General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry courses are critical junctures and often are points of attrition in the academic pursuits for many undergraduate STEM majors. Research and development of pedagogical reforms and instructional interventions that improve student learning and success in these courses can contribute to increasing the number of STEM graduates in fields important to the economic health and security of the nation. This project will build upon prior work that has demonstrated success by utilizing Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) in General Chemistry I and will develop, implement and evaluate a reform pedagogy for instruction in General Chemistry II and Organic Chemistry I that blends PLTL with a so-called "flipped" classroom structure. In a flipped classroom arrangement, lecture content is provided via relatively brief online videos that students watch outside of class. The time made available during class by diminishing the time devoted to lecturing can be used for implementing active learning activities such as small group problem-solving and PLTL. As General Chemistry II and Organic Chemistry I enroll large numbers of students at the University of South Florida, research outcomes from this project will be of value to inform similar endeavors at other institutions that also offer undergraduate STEM courses with large enrollments.
The chief elements of this project entail the development of the blended pedagogical approach, creation of video lectures, training of peer leaders and faculty professional development. As this project will extend work begun in General Chemistry I to the subsequent courses of General Chemistry II and Organic Chemistry I, the investigators will study the impact of the reform pedagogy on persistence in a disciplinary course sequence, on transferrable skills between courses, and ultimately on degree attainment in STEM disciplines. Research on the effectiveness of the intervention will involve comparisons of students in classes in which the novel pedagogical strategy has been implemented and those students in classes receiving instruction without the reform pedagogy. Specific instruments and data sources that will be utilized to measure project outcomes include administering standardized final examinations from the American Chemical Society Examinations Institute in General Chemistry II and Organic Chemistry I, conducting student interviews to elicit their approaches to problem-solving and institutional records of student performance in the targeted courses and graduation rates.