Joel Karty (Elon University, USA), Stephen Pruett (Jefferson Community and Technical College, USA)
We present two ways to engage students with organic chemistry. First, we adopted a “concepts first” curriculum that is organized around reaction mechanisms. After reviewing fundamental principles of structure and stability, students examine common elementary steps, learning each step’s curved arrow notation and driving force. Subsequently, students approach reactions recognizing that (1) complex reaction mechanisms are comprised of the common elementary steps they have learned, and (2) seemingly unrelated reactions are, in fact, related through their mechanisms.
Second, we facilitate students’ engagement with the textbook. Students were held accountable for learning significant amounts of material on their own from the textbook. Clickers and other strategies were incorporated in order to ensure accountability.
We will discuss the positive outcomes in students’ enthusiasm, attrition, performance, and long-term retention of material, each from a different perspective.