Structure Determination/ NMR

Spectroscopy and structure determination

Interpretation of NMR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry data and formulation of arguments to justify a final proposed chemical structure.

Problem Solving

So, it’s helping to bed down analysis, problem solving, doing the sort of detective work to get to an answer.  And the students also seem to quite enjoy having material presented to them in that way - here’s a spectrum, what do you think the structure is, because it’s a more active form of learning as well.  So I find I enjoy teaching it, and they respond well in terms of, they keep coming in and asking me for additional problems to practise on which is clearly evidence that they feel it’s challenging them.

Teach Students to Interpret Data

I think it’s a key teaching topic, also because it’s teaching students to look at data and to interpret data, to assess which part of that data is going to get them to the answer and which part is exquisite detail that they can come back to later on. 

Group Work

Photocopy the problems rather than expecting students to download them from Blackboard, and take in only a few copies so that students have to share. They’re forced to work together. But that causes a problem at the end of the class if they all want their own copy, so you then have to go back and load it up onto Blackboard. But that sort of approach works quite well.

Present Solutions to NMR Problems

Get the students to present the solutions to NMR problems, with a bit of assistance. Point to a signal on the spectrum and say ‘have you thought about what that means?’ Give them some hints. Encourage the students themselves to be asking the questions about what the signals are or why you ignored a particular signal.

Models to Explain Symmetry

Utilise model making to display principles of symmetry. Make the model, show the NMR spectrum and use them together to explain the symmetry.

Examples of Symmetry

Use examples to demonstrate symmetry. For example, show 1H and 13C NMR spectra of ethyl benzene.

Practice Spectroscopy

Extensive problem solving is essential when doing spectroscopy, because it’s such an applied field.

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