Chemistry 247A Fall 2015 -- Hanson -- Grading, Expectations, and All That

The proportions of the total grade to be  assigned to respective aspects of the course  are given in the table on the right.
72% Four Mid-Term Exams (100 points each; 400 points total)
5% "How Can I Help You?" cards (30 points)
5% Occasional Assignments (25 points)
18% Final Examination (100 points total)
100% Total (555 points)
Notice that there is no homework in this course. I will suggest problems out of the book, and solution manuals for the book problems will be in the library. There will be evening sessions where these and other problems will be discussed, and I hope you will stop by my office and discuss them with me as well. But you will not turn them in; they will not be graded.
90-100%A range
80-89%B range
60-79%C range
50-59%D range
I grade on a "sliding scale." The point ranges on the left are goals. If necessary, I will lower the A-B and B-C cutoffs to ensure a roughly B average in the course. I am deeply committed to helping you at whatever level you are at. If you're getting a D, I'll try my hardest to help you bring that up to a C. If you're getting a C, then I'll help you get a B. If you are unsatisfied with a B, I'll help you get an A. I won't do it for you, but I can do it with you. If you're getting an A, well, you probably don't need my help (although I'll still be more than happy to talk with you!).

What I do expect

What I don't expect
  • You'll work on the aspects of first-year chemistry that you don't feel comfortable with yet.
  • You'll come prepared each day having at least looked over the material in the chapter, ready to ask a question.
  • You'll work through the problem sets even though they will not be collected.
  • You'll make an effort to express yourself in pictures that represent three-dimensional structures.
  • You'll remember everything you learned in first-year chemistry.
  • You'll learn everything on your own reading the book without my help.
  • You're an artistic genious.

What YOU should expect

  • Organic chemistry is going to be a lot different from first-year chemistry, focusing as it does on structure and reactivity much more so than on quantitative calculation. (I.E., no calculator used this year!)
  • Organic chemistry will build on first-year chemistry, especially qualitative aspects of energy and bonding. You might want to look over your notes from last year relating to Lewis structures and hybridization and how molecules absorb energy. We'll use terms like trigonal planar, tetrahedral, sp2, sp3, enthalpy, entropy, and free energy.
  • The subjects dealt with in organic chemistry are very strongly connected logically and should make sense.
  • A certain amount of memorization, especially at the beginning, is unavoidable. When was the last time you used flash cards? Computer drills? Played Brain Quest with your roommate? I'll be giving you tips on that as we go. This will be particularly important as we start working on the reactions of specific kinds of organic compounds, starting in Chapter 7.
  • Do you play a musical instrument or sing? Are you an athlete? The best way to learn organic chemistry is precisely the same as the best way to learn how to sing or play an instrument or play a sport: practice, practice, practice. Don't expect to learn this stuff all at the last minute! Take it piece by piece. See if you can build your own puzzle.
  • I'll help you all I can. This is the only course I'm teaching; take advantage of the fact that you are at St. Olaf and not the University of Minnesota! My door is (almost) always open. Stop by. Introduce yourself. I only ask that you not call me by phone at home; I'm usually online in the evening, though, -- so email is fine.