Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Topics for Chem 100 (Allied Health Chem)
Table of Content
  General Questions
  Chem Courses (WebCT)
  Chem Courses (OnCampus)
  Syllabi & Grades 
  Letters from Frustrated students


General Questions
  Re: Adding Chemistry 100 online course or getting an add code.
Since your Chemistry lab is already full, I would like to try and
crash it. Based on your past enrollment levels in this course, do you anticipate
accepting any crashers to your class?.

Thank you for your interest in enrolling for either the chemistry 100 online lecture or chemistry 100 online lab course.   Both the lecture and lab course have caps of 30 students.  All the slots have been filled.  If you are not in the roster you have two opitons.  The first option is to try to wait and try to enroll for next semester.  The second is to attend the mandatory orientation and hope that others do not attend the orientation.  The orientation is mandatory and any student who is in the roster but do not attend the orientation will be dropped and their place will be given to crashers attending the orientation.  No add code will be given until the day of the orientation. Crashers must also attend the orientation to add the course. No other crashers will be accepted after the orientation. In the five years I have offered this course, I have not turn away any crashers who have attended the orientation. I anticipate that all students who show up for the orientation will be able to add this course.To obtain more information about the orientation, please go to my website and click on the link that states "Upcoming Term".

Re. Mandatory Meeting for Chem 100
I am currently enrolled in your online chemistry (or lab) course but cannot attend the orientation, is there anyway you can give me a waiver on the orientation since I have taken many online course and I already know how to operate Blackboard.

In general there are 3 mandatory meetings for the lecture course and 3 mandatory meetings for the lab course for one term.  The first meeting will take place during the first week of the term; the orientation meeting is for orientation purpose and ID verification. The meeting also serves the purpose of enrolling only those students who are serious about this course. 

The orientation meeting for the lab is very important because the chemicals will be issue and safety procedure will be discussed. All students who do not attend the orientation will be dropped from the roster. The two other mandatory meeting for the course is the midterm exam and final exam which must be taken on campus.  


Re. Pre-requisite and Co-requisite
What prerequiste must be fullfil before adding this course?

There is a co-requisite for the chem100 lecture course and a co-requisite for the chem100L lab course.  It is required that you enrolled in both lecture and lab.




Re. Return of Chemical Supplies and Scale
I would like to know where and when I can return the lab items you gave us on the first day (scale, solutions/chemicals etc...)?

Thank you for taking the time to return the supplies and scale. This wll ensure that we will have material for the next student that needs to take the lab. It will also mean that Miramar College will not bill you for the items. Remember that if students do not return equipment and supplies that were issued will be Billed by the college. Failure to pay will mean that your records will be held until the bill is paid in full.

To return these items, please call the Lab Tech and make arrangements to return the items. Diep Vu (619-388-7438), Tien Nguyen (619-388-6317) or Vuong Nguyen (619-388-7440). You can contact them during normal business hours, 9:00am to 5:00pm or stop by M-F at S5-211.




Course (BlackBoard)

Re: Structure of the online course for Chem 100L.
What is the structure of the online course and how are we graded in the course?

The type of format for the course will consist lecture notes with multimedia via podcast and or video clips.  Students will access and go through the lecture notes and complete the assignments related to the material covered in the lecture notes and chapter reading.  Online quizzes may be given as well as discussion board posting.  The course overall will be self-pace to a point.  Homework, quizzes and exams will be given after three to four chapters are covered. Grades will be based on online quizzes, online homework, chat room/discussion board contribution, completion of activities and oncampus midterm and final.


Re. What happens if I do not attend the mandatory orientation for lecture or lab for Chem 100.
What will happen if I do not attend the orientation for this course?
What should I do next after the orientation?

If you attended the orientation, then you are officially in the course. If you did not, it is just a matter of time before you will be denied access to this course because you have been dropped. The course is now close and no more students will be added. First order of business is to go to the assignment link in Blaclboard Vista and click on "First-Day". Open the link and answer the question... you will receive 5 pts for participating in the orientation. If you were late for the orientation, you do not qualify for this extra credit. Note that if you do not go to this link and submit before deadlne, you will not get the 5pts even if you did attend the firs day. Next, you need to complete the two surveys. "Background" and "What you know" surveys give me an idea of who you are. This is not timed but you must complete it before the due date of Sept 1st... that is Tuesday next week.. so do not procrastinate and do it as soon as you finish reading this.

After the surveys, go to the Assessment link below. There you will find the Math quiz and Syllabus quiz. These are both timed assessments. Once open, the clock starts and you will have one hour to complete each assessment. Be sure you begin this at a time when you will not be interrupted. Also before you take the syllabus quiz, read the syllabus and write on the margin of the hard copy. Write notes to yourself of what information is on what page in the syllabus. When you are ready, open the assessments and begin... and remember the clock is ticking.

  Re: Accessing grade in the Blackboard quiz.
How do I check what I scored on a Quiz, and why are some of my answer graded incorrectly even though I know I have the answer correct.

The quiz engine in WebCT is not perfect so after an activity (problem set exercise) is complete and everyone has submitted their answer I (or my TA) review your quiz and grade your answers by hand. This is quite tedious because we have to go through each student's work as such, this will take usually a day or two. We will over-ride webct scoring systme and credit you with the points if you get the answer correct. After all work has been corrected, the solution for the assignment is release. You simply need to go back to the activity (or experiment) and click on the score to see what problems you had wrong.

Re: Full credit for a numerical homework problem for Chem 100.
I just finished my homework using the Blackboard quiz engine and I am not sure how this program wants my answers. On alot of questions I would get .38/0.5 or .12/0.5 just by the way I answered it, for example in questions 14 and 15, I (HmWk 2) rounded off as close as I could and still didnt get full credit.

The reason why you are not getting full credit for these questions is because you must round off your answer based on the number of significant figures. You will also need to include the units. If you do not practice rounding off to the correct number of significant figures and you do not include units (which by the way is always in parenthesis in the problem) then you will not get full credit. The homework is picky in this respect.

  Re: Computerize grading system for lab for Chem 100L.
I am not liking this computerized grading system! How can the computer give me a bad grade on the year of the coin I used. This is stupid. I will submit these photos but I didn’t sit here for hours so some computer can tell me it was wrong.

The computer is simply accepting your answers by putting an initial point value for the question until I go into WebCT and over-ride the points. That is why you should not accept the initial grade that the computer gives especially if the question is not a multiple choice or matching variety. I will need to go in there and grade it by hand and this applies to both the activities and the lab. The activities and experiment are tedious and grading the assignment is also tedious for me but I assure you I (or my TA) do go through each one and adjust the points accordingly. That is why I am so strict on the deadline because I too need to go through all the reports.
  Re: Release of grades and solution to assignments in lab for Chem 100.
I have a question regarding the test or experiments. Why is it that we cannot see how we did on the test after it was taken? I know you have a grade book and we can see our points, but it doesnt explain to us students where we made a mistake so we can learn from it and understand how we should correct it in the future. I have taken 10 online classes and all of them has that option to see after taking a quiz to see our correct responses to the wrong one. It gives us students to see our results in case there are something that needed to be corrected for students to dispute it for more points or learn from our mistakes.

The reason why the solution is not release after you complete the assignment is because some of your classmates have not completed the assignment yet. What is to prevent one student from looking at the answer and then providing that information to another classmate? The solution is release but only after I go through the assignment and adjust the points accordingly. Some questions that require written answer cannot be graded by the computer and so I (or my TA) needs to grade it by hand. The homework for the lecure allows you do see what you did correctly or incorrectly. The experiments and activities wil be release when everyone has completed the assignment and I have reviewed the work.


Re. First set of assignment for Lab for Chem 100L
Now that the orientation is over, what are the first set of assignmets for lab?

After the orientation you have to work on four items.

I) The first is to purchase your safety equipment, your chemical kit and obtain your chemicals from Miramar college. 1) To purchase your chemical equipment, go to the KLM Bioscientific website (Google KLM Bioscientific) or call KLM at 858-571-5562, cost ~$109 which includes safety goggles. You can also go to Craig's list to see if former students are selling their kits. 2) To purchase the chemical container kit, go to the bookstore and purchase the container kit ~$38, then go to the science building S5-211 on M-F (9am-5pm) or call the lab techs (phone number in the syllabus, 619-388-7438, 7437, 7489, 6317) and make an appointment to pick up the chemicals. 3) Next go your local drug store and purchase a) baking soda, b) first aid-kit, c) latex-gloves, d) kitchen fire-extinguisher, e) bib or apron. Next read the safety policy for this course, watch the safety video and download the safety contract. The safety contract can be downloaded in the webpage of the safety contract. When you are ready but before the deadline, open the safety quiz and begin the assessment. You will be given 60min once you begin to complete the quiz.

II & III) There are two activity exercise that should be worked on next. The first is the "Math Basic" activity-exercise. Read the narrative to the activity and open the assignment. There is no time limit once you open this link but you must turn it in by the deadline as indicated by the calendar. Remember the link below "Activities Exercises" will lead you to the page of all the activities schedule for this course (with due dates indicated) and then clicking on each activity (in this case "A01-Math Basic 9/02) you will find the narrative, watch the video and open the exercise for this activity-exercise. Since the exercise is not timed, it is a good strategy to open the exercise, look at the questions or even print the questions. Do not however click on finish until you have complete the entire exercise. As I mentioned in the orientation, if you click on finish then you are submitting the exercise for grading and you will not have a chance to change your answer! If you make a mistake, I will not be able to reset the assignment for you so think before you click on finish. The other activity is the dimensional analysis exercise, the due date for this assignment can also be found in the calendar.

IV) You should next begin experiment 1 this week. The link below "Experiment" will open the page to where the experiments for this term can be found. Before you begin, read the "lab notebook requirement and upkeep". You are required to document each experiment that you perform in your lab notebook based on these guidelines. Next open up "Ex01: Penny for your thoughts, this link will open the resource for this experiment. Read the narrative all the way through. In the html section of the narrative for the penny experiment, you will find the link for part2. Next watch the video pertaining to this experiment. You can now open the report page in which the question are found. Print up this page so you know what data you have to collect, close the page but do not click on "Finish" until you have answered all the questions. If you prematurely submit this report and I have to reset the report for you, you will forfeit your 25pts bonus and will be assess a penalty for poor lab techniques. Next, prepare your lab notebook by following the guideline given on keeping a lab notebook. Prepare your notebook before you start your experiment and then fill in the necessary data as you perform the experiment. Before you begin, make sure you have access to all your safety equipment, baking soda, latex gloves, first-aid kit... You are now ready to begin the actual experiment, find a time when you will not be disturb, pull the chemicals you need from the chemical container kit and also pull the equipment you need for this experiment. Work methodically in the steps of the experiment, stop and take photos when the narrative calls for photos and write your data as you collect measurements. It is very important that you write your observations in your notebook as you progress through each step. When you have completed this experiment, pour the chemical waste in a empty plastic water or soda bottle. Cap the container and store in a safe area away from children. You will be using this bottle for your chemical waste for the first half of the term. Clean your equipment, clean your work area and return the equipment back to the equipment box. You are now ready to download the photos in your computer and work on the calculations for this experiment. When you complete this, go to to the "Report" link and start answering the questions. When you are done, click on finish and then email me the photos for this experiment. Be sure you write in the subject heading of your email "Ex1 lab photos". If you have specific questions, do not include it in this email, write me a separate email because I will not open the photo email until I am ready to grade the report.

  Lab manual for the course for Chem 100.
A student writes: I can't find where to download the lab manual for this course.

There is no lab manual for the course, but if you download each experiment directions in pdf format and staple all of them together then you have the lab manual for the course. Actually if you go into each experiment and click on the link that states "HTML and PDF description" you will find the individual directions for each experiment. The HTML format will be what you want to click if you want to read the directions using your computer. This version is dynamic in that it contains active links. The pdf format (it is exactly the same as the html format) but will be the format you want to access if you want to print a hard copy. Hope this is clear.

  Chemicals and equipment in lab kit for Chem 100.
How are the chemicals and equipment handled in the lab course in your online course.

You are responsible for making sure that you have all the necessary chemicals and equipment for each experiment. Checking your chemical inventory the day or weekend the experiment is due is not a valid excuse for not completing the assignment since you are asked to check the inventory of needed chemicals after the previous experiment and in the beginning of the semester.

If you discover you do not have a chemical and it is during normal school business hours, then you can contact me or the lab tech and asked for a replacement If it is not during normal school hours, the you should contact me as soon as possible and I can recommend a substitute for the chemical. Nevertheless, it is still your responsibility to complete the assignment.

If you absolutely cannot perform the experiment because you do not have the proper chemical or equipment, then you many still get partial credit by answering the pre-lab questions and part of the post-lab questions.


Chemicals and equipment in lab kit for Chem 100.
What type of lab notebook must we use? When keeping a lab notebook, is it okay to cut and paste the data table that we download from Blackboard?

You must use a black composition book for your lab notebook. This must have pages that are permanently bound and you should not tear off any pages. Always use a pen when documenting your data and observation in your lab notebook. Always write the date on top of the page when making an entry in the lab notebook.. All entries should be hand written and nothing should be cut and past into the notebook, Please go to the link on the guideline for the notebook
Composition Notebook

Why do we have to document our work in a lab notebook since we are answering the questions in BlackBoard anyway?

I talked (or will talk) about keeping a lab notebook for the lab course during the orientation meeting. The lab notebook is for the purpose of keeping a running journal for each experiment. A major component in lab is to effectively communicate your findings during an experiment. This is an important skill you will need if you are going into the allied health field or if you get into some career.

For the lab, you need to write a title and the objective of the expteiment. Write the procedures as you perform the experiment and the observations you encounter. Write any data that you collect. Summarize the data in a table, then use the data to complete your calculations or write chemical reactions if you have to. Finally draw a conclusion on the findings of the experiment and write a summary of what you learn from the expeirment. The instructions for the lab states that you should stable the data sheet, but do not do this. If your write up ins complete, then the lab you wrote will have all of that information. You can now use the results from your lab notebook to fill the answer when you go back to webct to input your answer in the quiz engine.


Re. Lab supplies and Lab kit for Chem 100L.
Where can I obtain the lab kit for this course? How do I get my hands on some of the chemicals necessary for some of the expeiments?

If you are enrolled in the LAB, you can contact KLM Bioscientific and try and reserve your lab kit since only 25 kits will be available and I anticipate there will be more students tht will be present. The kits are about $100.

You will also need to go to the Miramar College bookstore and purchase a cheical kit which contains the chemical container and a pocket scale. This is about ~$38 (2009 prices). You will next need to to to S5-211 and talk to the lab technician to exhange out the container kit for one with the appropriate chemicals. You will be issued chemicals for the first half of the term and when you return for the midterm quiz you will return the spent chemical and be issue chemicals for the second half of the term.






Chem Courses



Syllabi and Grades
  Re. Getting an "A" in this course.
What do I have to do in this class to pass the course? What must I do to get an "A" for the course?

To earn an "A" in my course follow these imortant tips-
• Write all you answers in complete sentences.
• When answering numerical problems, pay attention to significant figures
• Know how to read a measuring equipment and to report your measurment to the correct number of significant figures.
• Use the precision of the instrument correctly and don't forget the units.



  Re. Complaints about grade
I would like you to change my final grade, is there a form I can complete to file for a petition for a change of grade?

TOnce grades are submitted at the end of the term, it cannot be change unless there was a math error intallying the points. If yo want to file a petition however here is a site you should check out.
Go to the following link: Excuses from the Internet







Letters from Frustrated students

A frustrated student who missed 8 assignments writes:

Dr. Garces,
I won't be able to make it this morning. I cannot get off work; I'm pretty swamped here. I mostly wanted to go over a few problems from the past two homeworks, but I don't feel that I have a firm grasp on the problems. Also I wanted to discuss my points, especially for the lab. I know you don't know me, but I am a straight A student. I have never gotten anything lower than an A in a lab. I think it is somewhat incredulous that I am failing this chemistry lab. Granted I missed several of the assignments due to changed due dates, but you also had said many others had made the same mistake. And even on the assignments I have completed, I haven't done well. But it is not that I don't understand the concepts. A lab should be to support the concepts introduced in the lecture part of the course. It should provide a practical application of the concepts presented in the lecture part of the course. I don't believe it should introduce new topics or terms that the student has to go way out of their way when it doesn't even support the concept being explored. I have had trouble with the fact that different answers are not constant across the board. One time we need to label things rounded using significant digits and scientific notation with units labeled. The next time we need to give the full number and not label the units. It presents a problem with knowing what is expected from us. I know that you are intelligent and highly learned with your chemistry material, but I think sometimes when the teacher is at such a high level it becomes hard for you to related to students with basic or no chemisty knowledge. This is general requirement for me. I am probably not going into a science major. I don't even need the lab, but your class was the only one offered online that would satisfy my GE requirements. I do not have the time to take on campus classes. I think many people who take online classes are just trying to complete their GE reqs. I have spent more time on this class than all the other classes I have taken this semster. While I appreciate that you want your students to have a solid foundation of chemistry, it is only helpful to those who will go on to a science major. Before I started this class, I liked Chemistry, I am so frustrated by this class, that I spend my Friday nights and all day Saturdays crying. A class should not do that to someone. This class is hurting me. It is going to kill my GPA. And I remember that you said something about extra credit for those who were confused about the change in due dates, but I haven't seen any. I am not tyring to be rude. Please don't take this as me being rude, its not intended that way. I am just really frustrated with this class. I have been able to manage working more than full time, planning to get married, moving, full time school, and volunteering, not to mention my spouse . I just do not want to fail this class. And I dont want to settle for a C either. Is there anything I can do? I've been going through all the points for the lab and I need you to explain why I received some of the point values that I was given. Also I don't show a grade for my first lab. And I was also curious if you also adjust our grades by 10% in the lab as well. I don't show that the safety quiz was ever opened back up for me. Any answers or help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

I see you are frustrated. Although you might thing that failing a course or getting a C is going to ruin your gpa, I can tell you from experience it is not. The lab is a 1-unit course. Unfortunately you have missed a number of assignments (eight to be exact) and according to the syllabus you should get an automatic failing grade. I have kept you in the course because it seems that you are highly motivated and you truly wanted to learn rather than just earn an "A" grade. An "A" grade is something that really needs to be earned whether you are in an online course or a regular "on campus" course. It cannot be granted just because you complete the assignments... and if you miss several, then the instructor starts to do a disservice to the rest of the students in the class.

I have taught this online course for 6 years and have made sure that the lab material goes hand in hand with the lecture. I am sorry to hear that you think the two course are not related or that they are out of sync.

Contrary to what you stated in your email, I have never moved up a due date for an assignment, I have pushed it back but never had students turn in their assignment before the scheduled deadline.

Furthermore, I have always made myself available to my students because I know how difficult it is to learn science online. I am one of the very few online instructors that actually have review sessions for my course. I have made every effort to help you, help yourself. And that is the key, you have to help yourself. I cannot remind you of due dates, that is your responsibility. All assignments were laid out before the semester even started. The calendar on WebCT is a simple click away. If you had questions, I generally answered them in a day or two. Many students are busy and have lives outside of chemistry. This is just a course and although it should be a small part of your life, it is nothing to cry about. Take the experience and learn from it and be better prepared next time you encounter a similar situation.

On your safety quiz, the following is the record of the conversation we had on the safethy quiz.
On Feb 16th, 9:31pm you wrote:
Okay, I see what you are talking about. I usually use the icons on the Web CT homepage. I messed up and did not take the Safety Quiz. Will I be dropped? I did the math exercise 1 on a printed worksheet, and I understand the concepts. I know I cannot get credit for it. But can you let me know if I am still allowed to take this course. I was planning to buy my lab kit tomorrow and I do not want to buy it if I cannot complete the course. Thanks

On Feb 16th 11:48pm I wrote
I will open the safety quiz again for you. I already released the math basic so I cannot give you an extension, but there are some make up activities that you can take at the end of the semester to replace this score. Also you get to drop an experiment and a problem set (activity) for the course. Hope this clears things up.
WebCT shows that the safety quiz was extended to Feb 18th just for you. The settings for the safety quiz still shows this. The original due date was Feb 15th and I had already dropped a number of students for not satisfying this requirement. I kept you in the class on the other hand. If you want to come in to talk, then lets set up a time.