371 Authentic/Alternative Assessment, V: Classification of Organic Compounds, Reactions/Mechanisms by Science Majors

Friday, November 6, 2009: 11:00 AM
Longhorn (Camino Real Hotel)
Moises Camacho , Department of Math/science teacher preparation, Universidad de Puerto Rico/ Mayaguez Campus, Mayaguez, PR
The purpose of this study was to investigate the ability to complete, identify and classify common organic reactions, the mechanisms by which they take place and the major organic reactants/products.
A pilot study was made with majors/non-majors to observe their classification skills with a sample of 50 reactions which were taken from well known organic chemistry textbooks like
McMurry Organic Chemistry.
The instrument was administrated to about 60 chemistry majors and non-majors (Biology) who had approved from 16 to 40 chemistry semester hours.  The results demonstrated that 98.0% of the subjects had forgotten almost 100% of the type of classes (e.g. compounds, reactions, mechanisms involved in the reactions).  Only about 2% remembered very few concepts.
The study was repeated for several semesters with the purpose of reproducibility.  The results were very similar.  There was no significant statistical difference between the mean scores of majors and non-majors.
These findings have been observed in several classification studies (e.g. compounds, reactions, equations, problems,) of the author and others.  The implications for chemical education, science and mathematics in general are relevant since these findings reflected rote-memorization not genuine understanding, permanent learning, nor long term memory (LTM).