Maintaining Pace As We Evolve Online: Lesson #1

Let me preface this post by saying that I believe all chemistry is best learned in a kinesthetic, interactive, face-to-face environment; where faculty and students can synchronously engage in a philosophical debate over electrostatic attractions, reaction energetics, and product probability. Don’t even get me started on the laboratory experience. You’ve got concerns about academic rigor? … Continue reading Maintaining Pace As We Evolve Online: Lesson #1

Shifting to an Online Organic Chemistry Course

Like many of you, my organic chemistry course has been thrown off the rails with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With these changes, we are faced with questions on how to deliver content and assess student learning remotely. How will we give exams, such as the ACS exam? What about lab? How can we walk the … Continue reading Shifting to an Online Organic Chemistry Course

Choosing Good YouTube Videos to Complement Your Curriculum

I often hear students say that they didn’t understand a topic, so they found a video on YouTube for it. Of course they did: YouTube is a fabulous resource that’s available in the middle of the night when they are taking a break at work, or at any other time they need. However, the problem … Continue reading Choosing Good YouTube Videos to Complement Your Curriculum

COVID-19 & Continuing Instruction

In lieu of recent events, my colleague and I will continue to concurrently teach our “flipped classroom.” The flipped classroom enables instructors to designate time during class for facilitating directed problem-solving sessions and activities with undergraduate students. The Organic Chemistry curricula will utilize online lecture videos, active reading assignments, and interactive projects. The unique features … Continue reading COVID-19 & Continuing Instruction

Eliminating Preconceived Fears

Organic chemistry has always been the course you would hear rumors about “breaking students” or “crushing students’ medical-field dreams.” This preconceived fear creates a learning barrier for students before they even enter the classroom. I’ve personally known good students with great potential who’ve given up on their future careers just because of organic chemistry. Our … Continue reading Eliminating Preconceived Fears

A Mechanistic Organization

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 … Continue reading A Mechanistic Organization


Organic chemistry can be challenging. Often, students might be cautious or reluctant to attempt the material. However, I use “starbursts” in my classroom when teaching organic chemistry through a mechanistic organization to keep my students motivated. Starbursts compile a range of reaction schemes and conditions to provide comparisons among key reactions, which allow students to … Continue reading Starbursts

If H Is on the Horizontal…Then It’s Horribly Wrong

As an organic chemistry professor, I find that Fischer projections are one of the more challenging perspectives to view chiral centers. However, this projection also happens to be one of my favorites for viewing chiral carbons, chiral compounds, and meso molecules. Even though the Fischer projection can be quite challenging, it can also be the … Continue reading If H Is on the Horizontal…Then It’s Horribly Wrong

It’s All in the Arrows

In organic chemistry, I find that arrows are critical to teach organic content in a mechanistic perspective because they tell the story of all organic transformations. I try to impress upon my students that the arrows in mechanisms can provide a clear indication of how to move electrons. Mechanistically, students struggle with knowing the difference … Continue reading It’s All in the Arrows

Rules of Thumb

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