Undergrad Chemistry class labs
December 11, 2018 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Especially if you’re at a US public university, can you please tell me about your intro level chemistry class lab? Both the facilities and the class?

How many students in the class?
How many students in a lab group?
How many TAs? Any other instructor or supervisor?
How many fume hoods? How often do you use them?
How long are the labs? Meet once a week?
Rectangular rows of lab benches or some other configuration?
Do the sections fill up quickly?
What academic year was your experience?

Thanks!
posted by Kriesa to Education (11 answers total)
 
My experience was in 2007, at Arizona State University.

The lecture had >150 students. The lab group was 24 students, in 12 pairs. Our lab-partners were assigned at the beginning of the semester and we stayed with that lab partner all semester. (Even if they *did* spill nitric acid on you when they were hungover.) We had one TA who was the only instructor or supervisor in the room during class; he was a PhD student.

Labs were two and a half hours long, with a one hour recitation prior to lab. Recitation was partly going over what we would do in lab that day, and partly going over what was happening in lecture. Labs met once per week. We had rectangular lab benches that accommodated 2 pairs of students per side. Each lab station had vacuum, gas, and air spigots, and had metal-work at the back of the station that you could attach apparatuses to. There was a sink at the end of each rectangular lab bench. Safety glasses were required but lab coats were not, in general chemistry; lab coats were also required for organic chemistry. Gloves were not required and should have been.

In general chemistry, we didn't use fume hoods.For that matter, we rarely used fume hoods in organic chemistry (which had smaller lab sizes, but longer labs -- four hours total in recitation + lab for O-Chem), I think because the fume hoods were on the wall and so were fewer. As I recall, the fume hoods seemed primarily to be places to put waste chemical receptacles.

Sections for general chemistry will likely fill up quickly at almost any US public university. The exception is evening labs or Saturday labs.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 6:01 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


I just took chemistry at a public university in the US!

How many students in the class? About 20 in the whole lab, about 200 in the lecture
How many students in a lab group? 2
How many TAs? Any other instructor or supervisor? Only 1 TA
How many fume hoods? How often do you use them? 1, used for every lab session except the 1st
How long are the labs? Meet once a week? 2.5 hours, once a week
Rectangular rows of lab benches or some other configuration? 2 long rows of lab tables with students standing on each side of the tables
Do the sections fill up quickly? If this means do people register for them quickly, yes, it is hard to get a lab that's at a convenient time
What academic year was your experience? 2018
posted by kristicat at 6:02 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


US university but not public:
150 students in the class
15 in a lab group
8 TAs that oversee labs with 8 additional TAs to help with the class content and 1-2 additional lecturers to help with class content
16 fume hoods
Labs are once weekly for 3.5 hours at a time
Not sure how to describe the configuration... just a few rows of benches?
Yes, but there was always melt after the first midterm.
About 8 years ago
posted by gemutlichkeit at 6:05 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


150 students, around 25 per lab group. 4 TAs and a facilities manager. 2 instructors. 3 fume hoods. Used them about every other class.

Labs were once a week for 3 hours. Normal config.

Sections filled up quickly-- students were particular about their schedule.
posted by typify at 6:06 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


I ended up re-taking chemistry at a public university as a pre-requisite for my graduate program.

How many students in the class? About 150 in lecture, 20-30 in lab
How many students in a lab group? 3-4
How many TAs? Any other instructor or supervisor? 1 TA per lab section
How many fume hoods? How often do you use them? Maybe....3-4? I don't remember because we rarely used them!
How long are the labs? Meet once a week? Depending on the lab, usually anywhere from 1-3 hours. They met once a week.
Rectangular rows of lab benches or some other configuration? Rectangular rows of labs benches
Do the sections fill up quickly? No. Because it was an intro course, they had enough room for everyone and their mother to take the course. The ones that tended to fill up fastest were the ones that met later in the day.
What academic year was your experience? 2015
posted by astapasta24 at 6:09 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


This was during my freshman year in 2016, for gen chem.
posted by typify at 6:10 PM on December 11, 2018


I've never taken Chemistry, but I advise a lot of students who take the intro sequence, and I work with the department on registration stuff as part of my job.

>How many students in the class?

In Spring 2019, there will be two sections of the lecture. One currently has 250 students (and could go up to 350), and the other currently has 450 (and could go up to about 500.) Discussion sections are maximum of 26 people, and labs are maximum of 24.

>How many students in a lab group?

Don't know. I think 3 or 4.

>How many TAs? Any other instructor or supervisor?

The lecture is team-taught by 3 instructors. I don't know how many TAs there are, but I know there are a lot. I think there are a different set of lab TAs and discussion TAs.

>How many fume hoods? How often do you use them?
No idea.

>How long are the labs? Meet once a week?
On alternating weeks, there is either a lab or a demonstration. The labs are 3 hours long. The demonstrations are 1.5 hours long.

>Rectangular rows of lab benches or some other configuration?
No idea.

>Do the sections fill up quickly?

We have room for everyone who wants to take the class. However, students typically prefer some lab and discussion times to others, and the good times fill up early. Students who register late sometimes end up in lab at terrible times like 7:30 in the morning or 7:00-10:00 at night.

>What academic year was your experience?

My students are taking their final exam as I type this. (Good luck, students!) Tomorrow, I will help at least one student register for a Chemistry class for next semester.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:22 PM on December 11, 2018 [2 favorites]


I majored in Chem at a large US public university. Intro Chem was 2003-2004:

60 ish students in lecture (honors Chem for majors. Regular Chem was like 250), taught by regular prof with two 4th yr undergrad TAs

20-30 per lab section. Lab instructor was a regular prof, with a grad student TA. I don't think we had lab partners. The section with the best timing (midweek midafternoon) filled right away.

Lecture met twice a week for 1.5hr, lab met once a week for 3. Each was 4 credits. Optional weekly discussion section led by the TAs. Optional weekly homework help led by 2nd years.

Equipment was similar to what's described above. We were organized on both sides of three long rows of black benches. Fume hoods were in the back. Don't recall using them much.
posted by basalganglia at 6:58 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm in Canada, but I I'm a graduate student right now who has been TAing not too long ago. If you want to memail me I could give you the details of a couple universities in Canada. If you are on twitter I can also put you in touch with quite a few chem profs all over the world.
posted by Canageek at 8:00 PM on December 11, 2018


Gen Chem 1 & 2 both at a Community College: lecture started at ~35 and ~20 respectively, but there were a lot of folks that dropped both. Labs were ad hoc groups of 2 or 3 but once I found solid people, we stuck together. No hoods, just goggles, gloves, and close-toed shoes.

O-Chem at a large state university: O-Chem 1 lecture had ~350 or so people. There were maybe three TAs, but I was a commuter student so they weren't any use to me since they'd hold their sessions in the evenings when I was at work. O-Chem 2 was ~50 students. No TA in lecture. I took Lab after completing both. Lab was a once a week ~1.5 hour lecture and then twice a week labs that were about 3.5 hours. Partnered with the same person all semester. Two labs held concurrently with ~40 students each, one main prof and maybe 3-4 TAs that floated between the two. Longest waits were for access to the Mass Spec, which could be upwards of 45 minutes or so. This was all between 2010 and 2012.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:20 PM on December 11, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm from NZ so this may not be as helpful, but here we go! (All unis are public here).

- Each chemistry paper (gen chem, intro to biochem, foundation chem) has about 200 students, split up into ~6 different chemistry streams. Each stream has 30 - 40 people in it, and has their own lab time and tutorial time.
- We're given a lot of freedom as far as groups go. You can work by yourself if you want, or work in up to a group of 4 or 5 if you really want. I'd say most worked in groups of 3.
- Depends on the lab, but at least 2 people running it, which could be two TAs or a TA and a lecturer or professor.
- Heaps of fume hoods, maybe around 10 - 15?
- Labs are three hours but don't always take that long, usually more like 2.5 hours. You can leave once you are done if there is no exit test. Held once a week.
- 5 or so rectangular rows of lab benches.
- I don't know what you mean by section. If it means lab time/stream, we don't really get to choose which one we are in. If you don't like the time you are given you can apply to change, but if there is no room in that one, tough luck. It is decided for you when you enrol, based on the rest of your timetable.
- This is from 2017 - 2018, so very recent.
posted by BeeJiddy at 8:35 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


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