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Chemistry 101: Chemistry Tutorials

Chemistry 101: Chemistry Tutorials | Spring 2020

Welcome to the Caltech Ch101: Chemistry Tutorials information page! On this page, you will find information for potential course instructors and a description of the Ch101 program for interested students. If you are a student interested in taking Ch101, the specific course topics and instructors will be posted during the winter term so students can enroll in the courses for the spring term. Please check back in the winter term to see what special topics courses are available!

What is Ch101?
Ch101 (Chemistry Tutorials) is a program in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering where 3-unit elective classes are designed and led by graduate student and postdoctoral scholar instructors and offered to undergraduate students. The Ch101 Program launched during the 2016-2017 school year, and the reception from faculty mentors, graduate, and postdoctoral instructors and the undergraduate students was overwhelmingly positive. Our program was even featured in the Caltech Magazine, and if you are interested, you can find the article here!

We are pleased to be continuing this program and we aim to continue creating an enjoyable and educational experience for teachers and students alike during the current academic year. In the Ch101 program, tutorial instructors develop their courses with the guidance of experienced tenured faculty mentors who are committed to supporting independent teaching efforts. These tutorials allow undergraduate students to delve more deeply into special topics in chemistry that are of interest to them. Teaching a tutorial course also offers graduate student/postdoc instructors a unique professional development opportunity to plan and lead their own courses.

Becoming a Ch101 Instructor
Instructors for Ch101 will be selected based on their application packet and informed of their selection in January. Instructors are expected to have meetings with their assigned Ch101 faculty mentor and with the Caltech Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach (CTLO) as they are developing the materials for their course. A complete timeline for teaching this course can be accessed below for more details. We highly encourage applicants to teach with a co-instructor. Having two co-instructors provides many benefits including lessening of the workload, continuous peer feedback during course design, the ability to cover a wider breadth of material based on instructor background, and invaluable experience with collaborative teaching. Students can also benefit from having complementary perspectives presented in class and increased student-to-instructor interactions. Due to uniting of this course (3-units), we recommend no more than two co-instructors per course.

Ch101 Instructor Timeline

The Ch101 Application Process
To apply to teach a Ch101 tutorial, you must complete a questionnaire and submit a 10-week preliminary syllabus detailing what topics will be covered during each week of the course. These items, found below, should be submitted to ch101@caltech.edu no later than December 20. The Ch101 facilitators will organize and preview application materials and the faculty mentors of this course will review applications for selection.

Ch101 Questionnaire (MS Word Download)

The Ch101 Selection Process

Several factors will be considered during the selection process. The single most important factor will be the completeness, thoughtfulness, and thoroughness of the application materials submitted—we will select applicants who demonstrate their passion for teaching and thoughtful commitment to creating an excellent class. For applicants that demonstrate the above criteria, secondary factors that may be considered include:

  • Participants year in graduate or postdoctoral study: older students and postdocs may be given preference since they have a very limited number of years they will be able to apply for the opportunity to teach Ch101.
  • Proposed tutorial content: we want to avoid having tutorials that are very similar in content and compete for the same pool of students. For this reason, if we receive two applications that are very similar, we may ask the applicants to merge their courses, alter their courses slightly to make them more divergent, or accept only one of the applications.
  • Novelty of proposed content: we want students to have new Ch101 options each year. For this reason, successful applicants from the previous year will not automatically be accepted the following year. Applicants who have previously taught Ch101 are encouraged to propose a course that would be interesting or useful for returning Ch101 students to take.
  • Number of applications received: we aim to have 4-10 sections of Ch101 each spring, with a maximum of two sections in each subfield of chemistry (biochemistry, inorganic, organic, physical, or chemical engineering). By limiting the number of Ch101 sections, we aim to improve enrollment in each section that is offered.

Whom do I contact if I have questions?
Please email ch101@caltech.edu with any questions you have about the Ch101 program or your application materials. Your emails will be read and responded to by the Ch101 facilitators (see below) and the faculty mentors when appropriate.

Ch101 Graduate Facilitators
Brian Stolz and Beth Marshall

Ch101 (Chemistry Tutorials) is a three-unit class in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering offered to undergraduate students during the spring term. These tutorial classes on special topics in chemistry are designed and led by graduate student and postdoc instructors with the guidance of experienced faculty members.

Chemistry Tutorials are 10-week, 3-unit classes offered for A-F elective credit in the Spring term. As such, most tutorial courses meet for 1-1.5 hours per week with 1.5-2 hours of homework that focuses on data analysis or critical reading of the literature—both skills that are essential to students interested in doing research while at Caltech.

These classes offer a unique opportunity for students to learn about special topics in organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, chemical biology, and chemical engineering. We strongly recommend Ch101 for any students applying to do a SURF in a field related to the tutorial topics, as this will serve as an introduction to that field and its literature. We also recommend Ch101 for any students who would like to earn elective credit while exploring a new field of chemical research and learn data analysis or critical reading skills along the way!

The tutorials offered in Spring 2021 are: