Approaches to the Assessment of Student Expertise in Mechanism Drawing

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Kathryn P. Kohn, Sonia M. Underwood, Melanie M. Cooper
Organic chemistry is difficult and students often rely on memorization. One way to reduce students’ reliance on memorization is to improve their ability to construct mechanisms. The basis of mechanism drawing, the electron-pushing formalism, requires students to identify the source and direction of electron flow in a reaction and to associate this use of arrows with the breaking and forming of bonds. An activity was designed to emphasize and provide feedback on the use of electron-pushing formalism to determine the products of different reactions. The activity was given to first-semester organic chemistry students. Pre- and post-assessments were administered to determine if the activity contributed to an increase in students’ ability to construct mechanisms. Approaches to analysis and coding will be discussed.

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