Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Brian Alters

Second Advisor

Dawn Hunter

Third Advisor

Keith Howard

Fourth Advisor

Philip Sadler, Joe Schwarcz


Organic chemistry is accepted as a crucial part of science higher education funneling students into many career opportunities such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medical industries. Students attempting organic chemistry courses in higher education are among a plethora of majors including biology, chemistry, health science, and engineering. However, organic chemistry as a course has stayed fairly stagnant for the past 50 years. Students in this course typically resort to rote-memorization and often regard the course itself as insurmountable. To answer the decreasing retention rates seen across the United States, the research revolving around organic chemistry knowledge and teaching methodologies has increased in the past twenty years. Furthermore, self-efficacy in chemistry has been established as a pivotal aspect for students to be successful in chemistry; yet little effort has been made to understand if a relationship exists between foundational knowledge in organic chemistry and a student’s chemistry self-efficacy. In an effort to help fill this gap in the literature, this dissertation investigates the relationship between chemistry-oriented misconceptions held by university students and their organic chemistry self-efficacy during the first semester organic chemistry course. Specifically, 97 university students were surveyed using validated instruments regarding their foundational knowledge of chemistry based on NGSS standards, their chemistry selfefficacy, and demographic information. The results indicated that at the beginning of the semester, the more chemistry-oriented misconceptions students held, their chemistry selfefficacy was significantly lower. The students who had attempted organic chemistry at least once before were also highly correlated with more misconceptions. At the end of the semester, the number of misconceptions were again negatively correlated with student self-efficacy. These findings may have implications for organic chemistry instructors to set more foundational curriculum at the beginning of the semester to work through misconceptions as they could pose a roadblock to self-efficacy enhancement and ultimate success in the course.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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