Exploring how enrolling in an online organic chemistry preparation course relates to students’ self-efficacy

Abstract

Self-efficacy has a strong influence on the learning and motivation of science students at the postsecondary level, especially in upper division science classes, which are key to student success in science majors. This empirical mixed methods research study (N = 205) examines the associations between students’ participation in an online preparation course and student self-efficacy in organic chemistry. Qualitative content analysis indicated that students benefited from the online preparatory course in the subsequent organic chemistry course series. The analysis of students’ clickstream data indicated that students with self-efficacy ratings in the top 10th percentile exhibited more frequent and consistent engagement with relevant course materials compared to students in the bottom 10th percentile. Notably, linear regression models indicated that participation in the online preparatory course was associated with higher long-term self-efficacy for first-generation college students. These results suggest that online preparatory courses may benefit some students’ self-efficacy in demanding science courses.

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Acknowledgements

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation through the EHR Core Research Program (Award 1535300) and the UCI Teaching and Learning Research Center. Also, we would like to thank the student research assistants, Lizethe Arce, Andrea Marella and Yucheng Zhu, who contributed to the data coding of the qualitative part of the analysis. The views contained in this article are those of the authors and not of their institutions or the National Science Foundation.

Funding

Funding was provided by Directorate for Education and Human Resources (Grant No. 1535300).

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Appendix

Appendix

Please be aware that this is not a knowledge test, and that you are not expected to do everything listed here.

Remember, your answers will be kept strictly confidential. The instructor will not have access to your identity in your response to this survey.

Please rate your certainty that you could do the following tasks after taking the full year of organic chemistry ([first term organic chemistry class], [second term organic chemistry class], and [third term organic chemistry class]).

Scale: 1 = Cannot do at all 3 = Moderately can do 5 = Highly certain can do

  1 2 3 4 5
1. I understand how structure affects reactivity in organic compounds      
2. Given a condensed organic structure, I can correctly draw a Lewis structure including lone pairs and formal charges      
3. Given an organic compound, I can give the hybridization of every atom, and describe the type of bond (sigma or pi) and the orbitals that overlap to make each bond      
4. For a molecule that can be represented by more than one Lewis structure, I can draw multiple resonance structures      
5. When drawing resonance structures, I can use curvy arrows to move from one resonance structure to the next      
6. I can draw a hybrid structure for multiple resonance structures      
7. I can predict electrophilic sites and nucleophilic sites in a molecule by looking at the hybrid structure      
8. Given an acid and a base, I can predict the products of a Bronsted acid/base reaction, and I can use pKa’s to determine the direction of equilibrium      
9. Given an alkyl halide plus a nucleophile, I can determine whether an SN1, SN2, E1, or E2 reaction will predominate      
10. I can draw a mechanism for an SN1, SN2, E1, or E2 reaction      
11. I can draw an energy diagram for an SN1, SN2, E1, or E2 reaction, and I can draw the structures of any transition states      
12. Given a molecular formula, HNMR, CNMR and IR, I can determine a structure for many simple organic compounds      
13. In the lab, I can run a simple organic reaction, isolate my product using a separatory funnel, and I can purify my product using recrystallization      
14. I can write a laboratory report summarizing main findings      
15. Given an energy diagram, I can label reactants, products, Ea, ΔH for each step and the overall reaction, and I can determine if it is an endothermic, exothermic, fast, or slow reaction      
16. I can draw mechanisms for multistep reactions      
17. I can propose a synthesis for a simple organic compound that can be made in 3 steps      
18. I can propose a synthesis for a more complex organic compound that can be made in 4–6 steps      
19. I can propose a synthesis for a compound that would require 7–10 steps      
20. I can propose a mechanism for a multistep reaction that I have not seen before      
21. I can understand the news/documentary/TV show that I watched on television related to chemistry      
22. I can discuss organic chemistry using correct terminology and I can understand other students and the professor when they do the same      

Open ended question:

Did you take and finish the [online preparation class] prior to taking this year’s Organic Chemistry classes?

Yes_ No_

If yes, how would you describe the influence of the online preparation class on your learning in the Organic Chemistry classes (the first term class, the second term class, and the third term class)?

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Zhou, N., Fischer, C., Rodriguez, F. et al. Exploring how enrolling in an online organic chemistry preparation course relates to students’ self-efficacy. J Comput High Educ 32, 505–528 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12528-019-09244-9

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Keywords

  • Self-efficacy
  • Higher education
  • Distance education
  • Gateway courses
  • Science education