Organic Synthesis

The cognitive domain of Bloom’s taxonomy (describes six orders of learning in the form of a pyramid, in which remembering is at the bottom and creating (something new) is at the top. The higher orders of learning require advanced skills such as analysis and problem-solving, as well as incorporating the lower level skills. Retrosynthetic analysis and synthesis require higher order thinking skills and constitute challenges in learning. We are studying how chemistry students learn those higher order skills and the effectiveness of in- and out-of-class teaching & learning activities. One main goal is to help students improve their higher order thinking skills through those targeted learning activities.

We're studying students' strategies and skills in solving organic synthesis problems. We've also developed learning activities that can be used in large or small classes to help students learn those skills. Check out Nik's recent video about our work:






Online Learning tools (the study of student learning)


research studies: 

Organic Chemistry's language

Research studies:

  • Galloway, K. R.; Stoyanovich, C.; Flynn, A. B. "Students’ interpretations of mechanistic language in organic chemistry before learning reactions" Chem. Educ. Res. Pract. 201718, 353.
  • Flynn, A. B.; Featherstone, R. B. "Language of mechanisms: exam analysis reveals students' strengths, strategies, and errors when using the electron-pushing formalism (curved arrows) in new reactions" Chem. Educ. Res. Pract. 201718, 64.

Self-Regulated learning

Please click here to see more information on Alison's project as the Chair in University Teaching at the University of Ottawa