Find Open Textbooks

Concept Development Studies in Chemistry

textbook cover image
Transparent chemistry glass tubes filled with substances (https://flic.kr/p/7vBoW6) by Horia Varlan (https://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/) used under a CC-BY license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Description: "Concept Development Studies in Chemistry" is an on-line textbook for an Introductory General Chemistry course. Each module develops a central concept in Chemistry from experimental observations and inductive reasoning. This approach complements an interactive or active learning teaching approach.

Author: John S Hutchinson, Rice University

Original source: cnx.org

Adoption (faculty): Contact us if you are using this textbook in your course

Adaptations: Support for adapting an open textbook

Open Textbook(s):

  1. DOWNLOAD ZIP file. This icon is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution 3.0 License. Copyright Yusuke Kamiyamane. Concept Development Studies in Chemistry HTML.zip
  2. DOWNLOAD PDF file. This icon is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution 3.0 License. Copyright Yusuke Kamiyamane. Concept Development Studies in Chemistry.pdf
  3. WEBSITE External website. This icon is licensed under a Creative Commons
		Attribution 3.0 License. Copyright Yusuke Kamiyamane. Read this book online
  4. DOWNLOAD EPUB file. This icon is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution 3.0 License. Copyright Yusuke Kamiyamane. Concept Development Studies in Chemistry.epub
  5. PRINT Buy a print copy

Creative Commons License
Concept Development Studies in Chemistry by John S Hutchinson, Rice University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


1. Reviewed by: Mike Myschyshyn
  • Institution: Simon Fraser University
  • Title/Position: Graduate student
  • Overall Rating: 2.7 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

This text does not cover all topics equally. Some topics were covered very extensively, while others were not examined as well. The subject matter that was covered could have been articulated more effectively. For a beginner, it may have been difficult to follow the author’s logic. Every other first year chemistry textbook that I have had experience with did a better job of explaining concepts. The author’s attempt at developing chemistry concepts was not particularly successful. The index and glossary were satisfactory. Below are some more specific examples highlighting issues with respect to the comprehensiveness of this textbook.

Pages 4-6:
This section was hard to follow. In trying to explain the reasoning behind mass relationships and mass ratios I think a more direct approach would have been better. In trying to reinforce the correct reasoning behind the concepts, it is not necessary to also explore the incorrect lines of thought as this could easily confuse new students. It is also hard to read paragraphs of text that include several calculations and mathematical reasoning. The calculations discussed would have more impact if they were organised better.

Page 19-25 and 39-40:
These sections discussed the structure and properties of atoms, including some periodic trends. It would have been very helpful to include a periodic table in the section, rather than continually reference different elements. New students studying the area of chemistry would have a hard time following these sections without the use of a periodic table for reference.

Page 31:
E = hv is introduced to explain the quantization of light energy. The author refers to it as Einstein’s equation, though it is better known as Planck’s equation. The value of Planck’s constant (h) should be included as well.

Page 52:
Nitric acid is used as an example to explain resonance, but are no figures in this section. Visual representation showing the dynamic nature of resonance stabilized molecules would have been helpful here.

Page 62:
The molecular geometry of H2O, NH3, and C2H4 is discussed at length, however, it would have been useful, for understanding the concepts, to include some sort of visual representation as well.

Page 112:
I recommend ending the discussion of The Ideal Gas Law by explaining that in fact real gases abide more closely to the Van der Waals equation:
(P + [(n^2)(a)/(v^2)]) (V-nb) = nRT
Where constants a and b are characteristic for individual gases and provide correction for intermolecular forces within a gas and molecular size respectively.
I think it is important to at least mention this equation and that PV = nRT is more pertinent to gases at low pressure and high temperature. Although chapter 12 mentions that The Ideal Gas Law is not always respected, the Van der Waals equation is not mentioned.

Page 118:
After explaining the Kinetic Molecular Theory of Gases it should be noted explicitly that the Ideal gas law assumes these conditions. Although this is stated later, it would be use full to state it right away to imprint it in the students mind.

Page 146:
In the description of temperatures effect on equilibrium, the author states, " If ΔH° and ΔS° do not depend strongly on the temperature, then [equation 14.9] would predict a simple straight line relationship between ln (Kp) and 1/T." Perhaps describe when ΔH° and ΔS° do not depend strongly on the temperature, so the student knows a general trend of when this equation is useful.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

This text was fairly accurate, with only a few minor problems with the content. The author could have stayed more true to scientific conventions, such as using S.I. units. The author also had a couple problems with labeling figures to match with the content. Overall, there were no major issues regarding the accuracy of content in this textbook. Below are some more specific examples highlighting issues with respect to the accuracy of content within this textbook.

Page 3:
The author refers to iron rust as ferrous oxide, though iron rust mainly consists of hydrated ferric oxide (Fe2O3), not ferrous oxide.

Page 31:
E = hv is introduced to explain the quantization of light energy. The author refers to it as Einstein’s equation, though it is better known as Planck’s equation.

Page 52:
A reference is made regarding the resonance of nitric acid in comparison to Freon: “These two structures are not identical, unlike the two Freon structures in Figure 6.12 . . .” implying that the two Freon structures are identical. However Figure 6.12 shows the structures of two different Freon molecules, Freon 11 and Freon 114. This may also be a typo referring to Figure 6.21, which does in fact show two identical Freon molecules. This needs revision and clarification.

Page 75-90 (Chapter 9):
All of the Figures in chapter 9 are labelled incorrectly. Rather than 9.1, 9.2, 9.3 etc., they are referred to as figures 1, 2, 3 etc. in the body of the text. The figures themselves are then labelled both ways in the actual text.

Page 106:
The author uses torrml to describe the product of pressure and volume. If not using SI units (Pa•L) at least more specifically indicate that torr is multiplied by mL rather than blending the units into one, "torrml."

Content Accuracy Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

As this textbook is designed as an introductory work, covering basic topics in chemistry, the longevity of this material is not really an issue. The material should remain relevant as these topics are essential to the foundations of higher learning in chemistry. If desired, certain concepts not mentioned in this textbook should be easy to incorporate in later editions.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

From the topics discussed, it is evident that this text was meant to enlighten students that are new to chemistry, but language and terminology used were not appropriate for beginners. The author’s choice of wording is not optimal and it is clear that they struggled to get ideas across. There are definitely some sections (mentioned in detail below) that will be difficult for the reader to comprehend. Specific examples that lacked clarity are listed below:

Pages 4-6:
This section was hard to follow. In trying to explain the reasoning behind mass relationships and mass ratios I think a more direct approach would have been better. In trying to reinforce the correct reasoning behind the concepts, it is not necessary to also explore the incorrect lines of thought as this could easily confuse new students. It is also hard to read paragraphs of text that include several calculations and mathematical reasoning. The calculations discussed would have more impact if they were organised better.

Page 19-25 and 39-40:
These sections discussed the structure and properties of atoms, including some periodic trends. It would have been very helpful to include a periodic table in the section, rather than continually reference different elements. New students studying the area of chemistry would have a hard time following these sections without the use of a periodic table for reference.

Page 31:
E = hv is introduced to explain the quantization of light energy. The author refers to it as Einstein’s equation, though it is better known as Planck’s equation. The value of Planck’s constant (h) should be included as well.

Page 62:
The molecular geometry of H2O, NH3, and C2H4 is discussed at length, however, the concepts would have been useful to include some sort of visual representation as well.

Page 103:
A description of pressure is provided along with the formula Pressure=Force/Area. It would be use full to give the units of Pressure, force and area,
Pressure in Pascal's = (Force in Newtons)/(are in meters^2)
Therefore Pascal's = N/(m^2).

Page 106:
The author uses torrml to describe the product of pressure and volume. If not using SI units (Pa•L) at least more specifically indicate that torr is multiplied by mL rather than blending the units into one, "torrml."

Page 124:
Description of London forces as follows: "as if there were dipole-dipole attractions between them, with positive and negative charges interacting and attracting."
Please be sure to clearly state these are transient dipoles and transient forces.

Page 131:
In the description of phase equilibrium it is stated that: "The term equilibrium in this
case indicates that neither the vapor nor the liquid spontaneously converts into the other phase. Rather, both phases are stable at equilibrium." It should be clearly stated that the liquid and gas phases are constantly exchanging phases, but at equal rates so to establish equilibrium. This is explained on page 136, and much more in chapter 14, but introducing the idea, if not the explanation, early will assist in the students learning and limit confusion.

Page 149:
When describing the effect of temperature on reactions in regards to Le Chatlier's Principle, it could be useful to mention that "heat" is on the reactant side of endothermic reactions and on the product side of exothermic reaction. This may help the student visualize the effect of temperature in regards to Le Chatlier's Principle.

Page 155:
It is stated that, "from Table 15.1, it is clear that in these acids the vast majority of the acid molecules do not ionize." In fact, this is not clear. Table 15.1 shows half the acids ionizing, not a small fraction. Later it is mentioned that most acids are weak. Table 15.1 does not clearly say this fact though so do not come to this conclusion based on Table 15.1.

Clarity Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

The text is generally consistent with some minor issues. One noticeable problem was the authors capitalization issues with elements from the periodic table. Often elements would be capitalized with no need. This was observed throughout the text. Sometimes figures and tables were not labelled with a descriptive enough title. Figures should be labelled underneath with a descriptive title and some sort of written explanation of what is being described. Tables should be labelled above with a descriptive title and some sort of written explanation of what is being described. Some other specific examples regarding consistency are listed below:

Page 9:
The author discusses the atomic molecular theory, but sometimes throughout chapter 3 it is written as Atomic-Molecular Theory; there is no consistency with respect to capitalization and the insertion of a dash.

Page 75-90 (Chapter 9):
All of the Figures in chapter 9 are labelled incorrectly. Rather than 9.1, 9.2, 9.3 etc., they are referred to as figures 1, 2, 3 etc. in the body of the text. The figures themselves are then labelled both ways in the actual text.

Page 106:
The author uses torrml to describe the product of pressure and volume. If not using SI units (Pa•L) at least more specifically indicate that torr is multiplied by mL rather than blending the units into one, "torrml."

Page 155:
It is stated that, "from Table 15.1, it is clear that in these acids the vast majority of the acid molecules do not ionize." In fact, this is not clear. Table 15.1 shows half the acids ionizing, not a small fraction. Later it is mentioned that most acids are weak. Table 15.1 does not clearly say this fact though so do not come to this conclusion based on Table 15.1.

Consistency Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

The author did a generally good job modulating the textbook. However, the brevity of each subsection, and even chapter, underlined the textbooks lack of detail.

Modularity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

The textbook seemed to follow the outline of other introductory chemistry textbooks, which works well. The authors choice to leave out certain topics or ideas that other introductory chemistry textbooks discuss is questionable. The structure and flow are not always clear as is described by the specific issues below:

Pages 4-6:
This section was hard to follow. In trying to explain the reasoning behind mass relationships and mass ratios I think a more direct approach would have been better. In trying to reinforce the correct reasoning behind the concepts, it is not necessary to also explore the incorrect lines of thought as this could easily confuse new students. It is also hard to read paragraphs of text that include several calculations and mathematical reasoning. The calculations discussed would have more impact if they were organised better.

Page 75-90 (Chapter 9):
For chapter 9 the figures should be labelled 9.1, 9.2, 9.3 etc., however, they are not. In the body of text the figures are referred to as figures 1, 2, 3 etc. The figures themselves are then labelled both ways in the actual text.

Page 121:
Mentioning the Van der Waals equations after explaining the deviations from The Ideal Gas Law could be done here as well.
This would be a good time to mention the idea of compression factor, since it would logically fit in and be use full to students as they enter higher physical chemistry courses.

Organization Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

Almost every single figure in this textbook had poor resolution and was distracting to the comprehension of the material. Furthermore, so many more figures could have been included to assist the readers understanding of the material. For instance, on page 160 It might help the student to understand the chemistry more easily if a figure of a titration curve was included to assist in visualizing pH changes when mixing acids and bases. Many other figures could have been easily incorporated throughout the text. The figures were disappointing considering this is a conceptual textbook.

Interface Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

The text is peppered with grammatical errors as listed below. The author clearly has issues or a lack of interest with the English language.

Page 1:
“The models, concepts, and theories we use . . .” – here the comma after concepts is not necessary.

Page 2:
Rather, they are logically developed and deduced to provide simple explanations of observed phenomenon.” – here the plural form ‘phenomena’ should be used instead.
“The 2012 editions of these Concept Development Studies were . . .” – the singular ‘edition’ should be used here.
“ . . . Aiani Stevens, Kevin Ausman, Karin Wright, and Susan Wiediger in reviewing and criticising . . .” – here the comma is not needed after Karin Wright’s name.

Page 3:
“We will assume that we have identified all of these elements, and that there a very small number of them.” – here the word ‘are’ should be added after ‘there’

Page 5:
“Our reasoning seems to be circular . . .” – the word ‘be’ should be added here.
“Oxide A is very toxic, whereas oxide C is used as an anesthesia.” – anaesthetic should be used in place of anesthesia.
-Consider revising the title of Table 2.1: Mass Relationships for Compounds Containing Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen.

Page 7:
“These number and masses of these atoms do not change during a chemical transformation” – it is better to say: ‘the number and mass of these atoms . . .’

Page 8:
Exercise 2.3: “ . . . Provide an explanation of these observations . . .” – of should be changed to for.
Exercise 2.4: “ . . . Assess the accuracy of the students answer . . .” – this should be written as the possessive form, student’s.

Page 9:
“Since oxide B has an oxygen to nitrogen ratio . . .” – the word ‘an’ should be added here.

Page 10:
“For this to be true, equal volumes of gas would have to contain equal numbers of gas particles . . .” – sounds better as ‘would have to contain an equal number of . . .”
“This would allow us to “count” the number of gas particles and determine molecular formulae.” – would sound better as ‘gas particles and determine the molecular formula.’
“Our postulate appears to have contradicted common sense . . .” – it should be the present tense ‘contradict’ instead.

Page 12:
“Measurement of reacting volumes shows that we find that 1 liter of oxide A . . .” – ‘we find that’ is unnecessary and can be omitted.

Page 14:
“To illustrate, however, if we were to find that . . .” – change it to ‘As an example, if we were to find . . .” or something like that.

Page 19:
“A detailed calculation based assuming this model . . .” – change so it reads ‘A detailed calculation based upon assuming . . .’
“This model accounts for observation of both undeflected passage most of alpha particles and sharp deflection of a few.” – this is poorly worded; consider changing to ‘This model accounts for the observation of both undeflected passage of most alpha particles and the sharp deflection of a few.’
“Most alpha particles pass through the vast empty space of the atom, which is occupied only by electron.” – it should be electrons instead.
“Let’s rank order the elements by atomic mass . . .” – change to ‘Let’s rank, in order, the elements . . .’

Page 24:
“The third row elements, sodium argon, have an approximate . . .” – add through so it reads ‘the third row elements, sodium through argon.’
“The suggests that . . .the first two electrons are in an inner “shell”, and . . .” – the should be changed to this and the comma after “shell” can be removed.

Page 27:
“Finally, we know that the electrons in the atom are arranged in “shells” about the nucleus, with each shell farther from the nucleus that the previous.” – that should be than.

Page 28:
“The speed which light travels in a vacuum in the same for all forms . . .” – change in to is

Page 31:
“Referring back to the analogy, we can say that a single bowling bowl can accomplish what many ping-pong balls cannot . . .” – bowl should be changed to ball

Page 33:
“For historical reasons, these subshells are referred to as the as the “2s” and “2p” subshells . . .” – omit the duplicate ‘as the.’

Page 37:
Exercise 5.9: The last question asks, ‘How is the affected by core penetration?’ – need to clarify what this is in reference to.

Page 39:
“The atomic molecular theory is extremely useful in explaining what it means to form a compound its component elements.” – add ‘from’ so it reads ‘to form a compound from its . . .”
“We have developed a detail understanding . . .” – it should be detailed instead.

Page 48:
“In both cases, we can understand the stability of the resulting molecules by in terms of an octet of valence electrons.” – by should be omitted from this sentence.

Page 49: (The last line of paragraph 2 and the first line of paragraph 3)
“Therefore, although the Lewis structure of methane is drawn as shown here (Figure 6.19).”
“This does not imply that methane is a flat molecule . . .” – these two sentences should be converged together, with Figure 6.19 to follow.

Page 53:
Exercise 6.5: “Explain why the two Lewis structures for Freon 114, shown in Figure21Figure 6.21, are identical . . .” – looks like a typo; delete ‘Figure 21’.

Page 55:
“Once we have developed an understanding . . . we can attempt an understanding of the relationship of he structure and bonding . . .” – he should be changed to the.
Page 58: there appears to be a formatting error which broke the first paragraph into a new paragraph mid sentence.
“If the carbon atom is at the center of this tetrahedron and the four electron pairs at placed at the corners . . .” – at should be changed to are.

Page 61:
“We conclude that the our model can be extended . . .” – omit our from the sentence.

Page 67:
“In addition, we know that many of the properties of atoms can be understood . . . with each shell farther from the nucleus that the previous.” – that should be than.
“We also assume a knowledge of the a Lewis structure model for chemical bonding . . .” – remove ‘a’ from sentence.

Page 70:
“We might from these simple statements that molecules would be unaffected by electric or magnetic fields . . .” – should read as ‘we might expect/assume/predict . . .?

Page 73:
“This is because the positive end of the dipole in one molecule can interact electrostatically with the negative end of the dipole in another molecules, and vice versa.” – molecules should just be singular molecule.

Page 77: Figure 9.1 (b)
“When the electron is in the region between the two nuclei, the attraction of the electron to the two nuclei exceeds the repulsion of the nuclei, lowering the total energy of the molecule and producing bonding.” – instead producing a bond or forming a bond.

Page 78:
“We have learned from our study of Energy Levels in Atoms that an electron . . .” – add ‘from’ to the sentence. Why is Energy Levels in Atoms capitalized? Is it supposed to be a reference to Chapter 5?

Page 80:
“The more the orbital confines the motion of the electron, the higher is the kinetic energy of the electron, an effect we referred to as the ‘confinement energy.’” – poorly worded sentence; consider revision.
“Similarly, the molecular orbitals for the H2+ molecular ion are described by a set of numbers which give the symmetry (or shape) of the orbital.” – brackets aren’t necessary; earlier in the paragraph a quantum number is discussed that is also related to the ‘symmetry or shape’ of the atomic orbital, having the same phrase so close together is a bit repetitive.

Page 81:
“In the case of the atomic orbitals, this means that the molecular orbital formed from the destructive interference decreases probability for the electron to be between in the nuclei.” – change this to be in between.

Page 97:
“Since the elevation thus a state function, the elevation gain is independent of the path.” – sounds awkward, consider revising.

Page 98:
“The bond energy for a molecule is the energy required to separate the two bonded atoms to a great distance.” – insert the word ‘a’ here.

Page 99:
“We can estimate the C-H bond energy in any one of these chloromethanes by the average C-H bond in the three chloromethanes molecule . . .” – rather, it should read: ‘ . . . of the three chloromethane molecules.’

Page 106:
The author uses torrml to describe the product of pressure and volume. If not using SI units (Pa•L) at least more specifically indicate that torr is multiplied by mL rather than blending the units into one, "torrml."

Page 154:

Table 15.1 should be called, "H3O+ and pH for 0.1M Acid Solutions." The 'and' is missing. This error is carried throughout the text whenever the author mentions Table 15.1.

Grammar Rating: 1 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

This critique does not apply to the text in question.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

I cannot see this book being part of the curriculum of any chemistry course.