Organic Chemistry

Organic chemistry

Popularising Chemistry

It always seems like we're starting from further behind than a lot of the other sciences are because they seem to know less about chemistry when they get here.  If I say ‘think of a famous physicist’ you probably already have thought of three.  Then you could go outside and ask someone to think of a famous physicist and they'd probably think of at least one of the same ones.  You do the same thing with biologists.  If I say to think of a famous chemist … that's within chemistry circles, we can't do it.  We can name one but you know if you go out there and say, ‘Who is this person?’ they've

Chemistry is a Continuum

The concept of a continuum is, I think, really important in chemistry and… what I see is that students come up with this issue of things being black or white.  They struggle with this concept of the in between stuff.

Molecules are Three Dimensional

It is vitally important for their understanding of chemistry that they understand that molecules are three-dimensional things and that they have a spatial requirement in that they have a shape of their own and that shape will change.  They can't do higher level manipulations without an understanding of three-dimensional nature of molecules.

Real Life Examples

I know it's hard for them to 'suspend reality' and just accept a concept. They grasp for real life examples or metaphors which make sense to them. Students don't like the concept of something that can shift/change. They like one answer which is set and that's it, right or wrong - not 'shifts to the left/right'.

Changing Old Knowledge

Difficulties are having to relearn something that they thought was true from school and not understanding the evolving nature of science. New knowledge is easier to assimilate than changing old knowledge.

Transferring Knowledge

Students see equations and panic. Students struggle to transfer mathematical knowledge to chemical situations. Students silo knowledge and find it hard to relate concepts to actual systems.

Curiosity the Only Limit

Students should [only] be limited by students' curiosity.

A Learning Process

They [students] expect to either succeed or fail immediately or very quickly on particular problems. They do not see the process as a learning process.

Essay Workshops

We do an awful lot of focus on teaching but realisticly, authentic assessment that actually engages the student, that’s a tougher ask... I set a lot of essay type assignments.

Students Mark Peers Work

I think to get the students to straight away mark for somebody else what they’ve just done and then to mark or take part in the marking of two other versions of the same thing is really powerful.  So it’s not so much me directly finding out what they do and don’t understand but using methods by which they can diagnose for themselves.  I haven’t got this, she has, or yep I have got most of that, she hasn’t, and I can see where she went wrong.  Very powerful, very powerful indeed. 


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