Students at Western Washington University are first introduced to the concept of molecular orbital theory in Organic Chemistry I. It is briefly mentioned in the general chemistry textbook, but it is excluded from covered content in first year classes. First year chemistry students are introduced to the concept of atomic orbital hybridization, but with surface … Continue reading MO Theory? NO Problem
My first teaching responsibility upon coming to Northern Arizona University was our ten-week Organic Chemistry II summer course. Besides never having taught a summer ten-week session, I had never taught organic chemistry from Karty's text. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Karty's text was organized by mechanisms, making lecture preparation, and overall flow of … Continue reading Mechanisms Make Everything Easier
I have always used a mechanistic approach when teaching organic chemistry. Every class I have taught, I started the first day saying, “Do you want to try to memorize hundreds, if not thousands, of individual reactions, or do you want to learn to understand how about ten reactions take place, so you can apply them … Continue reading Mechanisms in Class, Mechanisms in Lab
In my textbook, resonance is presented rather extensively in Chapter 1 (“Atomic and Molecular Structure”), ultimately teaching students how to draw all resonance structures of a given species. I like to teach resonance to that depth early in the course because it reinforces topics that are vital to student success throughout the entire year of … Continue reading When Should Resonance be Taught?
When designing a course, many of us focus on content, with questions like ‘How do I cover the text in 30 weeks?’. This year, however, my course design started with a different question: ‘What do I really want students to get out of the organic chemistry sequence?’ and more immediately, ‘What do I want my … Continue reading What I Want my Students to Be Able to Do by the End of the Quarter
When I was in ninth grade, my family built a house. I remember my dad, who is an engineer, regularly checking on the progress and quality of the foundation. He knew that the foundation was the most important part of the house. Building a proper foundation took a lot of time, but it was important … Continue reading Building a Solid Foundation Gives the Student More Confidence
There are two fundamentally different applications of molecular orbital (MO) theory in an undergraduate organic chemistry course. One application is toward various aspects of structure and stability of molecular species, including such things as the stabilization that occurs from the formation of a covalent bond, hybridization, rotational characteristics of σ and π bonds, conjugation, and … Continue reading Applying MO Theory Toward Reactions… Or Not