One of the major impediments in the widespread implementation of the Organic First curriculum is lack of adequate assessment. In particular, there is legitimate concern whether students in such a curriculum would be cognitively "mature" to tackle organic chemistry without prior exposure to general chemistry. Since it has been two years since we first implemented the Organic First curriculum at UMR, we decided to address this concern by measuring the cognitive abilities of our students. Midterm and final exam questions from two courses; CHEM 1231 (Fall 2009 and Fall 2010) and CHEM 2231 (Spring 2010 and Spring 2011) were classified according to Bloom's taxonomic levels. The percent correct responses in each of the first four categories (Knowledge, Comprehension, Application and Analysis) were then analyzed. We found that while a large majority of the students were capable of answering questions at the knowledge and comprehension levels, a significant number could tackle questions at the application and analysis level. This study was presented at the 242nd national ACS meeting in Denver in August 2011. Here's a copy of the poster. posterACS.pdf
Recently in Why Organic First? Category
Organic Chemistry is a daunting, anxiety -inducing subject for many an ambitious undergraduate. It is a required course for admission into many medical schools. It is traditionally taught in the second year although some freshmen take the course. Here at the University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR ) we have joined a handful of other institutions where organic chemistry is taught to first year students. Why on earth would you teach such a daunting subject, which is notorious for being a weed out course, in the first year? We believe that the Organic First curriculum has certain advantages over the traditional general chemistry first curriculum. Here's a link to a useful resource for faculty interested in the organic first curriculum.