Promoting more critical thinking in organic chemistry labs

How several lab experiments used in the traditional two-semester organic lab course at Eastern New Mexico University have been modified to add critical thinking components (subsequent to a 2005 CWCS workshop) to promote better student engagement. One lab modified was a kinetics experiment (using varied starting materials, conditions) which concludes with group comparative analysis of results to discover trends. Inquiry was also incorporated into a new biodiesel experiment by using different starting oils and having students perform comparative analyses of resulting biodiesel products. Presentation of effective and simple strategies (as well as potential pitfalls) for incorporating more inquiry and critical thinking into traditional organic labs.
Robert Long