Building Students’ Organic Chemistry Toolbox to Set Them Up for Exam Success

We have now approached Exam 3, which means that students have been exposed to material that includes Chapter 19 content. I am quite excited to see that my students are starting to build their “organic chemistry toolbox,” but I've also noticed that they are starting to confuse how and when reagents are used. While I … Continue reading Building Students’ Organic Chemistry Toolbox to Set Them Up for Exam Success

Time Well Spent

Teaching a mechanistically organized course has many benefits. For example, I am able to spend less class time on nomenclature. This semester, I assigned nomenclature “chapters” 1-3 for the students to read outside of class, arranging them among chapters 1–10 of the text. This meant that I spent only 25% of lecture time explaining nomenclature. … Continue reading Time Well Spent

Surprising Scores in Unit 4

At the end of the semester the students are typically burned out, busy with all of their final assignments, and in general do not perform as well on the last unit exam compared to the other three units. At Old Dominion University we teach addition to alkenes and alkynes in the last unit, a very … Continue reading Surprising Scores in Unit 4

Reasoning By Analogy

For twelve years I’ve taught organic chemistry to a mixture of chemistry and biology students. I always begin Organic I by asking my students this same question: Why are you taking this class? Some students respond that the curriculum plan for their major or career requires the organic chemistry course sequence. For other students, organic … Continue reading Reasoning By Analogy

Lewis Structures and Wild Geese

The title of this post attempts to link two disparate conundrums: the role of mnemonics in teaching chemistry and our expectations of students’ abilities to draw Lewis dot structures. Memorization is not a popular topic among most teachers because of its low position in Bloom’s taxonomy. In chemistry, and certainly in organic chemistry, we discourage … Continue reading Lewis Structures and Wild Geese