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Cognitive Learning Differences Between Sexes in Organic Chemistry

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Derek Baker

Additional Presenters:
Lauren Jensen, Jacob McArthur, Cassidy Wilkes, and Seunghwan Shin
Differences in sexes have long been speculated, yet their application in chemistry learning environments has not been well researched. Literature shows that males have larger cerebral volumes for visual capacities more often associated with hands-on projects and courses than female brains. And female brains have larger cerebral volumes for areas associated with memorization and socialization which more highly correlate with lecture-based learning. Given the high attrition of women in chemistry courses, we investigated this phenomenon in organic chemistry topics that are highly visual (e.g. chirality, Newman projections, chair conformations, bond rotations, etc.) and topics that require more memorization (e.g., functional groups, energy values associated with sterics, nomenclature, definitions, etc.). We conducted an anonymous survey with students who are currently enrolled in organic chemistry or have taken organic chemistry in the past. The questions varied in difficulty as well as levels of visualization or memorization required. The results show correlation with the literature that males score better in the visual-based questions, and females score better in the memorization-based questions. With these results, we have designed course interventions to bridge the gaps between the extremes of visualization vs. memorization-based concepts for the students.
University / Institution: Southern Utah University
Type: Poster
Format: In Person
Presentation #A38
SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)
Area of Research: Education
Faculty Mentor: Guizella Rocabado