When do students recognize relationships between molecular structure and properties? A longitudinal comparison of the impact of traditional and transformed curricula
The ability to use a chemical structure to predict and explain phenomenon is essential to a robust understanding of chemistry; however, previous research has shown that students find it difficult to make the connection between structure and properties. In this study we examine how student recognition of the connections between structure and properties evolves during the first two years of college chemistry courses. In addition, we investigate how an alternative general chemistry curriculum (Chemistry, Life, the Universe and Everything (CLUE)) impacts students' understanding during these first two-years. Using discrete-time survival analysis to analyze student responses to the Implicit Information from Lewis Structures Instrument (IILSI), we found that it takes multiple semesters for students enrolled in a traditional curriculum to recognize that chemical structures can be used as models to predict chemical and physical properties. Students in the CLUE curriculum, however, tend to make this connection earlier than a matched cohort of students from a traditional curriculum, and this advantage is maintained throughout the two semesters of organic chemistry. In general, the control group takes an additional year of organic chemistry to reach the same level as the CLUE students after a year of general chemistry.