Cis-trans isomerism: A valuable litmus test for things to come

Every time I teach Section 3.9, which covers rotations about single and double bonds and cis/trans isomerism, I’m reminded of how valuable an exercise it is to have students determine whether a particular double bond can have cis/trans configurations possible. It may not immediately jump out at you as a valuable exercise, but consider this. … Continue reading Cis-trans isomerism: A valuable litmus test for things to come

Proton Transfer Reactions and Thinking Like a Chemist

Teaching students how to think like a chemist is a challenging, but necessary feature of any organic chemistry course. A seemingly simple question such as, “How will these two compounds react when I mix them?” can stump even the best students. Since it is impossible to memorize every possible reaction combination, students must rely on … Continue reading Proton Transfer Reactions and Thinking Like a Chemist

Welcome to Fall semester! We’re happy to be back so to kick off the new season we are sharing this insightful post from Professor Todd Eckroat of Penn State Erie- The Behrend College.

When I was first approached about contributing to this blog, I was hesitant. I’m only 32 years old and have only been a full-time faculty member for 3 years. Surely, I don’t have as much to offer as colleagues that have been doing this for many years and been through many textbooks by varying authors, … Continue reading Welcome to Fall semester! We’re happy to be back so to kick off the new season we are sharing this insightful post from Professor Todd Eckroat of Penn State Erie- The Behrend College.

What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander: Elementary Steps for Radicals

We have written a handful of blog posts that call attention to the benefits of Chapter 7, which introduces students to the 10 common elementary steps involving closed-shell species. Because of Chapter 7, students are exposed to the complete set of the elementary steps that make up the mechanisms for all reactions encountered through Chapter … Continue reading What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander: Elementary Steps for Radicals

A Great Teaching Moment with Aromatic Substitution Reactions

One of my favorite teaching moments throughout the entire year comes in Chapter 23, when, in the same lecture period, we examine aromatic substitution reactions proceeding through three different intermediates: arenium ion intermediates (first reaction below), Meisenheimer complexes (second reaction below), and benzyne intermediates (third reaction below). I love this as a teaching moment because … Continue reading A Great Teaching Moment with Aromatic Substitution Reactions

By the Numbers: Teaching the Mechanism and the ACS Exam

I was drawn to Joel Karty’s textbook because of its innovative mechanistic organization.  I remembered my own undergraduate experience and the power that mechanisms held in the learning process to illuminate the reasoning behind the overwhelming number of transformations and seemingly random sets of reagents.  Now, most of all, I want my students to see … Continue reading By the Numbers: Teaching the Mechanism and the ACS Exam

A Mechanistic Organization is More than Just Mechanistic Patterns

No doubt one of the greatest benefits of teaching a mechanistic organization is the opportunity afforded to students to see patterns among mechanisms—patterns that we experts know and value, but are challenging for students to see under a traditional functional group organization. For example, as I described in my previous post, Why a Mechanistic Organization?, … Continue reading A Mechanistic Organization is More than Just Mechanistic Patterns

Mechanisms and Synthesis Go Hand-in-Hand

In my recent post, Better at Mechanisms, Better at Synthesis, I highlighted research by Alison Flynn at the University of Ottawa, in which she showed that students have better success solving a synthesis problem when they draw reaction mechanisms. I recently had an opportunity to further probe this connection by analyzing my students’ success on … Continue reading Mechanisms and Synthesis Go Hand-in-Hand

My Surprising Favorite Second-Semester Chapter

My favorite chapter of second-semester organic chemistry is perhaps more surprising to me than anyone else, considering all the great mechanisms and reactions that fill the second-half of Karty's textbook. My enjoyment of Chapter 16 (“Structure Determination 2: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Mass Spectrometry”) is most likely due to my own experiences analyzing complex … Continue reading My Surprising Favorite Second-Semester Chapter