University of California, Riverside

Department of Chemistry


case study

Welcome to the UCR Department of Chemistry Case Study Collection. Supported by funding from the National Science Foundation TUES (Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM) program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Higher Education Challenge Grant Program, we are creating a series of problem-based case studies that we hope instructors will implement during the first two years of their undergraduate chemistry program. This site is intended to provide general chemistry and organic chemistry instructors with a cohesive set of cases that correlate with the two year introductory chemistry curriculum, and improve student achievement in carrying out higher order problem solving and critical thinking. We also aim to create learning activities that help students see the link between chemistry and real-world issues, thereby increasing student interest and engagement in chemistry and science.

As the collection of cases grows, most of them will be published at the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS). Links will take you to the NCCSTS site, where the case materials will be freely available for you to download. If you are an instructor and wish to receive the answer key for any of the cases, you can sign up as a member of the NCCSTS site and the site administrators will send you answer keys via email.  For cases not published at the NCCCSTS, we will provide direct links to the case materials, and instructors can email us to gain access to answer keys. We are still in the process of publishing the entire case collection, but we will ultimately have two or three cases for each quarter of general chemistry and one or two cases for each quarter of organic chemistry (at UCR, general chemistry and organic chemistry are each taught in a three-quarter, year-long sequence). Additionally, we will soon be creating Blackboard interfaces which can be used by your students to answer the case questions online. Once we create these Blackboard interfaces, we will provide downloadable zip files that can be uploaded into your own course management site. We expect these downloadable files to be available by the end of summer 2013.

It is our hope that these materials improve the teaching and learning environment in your classrooms. If you have questions or comments about any of the cases, do not hesitate to contact us.

Dr. Jack Eichler (Principal Investigator; general chemistry;

Dr. Leonard Mueller (co-Principal Investigator; general chemistry;

Dr. Richard Hooley (co-Principal Investigator; organic chemistry;

General Chemistry Problem-Based Cases

1) “The Global Warming Debate: A Case Study”
Note: This case is done in the 3rd or 4th week of our first general chemistry course, and is done in order to provide an introduction to data analysis and scientific reasoning. The answer key and teaching notes are available upon request (

Case Study Intro (Click Here)
Case Study Activity (Click Here)
Blackboard Test File for Case Study Questions (link to zip file)
(Note: The questions for the case activity were downloaded from a Blackboard course management site, however the test file can be uploaded into any course management system that is capable of importing IMS files).

2) Fossil Fuels – “Liquid Coal: Producing Liquid Fuel from Non-Petroleum Sources"
Case Study at NCCSTS (Click Here)

3) Acid/Base Chemistry - "Using Oceans to Fight Global Warming?"
Case Study at NCCSTS (Click Here)

4) Kinetics - "Corn Ethanol: Using Corn to Make Fuel?"
Case Study at NCCSTS (Click Here)

5) Gas Laws - "Hydrogen Powered Cars: The Wave of the Future?"
Case Study at NCCSTS (Click Here)

General Chemistry Clicker Cases

1) Atomic Theory – “History of the Atom – Part I”
Case Study at NCCSTS (Click Here)


Organic Chemistry Problem-Based Cases

1) "Organic Chemistry and Your Cellphone: Organic Light-Emitting Diodes"
 Case Study at NCCSTS (Click Here)

2) Chirality and the Origins of Life
 Case Study at NCCSTS (Click Here)

Honors Organic Chemistry Problem-Based Cases

1) “Selective COX-II Inhibitors - the Story of Vioxx®: A Case Study in Drug Discovery" 
This case was done in order to facilitate a high level discussion in our third quarter honors organic chemistry seminar. If you have questions about the case or need assistance with the answer key, email Dr. Richard Hooley (

 Case Study (Click Here)

2) “Overcoming Bacterial Antibiotic Resistance - the Story of Penicillin, Augmentin® and Vancomycin”
This case was done in order to facilitate a high level discussion in our third quarter honors organic chemistry seminar. If you have questions about the case or need assistance with the answer key, email Dr. Richard Hooley (

Case Study (Click Here)

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General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Department of Chemistry
Chemical Sciences
501 Big Springs Road

Tel: (951) 827-3789 (Chair's Assistant)
Fax: (951) 827-2435 (confidential)