Concepts of organic chemistry are central to medicine and pharmacology. However, organic chemistry represents a significant hurdle for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students in pre-health tracks. Low exam scores and high failure rates result from the enormous amount of information, complex chemical structures and dynamics, and processes requiring creativity and spatial thinking. The challenge is often exacerbated because students try to memorize facts rather than understanding foundational concepts. Students from underrepresented groups and first-generation college students are often disproportionately affected. Today?s undergraduates are acclimated to dynamic 3D interactive environments, which present a promising learning alternative to static texts or on-line programs. However, no comprehensive solution is available in organic chemistry. Here, we combine our expertise in user experience, game design, visualization, and science education to create innovative, gamified software aimed at making teaching and learning organic chemistry more effective, engaging, and relevant. Interactions with key organic chemistry concepts are designed around proven problem solving strategies and delivered through focused, session-based exercises. Exercises facilitate real-time feedback, provide the opportunity for students to interact with both 2D and 3D molecular visualizations, and harness effective gamification techniques to encourage replay. During Phase I we developed a minimum viable product (MVP), Mol Stereochemistry, which comprises about 10% of the first semester content. Learning outcome assessments by students from two classes at Des Moines Area Community College showed an average test score increase of 9% after 30 to 45 minutes of using the MVP. Over 90% of students indicated the MVP provided a ?great? or ?very great? user experience. Our Phase II leverages the robust educational and computational framework established in Phase I to develop Mol Organic Chemistry (Mol), a mobile-first, next-generation digital learning environment. The modularity of the existing framework will enable us to scale Mol content to encompass all of Organic Chemistry I including reaction mechanisms, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry nomenclature, structural determinations by spectroscopic imaging. This full content will be combined with context-based gamification mechanisms such as performance-based bonuses, achievements, daily and weekly challenges, and setting and tracking learning goals to promote recurring use. New usability and accessibility features will provide accommodations for differently abled students, and instructor-centered tools allow for modification of content and integration with learning management systems. Working with academic collaborators at Texas A&M University we will conduct a large-scale, longitudinal assessment of about 1,000 undergraduate organic chemistry students. Taken together, Mol will drive student learning outcomes, and facilitate adoption by instructors.
Organic compounds and their interactions constitute the very foundation of life and now provides the basis for the fields of toxicology, pharmacodynamics (the effect a drug has on the body), pharmacokinetics (how the body metabolizes a drug), and rational drug design (using understanding of a biological target to design new drugs). Our Phase II project leverages the robust educational and computational framework established in Phase I, as well as proof of positive learning outcomes, to develop Mol Organic Chemistry 1 (Mol), a mobile-first, next- generation digital learning environment. The modularity of the existing framework will enable us to scale Mol content to encompass all of Organic Chemistry I, add new usability and accessibility features, and provide instructor-centered tools and integrations, therefore driving student learning outcomes and facilitating adoption by instructors.