Sarah Wilson, Pratibha Varma-Nelson (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, USA)
The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at IUPUI serves approximately 500 first semester organic chemistry students annually. A problem-solving workshop series was added to the course to improve exam performance, reduce an undesirable DFW rate, and boost student perceptions. To increase student engagement in their own learning processes, we borrowed principles from the Peer-Led Team Learning model, which has proven to be effective in organic chemistry and other STEM courses. However, our workshop series included a smaller student-to-peer leader ratio and problems are based on content discussed by the lecturers in advance. Our peer-led problem-solving discussion sections were organized as a 75-minute additional meeting for this 3-credit first semester organic chemistry course and fostered the development of small-group learning communities that extend outside the lecture, developed mentoring relationships, and promoted active group learning. Moreover, we lowered the DFW rate and increased student performance on the ACS Organic Chemistry exam.