I have been using Karty’s Organic Chemistry: Principles and Mechanisms textbook since the first edition was published in 2014, and it has made a dramatic improvement in my two-semester organic chemistry lecture.
After teaching organic chemistry for two decades employing typical organic textbooks, which all organized topics by functional groups, Karty’s textbook was a breath of fresh air. I now have a tool that teaches organic by the same method I was taught organic as an undergraduate: through a mechanistic organization.
When I took organic, studying mechanisms made it clear that understanding a few basic mechanistic steps gave me the predictive power to discern reaction products I had never seen before, such as only positive intermediates in acidic solutions and only negative intermediates in basic solutions, as well as the repetitive steps in mechanisms involving hydrolysis or imine formation. Using a mechanistic organization also limited the number of organic reactions I had to memorize.
I now spend much more time going over mechanisms during lecture without worrying about the extra examples of reactions that we do not have time to cover. My students who are putting forth a decent effort preparing for class are now catching onto the same patterns that I myself see in mechanisms. For example, the first mechanistic step consumes the catalyst, and the last step reforms the catalyst. As a result, I am now seeing improved homework and exam scores. Whereas past students would often leave blank answers to problems asking them to “predict the product,” I now see students attempting the mechanism to help them solve these questions.
Organic chemistry can be challenging, because it requires time to digest so much material. But I believe that Karty’s mechanistic organization makes that process less complex and less stressful for instructors and students alike.
Thomas More University