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

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