Students learn most effectively when they engage earnestly in solving problems, and receive immediate assessment of their work while their thoughts are still fresh. That is why I moved to a flipped classroom years ago, where I have students prepare for each class by reading about a dozen assigned pages from the textbook. In class, … Continue reading Higher-impact Teaching of Mechanisms in Class: Next Level with Smartwork
Consistency is Key
When I talk to other faculty who are using the Karty book I find that we share a love of Chapter 7. In this chapter, the most common elementary steps are presented, those being proton transfer, biomolecular nucleophilic substitution, coordination, heterolysis, nucleophilic addition, nucleophile elimination, biomolecular elimination, electrophilic addition, electrophile elimination, and carbocation rearrangements. Every … Continue reading Consistency is Key
Polymers—That’s a Wrap!
I love finishing the year with a short dive into the dedicated chapter on polymers at the end of my textbook. In my case, I get to spend about two class periods on the chapter before the semester ends. That’s certainly not enough to do justice to every topic in the chapter, but it’s enough … Continue reading Polymers—That’s a Wrap!
A, B, C’s of Williamson Ether Synthesis
Williamson ether synthesis at the basic leave is rooted in the conditions of an SN2 reaction. However, students still struggle with the content. I have found myself trying to remind my class of the basics. I am quite fond of the Karty text, and have tried to compliment the book mechanics with some organically-flavored A … Continue reading A, B, C’s of Williamson Ether Synthesis
Nomenclature: Can It Be Taught alongside Mechanisms and Synthesis?
Oftentimes, when I talk with students, I compare the organic chemistry lecture series to a study-abroad experience: the first semester is when students learn the language, and the second semester is when they become immersed in the content. Within this dichotomy, I view nomenclature as a vocabulary-learning process (e.g., ketones, carboxylic acids, alcohols, and so … Continue reading Nomenclature: Can It Be Taught alongside Mechanisms and Synthesis?
Chemistry in the Real World: Applications That Bring Life to the Page
Rarely are real-world applications of chemistry emphasized enough in the mainstream organic chemistry course. This can explain why students tend to view chemistry as structures on the page or as schemes drawn on the white board. A strictly two-dimensional discussion of chemistry can be one of the reasons that students struggle to connect what they … Continue reading Chemistry in the Real World: Applications That Bring Life to the Page
How to Help Students See Patterns of Reactivity: My Experience with Karty’s Text
One of my most common refrains in my organic chemistry classes is that students should strive to understand and apply the foundational principles, as opposed to trying to memorize each example reaction that they’ve encountered. I strongly believe that a mechanistic organization discourages the memorization behaviors that students are almost forced to adopt in a … Continue reading How to Help Students See Patterns of Reactivity: My Experience with Karty’s Text
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
Coaching Students in the Transition from Chapter 9 to Chapter 10
Chapters 6-10 incrementally ramp up the types of things we hold students accountable for when it comes to reactions. Chapters 6 and 7 introduce students to the 10 most common elementary steps. Chapter 8 deals with constructing multistep mechanisms in reasonable ways. In Chapter 9, students learn how to predict the outcome of SN1/SN2/E1/E2 competition. … Continue reading Coaching Students in the Transition from Chapter 9 to Chapter 10
If I Could Turn Back Time
As a teacher, I try to remember what organic chemistry was like for me as a student. I know that to be effective instructors, we need to be able to see topics through our students’ eyes. After five years in academia, my list of main organic chemistry takeaways has grown to the following five points: … Continue reading If I Could Turn Back Time