Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Patterns in Problem-solving Performance in Undergraduate Organic Chemistry: The Good, the Bad, and the Rest?




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



As few large studies of student performance in organic chemistry appear in the chemical education literature, many instructors rely on conventional wisdom when interpreting the results of their assessments. Outside of a relatively few studies on specific topics (e.g. mental rotation, misconceptions) conducted with small groups of students, the learning ecosystem in organic chemistry is relatively unknown. This large study examined the patterns in student performance across standard categories of problems in organic chemistry (e.g. nomenclature, mechanisms, product prediction) through multiple lenses including online/traditional delivery, gender, and grouping by class rank. Factor analysis of questions revealed both predictable and unexpected associations among individual assessment questions as well as question categories. Hierarchical cluster analysis and factor analysis revealed several distinct subgroups of students. The results suggest the exploration of targeted remediation as a path to improving student learning in organic chemistry.

Conference Name

Spring 2012 National Meeting & Exposition

Conference Location

San Diego, California

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