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The HTML Project

Science educators ought to provide students with one of the great lessons about understanding scientific knowledge: when you encounter new information, the first two questions should to be (a) "Do I believe this?" and to get to there, (b) "Does the presented evidence or argument warrant the claim?"

This is the goal of "The HTML Project."

Starting in 1994, groups of 80-120 second semester first-year students taking Organic Chemistry at the University of Michigan transform journal articles from the recent primary literature into teaching materials for each other. Working in groups of 15-20, each group gets a synthetic organic sequence from a different paper that reflects, more or less, the subject matter from the Chemistry 215 course. Over the semester, through a sequence of weekly assignments that accompany the course, subgroups of 2-3 students each take on the task of understanding one step in the sequence: its mechanism, its experimental procedure, the interpretation of the spectroscopic data, and some leading questions provided by the instructor.

By the end of the term, these Structured Study Groups (SSG), meeting weekly under the guidance of an junior or senior undergraduate leader, construct a book (text and web) that contains their presentation of the chemistry in these papers. This web site is where the results from that work reside. Unfortunately, the entire archive takes up too much space, so only a couple of years worth of these HTML projects are available here.

How Do We Use This Resource?

In this section of the Chemistry 215 course, the final examination is based on the chemistry presented in the student-generated text. And, in general, the questions are derived from any errors that are left remaining... because while the work generally terrific, it is not (and cannot be) perfect. How to study for this? Thinking about those two questions, posed above, is a good staring point.