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ERIC Number: EJ863193
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 27
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
An Integrated, Statistical Molecular Approach to the Physical Chemistry Curriculum
Cartier, Stephen F.
Journal of Chemical Education, v86 n12 p1397-1402 Dec 2009
As an alternative to the "thermodynamics first" or "quantum first" approaches to the physical chemistry curriculum, the statistical definition of entropy and the Boltzmann distribution are introduced in the first days of the course and the entire two-semester curriculum is then developed from these concepts. Once the tools of statistical mechanics have been introduced, they are immediately applied to quantum mechanical systems of increasing complexity. Subsequently, thermodynamic and kinetic behaviors are interpreted from a classical as well as molecular perspective. Statistical entropy serves as the unifying theme throughout the course and provides students the ability to conceptualize the statistical molecular behavior of matter from the microscopic to the macroscopic. Through this approach to the curriculum, students experience and learn the many, often disparate, concepts of physical chemistry as a more cohesive field of study. (Contains 2 figures and 6 notes.)
Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society. Subscription Department, P.O. Box 1267, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-1267. Tel: 800-691-9846; Tel: 856-931-5825; Fax: 856-931-4115; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A