Time Well Spent

Teaching a mechanistically organized course has many benefits. For example, I am able to spend less class time on nomenclature. This semester, I assigned nomenclature “chapters” 1-3 for the students to read outside of class, arranging them among chapters 1–10 of the text. This meant that I spent only 25% of lecture time explaining nomenclature. … Continue reading Time Well Spent

Using Lab Reports to Reinforce the Mechanism

My students learn organic chemistry in a mechanistically organized course and I want to make sure they really understand how the mechanisms apply to reactions that are synthetically useful. There are many approaches that I use to reinforce their learning such as quizzes, practice problems, and SmartWork assignments. I previously talked about why I am … Continue reading Using Lab Reports to Reinforce the Mechanism

Taking the Frustration out of Online Homework…for You and Your Students

In one of my previous posts, I described how happy I was to implement Norton’s online homework system, Smartwork, for my organic courses. For my students’ learning, nothing beats the instant feedback they get when they click “Check Answer,” which immediately helps them assess whether or not they understand the problem at hand (it’s hard to … Continue reading Taking the Frustration out of Online Homework…for You and Your Students

Teaching the Mechanism Means Testing the Mechanism

Exam questions are a primary medium by which students learn what their instructor values most in the course. If we evaluate what we value, questions should test the mechanism and thus emphasize conceptual understanding, utilize real applications, and require deep thinking. And for me, the most important reason to pose mechanistic questions is to see … Continue reading Teaching the Mechanism Means Testing the Mechanism

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 … Continue reading POGIL and Mechanisms are Natural Allies

Practice Makes Permanent

Golf can frustrate my husband more than any other sport he plays. He recently asked a friend, who is a golf instructor, how to improve his game. The friend responded by saying that, “Practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent.” If you are practicing with errors, it does not matter how much you practice, … Continue reading Practice Makes Permanent