P251: Implementing an inquiry-based multistep synthesis in an organic chemistry laboratory course
Students enrolled in Organic Chemistry II worked in pairs to conduct a four-step synthesis of a sulfa drug during seven two-hour lab periods. Specific objectives were the following: 1) Develop students’ competence in reading scientific literature; 2) increase students’ ability to maintain and value a detailed laboratory notebook; 3) illustrate challenges introduced by a multistep synthesis that are not present in single step reactions; and 4) demonstrate relevance of protecting groups in organic synthesis. Students were given a general outline of the four steps but then expected to identify specific reaction conditions (quantities, temperatures, time) from provided journal articles. Students discussed their proposed synthesis procedure with a professor before they conducted the lab to ensure that students were on track to complete the synthesis safely in the allocated time. Students used the standard course format to record their progress in their lab notebooks and submitted a formal report summarizing their results. Students’ perception of their progress on research objectives 1-3 was evaluated by a short survey at the end of the semester. Faculty perception of student progress included observations of students’ behavior. For example, observing students keep notes on scrap paper indicated low value for laboratory notebooks. Notebooks and lab reports were scored according to general rubric used for all previous labs. Students’ understanding of protecting groups was assessed on exams before and after the multistep synthesis lab. Summarized findings and lessons learned will be reported in this presentation.