Nearly every semester, I am asked a question that I’ve never been asked before. I have found that by giving students some rules of thumb (ROTs), I can help them understand the basics while also giving them specific strategies for solving organic chemistry problems. More recently, I’ve recognized that the mechanistic organization helps enforce my … Continue reading Rules of Thumb
Each year, as my students complete Chapter 8, I find tremendous value in assigning a handful of written mechanism problems that not only challenge students, but also reinforce important lessons about mechanisms that we learned throughout Chapters 7 and 8. This year, I assigned the following two mechanism problems (not found in Chapter 7 or … Continue reading Mechanism Problems with Numerous Teaching Moments
In my experience, the traditional method of teaching organic chemistry courses according to functional group often leads students to rely on memorization. For example, a single chapter on alkyl halides may include substitution reactions, radical reactions, and additions to alkenes. With such a large volume of information, it’s very difficult for students to manage and … Continue reading The Far-Reaching Benefits of Teaching Organic Chemistry According to Mechanism
Students are notorious for feeling overwhelmed by the subject of organic chemistry. This leaves the instructor perplexed with the thought of effectively and adequately teaching the course. Often, the question posed is … "…to use or not to use reactions?" Both as a student and as an instructor, I have heard that students only feel … Continue reading Ballroom Dancing as a Metaphor for Learning Organic Chemistry
Years ago, I switched to teaching a flipped classroom and using a classroom response system (aka CRS or clickers). In this format, my students are assigned to read about a dozen pages from the textbook before coming to class. At the start of class, I assign a problem to solve that is based on the … Continue reading Squarecap Is a Game Changer in My Flipped Classroom
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
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
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.
Here at Teach the Mechanism we love to celebrate summer, so we're taking a couple of months off from posting to focus on our beach trips and homemade lemonade! We are still taking submissions so if you use Joel's book and you have an experience to share, please reach out to Sara at email@example.com. Thanks … Continue reading Happy Summer!
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