Better at Mechanisms, Better at Synthesis

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

The First Semester: A Slower Pace Wins the Race

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

Results of Four Years of Teaching the Mechanism

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

Are Mechanisms Just for Chemistry Majors?

Like many chemists, I am not much help to the biology, biomedical, and medical students that come to my office with queries ranging from anatomy to physiology. Though a prerequisite for my degree, biology was never a true passion of mine. Likewise, many biology majors despise chemistry. In fact, a number of the biology majors … Continue reading Are Mechanisms Just for Chemistry Majors?

Memorization Not a Choice: Mechanisms Matter

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: Mechanisms Matter

What about the First-Term ACS Exam?

For longer than the 14 years I’ve been at Elon University, we’ve been administering the full-year ACS final exam in organic chemistry at the end of spring semester. It’s a valuable tool to assess our effectiveness in teaching the fundamental material that students are expected to know, and it also lets us see how our … Continue reading What about the First-Term ACS Exam?

MCAT2015 and the Future of Organic Chemistry

Two things are certain about premedical students: their numbers drive organic chemistry enrollments and their academic needs, as defined by medical schools, are going to change in 2015. As scientists, we know that we ignore data at our own peril. So what is to become of sophomore organic chemistry? My journey began almost two years … Continue reading MCAT2015 and the Future of Organic Chemistry

Finally, An Online Homework System for Organic Chemistry That Is Worth the Investment!

About ten years ago, I attended a presentation that showcased a computer-based homework system for organic chemistry. I liked what I saw, especially in terms of its overall quality and the thought that went into writing the problems. I was intrigued, even excited about it, because I knew how valuable instant feedback is to student … Continue reading Finally, An Online Homework System for Organic Chemistry That Is Worth the Investment!

How Should Biochemical Topics Be Treated in an Organic Textbook?

In most organic chemistry courses, the majority of students are biology majors and/or have their sights set on a career in medicine or other health-related field. My own course is no different. Therefore, like many organic instructors, I believe that students ought to see the relevance of organic chemistry to biology and medicine. Why is … Continue reading How Should Biochemical Topics Be Treated in an Organic Textbook?