Mechanisms and Higher Order Cognitive Skills

I have been teaching organic chemistry with a mechanistic approach for a long time. Unfortunately, the book that I used prior to Karty tried but ultimately dropped this approach midway through the second semester of topics. In Joel’s text, mechanisms and thinking through a different lens pervade, which has prompted a number of my students … Continue reading Mechanisms and Higher Order Cognitive Skills

Chapter 7: Elementary Steps but Giant Conceptual Leaps

If writing mechanisms is like giving good directions, then each elementary step is similar to saying “turn left at the stop sign.”  You might have to turn right many times during one trip just as you might need multiple acid-base steps during one mechanistic pathway. Joel’s “Most Common Elementary Steps” chapter lays out each possible … Continue reading Chapter 7: Elementary Steps but Giant Conceptual Leaps

Solving the IR Puzzle

My three year old son recently has shown interest in solving puzzles. He dumps the pieces on the floor and randomly clicks them together until he finds a match. This is often the same approach that students take to problem solving in organic chemistry. To help my students work more systematically, I introduce IR early … Continue reading Solving the IR Puzzle


Do your students attempt to memorize their way through organic chemistry even though you heavily emphasize mechanisms and understanding? Joel Karty believes we can keep students from the memorization trap, and has written a textbook to help solve this problem. Joel‘s new book, Organic Chemistry: Principles and Mechanisms, does more than just emphasize mechanisms; it … Continue reading About