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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Learning Theory Guided Iterative Development of a Mobile Learning Paradigm Aimed at Enhancing Organic Chemistry Laboratory Instruction at Undergraduate Level

  • Author(s): Wang, Song
  • Advisor(s): Weizman, Haim
  • et al.

Helping students achieve meaningful learning effectively in large-enrollment, introductory organic chemistry laboratory course can be a difficult task. Due to the abstract nature of the subject and the limited laboratory time available to students, it can be difficult for some to understand the connection between the observed physical properties and the chemical structures. Since understanding the relationship between structure and properties is imperative for manipulating or purifying compounds in organic laboratory, a smartphone based learning paradigm, “OChem Lab”, was developed aiming to help students bridge their knowledge. Using organic extraction as an entry point, the application was designed with the theory of retrieval-based learning in mind and incorporated formative feedback after a few iterations. It was introduced to students who are enrolled in an introductory organic chemistry laboratory course as an optional learning aid. The goal of the study was not to simply determine the usefulness of a given mobile learning paradigm, but to develop and improve a theoretical framework for designing and implementing mobile learning paradigm for a large-enrollment introductory organic chemistry laboratory course. Student usage and their perception of the application were assessed both quantitatively and qualitatively in order to incorporate student feedback in the iterative development process of the application. This study describes the development and refinement of a theoretical framework for designing and implementing a mobile learning paradigm to supplement an undergraduate organic chemistry instructional laboratory class, as well as the iterative development process of the mobile application under such framework.

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