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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 4 Issue 3 (1999) pp 89-93

The Role of Multiple Teaching Strategies in Promoting Active Learning in Organic Chemistry

Lilia C. Harvey* and Linda C. Hodges

Department of Chemistry, Agnes Scott College, Decatur, GA 30030

Published online: 1 June 1999

Abstract. We have introduced four alternative teaching strategies into our yearlong organic chemistry course and have assessed changes in student performance relative to the same course taught by the same instructors using a more traditional lecture format. These strategies, which include reading worksheets, dialogues, in-class worksheets, and role-playing, allow the professor to move through a learning cycle that may effectively accommodate the studentsí needs and multiple learning styles. The reading worksheets guide students through the concept phase and dialogues help students identify the importance of the concepts as they articulate these ideas for themselves. Group worksheets and role-playing provide opportunities for peer-interaction, application of knowledge, creativity, and self-expression. Others have shown that active learning strategies neither enhance nor diminish a studentís ability to retain factual information, a finding that is supported by our study. Our data from this one study show, however, that students taught by a more traditional approach demonstrate a greater variation in final exam performance between first and second semesters than those taught using a combination of techniques. This result reflects a shift in emphasis from the professor as an information source to the actively engaged student taking responsibility for his or her own learning. This study suggests that these methods, when used in a consistent fashion in conjunction with interactive lecturing, provide a broad base to facilitate student learning and aid in the development of higher order thinking skills.

Key Words: In the Classroom; organic chemistry; assessment

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: lharvey@agnesscott.edu )

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Issue date: June 1, 1999

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