J.A. Llorens-Molina

Universitat Politècnica de València (SPAIN)
To design a short term course for introducing organic chemistry at the beginning of Food Science and Technology degree faces up several challenges related to changes derived from the European Space of Higher Education development.

These challenges can be summarized as follows:
a) Suitable design for promoting student self-paced learning, which requires to enhance formative assessment,
b) High heterogeneity of students in terms of their initial level of competences,
c) Several topics in introductory organic chemistry show specific learning difficulties which are mainly related to coordination among the three levels of description of matter structure: simbolic, macroscopic and atomic-molecular,
d) The need of introducing new technologies both as usuary and creator of digital products,
e) The subject-matter content should take into account the specific characteristics of degree, in this case, on Food Science and Technology.

In order to meet these challenges, a model of introductory organic chemistry short course is proposed in this contribution. The involved educational resources are, for the most part, freely available on the web. The main characteristics which define it are the following:

Five essential issues are dealt with as course introduction:
a) Making and interpretation of Lewis structures,
b) Differences between covalent and intermolecular bonding,
c) Molecular polarity and its influence in physical properties,
d) Types of C-C bonds and molecular structures to which they give rise;
e) Meaning of different formulas and molecular representations and the extent in which they describe the reality.

The course is composed of two units:
a) General topics related to molecular structure, formulation and nomenclature, isomerism and general principles of reactivity and
b) Study of the most important organic families.

Two resources for carrying out the first unit are available to favour autonomous learning: hipermedia online course whose content matches with the presential sessions and a SPOC (small private online course) whose objective is to achieve a homogeneous level of competences regarding to basic formulation and nomenclature. Resources for the rest of the course consist of power-point presentations and solved activities sheets. Every presential sessions has learning objects linked (videos less than 10 minutes long) which aim is to reinforce the most essential or difficult topics or developing applied aspects of subject-matter. Formative assessment is performed by means of weekly online multiple choice tests and other ones by mobile-phone in attending sessions.

A team activity consisting of making a screencast about a vegetable food is proposed. The students should describe formulas and 3D structures of the most representative molecules. They must do it by means of specific software. Likewise, the students report nutritional and health information about their assigned subject. Teacher assessment and co-assesment are applied by means a rubric when evaluating this activity. Laboratory work is integrated in the learning sequence by means of pre-lab activities which are composed of an online test associated to a video exposing foundations and methodology of experimental activities. Post-lab ones are also proposed for making sense from results and relating them with theoretical issues.

Together with two exams held throughout the course, all the described activities are taken into account when evaluating the students’ performance.