Predicting the Products of an SN1/SN2/E1/E2 Competition

When I teach nucleophilic substitution and elimination reactions, I find that students typically have very little trouble drawing each mechanism and predicting the products, so long as they are specifically told which reaction. But many students find one aspect very challenging: predicting the winner of an SN1/SN2/E1/E2 competition. In my first few years of teaching, … Continue reading Predicting the Products of an SN1/SN2/E1/E2 Competition

The Chapter Every Organic Textbook Should Have

This unique chapter is the game changer for how students perceive organic reactions. Whenever I discuss Joel’s textbook with colleagues, this chapter is the first aspect of the book that I mention. Chapter 7, “An Overview of the Most Common Elementary Steps,” briefly surveys ten steps: Proton transfer SN2 Bond formation (coordination) Bond breaking (heterolysis) … Continue reading The Chapter Every Organic Textbook Should Have

Why Mechanisms? [Video]

Why did Elon professor Joel Karty decide to author a textbook organized by mechanisms? Prof. Karty talks about how his frustration with teaching from a traditional, functional-group organized textbook spurred him to reorganize his course and to write his book. What does it mean to be mechanistically organized book? What advantages does a mechanistic organization … Continue reading Why Mechanisms? [Video]

On Nomenclature

In my first few years as a professor, I taught nomenclature in the way it was organized in the textbook I was using at the time—i.e., according to functional group. Each time my class began a new functional group chapter, I would teach aspects of nomenclature associated with that functional group. Indeed, I found this … Continue reading On Nomenclature

Nomenclature As An Independent Topic

When I first saw nomenclature presented as four independent chapters, instead of as small sections within functional group chapters, I reacted negatively. Who wants to teach multiple topics in nomenclature in one class period?  Shouldn’t students be exposed to the material over time, developing their skills incrementally, similar to what occurs in a language class?  … Continue reading Nomenclature As An Independent Topic

Molecular Modeling Kits

For many students, the three-dimensional nature of organic chemistry raises the difficulty of the course to a new level. This difficulty stems from the fact that the three dimensionality of a molecule is depicted on a two-dimensional surface using any of a variety of representations. Accepted representations include dash-wedge notation, sawhorse projections, Newman projections, Fischer … Continue reading Molecular Modeling Kits