A Single Reaction Thread Ties Multiple Core Concepts in an Introductory Chemistry Course


Journal Article

Copyright © 2018 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc. This work describes the use of a single chemical reaction to teach and connect a number of standard general chemistry course topics while also introducing students to polymer concepts. Through the study of the reaction that converts spiropyran into merocyanine, we are able to present and connect molecular orbital theory, quantum mechanics, equilibrium, hydrogen bonding, mechanical work, and polymer chemistry. By framing a number of different concepts with the same reaction, our goal is to allow students to see connections in seemingly disparate sections of general chemistry. At the same time, repeated study of this organic reaction provides a pathway for students to gain confidence and comfort with carbon-based molecular structures before stepping into an organic chemistry course. Experimental results indicate that there is no significant difference in student performance on problems linked to unit learning objectives when a group of students who complete the spiropyran-based exercises is compared to a control group who completed exercises involving smaller molecules. We describe here the materials used in both a team-based learning classroom and a concurrent laboratory module.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Barbee, MH; Carden, RG; Johnson, JHR; Brown, CL; Canelas, DA; Craig, SL

Published Date

  • June 12, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 95 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 939 - 946

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1938-1328

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0021-9584

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1021/acs.jchemed.7b00977

Citation Source

  • Scopus