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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 15 (2010) pp 441-446

An Interdisciplinary Laboratory Connecting Gas Chromatography to a Study of Skin Diffusion from a Methyl Salicylate Transdermal Patch

Cándido Bernal* and Alan Rodríguez

Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, P.O. Box 23346, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, 00931-3346,
Received April 9, 2010. Accepted June 17, 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 (139 KB) HTML format

Supporting Materials:

An excel fileprovides the data used in the preparation of Figures 2, 5 and 6. An additional experiment involving the evaporation of actives from patches over the bench top @ 25oC is also presented (23 KB).

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