NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1173151
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-Mar
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
A Comparison of How Undergraduates, Graduate Students, and Professors Organize Organic Chemistry Reactions
Galloway, Kelli R.; Leung, Min Wah; Flynn, Alison B.
Journal of Chemical Education, v95 n3 p355-365 Mar 2018
To explore the differences between how organic chemistry students and organic chemistry professors think about organic chemistry reactions, we administered a card sort task to participants with a range of knowledge and experience levels. Beginning students created a variety of categories ranging from structural similarities to process oriented categories. Professors and more experienced graduate students created their categories only for process-oriented reasons. Professors discussed different features of the reactions than the students did, suggesting that students need guidance and opportunities to develop skills to identify mechanistically relevant features in a reaction. More specifically, at the University of Ottawa, a transformed organic chemistry curriculum has been designed and implemented where students are first taught the language of mechanisms before learning about specific reactions. Then, students are taught reactions in order of their governing pattern of mechanism, rather than by functional group. We developed a card sort task to investigate how students perceive the organization of the reactions in the curriculum as well as to explore how graduate students and professors think about organic chemistry reactions. There were 25 cards designed with reactants and reagents for reactions taught within the first two semesters of organic chemistry. The card sort task is composed of two parts: first, participants are asked to sort 15 cards into categories; second, the participants are given 10 additional cards and asked to incorporate them into their existing categories. During the fall 2017 semester, second semester organic chemistry students (N = 16), organic chemistry graduate students (N = 10), and professors who either teach and/or conduct research in organic chemistry (N = 7) were interviewed using the card sort task. We analyzed the participants' categories for cards that were frequently sorted together and the reasons they gave for creating the categories and then compared the findings across the different participant groups.
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada (Ottawa)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A