Month: March 2013

Making Backward Mechanism Arrows An Endangered Species

I’ve just finished grading the first exam for my Organic II course and I’ve experienced something I never have before. Of the more than 50 students that took my Organic I course last semester, none of them drew a single mechanism arrow in the wrong direction [1]. Yes, some of these students did get parts

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Making a Commitment (But Not to Traditions)

I did not realize my commitment to traditions—in my personal life and in the classroom—until recently. In my personal life, I discovered that I was married to a person who did not know that: Christmas trees are decorated while listening to Christmas music and not with a basketball game on in the background; salads are

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Lone Pairs and Aromaticity

One of the things my students find most challenging about aromaticity is whether to include lone pairs as part of a cyclic π system. If a lone pair is included, then the number of π electrons increases by two, and a student’s prediction about whether a species is aromatic will also change. What I think

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It’s Elementary: First Steps to Active Learning

For most of my teaching career I have organized my course by mechanism class rather than by functional group. Even so, year after year I observed my students struggling with reaction mechanisms. Neither elaborating mechanisms on the board in class nor assigning challenging mechanism problems in practice or homework sets seemed to improve my students’

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