General, Organic and Biological Chemistry (GOB)
Title: Basics of Chemistry
Author: Norbert J. Pienta
Basics of Chemistry is an introductory textbook that includes topics that one would expect for students in a college-level course seeking a broad background. This book takes some of its design ideas from successful, evidence-based pedagogies and strategies. Several themes represent the contexts in which the chemistry is introduced and explained; the main ones are health, an introduction to chemical aspects of medicine, and chemistry in everyday life. Those applications are an integral part of the content and not simply “asides” or “text boxes” that interrupt the flow of discussions. Some of the contextual components might be considered complex for an introductory college course. Indeed, virtually all chemistry in such a course can be learned and understood at a much higher level. Thus, the book ascribes to the principle of “need to know”, in which sufficient background is presented to explain the ideas and information to the reader. Problem-based learning (i.e., use of case studies) have been used successfully in several types of professional schools.
The book was developed over several years and in two circumstances—as a traditional print text and then later again as the reading and reference material assembled in an electronic form. As such, the book was vetted and reviewed in three drafts initially, subject to copyediting and then again through another redundant process prior to its publication here. Of course, language provides both the opportunity to express ideas but unfortunately, can provide some challenges to the novice. The author takes responsibility for what appears in the textbook. The goal is to make the topics understandable and lucid to the learner and to aid the instructor in their tasks but to do so succinctly, accurately and in an interesting manner. Both reviewers from the ranks of college-level instructors and students in those courses have described the voice and language as being conversational and understandable.
Besides the descriptive writing, such a project includes tables of information and graphic elements—photos, figures and illustrations. The latter are intended to supplement the visual learning aspects of multimodal cognitive learning. They can illustrate or explain, becoming part of the knowledge being assembled. The textbook portion contains solved or worked problems that follow an algorithmic approach. The goal is not to teach the algorithm but to assure that students can use the steps to build their problem solving. Indeed, three question types appear both within the body of the writing but also at the end of sections and the end of the entire chapter. Practice problems resemble solved questions or other simple ones, extending the data or other question components to other circumstances. Concept problems extend the application of the ideas beyond the simpler examples, asking the user to apply the knowledge more broadly. Extension problems typically require an application for which additional information and data must be accessed via the Internet (or other source). The goal is to acquire the data and answer the questions (and not use search tools for the answers). The “text” portion also contains organizational features that one expects in such a work—highlighted definitions, callouts for keywords or references to other portions of the book, and chapter summaries.
Chapters 1-8 concern themselves with atom and molecular considerations, states of matter, solutions, physical and chemical changes, energy, rate and equilibrium topics, and acid-base chemistry. Chapters 9-15 involve organic and biomedical chemistry: an introduction to organic molecular structure, organic physical and chemical properties, reactions, metabolism, advanced materials like polymers, nutrition, an introduction to pharmaceutical chemistry, and some examples of chemistry related to genetic diseases.
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