Chem21 Overview

"Practice Makes Perfect" is the foundational theme of the Chem21 approach. The Practice of Chemistry (or anything else) must include activities that are assigned, monitored and evaluated for improvement (and mastery) to occur. Bloom's Taxonomy describes 6 areas of cognitive thought through which a learner must progress to achieve fluency in a given area of learning.

  1. Knowledge
  2. Comprehension
  3. Application
  4. Analysis
  5. Synthesis
  6. Evaluation

Chem21 has developed online, interactive, computer-graded activities that engage the learner at most levels of cognitive thought.

  1. Knowledge and Comprehension of Essential Chemical Facts are achieved using Timed / Repetitive Quizzes.
  2. Application of Chemical Knowledge is assessed with typical chemistry problems and problem types (multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, numeric answers, balancing equations, etc).
  3. Application is also assessed during the online submission of the laboratory report where the calculations, balanced equations and laboratory results are automatically graded by the computer when entered by the student.
  4. Analysis and Synthesis skills are developed and assessed using "Learning Pathways". Learning Pathways interactively model the approach to solve complex problems. General Chemistry examples include a Dimensional Analysis Pathway, a Phase Diagram and Heating Curve Pathway, an Interconverting Concentrations Pathway and a Determining pH Pathway. Organic Chemistry examples include a Stereochemistry Pathway and many Synthesis Pathways.
  5. Analysis and Synthesis skills are assessed in the Organic Chemistry curriculum through the use of ChemSketch to draw answers to organic chemistry questions.

The decision to incorporate computer-based excercises that begin at the lowest levels of cognitive thought must be accompanied by a changed educational paradigm where the instructor gives herself permission to assign an online workload that requires the student to engage in active learning activities for part of the "expected" hours of study. If 10 hours per week is "expected" for proficiency in an Organic Chemistry course, excercises should be assigned that require 5 - 8 hours of active engagement leaving time for reading the chapter. You will discover that most students will complete an assignment by the due date, but very few students will complete a suggestion (see below) by the due date.

I suggest you memorize this list of cation / anions by the next class period as we will use this information to write formulas for ionic compounds . . . OR, I suggest you "become familiar" with these organic reactions as we will discuss their mechanisms at the next lecture . . . .

The assignments listed above have been used at the university level for ten years and the results are outstanding. At Lee University, the ACS Organic Chemistry Exam is given each year as the Final Exam. The average class percentile on this exam over those ten years was 61 percentile. This result becomes more remarkable when coupled with the fact that ONLY 3 STUDENTS have dropped the second semester course during the past ten years . . . 299 / 302 students who started the class in January sat for the ACS Exam in April.