Thomas Ticich (Centenary College of Louisiana, USA)
Our department implemented the atoms first approach in general chemistry six years ago. This talk briefly reviews the topical reorganization of the material entailed with greater emphasis on the accompanying laboratory program developed. The delay in introducing quantitative concepts causes the most radical departure from the traditional laboratory syllabus. Experiments in gas chromatography, infrared analysis, atomic emission and molecular modeling provide appropriate laboratory explorations for the initial atomic and molecular structure module that forms that basis of the atoms first approach. We have also refocused experiments that use traditional techniques, such as acid-base titrations and calorimetry, to explore questions related to atomic and molecular structure. Accompanying these changes is a greater emphasis on real world applications of chemistry. Assessment of our atoms first approach shows no substantive change in student performance on an ACS exam but course evaluations do show a significant increase in positive comments about the laboratory experience.