This is my 2nd year using the Karty text for Organic Chemistry Lecture (CHEM 3111). Based on my experiences as a student and as an instructor, organic chemistry has been typically taught in a traditional format of a chalk talk and PowerPoint combination. However, after speaking with those instructors, such as Joel Karty and fellow colleagues at Columbus State, my Organic Chemistry colleagues and I collaborated to move from the traditional format and chose to “flip the classroom” for the Fall 2017 semester. The time allotted for lectures is formatted with designated time for directed problem-solving sessions and activities with our students. A large portion of the concepts will be introduced through a textual format outside of the classroom.

Arrangement of Daily Activities: The daily instruction for our classroom environment is designed with a mini-lecture/support session (10-15 min) followed by a series of 7 – 8 clicker questions (35-40 min). The clicker questions have been developed by myself and my colleagues, in addition to a few being taken from the pre-arranged Clicker PowerPoints provided by the Norton publisher.

Textbook: As a replacement to the hard-copy textbook, we have asked students to purchase an electronic version of the textbook (Organic Chemistry: Principles and Mechanisms) via the platform of Perusall. It is found via the website: www.perusall.com. This new web-based platform allows students to engage in actively reading the textbook and allowing them to annotate text in a collaborative manner.

Graded Homework: We have also asked that the students enroll in SmartWork – an application of the Norton publisher that accompanies Karty’s text – through which students are assigned homework on a per chapter basis. The length of assignments varies among the chapters – some having a larger problem set, while others are shorter. Students are instructed that to earn full credit for their homework, they must score 85.0% or higher. However, if students receive a score below 85.0%, then they receive a zero for the assignment. Note that this concept was originally used by Joel Karty in his classroom. With his permission, my colleagues and I have implemented this concept into our class. (Thank you Joel!)

Benefits/Present Results: Four weeks into the semester, I can see the benefits in the classroom. Students are actively serving each other as members of a community, due to all the various media. In the Perusall platform, students are randomized and arranged into 4 groups, where they can annotate and reflect on the material discussed in the book. Furthermore, in these community groups the students have been able to provide thoughtful answers to those students that are having issues comprehending the text. This proves the premise stated by Phil Collins, “in learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”

I also find the platform of Perusall quite helpful as I can better formulate my lectures. Students can direct specific questions or annotations directly to me. I use those notations to help create my daily “in class” 10-15 min mini lecture/support sessions to better serve my students and optimize my facetime in the classroom.

I have had students tell me that the recorded lectures and assigned readings of weekly material have permitted them to study the topics at the students’ individual pace. For instance, those that feel they need repetition to absorb/learn the material can view the recorded mini-lectures and Perusall reading multiple times. As an instructor, my colleagues and I appreciate this new method of recorded mini-lectures and directed readings, as it allows us to maximize the amount of time spent on critical thinking and problem solving while in the classroom.

Our new implementation of SmartWork with the text has given the students the freedom to use the homework as a diagnostic tool for their understanding of the material discussed. As with our previous Fall semester, we have maintained the policy of unlimited attempts with regards to solving problems in this platform. However, after speaking with Joel Karty and hearing his success, I am glad that we switched to the assessment of awarding credit for earning 85% or above for each chapter’s assignment. Students feel less stressed and can focus on the material – giving them opportunities to identifying their weaknesses and strengths. With the use of SmartWork in combination with the other policies, the students can relay their concerns and shortcomings as we progress through the semester, which allows me to better meet the needs of my classroom.

-Kerri Taylor, Columbus State University
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