Using a Previewing Strategy to Help Students Get the Most Out of Reading

When I was an undergraduate student, I hated reading my chemistry textbooks. Like many science faculty, my professors would assign sections of the textbook to read before class with little to no explanation or guidance. As a first-year college student who took my coursework seriously, I tried to do as I was told. Unfortunately, the … Continue reading Using a Previewing Strategy to Help Students Get the Most Out of Reading

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

Looking Forward with the Third Edition

As an educator, part of my summer fun is thinking about ways to revitalize and improve my courses in the coming year. This summer, the arrival of the third edition of Joel Karty’s Organic Chemistry: Principles and Mechanisms is giving me a lot to get excited about. While I have always appreciated the mechanism-based approach to organic … Continue reading Looking Forward with the Third Edition

Are pKa’s Necessary to Succeed in the Classroom?

While teaching chapters 17-18, I have shown students the versatility of carbonyls and enolate chemistry. The discussion in Karty’s book is arranged well and does a nice job of spotlighting the chemistry unique to carbonyls, especially as it ranges from selective addition (direct or conjugate) to the use of enolates for alkylation and halogenation.  In … Continue reading Are pKa’s Necessary to Succeed in the Classroom?

Smartwork online homework and written problem sets: A perfect marriage

Learning organic chemistry is not a linear process; rather, it’s made up of many small cycles. Each cycle begins when we present students the basic ideas behind a new topic. Then we’ll show students how to apply those ideas toward solving a few initial problems, and we’ll follow that up with an assignment where students … Continue reading Smartwork online homework and written problem sets: A perfect marriage

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

Break-Brain: How Do Instructors Reconnect Students to the Content

I am not sure if other instructors have this issue, but how do you connect students back to the content? Sometimes I wonder if the first week of the spring semester is worse than the first week of the fall semester. My class ended the semester on chapter 9 content, while my colleague left the … Continue reading Break-Brain: How Do Instructors Reconnect Students to the Content

How Do You Foster Real-Life Connections between the Material and Students’ Worlds?

When teaching, I try to foster real-life applications between the material and students’ experiences. I try to channel my inner Ms. Frizzle, a quirky teacher from The Magic School Bus, which is a throwback to my childhood. Today’s students may not be as aware of the television show, but I still like to embody Ms. … Continue reading How Do You Foster Real-Life Connections between the Material and Students’ Worlds?

An Active Learning Exercise for Conformational Analysis

When students ask me why learning organic chemistry is such hard work, I often begin by telling them that it’s just so different from general chemistry. At the beginning of the course, there’s plenty of overlap since students in organic chemistry must have a strong foundation in the structure, bonding, and properties of molecules. Eventually, … Continue reading An Active Learning Exercise for Conformational Analysis