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

The Far-Reaching Benefits of Teaching Organic Chemistry According to Mechanism

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

Ballroom Dancing as a Metaphor for Learning Organic Chemistry

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

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

Smartwork5: Immediate Formative Assessment Opportunities Help Students Work Smart

Here at Teach the Mechanism we are excited to introduce you to Dr. Christine Pruis, our full-time on-staff Chemistry Subject Matter Expert. In the following post, Dr. Pruis discusses her journey with authoring the Smartwork5 online homework and how this resource facilitates learning and understanding organic chemistry and mechanisms when paired with Joel’s text. Read … Continue reading Smartwork5: Immediate Formative Assessment Opportunities Help Students Work Smart

Winds of Change: Instructor Resources Make Switching to Karty a Breeze

I imagine any professor considering changing to a new textbook goes through the same dilemmas I did when I decided to switch. Even when we find a book that we know will benefit our students, we also know that there will be a time cost in making the transition. Faculty at schools of all sizes … Continue reading Winds of Change: Instructor Resources Make Switching to Karty a Breeze

Memorization Not a Choice: Learning to Remember

I have always approached my organic sequence as a mechanism-driven course. Every reaction that we discussed in class started with a mechanism to show how it wasn’t really anything new, but an extension of the types of behaviors we had learned to describe and anticipate. I avoided texts that listed reaction after reaction as completely … Continue reading Memorization Not a Choice: Learning to Remember

Textbook Cost: Is One Home Run Really Better than Two Doubles?

As any professor knows, the decision to change to new textbook is one that we don’t take lightly. Often, we have used a single book for several years and have a good handle on how to spread that text out throughout a semester efficiently. Maybe we have assignments and exams tailored to a specific text … Continue reading Textbook Cost: Is One Home Run Really Better than Two Doubles?

First Impressions: The Big Switch, Part 2

The big switch (and what a switch it was), as this blog title suggests, is my reflections and thoughts on switching from a traditional functional group teaching approach to the mechanism-based teaching approach found in Karty’s textbook. My first blog (The Big Switch, Part 1) summed up my feelings and thoughts as I approached my … Continue reading First Impressions: The Big Switch, Part 2

First Impressions: The Big Switch, Part 1

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