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
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
When you think of teaching on a university campus, your thoughts transport you to a classroom filled with chatty students and a collegiate professor. The professor commands the room and facilitates discussion among the students with a balance of comedic discourse and memorable rules of thumb. However, in these recent semesters during the pandemic, professors … Continue reading What Magic Tricks Do Professors Have Up Their Sleeves?
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
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
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
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
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
One thing I was really looking forward to when switching to Karty’s mechanistically organized text was how reactions involving alkenes would be addressed. I expected to see the reactions simply grouped by mechanism; for example, the electrophilic addition reaction mechanisms would be grouped together, as would the pericyclic reaction mechanisms and so on. Instead, I … Continue reading Life is Hard Enough. Why Teach Alkenes By Function?
Chapter 7 in Karty’s book struck me as very unique when I first reviewed it. Initially, I considered it to be just an overview chapter that I could breeze through without much thought. After further review, I thought perhaps it covered too much material and would cause students to be confused rather than deepen their … Continue reading Too Little? Too Much? Chapter 7 is just Right!