An Iterative Approach to Active Learning Improves Student Outcomes in a First Year Chemistry Course

Bhavani Balasubramanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


General Chemistry is an important gateway course for several Engineering and Pre-Health students at NJIT. The first semester of this two-course sequence is required for many students and typically has high failure rates (24% on average). To increase student engagement and learning, and improve passing rates, the Freshman Chemistry instructors implemented active learning strategies in the classroom. Hand-written worksheets were incorporated as a mandatory component of active learning during one of the class periods. The purpose of these worksheets was to challenge the student to learn and apply concepts learned during lecture. As students worked through the problems, they received immediate feedback and were encouraged to revisit the concepts and learn them thoroughly. The worksheets were designed such that a well-prepared student could complete it within the allotted class time, but an unprepared student could not. The unprepared student could then go to instructor office hours and continue to get feedback to better understand the concepts and solve the problems. This iterative active learning approach has helped students engage in the classroom and perform better on the standardized ACS final exam. We plan to continue to use this approach for the first year Chemistry sequence and implement it in other challenging courses at NJIT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalACS Symposium Series
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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