Teaching General Chemistry with Open Resources

This is the latest in our current series of short essays by participants in the Open Knowledge Fellowship coordinated by the Mina Rees Library. Fellows share insight into the process of converting a syllabus to openly-licensed and/or zero-cost resources, as well as their experiences teaching undergraduate courses at CUNY.

Daniel Okpattah is a PhD Biochemistry student at the Graduate Center. His research focus is studying the role of serotonin receptors in cancer. He is also an adjunct lecturer at Hunter College teaching General Chemistry 106.



It has been a great pleasure to be one of the recipients of the prestigious Open Knowledge Fellowship, which has given me ample insight in making course materials available for zero-cost and easily accessible to students. I have always been an advocate for zero-cost textbooks in colleges, since course materials can be prohibitively expensive and present a financial burden to students.

It was similarly a moment of great joy when I first realized I would be an adjunct professor in the fall 2022 for General Chemistry 106, but after teaching the course for a semester at Hunter College, I found out that students were unable to attend the class because they could not afford lab manuals and lab notebooks (which are prerequisites for attending this class). 

The Open Knowledge Fellowship gave me the opportunity to find Open Educational Resources at zero-cost that will help students grasp concepts of the General Chemistry 106 course I am currently teaching. Also, it also gave me the opportunity to self-reflect on my teaching practices in CUNY. Creating a syllabus from this course helped me to contemplate what the course should include, the difficulty level of the course, what resources I could use to train myself to become a good instructor, and also to find if there are very helpful materials students could easily access without any pay for usage. All these questions were answered clearly during the fellowship. 

As a researcher, I understood the importance of publications and the need for these open resources. It has always been difficult finding resources that were not behind a paywall. I had to use other websites to go past the paywall. This fellowship gave me chances to learn about what resources are open access and where I could go to find them. 

I have really learned a lot from this fellowship about Open Access (OA) and Open Educational Resources (OER). In previous years, I relied solely on Google Scholar as the main tool for research papers and journals and had the herculean task of figuring out if these resources were open access or not. 

About the Author

Ingrid Conley-Abrams is an Adjunct Reference Librarian at the Mina Rees Library.