Doing the Research that Informs Practice: A Retrospective View of One Group's Attempt to Study The Teaching and Learning of Organic Chemistry

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The idea that the focus of educational research should be on results that can inform the practice of teaching has been an implicit assumption for so many years that one would be hard ‐ pressed to trace it back to an individual source. At one time, the people doing such research in STEM disciplines were faculty in schools or colleges of education who focused on K ‐ 12 classrooms and looked for ideas, concepts, and principles that would be valid across a range of STEM disciplines. Eventually, this research was done on college ‐ or university ‐ level students, as well, and there was a shift toward what has been called discipline ‐ based educational research (DBER) that looks at the problems associated with the teaching and learning of a given discipline, such as chemistry. This paper will discuss the results of research on problem ‐ solving in chemistry that has been done in our research group, with particular emphasis on the challenges of teaching and learning organic chemistry. The goal of this paper is to show what can happen when one listens carefully to students and begins to appreciate the difference between what we think we have taught and what the students learned. The examples we will use have the potential for convincing those of us who teach chemistry to rethink what we do in our classes to find better ways of helping our students understand the material we are trying to teach. Although this paper will focus on results from the second ‐ year organic chemistry course, similar results have been observed in both inorganic and physical chemistry, as well as biochemistry courses.

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Chemistry, an Asian Journal



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