July 14, 2020, 02:56:55 PM
Forum Rules: Read This Before Posting


Topic: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy  (Read 8351 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Woopy

  • Regular Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 85
  • Mole Snacks: +4/-8
Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« on: January 21, 2013, 12:38:25 AM »
Hello,

I am an organic chemistry student, and I have some concerns over the way Organic chemistry is taught relative to other science classes. I come from a physical science background mostly, and ochem is presented in a very different manner from anything I've ever seen before, no math and very strange. I find my textbook (gorzynski-smith) lends itself to a memorization type of learning, because it doesn't give a lot of motivation for why anything is the way it is, but rather a laundry list of facts, such as ''sn1 favors this, sn2 that..etc). Also the class contains so much stuff that it becomes cumbersome to do anything but memorize, because for a lot of mechanisms all these weird assumptions are made and every mechanism has its own caveat.

I am of the opinion that there must be a better way to present this material, I've been told by my professor to take everything on a case by case basis. I don't know how you can take everything on a case by case basis, there must be some sort of generalizations, the universe seems to be orderly and generalizable in all other regards. Maybe I'm just doing it wrong, but I think o-chem sucks and needs a revamp.

Offline Borek

  • Mr. pH
  • Administrator
  • Deity Member
  • *
  • Posts: 25841
  • Mole Snacks: +1690/-401
  • Gender: Male
  • I am known to be occasionally wrong.
    • Chembuddy
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2013, 03:53:44 AM »
I am of the opinion that there must be a better way to present this material

You are not the first one to think this way. Actually each OrgChem newcomer that came from more rigorous branches (like PhysChem) thinks this way. Sn1 and Sn2 that you listed ARE generalizations, as they cover wast number of reactions. Unfortunately, organic chemistry is way too complex for a small number of easy to state rules.

Could be others will not agree with me.
ChemBuddy chemical calculators - stoichiometry, pH, concentration, buffer preparation, titrations.info, pH-meter.info

Offline eazye1334

  • Regular Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 98
  • Mole Snacks: +18/-1
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2013, 09:52:53 AM »
Nothing in college gave me more trouble than organic chemistry, and it's for the exact reasons you posted. I know several people that did great in our Chem E classes but horribly in organic, and I also know several people that were the exact opposite. Organic is a very different learning situation and I'm not exactly sure there really is any other way to present it. Just know that you are not alone in your feelings, not by a long shot.

Offline discodermolide

  • Chemist
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 5038
  • Mole Snacks: +404/-70
  • Gender: Male
    • My research history
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2013, 09:59:53 AM »
Get yourself a good textbook, for example, Advanced Organic Chemistry by Jerry March and read it cover to cover.
Development Chemists do it on Scale, Research Chemists just do it!
My Research History

Offline Woopy

  • Regular Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 85
  • Mole Snacks: +4/-8
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2013, 10:32:19 AM »
Get yourself a good textbook, for example, Advanced Organic Chemistry by Jerry March and read it cover to cover.

Isn't this a graduate level textbook? I've only done my first semester of organic chemistry (the introductory series)

Offline discodermolide

  • Chemist
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 5038
  • Mole Snacks: +404/-70
  • Gender: Male
    • My research history
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2013, 12:08:13 PM »
This was the recommended textbook for me along with Morrison and Boyd amongst others as an undergraduate.
Development Chemists do it on Scale, Research Chemists just do it!
My Research History

Offline curiouscat

  • Chemist
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3005
  • Mole Snacks: +121/-35
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2013, 12:44:57 PM »
What's your major?

Offline discodermolide

  • Chemist
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 5038
  • Mole Snacks: +404/-70
  • Gender: Male
    • My research history
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2013, 01:34:02 PM »
Mine?
Development Chemists do it on Scale, Research Chemists just do it!
My Research History

Offline Woopy

  • Regular Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 85
  • Mole Snacks: +4/-8
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2013, 03:05:39 PM »
I am doing chemical engineering

Offline curiouscat

  • Chemist
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3005
  • Mole Snacks: +121/-35
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2013, 10:41:42 PM »
I am doing chemical engineering


Ha! That was my guess  too.  ;D  But, yes, I sympathize without having any good answers for you. I'll say that perhaps it needs a lot more reading and effort (than other subjects) before the really big picture emerges in OChem. So, keep trying and maybe enlightenment will follow.

And yes, the mathematical rigor is lesser than other subjects you are used to; but you just have to master a different style of thinking.

Quote
there must be some sort of generalizations, the universe seems to be orderly and generalizable in all other regards.

That's mostly because you've been studying idealized simple systems so far (I assume?). Point masses, friction-less tables, round balls, symmetric things, analytical solutions etc. Just wait till you see the number of messy, complex correlations used by Chemical Engineers to predict all sort of real world phenomenon.

The laws of physics are elegant and genealizable but scaling up to real world objects often gets messy. Be warned! :)

Offline Raphael

  • Regular Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 34
  • Mole Snacks: +5/-0
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2013, 11:31:33 PM »

I am of the opinion that there must be a better way to present this material, I've been told by my professor to take everything on a case by case basis. I don't know how you can take everything on a case by case basis, there must be some sort of generalizations, the universe seems to be orderly and generalizable in all other regards.

I don't know if I really agree with a case by case basis. If someone understands how the structures of molecules effect reactions then there are a lot of reactions one can make pretty good predictions of the the outcome of the reaction. 
It makes me sad to see that you say the class seems to push you towards memorizing things. There is surly things to be memorize (as there is in almost every class), but there is (to me at least) logic to organic chemistry, and it seems like it is not being communicated to you. I wish I knew what to say to help you see it...The only thing that i can really come up with off the top of my head is to really try and understand the structures (including different bonding theories) and the different functional groups and understand the electrophile and nucleophile relationship well.

Offline eazye1334

  • Regular Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 98
  • Mole Snacks: +18/-1
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2013, 07:44:34 AM »
Just wait till you see the number of messy, complex correlations used by Chemical Engineers to predict all sort of real world phenomenon.

One of my co-workers is in the early stages of going back to school for a bachelors in Chem E. Just for a laugh I showed him the full long-form Navier-Stokes equation. I wish I would've had a camera to capture his expression.

Offline Babcock_Hall

  • Chemist
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4208
  • Mole Snacks: +263/-17
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2013, 09:08:17 AM »
Organic chemistry students must use different parts of their brain from physical chemistry students.  One has to learn how to picture molecules in three dimensions and to propose multistep synthetic schemes (in other words, how to build up complex molecules from simple ones.  I would suggest you approach the subject with less thought toward memorization and more thought toward why and how things work.  Find a topic, such as SN1 versus SN2 and read different textbooks on it.  Ask yourself questions such as how does one go about disproving a mechanism.

Offline JGK

  • Chemist
  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 738
  • Mole Snacks: +66/-19
  • Gender: Male
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2013, 02:12:27 PM »
To be honest I found Org chem one of the easier parts of my undergrad Biochem course (Morrison & Boyd was the textbook of choice), but that may be more due to the way it was taught.

My university used the Keller Plan system, where you are given a shortish reading list to complete within 1 week. After the week is up you sit a  test on the material and if you get the appropriate mark you are provided with a new list, if not you are asked to re-read and resit the following week. The system was designed to allow for a few retests and still complete the full course. It was by no means easy (80% was a pass) but I found it an effective learning tool.

It was also used in Biochem to teach us the metabolic pathways.
Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

Offline curiouscat

  • Chemist
  • Sr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3005
  • Mole Snacks: +121/-35
Re: Organic Chemistry Pedagogy
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2013, 02:18:39 PM »
To be honest I found Org chem one of the easier parts of my undergrad Biochem course (Morrison & Boyd was the textbook of choice), but that may be more due to the way it was taught.

My university used the Keller Plan system, where you are given a shortish reading list to complete within 1 week. After the week is up you sit a  test on the material and if you get the appropriate mark you are provided with a new list, if not you are asked to re-read and resit the following week. The system was designed to allow for a few retests and still complete the full course. It was by no means easy (80% was a pass) but I found it an effective learning tool.

It was also used in Biochem to teach us the metabolic pathways.

As an aside, if he's stumped and frustrated by Org. Chem. I'd think BioChem would be worse.

Sponsored Links