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
When I first heard Joel Karty speak about his mechanistic organization in his organic chemistry text around 2016, I had also heard a lot of buzz about flipping the classroom. I was very curious about trying this in my own classroom, but implementing self-directed learning with a more intricate discipline like organic chemistry can seem … Continue reading Flipping the Script: Mechanistic Organization Encourages Cooperative Learning
With the advent of increasingly sophisticated, convenient, and useful online homework programs, is there any place left for the classic pencil and paper textbook problems? I will have to preface this by going ahead and stating my general biases. Probably the most effective way to do this would be to tell you all that in … Continue reading In Favor of Putting Pen to Paper
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
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
One thing I was really looking forward to when switching to Karty’s mechanistically organized text was how reactions involving alkenes would be addressed. I expected to see the reactions simply grouped by mechanism; for example, the electrophilic addition reaction mechanisms would be grouped together, as would the pericyclic reaction mechanisms and so on. Instead, I … Continue reading Life is Hard Enough. Why Teach Alkenes By Function?
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?
Like so many other organic courses, at my school approximately two-thirds of organic students are biology majors. Of these, most have some sort of pre-health professional aspiration. Because of this audience alongside my chemistry and biochemistry majors, I come to my organic classroom (as I know many of you do!) with two sets of course … Continue reading Starting the Semester with My Biology Students in Mind
When it became clear that we would be changing texts for organic chemistry, most of my colleagues and I began dreading the long decision and transition process. We all use the same textbook and choose it by consensus. There are about seven faculty members in our department who teach in the organic chemistry series. We … Continue reading Choosing to Teach the Mechanism