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A tale of two textbooks

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Abstract

MILLIONS OF COLLEGE STUdents have learned general chemistry from "Chemistry: Principles and Properties" by Michell J. Sienko and Robert A. Plane and organic chemistry from the textbook by that name by Robert T. Morrison and Robert N. Boyd. But how many scientists know the stories of these books and their authors? Theirs were among the tales told at a Division of the History of Chemistry symposium on "Landmark Chemistry Books of the 20 th Century" at the recent American Chemical Society national meeting in Washington, D.C. Sienko & Plane was the first modern chemistry text, said James L. Ealy Jr., assistant professor of education at Cedar Crest College, Allentown, Pa., and many modern general chemistry texts still follow its basic format. The text's "straightforward and practical approach to first-year chemistry caused more than a few students to reconsider chemistry as a major," Ealy noted, but "for many of us, this text opened the door to ...

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Article
The traditional textbook model for general chemistry is discussed and reviewed in a historical context. © 2018 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc.
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The 1957 Soviet launch of Sputnik launched the United States on “catch-up” science and mathematics curriculum reform pathways at all educational levels. Two major secondary level projects were the Chemical Education Materials Study and the Chemical Bond Approach. Both involved teams of secondary and tertiary faculty and intended to expose high school students to a modern understanding of chemistry. At the tertiary level, the launch coincided with the publication of Sienko and Plane’s general chemistry text, perhaps the most influential text at this level ever published. It ushered in the era of theory-first presentation that became the norm for general chemistry texts and courses for several decades. An overriding principle of these developments was to get the science right and rigorous, so students would get a good foundation and not have to “unlearn” later. The consequences were a staggering amount of material and effort in the form of textbooks and their supplementary texts (study guides and problem solving guides), topical monographs, audiovisual aids, computer-assisted instruction, redesigned courses, and more, almost all aimed at getting students started on a pathway into the chemical sciences. How did it work out?
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Full-text available
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