B.P. Eklund, J.W. Inhofer, J.D. Greenwood, O. Mohamed, P.L. Larsen, X. Prat-Resina

University of Minnesota Rochester (UNITED STATES)
Introductory chemistry and other undergraduate first-year science courses involve some topics that need first to be mastered before students can address higher-order thinking problems. One could say that students need to first learn the language of that scientific discipline before they can express themselves in that language. In chemistry, for example, it is necessary to master low-order skills such as chemistry nomenclature, common oxidation states, memorizing the amino acids or identify the strength of common acids and bases before one can solve some higher-order problems. These kind of low-order skills are typically repetitive and students have a hard time being engaged and achieve the desired mastery level. A solution to this problem is the so-called gamification, that is, to design more engaging game-like activities to achieve the desired goal.

We are presenting a set of web-based game-like activities developed by students themselves. Game-like activities can be thought as the perfect active learning activity since they show clear goals, give immediate feedback and, if designed well and aligned with the course learning objectives, are engaging and improve retention.

Some of our students who had already taken the introductory chemistry course or who were taking it concurrently, took a semester to learn some basics of Javascript and web design to develop their own game-like activities. Having students designing the activities has resulted in a win-win situation for both instructors and students. The instructors have engaging game-like tools to be used in forthcoming courses and students learn some programming and find it rewarding to create from scratch their own games that other students may use.

We will also report how we developed an open repository of chemistry data to be used both for low-order skills such as the online games mentioned above, but also for higher-order thinking and self-regulated learning. The same set of molecules and molecular properties are used for both purposes and it is open access to everyone available at