Course Launch: AQA A Level Chemistry

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our latest course: AQA A Level Chemistry. One of our Lead Learning Executives and our Course Lead for Chemistry, Jack Reeves, reveals what went into creating it.

When we first started producing our AQA A Level Chemistry course in June 2020, we had two main challenges in mind. First, how could we create an A-Level course in time for the 2021 A-Level exam season? Second, how were we going to kick off the project with everyone working remotely?

As it turned out, the 2021 exam slate was cancelled, and we had to work from home for the entire project. Yet, despite those curveballs, we’ve managed to release a course that we’re all incredibly proud of. 

Being the best version of ourselves

One of our aims was to make Chemistry the best Up Learn course on the platform. One of the most immediate improvements from the outset is the quality of animation. 

A few highlights include our manipulation of skeletal formulae to illustrate concepts in Organic Chemistry, our use of physics simulation software to demonstrate particle motion in The Ideal Gas Law, and our inclusion of 3D molecule models to show asymmetry in Optical Isomerism. It’s astounding to see how far we’ve come since the stick figures that we used in the early years. 

Chemistry is also the first Up Learn course to introduce the Fluency Quiz feature. These are rapid-fire questions on some of the fundamentals of chemistry; questions like “What are the bond angles in this molecule?”, “What are the oxidation states of each element in this compound?”, and “Which of these substituents has priority, according to the Cahn-Ingold-Prelog Priority Rules?”. 

Like everything else on the platform, Fluency Quizzes stem from cognitive science principles. If a student had to think through the CIP Rules while answering an exam question on stereoisomers, they would use up extra working memory. As a result, they would spend more effort and time on questions like this. 

Fluency in the topic means that the student has stored the rules in long-term memory. When necessary, they can efficiently retrieve the rules from their long-term memory store. As a result, they can apply the fundamentals of chemistry with far less effort and spend valuable exam time on trickier questions. We have included these quizzes throughout the course to help students achieve fluency. 

Being one step ahead of the classroom

Like all Up Learn courses, the Chemistry course does things that aren’t possible in a classroom. 

The extensive and varied use of our quiz system means that students can practice all topics at their own pace and get instant feedback. We tailor the questions to be at the perfect difficulty level for a student’s current understanding of a concept. Most resources rely on questions that are very easy or are already the level of difficulty seen on the exam.

Our animation techniques allow us to guide students through instructional sequences. We can focus their attention on the most important parts of a molecule or calculation. 

Finally, our introduction videos give the concepts a historical or real-world context. We believe it’s important to make scientific advances feel impactful. They also make each topic more memorable and help students differentiate one concept from another. 

Update as of May 2021

Last month, we uploaded the 1000th video to our AQA A Level Chemistry course. This was a big milestone, but we’ve still got work to do. Lots of Year 13 Organic content is currently in production. Expect sections on Chromatography, Carboxylic Acids and Amines to come soon. 

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