Support for instructional scaffolding with 1H NMR spectral features in organic chemistry textbook problems
Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is vital to synthesis and provides rich problem-solving opportunities to organic chemistry students. Using the theories of scaffolding, interleaving, and blocking, our research systematically explores how textbooks introduce and reinforce spectral features when teaching students to solve 1H NMR spectroscopy problems. Specifically, we investigated the 1H NMR spectral features presented in worked examples and practice problems across four undergraduate organic chemistry textbooks. We examined the frequency and ordering of spectral features to explore how the textbooks could support scaffolded instruction. Spectral features like the number of signals and chemical shift were covered by problems more frequently, while integration was covered least. Our findings suggest that textbooks do not provide sufficient practice with all 1H NMR spectral features. We observed no discernible pattern in how textbooks ordered spectral features of 1H NMR in problems, indicating that there is little systematic method to the design of textbook chapters. Implications for textbook authors and editors, instruction, and research are discussed.