Molecular Images in Organic Chemistry: Assessment of Understanding in Aromaticity, Symmetry, Spectroscopy, and Shielding



When students take General Chemistry there are substantially fewer molecular images than they will encounter in Organic Chemistry. The molecular images Organic Chemistry students see in their textbooks are ones that use dashes and wedges to represent 2D and semi 3D views, ball and spoke, ball and wire, and structural formulas, to name just a few. They also use physical models and may also have the opportunity to work with computer generated molecular models. They are expected to understand verbal instruction connected with the images and at the same time how the verbal explanation fits with the visual image. There has been little research that combines the use of molecular images of molecules with questions that require organic chemistry students to understand concepts. This research paper addresses students' understanding of organic chemistry concepts where ball and wire and ball and spoke visual images of molecules are combined with questions related to the areas of aromaticity, symmetry, spectroscopy, and shielding. The intention is to provide a basis for assessing students' understanding.


Organic chemistry concepts aromaticity spectroscopy symmetry shielding molecular images 


  1. Brown, W. H., and Foote, C. S. (2002). Organic Chemistry, Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA.Google Scholar
  2. Carey, F. A. (2000). Organic Chemistry, McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  3. Clark, J. M., and Paivio, A. (1991). Dual coding theory and education. Educational Psychology Review 3: 149–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Crouch, R. D., Holden, M. S., and Samet, C. (1996). CAChe molecular modeling: A visualization tool early in the undergraduate chemistry curriculum. Journal of Chemical Education 73: 96.Google Scholar
  5. Ealy, J. B. (2003). Student feedback from interviews on an organic quiz incorporating molecular modeling images. Paper presented at the American Chemical Society Meeting. New York City, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Ealy, J. B. (2004). Students’ understanding is enhanced through molecular modeling.Journal of Science Education and Technology 13: 461–471.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hermanson, J., and Ealy, J. B. (2003). Utilization of Molecular Modeling Images for Quizzes in Organic Chemistry: Assessment Through Short and Long Response Questions, American Chemical Society meeting. New York City, New York.Google Scholar
  8. Martin, N. H. (1998). Integration of computational chemistry into the chemistry curriculum. Journal of Chemical Education 75: 241–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Mayer, R. E. (1999). The promise of Educational Psychology, Prentice-Hall/Merrill, Upper Saddle River, NJ.Google Scholar
  10. Mayer, R. E. (2001). Multimedia Learning, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  11. McMurry, J. (2004). Organic Chemistry, Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA.Google Scholar
  12. Paivio, A. (1986). Mental Representations: A Dual Coding Approach, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England.Google Scholar
  13. Patrick, M. H., and Herman, T. (2003) Integrating physical models and computer visualization to teach molecular literacy. Paper presented at the American Chemical Society meeting. New York City, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Reeves, J. H., Ward, C. R., and Martin, N. H. (2003). Pocket PCs and wireless networks in science and mathematics education. Paper presented at the American Chemical Society meeting. New York City, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Wittrock, M. C. (1989). Generative processes of comprehension. Educational Psychologist 24: 345–376.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Indiana University-Purdue UniversityIndianapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations