avatar for Jordan Tyo

Jordan Tyo

University of Michigan
Undergraduate Researcher
Organic chemistry courses are typically some of the most difficult introductory courses for undergraduate students, in part due to the challenge of attaching meaning to representations of molecules. While many studies have focused on the difficulty students face in learning organic chemistry, few have evaluated instructors’ organic chemistry content knowledge and how they use this to develop knowledge for teaching. To investigate university instructors’ knowledge for teaching organic chemistry mechanisms, we utilized a task-based think-aloud interview protocol where graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) and faculty instructors assessed authentic undergraduate student responses to organic chemistry mechanism questions. The results from one of these questions, a substitution reaction, are presented here. We describe how GTA participants’ knowledge for teaching was impacted by their content knowledge. GTA participants’ knowledge of what makes the topic difficult and representations aligned with prior studies on undergraduate student understanding of organic chemistry mechanisms, but GTA participants’ knowledge of teaching strategies were limited and primarily knowledge-telling strategies. These findings illuminate strengths and gaps in graduate students’ knowledge for teaching which can guide how they are supported as instructors.
POSTER TITLE: Chemistry graduate teaching assistants' knowledge of organic chemistry mechanisms

THEME: Learning and cognitive research
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