Learning Objectives

The following is what every student who graduates from the Chemistry & Biochemistry Program should know and/or have experienced:

The empirical basis of chemical knowledge:
Students must understand how chemical models can be developed and tested on the basis of empirical evidence and the scientific method. Students must have the necessary laboratory skills to make careful measurements and the ability to organize and interpret the resulting data. Students should also have the inductive and deductive reasoning skills necessary to arrive at conclusions from these data. They must also know of the appropriate use of modern, sophisticated instrumentation and proper interpretation of the data resulting from the use of these instruments. Students must be aware of key experiments that have led to the development of chemical theories and models.

Atomic Theory:
Students must recognize that modern chemical science is based upon the idea of atoms, their combination in compounds, and their recombination in the course of chemical reactions.

Kinetic Molecular Theory:
Students must understand that atomic, molecular and ionic particles are in constant motion. Ensembles of these particles have a characteristic distribution of kinetic energies based on the temperature of the sample, and this distribution can be used to predict chemical and physical properties of the sample.

The Quantum Nature of the Atom:
Students must realize that physical and chemical properties of matter result from subatomic particles that behave according to physical rules not apparent in the behavior of macroscopic objects, and they must realize the importance of spectroscopy in establishing this behavior.

Structure and Bonding:
Students should understand how atoms combine in covalent molecules, coordination complexes and ionic solids, and understand the importance of the three-dimensional arrangements of atoms and ions in these molecules. Students should also be aware of the interactions between ions, atoms, molecules and other bonded collections of atoms.

Thermodynamics:
Students must understand the principal laws of thermodynamics and how these dictate the behavior of chemical substances. Students must also understand how the thermodynamic information about chemical and physical changes helps to shape understanding of interactions between atoms, molecules, and other ensembles of particles.

Frequently Encountered Elements, Compounds and Reactions:
Students must possess a mental library of common substances, their physical properties, and reactions that they undergo. The major classes of organic chemicals and their reactions, the characteristic reactions of other elements of the periodic table, solubility, acid/base, and redox chemistry all must be familiar to students. Students must also be aware of the hazards, both personal and environmental, associated with elements and compounds.

Mechanisms of Reactions:
Students must understand how the study of the rates of chemical reactions and the structures of the products of these reactions can lead to knowledge of the detailed atomic-level  behavior of chemical substances and elucidation of their chemical and physical properties.

Synthesis:
Students must be able to use their knowledge of chemical reactivity to plan and execute the preparation of compounds from common starting materials.

Analysis:
Students must have the necessary knowledge and strategies for the separation, identification and quantification of compounds and elements from complex mixtures.  Students must also be able to identify uncertainties associated with these measurements.

Measurement of Chemical and Physical Properties:
Students must be able to use traditional and modern laboratory equipment to measure chemical  and  physical properties of substances and be able to correlate the resulting data with chemical models of structure and reactivity.

Chemical Instrumentation:
Students must understand the fundamental physical and chemical principles involved in instrumental chemical analyses. Students must understand the chemistry relevant to sampling and sample preparation and must apply these to the successful operation of instruments regardless of model or manufacturer.

Skills and Techniques:
Students must learn how to work independently using their own hands and intellect to solve chemical problems with traditional and modern laboratory tools. Students must also learn how to work together in teams, sharing tasks, results and interpretations without compromising the integrity of the investigation.

The Communication of Scientific Results:
Students must know how to retrieve detailed information about chemical and physical properties of substances and accounts of other experimental or theoretical research. Students must know how to communicate their own results in writing and speaking using appropriate scientific formats and language. Students must also be aware of the social context in which results and theories are formulated, communicated, and debated.