Mark A. Yeager

Professor of Chemistry or two atoms can convert a fuel to a poison, change a color,
render an inedible substance edible, or replace a pungent odor
with a fragrant one. That changing a single atom can have such
consequences is the wonder of the chemical world.

                   -- P. W. Atkins: Molecules,W.H. Freeman and Company, New York, 1987.

What I want to believe based on emotions and what I should
believe based on evidence does not always coincide. ...I'm a skeptic
not because I do not want to believe but because I want to know.
I believe that the truth is out there. But how can we tell the
difference between what we would like to be true and what is
actually true? The answer is science.
                   -- Michael Shermer, Executive Director of the Skeptics Society:
                        Scientific American, June, 2009.
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...'
                --Isaac Asimov.
Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'
                --Isaac Asimov

How to contact me

Phone: (760) 757-2121 ext. 6407


Instant Message (for Google Talk, Jabber, and Yahoo Messenger):  MCCChemProf


How, when and where to find me

Office: Room 3206, Oceanside Campus
  On the outside of Building 3200, down the ramp to the left of room 3205.

Office Hours, Fall 2015:
Monday and Tuesday 2:15 to 3:15 PM -- Just drop in, no appointment necessary during scheduled office hours.

Other times are available by appointment--PLEASE, feel free to call or e-mail your request for an appointment.  I will do everything I can to accomodate your request.

Teaching Schedule by Term


Fall 2015

Chem 110--General Chemistry I
Section #1255
Monday and Wednesday
   Laboratory: 9:00 AM - 12:00 Noon, room 4505
   Classroom: 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM, room 3609
       Oceanside Campus

Chem 110--General Chemistry I
Section #1242
Tuesday and Thursday
   Laboratory: 9:00 AM - 12:00 Noon, room 4505
   Classroom: 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM, room 3609
       Oceanside Campus

Spring 2016--I will be on Sabbatical Leave


Educational Philosophy

The two most important characteristics a scientist must have are a true sense of Wonder, and profound, but not cynical, Skepticism. Science is the method we humans use to try to figure out how the universe works, and without both wonder and skepticism, Science fails. Education in chemistry (and in the other sciences) has often simply presented the knowledge that has been built through science, leaving out all of the wonder and most of the skepticism that goes into the process of Science.

Science education should employ and encourage both Wonder and Skepticism, just as it should demonstrate and elucidate concepts and skills.  The process of science should be used to teach science, as well as being a subject of science education.  That is why I use an inquiry based approach wherever I can. Chemistry, as a science, is based on experiment. It should be taught in a hands-on manner, where students learn not just by reading and listening, not just by carrying out "cookbook" laboratory exercises, but by designing and performing their own experiments.

Science is a uniquely human endeavor, and I feel that it is very important for students to feel a connection to the humanness of science, to its history and its process. Science is not just a huge collection of facts, it is an ever-evolving picture of the universe, as seen through human eyes. It is also the many men and women who have contributed, and who continue contributing, to this picture.

Richard Feynman, one of the greatest physicists of our time, wrote:

"The principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following: The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific 'truth.' But what is the source of knowledge? Where do these laws come from? Experiment, itself, helps to produce these laws, in the sense that it gives us hints. But also needed is imagination to create from these hints the great generalizations--to guess at the wonderful, simple, but very strange patterns beneath them all, and then to experiment to check again whether we have made the right guess." 

I am very enthusastic about science in general, and about chemistry in particular. If I can use my own enthusiasm for chemistry to ignite my students' sense of wonder, and that this leads them to a greater interest in, and a better working knowledge of the chemistry and science they are learning, then I have been successful.



Educational Methods

POGIL: Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning

Mastery of concepts and skills is best gained by actively building knowledge and experience, not by simply listening or watching while someone else tells you about them. The method I use in my "lecture" classes is "POGIL", which stands for Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning. As stated on the website:

To support the use of POGIL in my classes, I have adopted POGIL workbooks, when available for the particular course (CHEM 108, CHEM 110 and CHEM 111), or have written my own POGIL exercises (PHSN 101 and PHSN 106).

POGIL has also been applied in chemistry laboratory instruction, and I have written many experiments for my chemistry laboratory courses based on some aspects of guided inquiry pegagogy, but I cannot say that they are "true" POGIL experiments. That will have to wait for a future sabbatical!

I have seen a definite increase in students' understanding and retention of core concepts and skills since I began using the POGIL method. I have especially been impressed with the increases in "successful retention", which is the proportion of students who finish the course with a grade of "C" or better.

PhET Simulations

PhET ( provides fun, interactive, research-based simulations of physical phenomena for free. This research-based approach- incorporating findings from prior research and their own testing- enables students to make connections between real-life phenomena and the underlying science, deepening their understanding and appreciation of the physical world.


University of Puget Sound, 1979 - 1981
Principia College, 1981 - 1982:   
      B. S. in Chemistry, 1982

University of Washington, 1983 - 1984
Washington University in St. Louis,  1984 - 1986:   
      A. M. in Inorganic Chemistry, 1985
(Master of Arts)
Stanford University, 1989 - 1992




Teaching Positions

Principia College, 1985 - 1989
MiraCosta College, 1992 - present