P23: Analysis of student attitudes and comprehension in a discovery-based organic laboratory experiment
Increasingly, organic chemistry laboratories have incorporated some discovery-based labs where student outcome varies from predetermined to undetermined, requiring more critical thinking on the part of the student. This research examines the addition of a discovery-based (or guided inquiry) component to the standard traditional organic chemistry lab at Middle Tennessee State University and its effect on student ability to interpret NMR spectroscopy as well as their attitudes toward the lab. The research compares groups of standard sections of organic chemistry labs. One group used three traditional labs on distillation, chromatography, and spectroscopy. The other replaced these with a three-week discovery-based unit on terpene isolation and characterization. The unit included steam distillation of herbs or spices, column chromatography, and NMR analysis. At the end of the term, students’ understanding of spectroscopy and their attitudes toward the laboratory were measured with a survey. Evaluating the effectiveness of labs may enhance the rigor of the university’s organic chemistry curriculum as well as improve student’s experiences.