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November 29, 2010
Design Your Own Lab Course
Here's an interesting question from a reader in academia. At his institution, they're thinking about rewriting the introductory organic lab syllabus. "Rather than put what the faculty would like to see in it", he writes, "what would your readers like to see in it?"
The questions he raises include these: What organic chemistry lab basics should non-majors be sure to get? And which ones should the chemistry majors have for their advanced courses to build on? What kinds of experiments should be included (and what classics are ready to be dropped?) And which sort of lab curriculum trains people better - the "discovery"-oriented type, or the "cookbook" type?
Add your thoughts in the comments below. I don't know what specific experiments are common in undergraduate labs these days, so I'll let those who are comment on the details. My take on the last question is that the course should probably start in more of a cookbook fashion, to get everyone's fingers wet, but finish up with some sort of parallel-synthesis or method-finding exercise, where everyone gets a chance to do something different and make a small exploration along the way.
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