Session S55c (Wednesday, 5:15pm, Willaman Gateway)

P857: Positive impact of FOCAL (Freshman Organic Chemistry via Active Learning) on student learning and attitudes

Rajeev Muthyala (University of Minnesota – Rochester, USA)

Introducing organic chemistry first to life science majors has a number of significant advantages over the traditional chemistry course sequence.  However, implementation of an “organic first” curriculum is challenging because unlike general chemistry one cannot rely on students’ prior knowledge: organic chemistry represents a radical departure from high school chemistry.  At the University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) we designed FOCAL — a unique “organic first” curriculum intended for health sciences/life sciences majors.  In our design strategy, we adopted a constructivist approach by combining contextual and student-centered learning.   In this poster, we present the results of a three-year longitudinal study of the impact of FOCAL on student learning using summative evaluations and formative assessments. We found that our organic first curriculum fostered higher order cognitive skills, as measured by Bloom’s taxonomic framework, as well as surprisingly positive attitudes.

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