Essays in Organic Chemistry

The year is 2020. I have spent the majority of the year at home with my two kids managing Zoom meetings and PPE-clad trips to the (wastelands to scavenge for toilet paper) grocery store. An idea forms: what if I gave my organic chemistry students essay assignments? While writing in the sciences is nothing unusual, … Continue reading Essays in Organic Chemistry

What If Every Student Went to Office Hours?

Imagine a world where all of your organic students read their textbooks thoroughly, ask you questions, and come to office hours every week...the wildest of fantasy worlds, right? Well, I’m an optimist—what can I say? So when forced to create an all-online version of my mechanisms-focused organic chemistry course, I thought I would see how … Continue reading What If Every Student Went to Office Hours?

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

Success Means That You Put Your Pen to Paper

Oftentimes in class, professors are asked,  “What can I do to do better in class? Could you offer more practice?” To help answer this question, I was given some great advice by my senior colleague: if you aren’t putting your pen to paper, then you likely aren’t studying organic chemistry sufficiently.  During my current semester … Continue reading Success Means That You Put Your Pen to Paper

Teaching Online: How to Beat the COVID Blues

Here at Columbus State University (CSU), I am teaching 1 online section of 56 students this fall. I have found that the flipped classroom is immensely helpful for myself and my students. Although online teaching and flipping the classroom can have their own set of challenges, I have found a renewed spirit and vigor for … Continue reading Teaching Online: How to Beat the COVID Blues

Choosing Good YouTube Videos to Complement Your Curriculum

I often hear students say that they didn’t understand a topic, so they found a video on YouTube for it. Of course they did: YouTube is a fabulous resource that’s available in the middle of the night when they are taking a break at work, or at any other time they need. However, the problem … Continue reading Choosing Good YouTube Videos to Complement Your Curriculum

Eliminating Preconceived Fears

Organic chemistry has always been the course you would hear rumors about “breaking students” or “crushing students’ medical-field dreams.” This preconceived fear creates a learning barrier for students before they even enter the classroom. I’ve personally known good students with great potential who’ve given up on their future careers just because of organic chemistry. Our … Continue reading Eliminating Preconceived Fears

A Mechanistic Organization

I have been using Karty’s Organic Chemistry: Principles and Mechanisms textbook since the first edition was published in 2014, and it has made a dramatic improvement in my two-semester organic chemistry lecture. After teaching organic chemistry for two decades employing typical organic textbooks, which all organized topics by functional groups, Karty’s textbook was a breath … Continue reading A Mechanistic Organization

A Famous Pair, and No it isn’t Sonny and Cher

When teaching SN1 and SN2 reactions to my students, this famously difficult duo is made perfectly manageable by breaking down their mechanisms side by side. I always explain to my students that these concepts can be learned and understood much like any of history's great pairs. Like Tom & Jerry, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, … Continue reading A Famous Pair, and No it isn’t Sonny and Cher