Linguistic Considerations in Teaching Organic Chemistry

Language acquisition and orthography are two ideas from the field of linguistics and applied linguistics that are relevant to teaching organic chemistry. Language acquisition in children occurs without conscious effort. By hearing examples of the language, children internally codify the rules of the language and can generate language spontaneously. This ability diminishes with age, shutting … Continue reading Linguistic Considerations in Teaching Organic Chemistry

How Should Biochemical Topics Be Treated in an Organic Textbook?

In most organic chemistry courses, the majority of students are biology majors and/or have their sights set on a career in medicine or other health-related field. My own course is no different. Therefore, like many organic instructors, I believe that students ought to see the relevance of organic chemistry to biology and medicine. Why is … Continue reading How Should Biochemical Topics Be Treated in an Organic Textbook?

Intermolecular Attractions and Solubility: A Classroom Demonstration For A Difficult Topic

An understanding of solubility, melting points, and boiling points based on intermolecular attractions, or intermolecular forces (IMF), is critical in academic research as well as industrial work. For example, I know that the following facts: Methylene chloride is a better solvent for the extraction of the products of LAH reductions than diethyl ether. Stearic acid … Continue reading Intermolecular Attractions and Solubility: A Classroom Demonstration For A Difficult Topic

What Role Should the Organic Textbook Play in Helping Students Transition From General Chemistry?

Early in my teaching career I realized that a large percentage of my organic chemistry students weren’t carrying forward nearly as much from their general chemistry course as I had expected. This is a potentially enormous problem because without command of, and the ability to apply, several concepts from general chemistry, students will find it … Continue reading What Role Should the Organic Textbook Play in Helping Students Transition From General Chemistry?