Home > Documenting the Process > Day Two: I Drove All This Way For This?

Day Two: I Drove All This Way For This?

On Tuesdays this semester I have only one class: CHY 123, General Chemistry I (Lab).  For no obvious reason, this is a separate course in the class registration system from CHY 121, General Chemistry I (Lecture) even though you can’t take one without the other, which is why I initially failed to buy the book that goes with it.  This turned out to be a blank graph-paper notebook with pressure-sensitive duplicating pages (like a checkbook) and a periodic table printed on the back, for which, along with yet another access code for yet another discrete online content delivery system, I paid the nominal sum of $82.16.

Today’s initial session was somewhat underwhelming.  We obviously couldn’t do a lab assignment, since we’ve had only one lecture period so far and it was primarily taken up with administrative tasks.  So instead we did… more administrative tasks.  We had a safety briefing in which the laboratory supervisor explained the various crimes for which we can be instantly failed (refusing to wear goggles, playing with the safety equipment, hot-glassware horseplay, etc.), were told about the grading system, and then spent an hour taking a standardized chemistry competence test called the Toledo Exam.

I’m sure my answers on this test were… interesting; the outcomes on standardized multiple choice tests tend to be when the testee has no idea what the questions even mean and is guessing randomly.  My last exposure to chemistry as an explicated science was in my junior year of high school, 1989-1990, and only for the first half of the school year did we actually have a chemistry teacher.  He was dismissed shortly after the mid-year break and we spent the rest of the year starting Chapter 8 (Organic Chemistry) over and over again with a succession of clearly-out-of-their-depths substitutes (“Well, I’m not sure how far you got with your last teacher, so why don’t we start at the beginning of Chapter 8?”), until finally the school administration gave up and sort of tacitly made the period a study hall.

Ironically, the final exam in Chemistry that year was also a standardized test, based on the textbook publisher’s expectations of what students should have learned since the midterm exam.  I think, from the above, you can work out for yourselves where the punch line is here.

Anyway, not a hard day’s work by any stretch, but I’m left feeling a bit nonplussed, I mean, it’s a long drive to fill out a few forms.  Oh well.  Next week’s should be more interesting, since (I’m told) we’ll be doing some actual science.

  1. Dave Van Domelen
    August 31, 2010 at 19:38

    Another big reason why labs the first week are a bad idea is that labs tend to be group work. And I doubt any university on the PLANET has enrollment in introductory classes sorted out before the semester starts. So you form groups, stumble around, and then a big chunk of the class changes next week anyway.

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