Collaborative Research: Improving Student Learning in Organic Chemistry Using Reaction Simulations

Steven A Fleming
Professor of Instruction
Temple University

The first version of Interactive Organic Reaction Animations (iORA) is now available for students to use on their Smartphones. iORA is a teaching tool that will help students visualize organic chemistry reactions. It is an upgraded and more accurate version of the original Organic Reaction Animations (ORA). We also have a version of the animations that is web-based using Jmol. We have initiated assessment of iORA. One of the interesting questions that we are addressing is whether students retain reaction details better after reading textbook descriptions or after viewing more accurate animations of quantum mechanical based simulations. We are considering equal time-on-task for this comparison. We also have collected data related to 3D visualization skill (Purdue Spatial Visualization Test – Rotation) and we will report on links between learning organic chemistry and the inherent differences of perceptual ability that exist in the general population. We hope to show that the iORA animations will be an effective teaching tool for all students, but particularly for those who struggle with 3D visualization.


Dan Ess, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT