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A PowerPoint Presentation Assignment for an Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Class

Karen Phillips (Chemistry)

Organic chemistry is a required subject for all chemistry and biology majors and is considered a "gatekeeper" course for progressing toward advanced degrees or careers in fields such as chemistry, biochemistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, or pharmacy.   Students at this level need to know how to retrieve peer-reviewed and published scientific information from the Internet and the library.  These students also need to practice skills that are important in the scientific workforce, such as working in teams, organizing information in a coherent way, putting together visually appealing presentations, and communicating thoughts and ideas with enthusiasm and effectiveness.

Professor Phillips has designed a PowerPoint presentation assignment as an alternative form of assessment in this class of approximately 150 students.  Presentations on topics reflecting students' scientific interests are done collaboratively by groups of four to six students.  Students evaluate their peers' presentations using clickers to record their responses to an evaluation rubric.  The use of clickers allows for automatic, real-time compilation of evaluation results, rather than manual compilation of paper evaluation forms.  Students also share their PowerPoint presentations with their peers by uploading them to Google Docs and linking to them through Blackboard's discussion board.