Lewis Structures and Wild Geese

The title of this post attempts to link two disparate conundrums: the role of mnemonics in teaching chemistry and our expectations of students’ abilities to draw Lewis dot structures. Memorization is not a popular topic among most teachers because of its low position in Bloom’s taxonomy. In chemistry, and certainly in organic chemistry, we discourage … Continue reading Lewis Structures and Wild Geese

Liberation in the Laboratory

One of the unexpected benefits of Joel’s organization was the discovery that students, once they learn the elementary steps common in organic reactions, can perform a limitless—at least in theory—range of experiments in the lab. (In the upcoming textbook, elementary steps are discussed in Chapter 7, midway through the first semester.) Since students have examined … Continue reading Liberation in the Laboratory

What About Nonmajors and Pre-health Students?

I am convinced that students learn organic chemistry best when we teach them how to work with mechanisms prior to delving into predicting products and devising syntheses. And when dealing with reactions, it is important to organize reactions according to mechanism, in order for students to have a sustained focus on mechanisms throughout the year.  … Continue reading What About Nonmajors and Pre-health Students?