The study of water emphasizes the properties of solutions and acid-base relations. Course includes a laboratory component.

Prerequisite: ENG 085* and MAT 033* or higher
General Education Outcome (GEO): GEO4, Scientific Reasoning

Course Materials

Textbook: Chemistry, Structures of Life by Karen C. Timberlake (5th Edition) ISBN: 978-0-321-75089-1 (Amazon)
Lab Manual: Electronic Versions Available

Grading for the Course

Assessment Total Points
Exam 300 PTS
Final Exam 100 PTS
Quizzes 200 PTS
Labs 110 PTS

grade distribution is subject to small changes for teaching reasons

Grades are calculated as the percentage of the total possible points, and are determined to three significant figures

Grade Scale

Grade Percentages
4.0 100% – 90.0%
3.5 89.9% – 85.0%
3.0 84.9% – 80.0%
2.5 79.9% – 75.0%
2.0 74.9% – 70.0%

Course Learning Objectives

CEM131 Learning Objectives

Assessment Types


There are four (4) Unit Exams, covering two (2) chapters in the text. These exams are comprehensive for the material in the unit and may also require skills, information or techniques learned in previous units (to a lesser extent). The exams are a mixture of various testing styles but will always include a set of problems to test your ability to work with the information in the chapters. Each Unit Exam is worth one hundred (100) points and I count the highest three (3) towards your final grade.

Final Exam

There is a course-wide final exam for the CEM131 course. The exam will be an ACS (American Chemical Society) standardized national exam and therefore no notes will be allowed. Every student in the course will be judged by the same rubric for the course. The Final Exam is worth one hundred (100) points and counts towards your final grade.

Daily Quizzes

There are twenty-three (23) Daily Quizzes, each covering a mixture of material covered in the last class and the reading assigned for class that day. You may use any handwritten notes for the Daily Quizzes (not copies of the PowerPoint files) but be warned, they are only ten (10) minutes and failure to prepare will result in a low score. Each Daily Quiz is worth ten (10) points and I take your highest twenty (20) scores for the final grade. The number of total quizzes may change but there will still be three (3) dropped scores.


There will be twelve (12) labs and I will count your eleven (11) best for the final grade. The labs are described in the CEM131 Lab Syllabus.

Grade Normalization

All Unit Exams and the Final Exam will be subject to a grade normalization (what many of you call a curve). The extent of the normalization will be the least value of the following conditions.

  • The points needed to bring the class median to 74%
  • The points needed to bring the highest score to 100%

No normalization will be applied to Daily Quizzes or Lab Reports.

Class Policies

Make-Up Work and Extra Credit

There is no extra credit available, per department policy, and no make-up/late work. Any deviation from this is solely at my discretion. If I do make an exception to any policies in the course they will be communicated in written (email) form for future reference.

Course Communication

I maintain server space to host materials for my courses. The website (link) is where I will publish all notices for the course, post materials needed, and link copies of the podcasts and PowerPoint files. This is my personal space and the materials are produced with my personal equipment. The materials are intended for your personal use in the class only.

Attendance and Participation

The school has a vested interested in making sure you are attending the classes in order to help you be successful. In light of this we, as instructors, must report your participation on a number of occasions throughout the semester. You will be reported as a V for Verified (meaning you are attending, participating and in addition passing), as an H for Help (meaning you are attending and participating, but not passing), or as Q for Quit (meaning you are no longer attending and/or participating in class). There are several reasons you may be listed as a Q, which I will address in a moment, but it is important to note that once you have been dropped from a class by an instructor you cannot be put back into the class without the instructor’s signature.

Reasons for Being Assigned a Q

  • Failure to attend class within the first week without contacting the instructor.
  • Failure to attend class for greater than three (3) sessions without contacting the instructor.
  • Failure to take two (2) Unit Exams
  • Failure to take five (5) Daily Quizzes
  • Failure to complete three (3) Laboratory Exercises

These conditions will result in an automatic Q during the next HQV reporting period and your dismissal from the course. If you fail to participate after the final HQV reporting period (1 week after midterm) you will not be automatically dropped from the course but will receive a grade of 0.0 (E) for failing to participate in the course.

Electronic Devices

All students have a right to the same classroom experience and opportunity to learn. Any disruptive behavior in my class will result in your immediate removal and loss of all points possible on that day (daily quiz, lab, unit exam, etc.). This includes the use of cell phones and other electronic devices. You are welcome to tape my classes for your future personal use only and use a laptop or tablet for scholarly pursuits but any use of devices that I deem distracting (yes, I am the one who decides) will be dealt with immediately.

Incomplete Policy

We will follow the Jackson College Policy as stated here.

Academic Honesty

We will follow the Jackson College Policy as stated here.

Course Topics and Schedule

Course schedule can be changed with advanced notice

Class Date  Lesson Chapter(s) Lab (by Week)
1/15 Syllabus/Chemistry and Measurement 1 NO LAB – First Week
1/17 Measurement 1
1/22 Measurements/Energy and Matter 1/2  Lab 1
1/24 Energy and Matter 2
1/29 Energy and Matter 2  Lab 2
1/31 EXAM 1
2/5 Atoms and Elements 3  Lab 3
2/7 Atoms and Elements 3
2/12 Elements/Nuclear Chemistry 3/4  Lab 4
2/14 Nuclear Chemistry 4
2/19 Nuclear Chemistry 4  Lab 5
2/21 EXAM 2 
2/26 Compounds and their Bonds 5  Lab 6
2/28 Compounds and their Bonds 5
3/5 Chemical Reactions 6  Lab 7
3/7 Chemical Reactions 6
3/19 Chemical Reactions 6  Lab 8
3/21 EXAM 3
3/26 Gases 7  Lab 9
3/28 Gases 7
4/2 Gases/Solutions 7/8  Lab 10
4/4 Solutions 8
4/9 Solutions 8  Lab 11
4/11 EXAM 4
4/16 Reaction Rates 9  Lab 12
4/18 Equilibrium 9
4/23 Equilibrium 9  Lab 13
4/25 Acids and Bases 10

Copyright 2017, John Ireland, all rights reserved, only for use with classes taught by John Ireland, Ph.D. or with his explicit written permission.