New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Increasing Students’ Understanding of Organic Chemistry in Secondary School in Belgium

Laureline Van Overmeir, ? (Belgium)

Cécile Moucheron, Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)


Organic chemistry constitutes an important part of chemistry, which is not taught a lot at secondary school in Belgium. Teaching of organic chemistry often boils down to the learning of names and rules by heart, and the assessment of students includes almost solely restitution.

A first evaluation of more than 600 students showed that the best mastered points concern the nomenclature as well as a pure restitution of the reactions taught in class. The least mastered point concerns reflection exercises about organic reactions. We also found that several concepts of general chemistry, crucial for the understanding of organic chemistry (chemical bonds, polarity, hydrogen bonding), are still far from fully thought out. Also the students do not have assimilated the role of organic chemistry in everyday life. We have therefore decided to develop two learning sequences, the aim of which is to make students think and to introduce more reflection into the chapter of organic chemistry.

The first sequence proposes to students to put organic chemistry into context, to make them realize the important role played by organic chemistry in our daily life and to discover for the first time the different functions that they will approach sequentially later.

The second sequence deals with organic synthesis in order to summarize all the organic reactions being taught. Starting from the synthesis of drugs, we manage to construct, with the students, a table summarizing the reactivity of the different organic functions taught in secondary school. From there, students can think and imagine by themselves how to prepare a molecule from a proposed precursor.


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