P44: Assessing learning gains in green chemistry labs
The principles and practices of sustainability in chemistry have emerged in the past twenty or so years, yet this topic has become fairly well-represented in chemical education literature. Andraos and Dick recently reviewed effective pedagogical practices for green chemistry and highlight some pros and cons of these practices. A common pedagogical practice is to integrate a few ‘green’ chemistry experiments into introductory courses, such as general or organic chemistry; however, this approach often fails to assess whether students are developing a robust perspective on the complexity involved in ‘greening’ a chemical process. Thus, a simple survey, with both Likert and free response questions, was developed to assess student’s awareness of the green chemistry principles as well as their perspective on these principles. Students in a sophomore level organic chemistry course for biology, biochemistry, and chemistry majors were invited to participate in the survey at the beginning of the class as well as at the end of the first semester. While the sample sizes are small, there are modest, but significant gains in student’s awareness of green chemistry principles. This paper will also describe more complex findings related to how students perceive the field of organic chemistry to function outside of the undergraduate laboratory.