News & Events

Mike Stieff , Ph.D.

Posted on October 6, 2023


Date - October 6, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Professor & Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
Department of Chemistry and the Learning Sciences Research Institute
University of Illinois Chicago

Talk Title: “Supporting Students’ Visualization Strategies in the Organic Chemistry Classroom”


Spatial thinking plays a central role in the organic chemistry problem classroom. Organic students are routinely tasked with reasoning about the spatial properties of molecular structures and their transformations over time. As such, visuo-spatial ability is an obvious target for improving student success in organic classrooms. Yet, empirical reports have yet to demonstrate that interventions designed to improve visuo-spatial ability yield sizeable or reliable improvements in student success. This talk will examine alternative explanations for the poor predictive validity of visuo-spatial ability in organic chemistry with attention to the diverse way that spatial thinking manifests in STEM domains. I illustrate how various strategies and representational tools of chemistry mediate the relationship between visuo-spatial ability and academic achievement in the domain. These findings inform practical approaches to addressing the challenges organic students face with visualizing molecular structures.