Chapter 8: Problem Solving Using NMR and IR Spectroscopy for Structural Characterization in Organic Chemistry
Published:17 May 2021
M. C. Connor and G. V. Shultz, in Problems and Problem Solving in Chemistry Education: Analysing Data, Looking for Patterns and Making Deductions, ed. G. Tsaparlis, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021, ch. 8, pp. 166-198.
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Determination of chemical identity is a fundamental chemistry practice that previously relied on the analysis of properties such as chemical composition, solubility, and reactivity. This practice now depends almost exclusively on the characterization of molecular structure through spectroscopic analysis. This analysis is a day-to-day task of organic chemists, and instruction in modern organic chemistry aims to cultivate such ability. This chapter provides an overview of the literature on teaching and learning spectroscopic structure elucidation, with the aim of presenting the current state of research, empirical insights into teaching and learning this practice, and trends in instructional innovations. A number of studies have investigated reasoning and problem-solving approaches used to evaluate spectroscopic data for organic structural determination, and they provide a foundation for understanding how this ability develops and how instruction may facilitate such learning. These studies consistently suggest that individuals with different amounts of prior coursework and research experience interpret spectra differently. Specifically, individuals with less coursework and experience often possess limited chemical knowledge and restrict their decision making to fewer observations while ignoring relevant spectral information. Practice articles on spectroscopic structure elucidation focus on two general types of instructional innovations: instructional scaffolding and laboratory exercises. These articles notably incorporate few empirical insights, suggesting a gap between the substantial research conducted on the learning of spectroscopic structure elucidation and instructional innovation.