Proton Transfer Reactions and Thinking Like a Chemist

Teaching students how to think like a chemist is a challenging, but necessary feature of any organic chemistry course. A seemingly simple question such as, “How will these two compounds react when I mix them?” can stump even the best students. Since it is impossible to memorize every possible reaction combination, students must rely on … Continue reading Proton Transfer Reactions and Thinking Like a Chemist

Welcome to Fall semester! We’re happy to be back so to kick off the new season we are sharing this insightful post from Professor Todd Eckroat of Penn State Erie- The Behrend College.

When I was first approached about contributing to this blog, I was hesitant. I’m only 32 years old and have only been a full-time faculty member for 3 years. Surely, I don’t have as much to offer as colleagues that have been doing this for many years and been through many textbooks by varying authors, … Continue reading Welcome to Fall semester! We’re happy to be back so to kick off the new season we are sharing this insightful post from Professor Todd Eckroat of Penn State Erie- The Behrend College.

A Great Teaching Moment with Aromatic Substitution Reactions

One of my favorite teaching moments throughout the entire year comes in Chapter 23, when, in the same lecture period, we examine aromatic substitution reactions proceeding through three different intermediates: arenium ion intermediates (first reaction below), Meisenheimer complexes (second reaction below), and benzyne intermediates (third reaction below). I love this as a teaching moment because … Continue reading A Great Teaching Moment with Aromatic Substitution Reactions

A Mechanistic Organization is More than Just Mechanistic Patterns

No doubt one of the greatest benefits of teaching a mechanistic organization is the opportunity afforded to students to see patterns among mechanisms—patterns that we experts know and value, but are challenging for students to see under a traditional functional group organization. For example, as I described in my previous post, Why a Mechanistic Organization?, … Continue reading A Mechanistic Organization is More than Just Mechanistic Patterns

Mechanisms and Synthesis Go Hand-in-Hand

In my recent post, Better at Mechanisms, Better at Synthesis, I highlighted research by Alison Flynn at the University of Ottawa, in which she showed that students have better success solving a synthesis problem when they draw reaction mechanisms. I recently had an opportunity to further probe this connection by analyzing my students’ success on … Continue reading Mechanisms and Synthesis Go Hand-in-Hand

Smartwork5: Immediate Formative Assessment Opportunities Help Students Work Smart

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

Bulls-eye: Tracking Reaction Usage Keeps Students on Target with Synthesis Problems

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

Winds of Change: Instructor Resources Make Switching to Karty a Breeze

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

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

Memorization Not a Choice: Learning to Remember

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