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Monday, March 1 • 2:30pm - 2:45pm
Talk Session 2: Developing expertise in 1H NMR spectral interpretation

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Advancements in organic chemistry depend upon chemists’ ability to interpret NMR spectra, though research demonstrates that cultivating such proficiency requires years of graduate-level study. The organic chemistry community thus needs insight into how this expertise develops to expedite learning among its newest members. This study investigated undergraduate and doctoral chemistry students’ understanding and information processing during the interpretation of 1H NMR spectra and complementary IR spectra. Eye movements were measured to identify differences in cognitive processes between undergraduate and doctoral participants, and interviews were conducted to elucidate the assumptions that guided participants’ reasoning. Results suggest five areas of understanding are necessary for interpreting spectra, and progress in understanding corresponds to increasing knowledge of experimental and implicit chemical variables. Undergraduate participants exhibited uninformed bidirectional processing of all information, whereas doctoral participants exhibited informed unidirectional processing of relevant information. These findings imply the community can support novices’ development of expertise by cultivating relevant understanding and encouraging use of informed interpretation strategies, including preliminary evaluation of relevant variables, prediction of expected spectral features, and search for complementary data across spectra. These findings also provide insight into the potential relationship between conceptual understanding and information possessing across scientific representations.

avatar for Megan Connor

Megan Connor

Graduate Student, University of Michigan
I'm a graduate student in the Shultz Group at the University of Michigan, where I investigate the teaching and learning of spectroscopy in organic chemistry. My research interests include students' reasoning, eye tracking, and instrument development.

Monday March 1, 2021 2:30pm - 2:45pm CST