Improving student performance in organic chemistry: Help seeking behaviors and prior chemistry aptitude

Gail Horowitz, Laura A Rabin, Donald L Brodale

Abstract


Organic Chemistry is perceived to be one of the most challenging of undergraduate science courses, and attrition from this course may impact decisions about pursuing a professional or academic career in the biomedical and related sciences. Research suggests that chemistry students who are strategic help seekers may outperform those students who avoid seeking help, and that encouraging self-regulated learning behaviors can benefit academically at-risk students. In the current study we present the results of action research conducted in an Organic Chemistry classroom at a large, urban, public university over the course of three semesters. Results suggest that encouraging academic help seeking, a type of self-regulated learning, improves student outcomes. Implications for other science courses and for similar student populations (underrepresented minorities and first generation to attend college) are discussed.


Keywords


organic chemistry; student learning; help seeking behavior; higher education; underrepresented students

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