Month: November 2012

Chemical Intuition and the Reasonableness of Mechanisms

Each year, after I teach my class the overview of the ten most-common elementary steps, I feel a great sense of satisfaction because I begin to see students mastering two critical aspects of elementary steps: Drawing curved arrows in the correct way, and correctly predicting products when they are told which step occurs. But after

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Getting Students to See Things Our Way

Research in chemical education has repeatedly trumpeted the message students do not see things the way we see them. However articulate or engaging we are, explanations, demonstrations, and worked examples do not guarantee that students view chemistry the way we do. For example, when I recently asked students to direct me on how to draw

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Applying MO Theory Toward Reactions… Or Not

There are two fundamentally different applications of molecular orbital (MO) theory in an undergraduate organic chemistry course. One application is toward various aspects of structure and stability of molecular species, including such things as the stabilization that occurs from the formation of a covalent bond, hybridization, rotational characteristics of σ and π bonds, conjugation, and

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What About Transfer Students?

Instructors sometimes express concern about students who transfer from one institution to another in the middle of the two-semester organic sequence. Could starting (or ending) the sequence in a mechanistically organized course while ending (or starting) the sequence with a course organized by functional group cause students difficulty? Since I teach at a two-year public

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