Blackboard Chemistry

For Janine May's section of Organic Chemistry, she asks her students to solve problems on the board in groups. There are no formal prerequisites for the activity, but students should keep up with the lectures and readings to solve the problems. The instructor breaks the students up into groups and allows them to use books, notes, and any other materials to work out the problems on the chalkboard. The groups work simultaneously, and the instructor walks around the room offering help and answering questions. At the end of the activity, she goes over the answer.

The purpose of this activity is to encourage students to think more actively in section rather than just writing down notes while the instructor goes through the problems. Generally, Janine finds that students dislike the activity, because the class is already stressful and it puts them on the spot. They would prefer to just take notes, and some students found the activity inefficient. However, problem-solving is extremely important for their learning. So, Janine recommends using this activity for the most important concepts and saving it for later in the semester, when the students are more comfortable with the material.