Organic Chemistry with Professor Kathleen Hess


The Sheridan Center worked closely with Professor Kathleen Hess to create an online exercise to develop students' understanding of the processes occuring at the molecular level during a laboratory procedure. The exercise focused on the procedure for recrystallization, a technique commonly used to purify a contaminated compound. In the exercise, the procedure was interspersed with questions asking students to provide conceptual explanations for certain steps and possible outcomes. Students received feedback on their exercise responses and Professor Hess used these responses to identify concepts to review during her lecture.


Brief narrated animations created by Professor Hess and the Sheridan Center during the summer of 2015 provided a visual explanation of key concepts in the context of the laboratory procedure. These animations appeared as part of the feedback that students received on their exercise responses.


Online exercises can prepare students for in-class activities, help students gauge their own understanding, and highlight concepts for instructors to address during class. A successful learning exercise is low-stakes, interactive, provides immediate feedback, and carefully integrated with class meetings. Creating online exercises can involve identifying challenging concepts and learning goals, planning and development of learning exercise structure and content, planning and creating videos or animations, collecting feedback from students and teaching assistants, and revising components based on feedback. For the instructor, the average time for a similar project is two to six months, depending on the scope and number of exercises.