POGIL and Mechanisms are Natural Allies

Choosing a textbook is always an important part of class preparation, but when using Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) with a group of students of mixed academic and reading abilities, the choice is perhaps even more important. POGIL is an evidence-based teaching/learning method used across the country. Students work in structured groups to complete Guided Inquiry (GI) activities to explore key concepts—addressing prior misconceptions while building new knowledge. The instructor becomes the guide through the process rather than the giver of knowledge. Students do not end up with a perfect set of lecture notes from the class and must rely on the text for the narrative to guide them through the course. Thus, the students must be able to read the text independently and it must be organized for students to succeed.

GI activities focus on core principles, and for organic reactivity, the overarching principle is mechanism. The most effective GI activities for organic chemistry help students focus on ideas all organic chemists automatically use—electrophiles and nucleophiles; using electrostatics and curved arrows to predict reaction outcome; interpreting experimental evidence such as reaction rate and stereochemical outcome to support a given mechanism. Joel’s mechanistically organized book supports this perspective.

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