P16: Design and implementation of freshman organic chemistry via active learning (FOCAL)
I describe the design and implementation of Freshman Organic Chemistry via Active Learning (FOCAL) – an organic first curriculum where organic chemistry is taught in the first year instead of general chemistry. FOCAL’s design is based on research on how students learn organic chemistry and its implementation exploits evidence-based student-centered pedagogies. The presentation will include a discussion of key distinguishing features of FOCAL that foster engagement such as (a) emphasizing the relevance of organic chemistry to everyday life by connecting key concepts to real-world examples; (b) promoting meta cognition through the implementation of the Science Writing Heuristic in the laboratory and (c) enabling participation in authentic research experiences by incorporating multi-week, theme-based laboratory projects. Student attitudes toward FOCAL and assessment of student understanding of structure-property and structure-reactivity relationships will also be presented.