When students ask me why learning organic chemistry is such hard work, I often begin by telling them that it’s just so different from general chemistry. At the beginning of the course, there’s plenty of overlap since students in organic chemistry must have a strong foundation in the structure, bonding, and properties of molecules. Eventually, … Continue reading An Active Learning Exercise for Conformational Analysis
Rarely are real-world applications of chemistry emphasized enough in the mainstream organic chemistry course. This can explain why students tend to view chemistry as structures on the page or as schemes drawn on the white board. A strictly two-dimensional discussion of chemistry can be one of the reasons that students struggle to connect what they … Continue reading Chemistry in the Real World: Applications That Bring Life to the Page
“I hated that class!” That’s what nearly every doctor and dentist I’ve ever had has said when I tell them that I teach organic chemistry. It’s no surprise that I was afraid to declare my undergraduate major at Mount Holyoke College until I had passed organic chemistry, given its notorious difficulty. Was I smart enough? … Continue reading Cultivating a Growth Mindset in Organic Chemistry Using Online Assessment and Group Exams
In the past four weeks, our time in lecture has been spent bridging the gap between principles (general chemistry) and preparing for the first exam. One topic that has a recurring theme between the two is hybridization. I have noticed two major groups of students: (1) those who need review, and (2) those who are … Continue reading The How-Tos of Hybridization
One of my most common refrains in my organic chemistry classes is that students should strive to understand and apply the foundational principles, as opposed to trying to memorize each example reaction that they’ve encountered. I strongly believe that a mechanistic organization discourages the memorization behaviors that students are almost forced to adopt in a … Continue reading How to Help Students See Patterns of Reactivity: My Experience with Karty’s Text
We started resonance structures in class today. It wasn’t until after class had ended that I realized how many great teaching moments we had, and I attribute those teaching moments to the way resonance is presented in my textbook. Resonance is introduced in Chapter 1, and students are taught to draw resonance structures by first … Continue reading The Features of Resonance and the Teaching Moments They Lead To
Active learning at Columbus State University (CSU) has been implemented in a variety of ways through both the flipped-classroom and HyFlex environments. The flipped-classroom model has been instituted since Fall 2017, and I have valued my experiences as an instructor in this kind of educational setting. The main tools that I use to successfully adopt … Continue reading Active Learning: Its Benefits in Organic Chemistry
Now that summer is quickly approaching, we will be taking these next few months off from regularly posting on our Teach the Mechanism blog to catch some rays of sunshine in the great outdoors. This means that we are now open to submissions for the Fall 2021 semester. Because classes will still be held in … Continue reading Happy Summer!
In Fall 2021, students will be asked to return to in-person learning. After a lonely and stressful year, I am thrilled about this. I have missed my students dearly, as I love interacting with them in the classroom. Undeniably, the pandemic became especially hard on students’ learning by separating them from their peers and instructors, … Continue reading What Will Organic Chemistry Look Like in Fall 2021?
For the professors reading this post, I am writing to gain some insight by asking for your advice. Even though I have been teaching organic chemistry for five years now, I still struggle with how to assess my students’ knowledge. When I was a student, we had a series of free-response/short-answer questions on our exams. I … Continue reading How Do You Keep Content Fresh for Students While Also Maintaining the Integrity of Your Course?