Engaging organic students in the message and limitation of models

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ACS Publications
Chemistry courses are filled with models. Organic chemistry utilizes a wide variety of models from tangible model kits, to mechanisms, to computational analysis and spectral information. Often students are presented with these models without any discussion on their limitations or how various models allow us to derive information. Students can use molecular model kits to visualize stereoisomers and derive R/S, but a demonstration of doing this by the instructor can be very helpful. Aromaticity is displayed in many texts as a set of rules for students to memorize. While there are some models that help explain the rules and other models can display aromaticity, some of both types of these models have limitations. However, some of those models have limitations. Reactivity of carbonyls is also often relegated to a pattern or rules. Reactivity that is not explicitly discussed in lecture or the texts then may not be immediately obvious to students. Computational data, mechanisms, and model kits can help students understand the trends, but it is important for students to know how to use these, what the models indicate, and where they are derived. This chapter discusses how students are engaged in lecture with a few of these models to encourage critical thinking evaluating the models. This chapter includes examples of these classroom activities and reports both instructor and student evaluation of the usefulness and limitations of the models.
Chemistry, Organic, Chemistry--Study and teaching (Higher), Chemical models
Bromfield-Lee, D. C. (2021). Engaging organic students in the message and limitation of models. In B. Murray & J. Kreke (Eds.), Engaging students in organic chemistry (pp. 37-58). ACS Publications. https://www.doi.org/10.1021/bk-2021-1378.ch004