A common question heard at POGIL faculty development workshops
With POGIL, can you cover all the topics found in a traditional chemistry course? The cumulative nature of organic chemistry, and the above ACS Organic Exam data suggest that coverage is achieved using POGIL. This issue was also directly studied by taking students from a lecture organic 1 section and students from a POGIL organic 1 section, and putting them all together in the same organic 2 section (taught by a 3rd professor using traditonal lecture). The result was no signficant difference between the lecture and POGIL-trained students, despite higher throughput from the POGIL organic 1 course into organic 2 (POGIL: 93% vs. lecture: 73%). This result also demonstrates that POGIL students can go on to be successful in a subsequent course taught using traditional methods.
While the above results allow valuable comparisons to be made between POGIL and traditional methods, student grades and performance on exams, particularly standardized exams, are a fairly narrow assessment of the effectiveness of POGIL. For example, exams say little about students’ growth with respect to POGIL’s targeted process skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, and self-assessment. Growth in process skills is hard to measure directly. An alternative is to measure students’ perceptions of their own growth with respect to such skills. This was done using the SALG (Student Assessment of Learning Gains) instrument. SALG questions also measure students’ perceptions of the value of certain course elements (e.g. the text, review sessions, tests, lectures, working with peers outside of class). The SALG was administered at four institutions using POGIL in some or all of their organic chemistry sections. Of 30 items tested, POGIL students responded more positively than their traditional counterparts on 29 of them, with 27 items showing significant differences between the cohorts (p<0.05)1