Investigating students understanding of organic reaction mechanisms from performing organic chemistry experiments

Nimesh Mistry, Stephen Nicholson


The use of laboratory work to improve students’ knowledge of theory is one that is disputed. Student reflections of what they learn during practical work repeatedly show that students rarely think about theory. There is a lack of data that objectively compares students’ knowledge of theory where they complete an associated experiment to when they do not in order to understand if practical work does effect students’ knowledge of scientific concepts. In this work we aimed to address this gap by investigating the effect of students’ knowledge of organic mechanisms where they both perform and associated experiment and where they did not. Our results showed that organic chemistry experiments had no effect on students’ knowledge of organic mechanisms. These results support the view that there is little evidence to support the use of laboratory work to aid understanding of theory.


Laboratory education; organic chemistry

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