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
There are no two ways about it—solving synthesis problems is one of the more challenging tasks that students face in organic chemistry. One reason for the difficulty is the sheer number of reactions we deal with throughout the year, perhaps a few hundred in total. Invariably my students ask me if they need to know … Continue reading Bulls-eye: Tracking Reaction Usage Keeps Students on Target with Synthesis Problems
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
In the past, when shifting focus from NMR theory to structure elucidation using an NMR spectrum, I would teach students to construct the molecule incrementally using information from the spectrum. Typically, I would work through some examples to show students how to repeatedly return to the spectrum, building as much of one portion of the … Continue reading Yes, Interpreting an NMR Spectrum Really is Just like Solving a Jigsaw Puzzle!
I have long maintained that a greater mastery of mechanisms aids students in solving synthesis problems. The idea makes sense: the better a student understands how a reaction takes place via the mechanism, the better he or she will be able to incorporate that reaction into a synthesis when a specific modification to a molecule … Continue reading Better at Mechanisms, Better at Synthesis
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
Elon professor Joel Karty discusses his observations of how students seem to have more understanding, command, and control of their organic chemistry education when taught via the mechanistic organization. Prof. Karty also talks about being pleasantly surprised by the more interesting questions that students ask after learning elementary steps. Watch this and other videos of … Continue reading How Do Students Respond to the Mechanistic Organization?
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?
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
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