Teaching Organic Synthesis: A Comparative Case Study Approach

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Chemistry (HMC)

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In this course, students encounter reactions and mechanisms in the context of landmark syntheses of biologically important molecules. Students closely examine pairs of syntheses of related or identical molecules to facilitate their appreciation for synthetic strategy. They then write short, creative papers that critically compare the two synthetic routes. Teams of students present the key aspects of each synthesis to their peers, encouraging discussion and responding to online peer-generated questions during the following class. The course culminates in oral and written proposals for novel syntheses of student-selected molecules. Group and individual presentations are central to the course, with the instructor serving as a facilitator, coach, and mentor. Assessment of the teaching model showed it to be an effective means for introducing students to the primary literature and suitable for advanced undergraduate or graduate students.

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© 2008 The American Chemical Society