Lecture + Lab versus Lecture or Lab

We currently have a system where first semester organic chemistry lecture and laboratory is counted as one 5 credit course. The lab is considered to account for one of those five credits. As a result, the lab grade is worth 20% of the course grade. In many schools, organic chemistry lecture is a separate course from the laboratory. As I see it, the main advantage of keeping lab and lecture separate is that a student who has done well in laboratory course but not-so-well in the lecture course can retake the lecture without having to redo all the labs. It also makes sense when the lecture and lab sections are taught by different instructors. The disadvantage of this arrangement is the possible disconnect between lecture and lab. Not taking lab and lecture simultaneously, takes something away from both.

The main advantage of the lab + lecture course is that lab grade usually has a positive impact on the course grade. Presumably, a “B-“ in lab + lecture looks better than a “C” in lecture accompanied with an “A” in lab. The lab + lecture grade also makes sense if the same instructor teaches both with the intention of intertwining lab and lecture topics. This has advantages to both instructor and student to cover the vast amount of organic chemistry material in a comprehensive and rational fashion. The disadvantage of lab + lecture is that lab takes a disproportionate amount of work compared to lecture.


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