Date of this Version
Grinde, G. 2022. The Effect of Medical and Biochemical Contextualization of First Semester Organic Chemistry Topics on Longitudinal Learning. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Organic Chemistry is one of the prerequisite courses for many different areas in the life sciences and other STEM fields and is notoriously considered to be a “weed out” class for its difficulty. Creating interventions to support positive student outcomes, and help students continue their education is a continuous process, and requires a comprehensive assessment of the students taking the course. Thus, one aim of this project was to characterize student demographics and describe any differences in course outcomes. Another aim was to implement an intervention examining the use of contextualized organic chemistry problems. Students were assigned six problem-sets as homework. Students were either assigned standard, non-contextualized problems (control) or context-rich problems (treatment) relating the same learning objective to the fields of biochemistry and medicine. We then compared course outcomes of students in the treatment and control groups as well as considered any differences in outcomes based on student demographic data. Overall, the study found an increase in student outcomes that were in the contextualized group compared to the control, although not significant. However, first-generation students had the greatest increase in course outcomes from the intervention, in which their final exam scores for those intervention topics was significantly higher within a 90% confidence interval. Potential barriers facing marginalized communities such as racial minorities, first-generation students, and women were also discovered through the use of surveys in addition to their course outcomes. Future investigation with a more rigorous use of contextualization of organic chemistry topics may help to understand its true effect.