University of Minnesota
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Videos to enhance learning in organic laboratory course

Professor Jane Wissinger, Department of Chemistry organic lab director, has received a $10,000 Office of Information Technology (OIT) Faculty Fellowship. She will use this fellowship to develop a series of videos for her organic laboratory course, encompassing apparatus, observations, and problem-solving skills.

The videos will augment Wissinger's lectures, and reinforce proper experiment and laboratory techniques and equipment and chemical use. Wissinger said that there are about 15 techniques, eight apparatus, and four instrument data interpretations taught throughout the semester-long course. Each video will include step-by-step details, hints, and suggestions. They will be posted on the website and easily accessible to students. The videos also will be used to train teaching assistants.

Wissinger said that at the beginning of the semester, students face a steep learning curve as they learn about the variety of glassware and techniques required in organic laboratories to synthesize, characterize, and purify the organic compounds studied.

"I believe that providing students with videos that they can review frequently during the semester and in preparation for the final lab practical examination will be a great value to the students," she said. "They will have more confidence before entering the lab, be able to focus more readily on understanding theory and making observations, and work more safely at the bench."

Wissinger hopes to share her experiences and the results of implementing these videos at two major chemistry conferences—the American Chemical Society meeting in August 2014, and the Biennial Conference in Chemical Education in 2014.

Front page photo by Eileen Harvala. Story photo by Patrick O'Leary.