My entire academic career as both a student and as an instructor, I have always taught or been taught organic chemistry using the functional group approach: beginning with the tried and true method of labeling chapters by functional groups and then moving on to learn how to name, synthesize, and react with the functional group … Continue reading First Impressions: The Big Switch, Part 1
Another semester of teaching the mechanism is over! Rick Bunt of Middlebury College wrote this festive end-of-the-semester song for his students (sung to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”). It’s so good we thought we’d make posting it a new tradition! You’ve had Spanish and Bio And History and Calc, Physics and Econ And Poly … Continue reading Happy holidays from all of us at Teach the Mechanism!
When I first heard Joel Karty speak about his mechanistic organization in his organic chemistry text around 2016, I had also heard a lot of buzz about flipping the classroom. I was very curious about trying this in my own classroom, but implementing self-directed learning with a more intricate discipline like organic chemistry can seem … Continue reading Flipping the Script: Mechanistic Organization Encourages Cooperative Learning
One of the biggest (and sometimes the most difficult) decisions to make when teaching a course is the textbook choice. Knowing if you made the right decision can be tough to tell. Well, last semester I got some unsolicited feedback from students that put my mind at ease about deciding to adopt Joel Karty's Principles … Continue reading Karty’s Method Stands Alone, and With It So Can Your Students
With the advent of increasingly sophisticated, convenient, and useful online homework programs, is there any place left for the classic pencil and paper textbook problems? I will have to preface this by going ahead and stating my general biases. Probably the most effective way to do this would be to tell you all that in … Continue reading In Favor of Putting Pen to Paper
In my last post, Results of Four Years of Teaching the Mechanism, I talked about the increasing ACS Organic Exam scores I have observed in my students over the previous four years of using the Karty approach. As I am preparing for the 5th year and the first time using the second edition this Fall, … Continue reading The First Semester: A Slower Pace Wins the Race
Let me begin by answering a different, but related, question: How far does Joel Karty get by the end of the first semester? The answer is that I typically cover 13 chapters, or roughly half the textbook. For several years, I was covering the first 13 chapters in order, ending the first semester with Chapter … Continue reading FAQ: How far through the text should I get by the end of the first semester?
I adopted the Karty textbook four years ago. I had been using a book organized by functional group but focused on the subject from a mechanistic approach. When it came to choosing a new textbook, I reviewed most of the textbooks on the market and asked my current and previous students their opinions of each … Continue reading Results of Four Years of Teaching the Mechanism
The origami molecule on the cover art of this blog is mechlorethamine, a DNA alkylating agent that is used to treat various kinds of cancer. Mechlorethamine was used successfully in clinical settings in the 1940’s and those successes led to the development of anticancer chemotherapy as a field. Folding origami and learning organic chemistry are … Continue reading What do origami and organic chemistry have in common?
In a previous blog post (A Mechanistic Organization and Learning Synthesis: Having Cake and Eating It, Too), I articulated that switching to a mechanistic organization has improved how my students deal with synthesis problems. Things have continued to work well, but this year I made a change to enhance how I teach synthesis, and student … Continue reading My Best Experience Yet Teaching Synthesis