Geoff Rayner-Canham, B.Sc., D.I.C., Ph.D.
Professor

 

 
 

Teaching Interests

  In Dr. Rayner-Canham 's view, the classroom experience is a key part of the learning process, in particular the interaction that is possible in the small class setting. He has developed video clips and other a/v materials that brings chemistry to life. He has also devised problem-solving methodologies to enable students to plan their route to solving calculations. It is from the questions asked by students in class that he has developed many of his teaching innovations. For each of the courses he teaches, he endeavours to bring his own insights to the material. He has had a particular interest in the unique teaching environment of small colleges.

Selected Relevant Publications
G. Rayner-Canham, “Teaching and Research at Small Colleges: A Chemistry Perspective,” C3 News, 26, 5-6 (Fall 2001).
G. Rayner-Canham, “Some Ruminations on Chemical Education,” Chem13 News, 26-27 (October 1999).
G.W. Rayner-Canham and M.F. Rayner-Canham, “Chemistry Teaching in US Liberal Arts Colleges,” Education in Chemistry, 25, 148-150 (1988).
G.W. Rayner-Canham, “The Liberal Arts College and Its Potential Role in Canadian Chemical Education,” Canadian Chemical News, 39(8), 9-12 (1987).

ELEMENTS OF CHEMISTRY (CHEM 1810)
Dr. Rayner-Canham has had a particular interest in those students, many very talented, who arrive at University without any preparation in chemistry. To provide the basic knowledge of the fundamentals of chemistry, the Chemistry 1810 course is offered. Students have found this thorough grounding in the basics of chemistry enabled them to successfully pursue careers in science, some even obtaining degrees in chemistry or environmental chemistry. He was the senior author of Foundations of Chemistry which was originally used for the course, and also of its successor, Chemistry: A First Course.

In the early years of the College, Dr. Rayner-Canham devised a four-week summer immersion version of chemistry 1810 which enabled students who had no previous chemistry to complete this course and then enter General Chemistry I in a Fall semester. The photo below a Sunday outing of the Summer Chemistry Institute students to Western Brook Pond with student volunteers helping Mr. Bill Layden (chemistry laboratory technician) and Ms. Marelene Rayner-Canham prepare the picnic lunch.

Selected Relevant Publications
G.W. Rayner-Canham, “Chemistry for Beginners - A Summer Immersion Course,” invited entry in Directory of Teaching Innovations in Chemistry, L.R. Meeth and D.S. Gregory (eds.), American Chemical Society, 1986, p. 97.
G. Rayner-Canham, “A Summer Immersion Course in Chemistry,” Journal of Chemical Education, 56, 86 (1979).

GENERAL CHEMISTRY I & II (CHEM 1200 & 1001)
For these courses, Dr. Rayner-Canham has produced Problems & Solutions workbooks which enable students to practice the calculations as each topic is covered in class.

He is particularly concerned that problem-solving is grasped in a logical manner and he has devised a technique he calls “Strategies & Relationships.” He is also concerned that practical applications of the theories and concepts are discussed in class. As part of his interests in the laboratory side of the courses, he has devised microscale methods of performing several of the practical experiments.

Selected Relevant Publications
G.W. Rayner-Canham, “A Student‘s Travels, Close Dancing, Bathtubs, and the Shopping Mall: More Analogies in Teaching Introductory Chemistry,” Journal of Chemical Education, 71, 943-944 (1994).
G.W. Rayner-Canham, “Microscale methods in general chemistry,” Education in Chemistry, 31, 68-70 (1994).
G.W. Rayner-Canham, “The Bonding in Molecular Oxygen: Laying the Foundations of Modern Chemical Thought,” Journal of College Science Teaching, 23(6), 377-379 (1994).
G.W. Rayner-Canham, “Concepts of Acids & Bases: Laying the Foundations of Modern Chemical Thought,” Journal of College Science Teaching, 23(4), 246-247 (1994).
G.W. Rayner-Canham, “The Conductivity of Solutions: Laying the Foundations of Modern Chemical Thought,” Journal of College Science Teaching, 23(1), 62-64 (1993).
P.W. Slade and G.W. Rayner-Canham, “The Pitfalls of Precipitation Reactions,” Journal of Chemical Education, 67, 316-317 (1990).

INTRODUCTORY INORGANIC CHEMISTRY (CHEM 2210)
A major concern of Dr. Rayner-Canham is that chemistry is seen in context and that theory is a means of explaining observation. His interest in this second-year introductory course led to him writing a text for the course, Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry, a text which has been adopted widely through North America and even in universities around the world (see discussion under Inorganic Chemistry). As part of the course, students are required to write an essay on a topic in inorganic chemistry and, following revision by Dr. Rayner-Canham, several of the essays have been published in reviewed journals.

Selected Relevant Publications
G.W. Rayner-Canham and J. Grandy, “Was Molybdenum a Limiting Reagent in Earth's Biological Evolution,” Education in Chemistry, 48, 144-147 (2011).
G.W. Rayner-Canham and C. Flynn, “Iron Ocean Seeding,” Education in Chemistry, 47, 140-143 (2010).
G.W. Rayner-Canham and T. Way, “Burning Ice in the Arctic,” Education in Chemistry, 46, 82-84 (2003).
G.W. Rayner-Canham and B. Hunt, “Chromium, Toxic or Essential? Using the Erin Brockovich Saga in Chemistry Teaching,” Chem13 News, 1, 4-5 (January 2007).
G.W. Rayner-Canham and S. Avery, “Thallium: a Poisoner’s Favourite,” Education in Chemistry, 40, 132-133 (2003).
G.W. Rayner-Canham and J. Kettle, “The True Allotropes of Sulphur,” Education in Chemistry, 28, 49-51 (1991).
M.J. Webb and G.W. Rayner-Canham, “Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry at the Second Year Level,” Journal of Chemical Education, 59, 1012-1013 (1982).
G.W. Rayner-Canham, “Introducing Bioinorganic Chemistry into an Inorganic Chemistry Course,” Journal of College Science Teaching, 4, 208-209 (1975).

INTRODUCTORY PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY (CHEM 2300)
This largely calculation-based course is primarily focussed on chemical thermodynamics. For this reason, Dr. Rayner-Canham has written a Problems & Solutions Manual to accompany the course. He was also able to obtain a series of grants to transform the laboratory portion of the course to be computer interfaced, enabling students to collect their data with state-of-the-art equipment and, where necessary, to produce differential plots using the supplied graphing software.

Selected Relevant Publication
G. Rayner-Canham, W. Ellsworth, D. Strickland, and D. Wheeler, “A Computer-Interfaced Physical Chemistry Laboratory: Some Personal Experiences,” Canadian Chemical News, 52(3), 16-17 (2000).

ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY (ENVS 3261)
This unique course was designed by Dr. Rayner-Canham to give students a deep and thorough understanding of the multitudinous atmospheric chemical processes using principles of thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibria, molecular orbitals, spectroscopy, etc. Analogously to the inorganic chemistry course, students are required to write an essay on a topic in atmospheric chemistry and, following revision by Dr. Rayner-Canham, several of the essays have been published in reviewed journals.

Selected Relevant Publications
G. W. Rayner-Canham, D. Garnier, and R. Stirling, “Isoprene: the ‘Natural Pollutant’,” Education in Chemistry, 41, 101-103 (2004).
G.W. Rayner-Canham, “Ocean Burial of Carbon Dioxide – Is It an Option?,” Education in Chemistry, 39, 155-159 (2002).
G. Rayner-Canham and S. Huelin, “Atmospheric Chemistry: The Structure of the Cl2O2 Molecule” Chem13 News, 6-7 (Sept 2000).
G.W. Rayner-Canham and A. Hewlin, “Sulphur Hexafluoride: A Little-Known Greenhouse Gas,” Education in Chemistry, 37, 69-70, 81 (2000).

WOMEN AND SCIENCE (WSTD 2001)
This highly-popular course has enabled Dr. Rayner-Canham to combine his teaching endeavours with his research interests in the history of women in science. This half-historical, half-contemporary issues. Since first offering the course in the Winter of 1994, he has endeavoured to incorporate videos and video clips that bring the material to life.

Selected Relevant Publication
M. F. Rayner-Canham and G.W. Rayner-Canham, “The Einstein Enigma: The Role of Mileva Marić” Chem13 News, 10-11, (January 2006).
M.F. Rayner-Canham and G.W. Rayner-Canham, “Talented Flowers: Women in Chemistry-A Century of Progress?” Canadian Chemical News, 2005, 57(9), 22-25.

GRANTS RECEIVED FOR WORK IN CHEMICAL EDUCATION

2008 Instructional Development Grant, Memorial University (G. Rayner-Canham [chemistry] lead applicant, joint with C. King [classics], M. Newton [religious studies], and D. Wheeler [chemistry]) $5,000
2005 W.H. Freeman Publishers grant for the development of chemistry videos U.S. $6,000
1999 Birks Family Foundation, grant for development of computer-interfaced experiments for SWGC physical chemistry course $20,000
1999 S.M. Blair Family Foundation, grant for development of computer-interfaced experiments for SWGC physical chemistry course $10,000
1999 George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation, grant for development of computer-interfaced experiments for SWGC physical chemistry course $10,000
1999 Chemical Education Trust Fund, Chemical Institute of Canada, starter grant for development of computer-interfaced experiments for SWGC physical chemistry course $1,990
1992 Grant from SSHRC travel fund for travel to 12th. International Conference on Chemical Education, Bangkok $1,200
1988 Principal‘s Research grant for studies in the
teaching of chemistry at small U.S. colleges
$450
1988 Educational grant from the McLean Foundation for computer assisted learning project $2,830
1988 Educational grant from the Windsor Foundation for computer assisted learning project $2,830
1983 Vice-President’s Research grant for computer assisted learning project $470
1983 Educational grant from the F.K. Morrow Foundation for computer assisted learning project $2,000

Division of Science, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College
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 Last updated on: 12/05/2011