While cleaning out my newly assigned “war room” (the setting where I’ll strategize on how best to torture students this fall), I came across some fairly interesting documents that were buried in far corners of crowded file cabinets. They’re nothing personal or discriminating (sorry TMZ), but I saw them as material I could use in upcoming classes.
One of the several I found, titled “Common Student Difficulties in Organic Chemistry,” caught my attention more than the others. The document, which appears to have been assembled using a typewriter (for the unfamiliar, you can find information about typewriters here), lists problems students encounter while navigating through the dreaded “O Chem”. In any case, at the bottom of the page, in bold, is the following message:
If you start to get into trouble in this course review this sheet. Knowing what has gone wrong allows you to fix it.
This closing interested me from a historical perspective. Did enough students bomb the course to warrant this document’s assembly? Did the professor discover this or a similar list at an ACS meeting and felt it was prudent to include it in his/her course? Did the document actually help students better understand the course material?
Although I can speculate until the cows come home, I’m throwing it out to you, the blogosphere. Do you agree with this list? Would you change anything on it? I’m curious to see what the blogger generation thinks (FYI, I believe this list was developed in the 1980’s).
- Lack of organization
- Difficulty in keeping up with lecture while taking notes
- Failure to finish exams
- Inability to manipulate three-dimensional structures on paper
- Too little drill – lack of repetitive practice
- Falling behind
- Poor problem analysis
- Inability to see and mentally manipulate three-dimensional objects
- Insufficient energy and/or motivation for the challenges of this course