30685_CHEM 201A_BAXLEY_S24

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General College Chemistry I

Welcome to Chemistry 201A! 

You're going to learn interesting, thought-provoking, and exciting chemistry this semester! I hope that the experience in this class leads to an improved knowledge of the chemistry all around us. Let's work together to ensure your success and to observe your scientific and mathematical skills improve throughout the semester.

This Welcome Letter/Syllabus outlines the expectations, policies, required materials, and other information you need to be successful in this course.  I want you to succeed, so I strive to create an inclusive space for all students to learn and develop as scientists. 

I'm excited that you've already shown yourself to be a successful, dedicated student by reading this welcome letter. By reading this letter, you've shown that you belong here at Cuesta. It's time to unleash your inner chemist!

Required meetings Spring 2024:

This class is a hybrid class with weekly on-campus meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. The majority of the content for the course is learned independently online through Canvas.

  • Wednesday: in-person class meetings 9:00-10:50 am. Our W class time will consist of mini-lectures, problem solving sessions, and assessments. It's important to be prepared for class by doing the online work on your own. On campus in SLO in room 2402
  • Thursday: in-person lab meetings. Thursday at 1:00-3:50 (30685) in SLO in room 2105
  • weekly online work, watching lecture videos and working through Canvas modules to prepare for the weekly lecture meetings. You will be learning most of the course content in an online, asynchronous environment.
  • study time: additional time (about 8 hours per week, ) that will be necessary for reading, completing homework, and practicing problems.

*Portions of this class may be converted to a more fully online experience if on-campus learning is restricted by health requirements related to COVID-19.  


Your teacher this semester:

Greg Baxley        Office  # 2306         gbaxley@cuesta.edu


I am committed to equity and inclusion in all my classes.  If you meet the prerequisites for this course, you belong in this class, and you can succeed.  It will take a lot of time, effort, and dedication, but you can do it and I am here to help you!  In my class, I expect that all students will behave in a professional manner towards their peers, their instructor, and their community.

Do you like a challenge, practice good study habits, and have a positive attitude? If you can check those boxes, this class is for you!

However, this class is a heavy load, and constitutes a part time job, so be aware of your class/workload.  Most successful students report that they need to study about 8-10 hours outside of the 7 hours in class just for Chem 201A alone.  Having more than 30 hours of combined class-time and work may lead to increased stress and reduced success.

Health and Safety

Your health and safety (as well as mine) are important to me.  If you're feeling sick, have a fever, or persistant coughing/sneezing, please stay home. We can arrange accommodations for any missed work due to illness.

In addition, lab safety rules will also be explained on the first day of lab. 

Is a Partially Distance Learning Class for You?

You CAN succeed in a partially online class, but before you enroll in a distance learning class, make an honest assessment of your level of personal discipline and ability for the independent learning style that an online course requires.  While there are mandatory class meetings with lecture, lab, and group work, some of the time you will be working on your own and teaching yourself with the help of computer software, internet forum discussion questions, tutorials, and videos.  Please take the following exploratory self assessment survey and judge for yourself. I am here to help you learn with study tips, motivation, and in-depth explanations, and I'll catch you if you stumble.  Are you a disciplined, self-motivated, and online-savvy student? If so, let's learn some chemistry!

Necessary Computer Equipment/Skills. 

  • Electronic device: computer or tablet with modern software/apps, preferably not a phone, and internet access. 
  • Computer skills required are downloading and printing documents, using your Cuesta email account, accessing your Canvas account, posting discussion questions, watching videos, and using an online HW system. Essential technology in general is at the Cuesta College technology site. The course Canvas site will be available starting the weekend prior to the first day of class.

Attendance and Participation. Students must activate their Canvas and online HW accounts to complete assignments that will be due on Sunday, Jan 21.

Contact:                         Email (gbaxley@cuesta.edu) is the best way to contact me, but please send all content questions about HW, labs, or course material to Pronto. Questions are usually answered within 12 hours, usually much faster!

Office Hours:               online and TBA

Prerequisites:              intermediate algebra skills,   AND  High School Chem or Chem 200FL (grade of “C” or better) 

Required Supplies:     

textbooks and online HW:

  • option 1:  Tro, "A Molecular Approach" 5th (or 4th or 3rd) edition  ($50-$250). Older editions are just fine, and cheaper!
  • option 2:  Openstax Chemistry 2e  Free online e-text.
  • option 3: there might be a really helpful etext available for $50 with advanced features

Coursework Assistance: Help is available! I am here to help you learn and enjoy the course material.  If you are having trouble, please ask for assistance.  If you cannot Zoom to office hours, please use Pronto for questions.  I encourage relevant questions during live lecture and lab periods. 

Free tutoring is available through the student success center.  If you need help or want an informal study group, this is a great resource to visit online. Drop in and ask a question, or stay and work with friends. See this link for the schedule of free chemistry tutoring.   https://www.cuesta.edu/student/resources/ssc/index.html     

 Assistance, part 2:  Nationwide, 36% of college students face challenges in securing safe housing or affordable food. Cuesta College has programs that can help, including an on-campus food pantry (open daily) and a food bank distribution site (3rd Tuesday of the month). If you experience food or housing insecurity, please contact the Student Support Resolution Coordinator, Donna Howard, in Room 3172, 805.546.3192 or donna_howard1@cuesta.edu

The Cuesta CaFE Center (room 3142) has food, toiletries, hygiene products, and clothing for students in need.

Cuesta College offers personalized, confidential mental health therapy services to support students for their academic success and personal development. Visit room 3150 or call (805) 546-3171 for appointments.

I might be able to help too, so if you are comfortable in doing so, please let me know if you need assistance.

More information and services can be found on this page Links to an external site..

Free tutoring is available in the student success center. See this link for the schedule of free chemistry tutoring.   https://www.cuesta.edu/student/resources/ssc/index.html. 

Withdrawal:  If you discontinue the course for any reason, you are responsible for making an official withdrawal. 


Canvas Quizzes: Chemistry is best learned by regularly practicing problems.  Short quizzes with problems very similar to HW problems are designed to motivate you to keep up with the reading and to complete the Canvas modules to a high level of understanding.  There are Canvas quizzes in each learning module.

It might be tempting to skip the module work and just do the Canvas quizzes. You'll miss out on learning, fun videos, and mediocre teacher/dad jokes. Do the module work first please!

Aktiv Homework:  Assignments of required and suggested problems will be provided on the course website for each chapter and will be assigned via the Chem101 HW system (web or app).  . The required problems represent the bare minimum; you are strongly encouraged to complete worksheets and suggested problems for extra practice.  Practice until you always get them right.   

Exams: There will be three exams throughout the term (see schedule) and a comprehensive final exam. Exams will contain a variety of problem types like multiple choice, matching, fill in the blank, and free response. We will do exams in person.

Labs: Most lab experiments will be conducted on campus with peers during the scheduled lab time and others will be conducted individually online on your own time. 

Most on-campus labs have a prelab assignment that needs to be completed before the lab period.   

Each lab experiment will require the submission of lab questions in Canvas.  

Late work:  I understand that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that don't fit into the categories of physical illnesses or official excused absences that may make it difficult to turn in an assignment on time. 

      1. Each assignment has an automatic 1 week extension with no late penalties.
      2. After 1 week, please contact me if you need more time.
      3. Don't allow more than 2 late assignments to pile up. Taking advantage of the policy is perilous.
      4. Read more about the policy once class starts

Missed lab:  To accommodate unavoidable absences, a student may be exempted from a lab for official Cuesta team or course events, for legally required absences (like jury duty), or illness. There may be an option for a make up lab. Please contact me as soon as possible if you wish to make up a lab.  Missing 3 or more labs will result in a non-passing grade.

If you must miss an exam, please contact me as soon as possible (prior to the exam, if possible).  I can only accommodate make up exams can for certain circumstances and may administer them during finals week.

Grading scheme and Point distribution


Approximate % weighting


Percent in class

Letter Grades

Canvas Assignments










Midterm Exams





Lab assignments





Final exam



Below 65%


Plus/Minus grades:   Cuesta College allows for +/- grading, which will be used in borderline cases, usually based on the final exam score (state law does not allow grades of “C-” at CA Community Colleges). Plus/minus grades will earned for totals of approximately 78-82% and 88-92%.

Classroom Etiquette: Please be considerate of your other classmates. Some students are easily distracted, so I ask that you arrive on time, ready to learn, and do not depart early.  Students who disrupt the class may be asked to leave.  Since a portion of the class will consist of group problem solving, it is important to be kind, patient, and supportive of your classmates.  I will try to model appropriate behavior.  Please don’t talk or chat during lecture time.  If you have questions, please ask!  Please turn off your phone while in class and avoid the temptation to text during class.  Please see me before recording any audio or video during class. 

Academic Integrity:  Cheating on an assignment is usually a sign of desperation which can be avoided with preparation.  Academic dishonesty in any form, including copying (or allowing copying) of work, falsifying lab data, or unauthorized aids on exams, is not allowed.  Students who violate the academic honesty policy may receive a “0” for the assignment (not eligible for the low score drop) and an equivalent assignment, or an F for the course.  Be sure to give proper citations when quoting or paraphrasing sources of information.  See the Cuesta College schedule for official student conduct policies.

          It is allowed and expected that students will work together on lab reports and other assignments.  It is also expected that each student will do their own work and write their answers in their own words.  A good way to work together is to talk about a question, discuss an answer, and then each person says, calculates, or writes an answer in their own words.  An unacceptable way to work together is for one person to say, calculate, or write an answer, and then for another person to write the same answer.  For calculation problems, always enter the values in your calculator on your own, don’t write the result of another student’s calculation.

Submitting questions to and copying answers from sites such as Yahoo Answers, Chegg, or Reddit for lab reports, quizzes, exams, homework, or other work is not allowed. If you aren't sure how to answer a question, ask for help from your instructor, tutor, or classmate, but do not copy someone else's answer, and do not resort to asking an internet "expert" to solve the problem for you.

There are many chemistry videos on YouTube with incorrect information. Instructor-approved YouTube videos are available in Canvas for many topics, so watch these instead of finding your own. If a video is unavailable for a particular topic, let me know. I'll find a good video for you. There's a lot of junk out there and it's better for me to sort through it so you can use your time more productively.

Each student is required to collect data as described in the directions for the lab.  Copying data from another student is not allowed, unless specified in the lab instructions for that lab experiment, and each student should perform their own calculations.

Special Note: Some students may face learning disabilities or challenges that affect their academic performance.  If you have any special concerns or disabilities that could affect your learning, please contact DSPS at 546–3148 as soon as possible.  DSPS requests that testing accommodation forms be submitted at least 7 days prior to a test or quiz.  Exams and quizzes taken with accommodations must be taken with DSPS and must start or end during a regular class period.  Please schedule your classes and other obligations such that accommodated exams and quizzes can occur concurrently with the class.  

Regular and Effective Instructor Contact will be met through the weekly class meetings, threaded discussion forums; announcements to students; posted lecture videos, and office hours.

Netiquette and Online Course Participation

  • Use respectful and professional language in your forum discussions. Respect the learning progress of your peers.
  • Please do not use texting language, lol, ikr?
  • Emoticons are acceptable ways to show emotion.
  • Avoid ALL CAPS as they come across like YOU'RE SCREAMING.
  • You are expected to read all forum posts.
  • All messages are public, so be professional and courteous when you post.
  • Make your posts and replies specific to a particular problem or issue.
  • Use complete sentences and thoughts are mandatory for forum posts.
  • Log into Canvas and the online HW system at least once per week.

Technical Issues?  For issues related to accessing Cuesta's Canvas Site email:support@my.cuesta.edu. Online HW technical issues are best resolved by clicking the appropriate links in the HW system. 

Attendance/Drop/Withdraw Policy. Students will be dropped if their Canvas and online HW accounts are not activated or not used for any period longer than 14 consecutive days. Students cannot earn a C or higher if 3 or more labs are missed. If you decide to withdraw, you must do so according to Cuesta’s drop policy.  http://www.cuesta.edu/student/aboutacad/acad_policies/dropcourse.htmlLinks to an external site.

Course Description:  Presents the first semester of a one-year course intended primarily for science and engineering majors in the fundamental principles of chemistry. Topics covered include kinetic-molecular treatment of gases, atomic structure and the periodic law, thermochemistry, chemical bonding, correlation of structure with properties, quantitative relationships in chemical reactions, laboratory activities, and chemical formulas and equations.

Student learning outcomes:  Upon completion of this course, a student should be able to:

  1. Describe the chemical and physical properties of a chemical substance based on the atomic and molecular structure including orbital theory, the type of chemical bond, and the shape of the molecule.
  2. Evaluate and interpret numerical and chemical scientific information.
  3. Solve stoichiometry problems, including mass/mass, mass/volume, and volume/volume relationships.
  4. Communicate chemical concepts through the use of molecular formulas, structural formulas, and names of compounds.
  5. Perform laboratory experiments based on gravimetric, volumetric, qualitative and instrumental analysis techniques and effectively utilize the appropriate experimental apparatus.


Class Schedule

see the linked schedule in Canvas


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