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Peer Review

ELIXR: Active Learning in Organic Chemistry

by Thomas Carey , Lou Zweier , Don Paulson (contributor) , Kensaku Nakayama


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Feb 26, 2017 by Faculty Development
Overview: The learning material is a video presentation that demonstrates the use of cooperative learning or team collaborations within the lecture session of a class. In this video presentation, students were assigned to groups and were inclined to work together to solve problems in their Organic Chemistry class. This material is a suitable additional component for a faculty professional development training course. It can also be utilized by students in instructional or educational technology. Furthermore, the material can be used by college students who are studying various “learning theories” particularly sociocognitive learning theories as introduced by theorists such as Bandura and Vygotsky.
Type of Material: Case story and video presentation
Recommended Uses: The case study scenarios will help faculty members plan and develop cooperative classroom experiences. Seeing the active cooperative learning experiences in progress will give the professor confidence in facilitating the activity. The video presentation is a lecture material that can be followed by class discussion on the importance of group or cooperative learning. The material can also be used as an independent study material.
Technical Requirements: Browser, Flash plugin
Identify Major Learning Goals: Explaining to faculty members the benefits and importance of implementing cooperative/collaborative learning in their lectures; Providing faculty members an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of assigning students in teams by learning how the students in the case study felt about cooperative learning; Acquiring deeper understanding of learning theories, particularly sociocognitive learning theories; Providing instructional and educational technology professionals as well as curriculum designers an example of how cooperative/collaborative learning can be implemented in the curriculum;
Target Student Population: Professionals in charge of faculty development plans; teachers interested in additional teaching methods; lower or upper-grade students of learning theories, and educational technology or instructional design professionals
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The information about active and cooperative learning is accurate and thorough. Many important components about planning and developing cooperative learning activities are covered. One of the challenges is finding the perfect task that presents a problem which incorporates key concepts and challenges students -- the example assignments are valuable is helping the Organic Chemistry instructor get started.
Concerns: The material does not demonstrate the factors that instructors need to consider when assigning students in viable groups. Although the instructor and some students expressed the positive factors of cooperative learning, some students also expressed their difficulties and disadvantages of being part of a group. For instance, one student expressed her dissatisfaction of being assigned with non-participating team members. These issues still need to be addressed with suggested solutions. Outside the class lectures, setting aside a time to meet with group members seems to be an issue for some students. It would be beneficial for the instructor to include online collaborative systems such as wiki or Skype as means for students to meet and work with each other outside the classroom. "Active learning" is an extremely broad range of classroom teaching strategies. This example is more about cooperative learning, which is one type of active learning.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The comments of both the professor and students are presented for a balanced perspective on benefits and challenges of active cooperative learning. Many of the classroom teaching challenges such as limited participation and passive students are common in every discipline. The before and after comparison gives instructors hope that cooperative learning can improve students learning in their classes. The material is presented with clarity, focus, and organization, and appeals to teachers with multiple learning styles. It is also effective in motivating teachers to adopt collaborative or cooperative learning in their classes. In addition, the material provides the learner,freedom to pause, review, and fast forward the video for further evaluation. Quantitative evaluation data provides evidence that the techniques are effective.
Concerns: If the instructor wants to incorporate active learning into course, he/she would need more information. They would benefit from some text-based "how-to" resources. In particular, instructors want to know about the most effective group size and how to grade the activity. Does the instructor ever lecture? How does the instructor manage the logistics of getting from lecture auditorium to small-group classroom? How often are these activities used?

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The videos are high production quality and chunked into short engaging segments. The website is efficient, intuitive, and easy to navigate.
Concerns: It would be helpful to have the name of a button/icon appear when the curser hovers over it.

Creative Commons:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States