Chem 440 Announcement

Announcements and FAQs

This page contains announcements for the course (e.g. answers to FAQs, alerts about reading assignments changes, scheduling changes, answers to questions asked by many students, etc).

Announcement 1: Grading

The points in this course are distributed as follows:

20% for all turn-in homeworks

20% for hour exam 1

20% for hour exam 2

40% for final exam

Total: 100%

The grade in this class is not curved. ≥80% of course points is an A- or A, 55-79.999% is a B- to B+, and 35-54.999% is a C- to C+. The typical grade distribution usually comes out about 35% A, 50% B and 15% C. The benefits are two-fold: the curve will not change if you help someone else, and you will learn even more by discussing the material with others. The +/- grade range is ±2%, e.g. 80-81.999% is A-, 78-79.999% is B+.

Announcement 2: Lecture attendance, and likely impact on grade

In this class, there are no gimmicks to make you attend lecture (no pop quizzes, no attendance points, etc.). It is up to you to decide whether you’ll attend. However, lectures will NOT be recorded: they are live events. Your TAs are making their notes available to you after lecture in case you have to miss one; see “instructors” page. Let me give you some hard data on lecture attendance based on past experience:

1) In 2015, 45 out of 78 students came to lecture regularly. Their final course average was 76%. 33 out of 78 students did not come to lecture regularly. Their final course average was 56%, a full 20% lower. The moral: Gruebele is in the lecture to teach you physical chemistry and go over problems, not to recite a book. You’ll learn more by going to lecture, even though reading the course notes is a very good start on the material.

2) Again, the course is NOT CURVED. Gruebele is more than happy to give everyone who can get ≥80% of the course points an A- or A. In fall of 2016, based on statistical analysis 20% more students could have gotten As if they had come to lecture and done the homework on their own before peeking at the answers.

Announcement 3: Homework due date, return and late policy

1-2 problems per lecture (the ones in green in the course notes and course schedule) will be graded. Homework is due at the beginning of the first lecture of the following week. ALL homework solutions are posted RIGHT FROM THE START. This will save you trips to the “online files.” You should do ALL homework the week it is assigned (including problems not to be turned in), and only peek at the solutions and correct yourself after you have made a serious effort: Problems similar to the homework problems are featured on each hour exam and on the final exam. Feel free to do the homework in groups, as long as everyone contributes to the discussion. Students who just copy the solutions mostly fail to be able to do similar problems on the exams quickly enough to get through the whole exam.

Late homework: 50% credit within a week, no questions asked, as long as it is turned in no more than a week late. ALL homework MUST be in your HANDWRITING showing all the steps, not typeset and not just the final answer. (After all, the solutions ARE available.)

There is no credit for just the final answer.

Homework return: Your graded homework will be available at TA office hours (in person instruction) or via Moodle (online instruction). If you can’t pick it up immediately, no worries, we keep it, even the oldest ones, until you pick it up. And of course if it’s on Moodle (online instruction), it’s always available to you after being graded.

Announcement 4: Hour exams and final

The hour and final exam dates, and the lectures covered on each hour exam, are posted on the course schedule. The final covers ALL course material, i.e. all homework problems.

All exams ARE OPEN BOOK. This means the assigned course notes, your class notes, your homework, and your solutions of your homework. You can also annotate any notes in your own writing. You can use any calculator you want. Gruebele’s advice: Know the material, and carefully review your own solutions in your own writing. Gruebele has seen a lot of students who were not able to finish the exam on time because they spent all their time browsing the web searching in the online homework solutions or desperately riffling through their 100 sheets of notes. If you have well-organized solutions of your own, annotated your copy of the course notes, and carefully studied your notes, they will help guide you through exam problems quickly, but if you start desperately searching through stuff during the exam for every little thing because you didn’t study, you will not be able to finish.

Gruebele and the TAs will have reviews before each hour exam, and before finals week. The hour exams will be during class time, 50 minutes. Each exam has 4 questions, directly modified from the homework, in-class exercises or thought experiments in the course notes. The final has 10 questions, at least 8 directly based on homework, in-class exercises or thought experiments. You have 3 hours for the final, so it’s more relaxed than the hour exams.

Gruebele recommends going to TA office hours or his office hours regularly and asking questions about homework problems or lecture material you had trouble with; 4 questions on the hour exams are derived from homework and exercises in the course notes, and at least 8 of 10 on the final. Your TA will send you to Gruebele if she or he does not know the answer. And if Gruebele doesn’t, well, we better not put that problem on the exams!