TCE ForumWhats NewSearchOrders


The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 15 (2010) pp 435-440

Why Such a Big Difference in Price? A Problem-Based Learning Approach to Determining Essential Oil Composition in Introductory Organic Chemistry

Juan Antonio Llorens Molina*, and Isidora Sanz Berzosa

Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería Agronómica y del Medio Natural, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Camino de Vera, s/n , edificio 3P, 46022, Valencia (España),:;
Received September 29, 2009. Accepted April 29, 2010.

Published: 22 December 2010

Abstract. While Problem Based Learning (PBL) has been a popular instructional strategy in higher education for many years, it may be a powerful tool to introduce active and student-centered learning strategies in conventional educational contexts as well. PBL activities provide the social and technological context to laboratory activities by relating them to students’ everyday experiences, thereby establishing more meaningful relationships with the subject matter. Additionally, PBL activities support the development of competencies such as planning and organization, location and selection of necessary outside information, communication and teamwork. Lastly, PBL has been shown to improve the student-teacher relationship. The PBL framework was applied to a traditional organic chemistry laboratory in which the composition of essential oils is determined. The key steps in the application of the framework and laboratory assessment tools are discussed.

Key Words: In the Classroom; general chemistry; problem based learning; laboratory work; organic chemistry; science-technology-society-environment relationships

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (194 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

Initial activity: web-based task for students’ engagement in this PBL activity. Appendix 1: The inquiry process sequence (meetings’ contents). Appendix 2: Prelab online test which is associated to a learning object (named “Polimedia”). Appendix 3: Summative assessment. Rubrics and partial scores. Appendix 4: Survey to assess students’ perceptions about the PBL process (114 KB).

© The Chemical Educator 1996-2018