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Strengths of An Introduction to Chemistry by Mark Bishop


Development of Visualization Skills - I think it is extremely important for students to develop the ability to visualize the models that chemists use for describing the structure and behavior of matter. I want them to be able to connect a chemical equation to a visual image of what is happening in the reaction. Throughout the text, I emphasize the development of a mental image of the structure of matter and the changes it undergoes. I start with a more comprehensive description of the kinetic molecular theory than is found in most other books, and I build on that description in the sections on elements, compounds, and chemical changes. To help the student visualize structures and processes, I provide the colorful and detailed illustrations that are prominent in the book. Moreover, this Web site provides animations based on key illustrations.

Image of the combination of NaCl solid and water before the sodium chloride dissolves


Author-Designed and Created Computer Tools to Help Develop Visualization Skills, to Practice Important Tasks, and to Organize the Information - Because I have created the computer tools and written the text, they fit together better than the similar tools that accompany other textbooks. See my animations, tutorials, glossary quizzes, and PowerPoint slides on this site.

More logical Sequence of Topics

(See the Chemistry-first Table of Contents or the Atoms First Table of Contents.) In the first week of class, I used to ask my students to classify substances as elements, compounds, or mixtures. That required me to introduce the concept of element long before any significant discussion of atoms and to describe compounds without first presenting a clear depiction of elements. I was equally uncomfortable asking them to classify changes as chemical or physical changes before they had any clear definition of chemical bonds. Now both the chemistry-first and the atoms-first versions of the text move smoothly from the kinetic molecular theory to a description of atoms and elements. This flows into a description of chemical bonds and chemical compounds, which in turn forms the basis for an understanding of the nature of solutions and the processes of chemical changes. The introductory discussions that felt so disjointed to me in the past now seem to follow a logical progression—a story, really—that flows from simple to more complex.


Review Skills Sections and Review Questions (See pages 125 and 146 in Chapter 4.) Students often have trouble with tasks in a chapter because they have not yet mastered important topics from earlier chapters. When they start reading a chapter, they probably don't know which of the sections from earlier chapters they should review, and they do not have time to review everything. The Review Skills section at the beginning of each chapter lists skills from earlier chapters that will be needed in the present chapter. The students can test their mastery of each skill by working the problems in the Review Questions section at the end of each chapter.


Sample Study Sheets (See pages 372 and 373 in Chapter 10.) In an introductory chemistry course, it really pays to be organized. This text helps students get organized by providing Sample Study Sheets for many of the tasks they will be expected to do on exams. Each study sheet describes how to recognize a specific kind of task (“Tip‑off”) and breaks the task down into general steps. Each Study Sheet is accompanied by at least one example.


Chapter Glossaries (See page 145 in Chapter 4.) Learning the language of science is an important goal of the courses for which this textbook is designed. Most books have a glossary at the back, but I suspect that students rarely refer to it. In addition to the glossary at the back of the book, this text also has a list of new terms at the end of each chapter, where it can serve as a chapter review. Glossary quizzes for each chapter can be found on this Web site.


Learning Objectives (See page 146 in Chapter 4.) The learning objectives listed at the end of each chapter are more comprehensive than the objectives in other texts. They list all the key skills taught within the chapter, thus helping students to focus on the most critical material. Objective references in the margins of the chapter denote the paragraphs that pertain to each objective, so that a student who has trouble with a particular objective can easily find the relevant text discussion. Many of the end‑of‑chapter problems are similarly referenced, so that students can see how each objective might be covered on an exam.

Key Ideas (See page 147 in Chapter 4.) After the Review Questions section at the end of the each chapter is a section titled Key Ideas. Students are given a list of numbers, words, and phases that they use to fill in the blanks in a series of statements that follows the list. The statements summarize the most important ideas from the chapter—that is, they add up to a chapter review. Because this review is a game of sorts, the students get more actively involved and more interested in recalling key ideas than they do when reading a chapter summary.

Logic sequences (See pages 487 and 488 in Chapter 13.) The logic sequences found in the text help the reader to understand and later explain why certain things are true. 


Chapter Maps The chapter maps show how the topics in each chapter are related to each other and to the topics in other chapters.


Student Oriented - The Review Skills Sections, Review Questions, Learning Objectives, and Sample Study Sheets have been very popular with students.


Flexible Order of Math-Related Topics - The single most beneficial change I have made in my preparatory chemistry course has been to shift the coverage of unit conversions from the beginning to the middle of the semester. This book can be used to support either that approach, using the Chemistry-First version of the text, or a more traditional one, using the atoms-first version. Delaying coverage of unit conversions enables me to describe elements, compounds, and chemical reactions earlier than usual, and, I believe, to give my students a much better understanding of what chemistry really is. Students emerge from the first lectures with a better attitude toward the course and with more confidence in their abilities—which, in my experience, has translated into significantly lower drop rates. One of the most important by‑products of this change, in my assessment, is that my students end up better equipped with math-related skills than would otherwise be the case. Immediately after I teach them a technique for making unit conversions, they begin using it in mole calculations. Thus, instead of learning the technique at the start of the course, and then largely forgetting it, and then trying to relearn it in haste, the students learn it well and then immediately consolidate their knowledge.


Early Introduction to Chemical Reactions - Most beginning chemistry texts don’t describe chemical reactions until midway through the text or even later, thereby reinforcing students’ expectations that chemistry will be boring and irrelevant. In the chemistry-first version of this text, chemical reactions are described earlier than in other texts meant for preparatory chemistry courses.


More Emphasis on Math-Related Topics - Both the chemistry-first and the atoms-first versions of the text have a strong emphasis on the math-related topics of introductory chemistry. In the chemistry-first version, I have devoted three full chapters to them. Chapter 8 teaches an organized approach to making unit conversions, Chapter 9 describes chemical calculations and chemical formulas, and Chapter 10 covers chemical calculations and chemical equations. The material in Chapter 9 of the chemistry-first version is spread out in other chapters in the atoms-first version, but the strong math treatment is still there.


More Real-World Examples - This text is full of real-world examples, both in the chapter narrative and in the problems. For example, after introducing the idea of limiting reactants, the text explains why chemists design procedures for chemical reactions in such a way that some substances are limiting and others are in excess. Chapter 9 problems mention vitamins, cold medicines, throat lozenges, antacids, gemstones, asphalt roofing, fireworks, stain and rust removers, dental polishing agents, metal extraction from natural ores, explosives, mouthwashes, Alar on apples, nicotine, pesticides, heart drugs, Agent Orange, thalidomide, and more. The chemical reactions used in problems often represent actual industrial processes. Several of the Special Topics scattered throughout the book describe the achievements of “green chemistry.”


Many Interesting Problems - Many of the 1800 problems contain real-world descriptive chemistry information about how chemicals are used, how they are made, and how the chemicals play a part in real-world issues. 


Extensively reviewed and checked - The text has been reviewed by over 75 college chemistry instructors, and many improvements have been made based on their suggestions. The writing of the text was aided by two developmental editors who read the chapters over and over again, leading to great improvements in its organization and clarity. To be sure that the end-of-chapter problems are clear and that the solutions in the instructor's guide and student solutions manual are correct, all of the problems were worked by two different chemistry instructors. You can read more about this and see a list of reviewers at

Chemistry-First Preface

Atoms-First Preface


Classroom tested - Both in the form published by Benjamin Cummings and in its current form, the text has been used in many chemistry classes in the U.S. and other nations.