Introduction to Organic Chemistry
and Biochemistry (X402)

Supplemental information

Introduction
How do you decide whether this course is at the right level for you?
High school students?
Class size
Can you use a different book?
What about having a second book?
What if our book seems too difficult for you?
Glossary web page
Homework. Getting feedback just before a test.
Homework. Miscellaneous.
Study Groups.
Handouts
Web site
Organizing your thoughts; sharing.
Special projects?
Using class for announcements or networking
Course length, pace, schedule issues.
Course evaluations.
Priorities: an overview
Comments from recent class(es).
Bottom of page; return links and contact information


Introduction

This page provides some additional information about the course. Some of it may be thought of as a supplement to the syllabus -- expanding on some points. Some of it deals with issues that come up as students decide whether this is the right course, and some is based on student feedback on course evaluation forms.

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How do you decide whether this course is at the right level for you?

It may be good to recognize right at the start that this is a more difficult question for adult students than for regular college students who are taking an organized sequence of courses. Simply listing pre-requisites is much less useful for adult students. You may know things you have learned outside of courses, and may have forgotten things you learned in them. Ultimately, you get to choose whether the course is useful for you. I hope the following remarks will help some.

Do you have enough background for the course? X402 is primarily an introduction to basic organic chemistry, with an orientation to biochemistry. It is not a first course in chem. Thus we do list a pre-requisite of some prior chem course. Of course, some of you may have acquired basic chem knowledge from other science courses, or from work experience. We don't formally enforce the pre-requisite in any way; it is there as advice. What's important is not a course per se, but being able to communicate in the language of chemistry. As the catalog description and syllabus suggest, you should be comfortable with basic chemical ideas. If you have some background but aren't sure if it is enough, support is available, including within the book. In fact, you may find it helpful to look at the page on X402 background information. Note that the quantitative aspects of introductory chemistry are much less important in organic than they were in general (or physical) chemistry.

Do you have too much background to make this course worthwhile? If you have taken university level organic chemistry and done well, it would seem on paper that you are beyond this course. However, some of our students have this background, and find X402 a useful review. It is common that students feel somewhat overwhelmed by chem, and a review at a lower level can "feel good".

One way to help decide whether the course will be worthwhile is to look at the sample tests (from previous X402 classes). If the content of the tests looks too easy, that could be a clue that you are at a higher level than X402. But if you think you would find further work on the material found on these tests worthwhile, then give it a try. If you have a good background but think the review would be useful, I encourage you to set yourself a higher goal than the course core. Do more in some chapters, as your schedule allows, and try to learn at a higher level.

What's this "orientation to biochemistry"? We teach X402 with the idea that most of our students are more interested in applying organic chemistry to the biological sciences than in being organic chemists per se. This means that we go light on some topics that would be considered much more important for organic chemists. These include:
- Reaction mechanism. The details of how reactions occur, which leads to a better understanding of why they occur. We discuss one example. The book discusses more, but we will skip them. If your goal is to take university level organic chemistry, you may want to pay more attention to the additional reaction mechanisms discussed in the book.
- Synthesis. Organic chemists try to figure out multi-step pathways to synthesize compounds. We will discuss some individual reactions, and will consider some examples of combining two or more reactions in sequence to achieve a goal. However, in biochemistry we are more concerned with figuring out the sequence that Nature has chosen, so devising synthetic pathways is less important. If you are going on in organic chemistry, try more of the advanced problems that involve multi-step syntheses (available in some chapters). These problems involve some free thinking, trying to see how compounds that differ in more than one way can be "linked together" by a synthetic pathway. It often helps to think backwards. You are trying to make something. What must be (or might be) the last step?
- Spectroscopy. Modern organic chemistry uses spectroscopy as a major tool for characterization of chemicals. Just as a matter of priorities and time constraints, we don't discuss this in X402. There is a chapter on this in Ouellette, and it might serve as a good introduction for those who want to add this on to their personal version of the course.

On the other hand, we try to highlight things that will prove useful in biochemistry. Ouellette has this bias, too; you will notice many comments about biochemical issues as we go through the organic chapters, and we will refer to these again when we get to metabolism. Ouellette has chapters on the major classes of biological chemicals, and we will cover these in sequence.

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High school students?

Intro Organic/Biochem (X402) may be suitable as a second course in chemistry for those who have taken high school chemistry -- and done very well. It will give you some of the basics of organic chemistry, and an introduction to the chemical basis of biological systems. The material in Intro Organic/Biochem is not typically covered much in high school courses.

High school students who take this, or other college courses, need to realize that there are some typical differences between high school and college courses. First, the pace is much faster in a college course -- probably 2-3 times the pace of good high school courses. Second, there is much more individual responsibility to do the work in college. In high school, the amount of outside work ("homework") is usually small compared to time spent in class. In college, the reverse is true; a useful rule of thumb is that typical college students spend 2-3 hours outside of class for each hour in class. Thus, students taking Intro Organic/Biochem -- including high school students -- should plan on spending 5-8 hr each week on their own, outside of class. Further, in high school it is common that the teacher carefully monitors your progress at each step. For example, all homework is collected and graded. Policies on this vary widely among college instructors. However, some instructors, including me, believe that homework should be considered a personal activity that is part of your learning process, and is not an end in itself. I will leave it largely up to you to do the problems in the book, and to seek help when needed. It is your responsibility to learn the material, and to do the work that is required to do so.

Some further comments...
* The page Tips for success was written in a different context, but the idea is the same. Those who are new to college-level classes, or who have not taken one in a long time, might find that page useful. Read it for the general tone.
* If you take the course in good faith and it doesn't work out well, that is ok. It still may be a good experience for you, and it will benefit your approach to future college work. It is common enough for young students to stumble on their first college course (or the first one with serious academic content). Ok; and better to do it early than to stumble on your entire first semester of college.
* High school students who have taken Intro Organic/Biochem have generally done quite well!

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Class size

Class size for X402 is usually around 20. The small class size makes it very practical to give students considerable individual attention, through whichever modes are most convenient for you (e.g., before or after class, e-mail or phone discussions, written work). Further, class is informal and considerable class time can be used for questions.

Class discussions, as well as class presentations, are most useful for you when you are prepared and an active participant. Even if you prefer to be "quiet", you can participate mentally. But the small class size does make it easier to participate, and we often get discussions involving several class members.

Some students find chemistry difficult or even intimidating. Our class size, coupled with the general philosophy of Extension classes for motivated adult students, helps provide a supportive and flexible approach to learning chemistry.

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Can you use a different book?

If you are considering using a book in addition to our textbook, see the section on What about having a second book?.

If you want to consider using another book instead of Ouellette, please check with me. It is possible that it is ok, so long as we both understand what is happening. Many chemistry books are very similar, so if you have another book at the same level, it may be ok. However, if the book you suggest using is at a different level, we should discuss whether it is appropriate for you.

If you do use another book, there are a couple of practical issues...

- First, we want to determine the correspondence between your book and ours. For chem books this is usually fairly straightforward; however, there are always some differences in coverage, including order, from one book to another. I am happy to discuss this with you, and give you a general guide. However, it must be your final responsibility to determine what needs to be covered.

- Second, if you turn in work from another book, I need to know what it is. It is often adequate to simply include a copy of the questions. (I am happy to read work you do from another book. For some students, this is a way of customizing the course, doing some practice from a more advanced book.)

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What about having a second book?

If you are considering using another book instead of our textbook, see the section on Can you use a different book?.

Some students like to have additional books available, to supplement the main textbook. Roles for the extra books include helping with background material and offering a second view on current material. Such supplemental books can help, and they can also get in the way.

Certainly, if you already have some other books, use them as seems appropriate to you. For example, looking up background material in an old chem book you already know is sometimes useful. If you want my "opinion" of some book you have, or an explanation about its level, either bring it in and show it to me, or give me the information (author, title, date, ISBN number).

The caution is that in general simply having more books won't solve big problems. The class book and other class materials are intended to define what the class is about. Other books may be at different levels, or look at things different ways. Sometimes this may help, but sometimes it may confuse. I would not particularly encourage buying a second book, in general, but if you do want to, I am happy to discuss some possibilities with you.

Sometimes a student will think...

I can't do the problems yet because I don't understand the material. Therefore I need a better explanation.

That may be getting things backwards. You learn by doing the problems, and asking questions when stuck. There are many things that are hard to explain completely and unambiguously in words. Read the basics, then try the problems. Check yourself. When stuck, go back and re-study the relevant material, now focusing on the issue that came up in the problem. If necessary, ask for some help. The point is that real learning occurs while you do problems, more than by reading or listening.

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What if our book seems too difficult for you?

Students in the class vary widely in their background, time commitment, and goals. Our intent is to provide a situation that serves the needs of students at various levels. In 2001 we switched textbooks. The previous textbook was so elementary that it failed to even cover some of what I feel should be basic material. Certainly, it provided almost nothing for those who wanted a somewhat higher level. The new textbook is at a somewhat higher level, and therefore allows more flexibility. It does a generally good job with the basics, including the background material in Ch 1-2, but also has considerable material that is beyond our basics. We can sample some of that, and those who want more can do more. But for those who want "only the basics", the book may seem to have too much; occasional students have said they found the book too difficult. (Overall, the student feedback on the new book has been broadly favorable -- at least as good as for the previous book. But no single book can meet the needs of everyone. The problem is "scope", not quality.)

If you find Ouellette too difficult...

First, it is important that you read the handouts and follow class notes as to what is core material. If you try to do everything in Ouellette, you are doing too much. The handouts tell what is basic material -- and when that is not clear, please ask.

Second, if you would like to try a "lighter" book, that is ok. Such books, commonly called something like "Introduction to General, Organic, and Biochemistry", are commonly used at local community colleges and the state universities; you may even find one in a used bookstore. I am happy to discuss such books with you, and help guide you using one if that is what you choose. If you work from such a book and do it very well, I would think you would be able to get at least a strong B in the course; the reason for you choosing such a book should be your perceived need, not grade.

Some of the "general" sites listed as Internet resources for X402 are at the level of such "Introduction to General, Organic, and Biochemistry" courses. Some of these may be particularly useful for those who want an emphasis on the most basic material. See General sites.

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Glossary web page

The Ouellette book lacks a Glossary. Of course, the Index is a reasonable substitute in many cases.

I have a Glossary page. I do not intend it to be "complete", but rather to be a place we can record things that come up in this course. Let me know of suggested additions.

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Homework. Getting feedback just before a test.

As a test approaches, it becomes an issue that you have done the homework that is relevant to the test, and gotten feedback on it. Our once-a-week schedule can make this difficult. To help... When you turn in homework the class before a test, you might want to include a SASE. I will then try to mark it and return it within a day or so. It's also ok to mail me homework; most mail gets delivered within a couple of days throughout the area (though of course that is not guaranteed; not a bad habit to make a copy before you send it). If timing allows, I can mail it back to you, but more likely I would bring it to the next class.

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Homework. Miscellaneous.

The answers to odd-numbered "Exercises" (and all the in-chapter "Problems") are at the back of the book. Please check yourself on these -- and give the problem a second try if necessary. Missing a problem is often a sign to go back and re-study the relevant material. If you continue to have trouble with a problem, give me a call or e-mail; we can try to resolve it during the week, so you can go on. Main issue... The purpose of having answers available is to give you quick feedback, so you can tell how you are doing. Make use of the answer section!

When possible, try to provide explanations or show your work. This is particularly important if you are having trouble. If there is just an answer, all I can do is to mark it right or wrong. If you show what you do, I can provide feedback on what you did wrong. Remember that on tests I will "always" ask you to show work and to explain things.

You are welcome to work more advanced problems, from our book or from another book. If you care enough to turn in some work for me to look at, I am happy to take the time to read it.

I encourage you to be environmentally wise. It's fine to use the back side of otherwise discarded paper for your homework.

When I am marking your homework, if I have any comment at all on what you did for a particular problem, I will usually put a red X in the left margin, just to get your attention. This doesn't mean that what you did is necessarily "wrong", but it means to look more carefully to see if I wrote a comment.

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Study Groups

I certainly encourage you to form study groups within the class, and study together. However, I should note that it usually seems to be difficult to make arrangements. (The main exception is when there are students in the class who work at the same place, or otherwise already know each other.) Attempts to facilitate group formation, by sharing contact information, have proved of little use -- and they raise privacy concerns.

If anyone wants to try to form a group, feel free to make an announcement in class, or to use the class e-mail list to see if you can get something started. If you think I can help, let me know.

I should note that interactions short of "study groups" may be of some use, and easier to develop. For example, some students might spend some time helping each other via e-mail or phone informally. I also encourage you to work together while at class, before and after class time, and during group work in class.

I do not give out student contact information. You are free to ask other students if they want to share contact information with you.

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Handouts

The chapter handouts are my way of providing my notes about the course in writing. This includes information on priorities. Former students tell me to emphasize to new students that it is important to read the handouts right away.

If you have comments about what should or should not be in class handouts, or how they are organized, please slip me a note. The more specific your comment is, the easier it is to deal with. Generally, the handouts contain much useful info and then some optional stuff. I hope it is clear which is which.

If you miss class, be sure to get the handouts. They are listed on the Updates page, and many can be downloaded there. But you are welcome to paper copies, even if you download them, and sometimes you need to get the paper copy to get a complete or properly formatted version. I have recent handouts with me in class.

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Web site

Some students express some "guilt" at not using the web site much. Not a problem. The web site is all optional (with one exception noted below). The Updates page is a backup, to help when you miss class. The sample tests and practice quizzes give you a chance to try some questions I have written, rather than those in the book; since I write the tests, many people want to do at least some of these. (I distribute a paper copy of the first sample test in class.) Most of the other stuff is entirely supplementary, not required.

For X402, there is one required assignment on the Internet, in the Metabolism section at the end of the course. If anyone has problems with accessing this, please let me know, and we will try to accommodate somehow.

You are still welcome to explore after the course is over... most interesting/useful if you haven't done anything with it would be to play with RasMol for viewing molecular structures, and maybe one of the drawing programs. The drawing programs can actually be useful sometimes, when you need to include structures in a document. Many students, at all levels, find it "neat" to draw a structural formula, and watch the 3D model emerge, as with ChemSketch.

Any suggestions for organizing the web site better (making it easier to find things) are welcomed.

Suggestions for additional web topics are welcomed. The web site allows me to write and post short sections addressing some particular problem area or supplemental topic. These get written for various reasons, but your suggestions can play a role.

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Organizing your thoughts; sharing.

Much of the material we cover is interconnected in some way. Seeing those interconnections is part of chemistry making more sense to you. At times, it may be useful to make "summary charts" that help you tie together material. To some extent it is personal taste how you make these. You are welcome to show me your summaries, for comment. I also encourage you to share such summaries with the class; other students may benefit from seeing the material organized in different ways.

There are also informal ways of doing some of this, including private discussions and the class e-mail list. Also note that a good use of your note page for use on tests is to help you organize material.

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Special projects?

If you would like to do some special project, let's discuss. You might look at a project I developed for a similar class: Project. This would need some modification of details for this class, but the idea is ok. I'm open to other ideas. Group projects are ok, but remember that most people in an Extension class do not have easy access to each other outside of class.

The best motivation for doing a project is that you would like to do something special. For example, you might be interested in learning more about some particular chemical. (I'm less sympathetic to projects that seem to be motivated primarily by trying to avoid regular class work.)

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Using class for announcements or networking

Extension classes bring together people of diverse backgrounds and interests. Sometimes you may want to make use of the class as a source of contacts. As a general philosophy, we accept this. So long as you are brief, you are welcome to make announcements in class -- on more or less anything. Aim for a few sentences to make people aware, then offer more information, perhaps with a handout that you have available. (We have had announcements about jobs, both available and wanted -- and even about ski trips.)

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Course length, pace, schedule issues.

Length. Students sometimes comment about the course length. For now, it is best to just think of the 30-32 hours as a given. No changes are anticipated. The summer course is the same, although organized somewhat differently because of a calendar constraint.

Nights off. Extension courses are scheduled to meet for a certain number of class hours. Having a night off does not affect the amount of class time, but merely extends the class to a later date.

The corresponding section of X11 Supplemental information, for my other Extension chemistry course, is more extensive. Some of the discussion there may also be useful to students considering X402.

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Course evaluations

Course evaluations are done at the end of each course. They serve two purposes. First, the simple evaluation is information to the Extension office that guides them in deciding whether to continue courses. Second, the more detailed evaluation is important feedback to me in doing further course development. Extension provides a simple form, mainly a check list where you rate several features of the course. This serves their purpose, but really provides little useful information. Therefore I ask that you do a more complete evaluation. Sometimes I do this with an additional form, or with my questions integrated into a version of the Extension form, but sometimes I just leave it open-ended, and ask you to write additional comments.

One easy way you can enhance the simple Extension form is to add some comments, not just mark number ratings. This is especially helpful when you have a low rating of an item... Write a brief note about why, with some specifics if possible.

The Extension evaluation form also includes some questions for marketing purposes, including some that may serve to identify you. Answering questions about courses you would like to see may be useful, but it is fine to leave any questions blank. I certainly encourage you to skip questions that might identify you; they are contrary to the spirit of an anonymous course evaluation.

I encourage you to make notes as the semester proceeds about what you like and don't like about the course, along with your suggestions. You are welcome to offer your comments during the course. You can do this in any way you wish, including anonymous notes in the IN envelope in class. Certainly, if there are things that could be adjusted during a course, it is good if you let me know right away. Further, if you give me comments during the semester, I can sometimes put them out for comment by others, to get a sense of the range of opinions.

Here are some examples of questions that I might put on the evaluation form. You can jot down responses to any of these -- or to the questions you want to answer. The point is that any feedback is welcomed, and these questions are intended as guides.

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Priorities: an overview

I provide many optional materials and encourage students to customize the course to meet their individual needs. There is a downside to this flexibility: sometimes students facing a time crunch, especially just before a test, feel somewhat overwhelmed and are not sure where to concentrate. This section is a brief summary to help you set priorities in such cases. Most of what is said here is said elsewhere, but perhaps bringing it together will help. Feedback welcomed.

A major role of the chapter handouts is to help you set priorities. In particular, the chapter handouts will note sections and topics that we skip. Class should also help you with priorities, but the information in the handouts is even more important.

Doing problems is a key part of learning chemistry. It is while doing problems that you learn whether or not you understand what you have studied. Do lots of problems, and seek help when needed. You can choose these problems from various sources. Doing the ones from the book is perhaps sufficient, for most topics. Doing some from my materials is probably a good idea, to get practice with my style of questions. These materials include the sample tests, practice quizzes, and supplementary materials.

In a few cases, I have put some supplementary problems in the chapter handouts. Some of these are marked as extra practice on major topics, because I think the book problems are weak in certain areas. Obviously, problems labeled like that should be considered important. The chapter handouts, once again, guide you as to the priority.

Except for the few cases of supplementary problems that are explicitly labeled as important, you have no obligation to do anything beyond the basic book materials. That is, unless I explicitly note some special importance of a particular supplement, such as the previous paragraph, you can assume that non-book supplements are really just extra and entirely optional.

You have no obligation to use any of the supplemental materials that come with the book.

You have no obligation to do any of the "Further Reading" (FR) noted in the handouts or to use any of the supplemental web sites I list. These materials are provided for those who "want more". I do hope that browsing the FR gives you an idea of why the material we cover is "relevant", but it is not something to worry about for test preparation.

The Updates page is primarily for those who miss a class. However, it also is a place for me to summarize what we have done, and to make adjustments. It may be helpful for you to check the Updates page shortly before a test. It would give you a quick overview, and also alert you to any adjustments that might have been made.

If you are not clear whether something is priority material or not, please ask. In addition to answering your immediate concern, I can adjust any statements in the handouts to be clearer.

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Comments from recent class(es)

I welcome further comments on anything noted here. I also hope that these comments may be of some use to following classes.

Tests. Some students have asked about having open book tests. I have tried that some, and I am not happy with it. It seems there is too big a temptation for some students to not prepare for an open book test. The current plan, of allowing a one page note sheet, is intended to be in the spirit of emphasizing "understand, do not memorize". With this procedure, students do need to prepare well for the test, but can use the note sheet to help them organize, and to record "facts" they might otherwise have to memorize. Preparing a good note sheet is actually part of preparing for the test. It seems to work fairly well, and -- barring further "evidence" -- I think I will stick with it. Also, remember that test style is matched to the test procedure.

Supplementary materials. The evaluation form asks you to rate their usefulness. There was a wide range of scores for this item. Most useful are any suggestions on how to improve them, or what to add. Remember that most of the supplementary materials are "optional", but they are also my materials, so it is within my control to fix them, to develop them further, or to develop new ones. Therefore, any suggestions on improving class handouts or web pages, or suggestions on new ones worth developing, are encouraged. Sometimes, a handout or web page (or a specific feature) starts with just one simple comment from a student.

Students specifically noted the value of using models to help you visualize organic structures. See my Models page for information about models, including free programs for use on the computer.

Textbook. The book received a wide range of scores -- and comments. This is typical, incidentally, regardless of the book. Out of curiosity, I tallied the scores; they were almost exactly 1/3 each 3, 4, and 5 (on the 1-5 scale).

Note that there are two fairly distinct issues with textbook choice. One is the general level of the book, and the other is the "quality" of this particular book at that level.

For level, I think we have it about right. Ouellette is working at least as well as the previous book, which was at a lower level. Yet it does include the two introductory chapters, which review key background material. There is some discussion in other sections above about how individual students can deal with the issue of level of the textbook. Note that the issue of textbook level is closely related to the issue of whether the course is at the right level for you; see below.

For quality, I am fairly happy with Ouellette, but will continue to look at other books at this level. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect book, so it is a matter of finding one that is generally well done and then dealing with its particular idiosyncrasies and weaknesses. Any specific comments on quality issues are welcomed; in some cases I can address them with comments in the handouts, and certainly it is good for me to be aware of them.

Example. Someone suggested finding a textbook with "more diagrams". That is not a free choice. I can only choose from books that exist, taken as a whole, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. I can compensate for weaknesses by providing supplementary pages (such as the ones on oxygen-containing groups). However, to do this I need a specific suggestion as to what is wanted. Additional comments on this are welcomed; comments from this class could lead to additional materials being available for the next class. And comments during the course when a need occurs can sometimes lead to a quick, rough draft response, which is later developed more thoroughly. (Maybe people can even donate pages they wrote and are willing to share.)

Course level, pace. As noted in the discussion of the book, above, this is always an issue. Our students are quite diverse, in terms of background, needs, and time commitment. We try to accommodate a range of students within a single course framework. But the primary emphasis is to accommodate students who are comfortable with the basics of chemistry, including of chemical bonding, and then to provide an introduction to organic and biochemistry. Students with weaker or rusty backgrounds need to do some extra review on their own, including use of the introductory chapters; they may also want to consider whether they should take an Introductory Chemistry course first (such as our X11). I would also note that some students continue and survive X402, but then go back and take X11; that is reasonable for some. Students who want more than our core level in X402, including those who want to work through all of what is in Ouellette, should do that on their own, beyond class time -- whether during the semester or later. I am happy to help you with such work, but we want to do it in a way that does not distract the class from the core work too much.

Students noted that the summer pace is not very forgiving, and that getting behind can be a problem. Yes. To some extent this is an issue with any one-night-a-week class, but with 13 consecutive weeks it does seem tight. Try to keep up, and check with me if there is a problem. We will try to accommodate. And be thankful it is only a 2 unit course! (The Spring schedule is slightly better, though the same basic problem remains. For the Spring we have 14 classes (same total number of class hours), and we often schedule one holiday towards the end.)

Prospective students reading over these comments from previous classes should also read various other sections of this Supplemental information page, including How do you decide whether this course is at the right level for you?, and others listed at the top of page.

Spring 2002. To some extent, I have combined comments from the two Spring classes, since many points are general.

The comments here are not intended to be a complete reflection of what is on the forms. The things here are things that I think might be of particular interest for some reason. In some cases, there are things where I want more feedback from students. In some cases, it is good to show the diversity of opinion on some issue.


I strongly encourage you to make comments about the course as the course proceeds. This has two major advantages. First, in some cases it may be possible to make a useful adjustment that benefits the current course. Second, it may be possible to solicit further detail or comments from others in the class about a matter. I would also note that, in many cases, specific comments are more useful than general ones.

As examples...

A student suggested that too much class time might have been taken up by questions from one student. Now, at this point, I am not sure what this refers to. If the comment had been made at the time, we could have discussed it. The underlying issue is complex; in general, I encourage students to ask questions both directly related to class and sometimes beyond class material. It's particularly tricky to figure out how much time to allow for the latter. For example, we had a fairly lengthy discussion of the gasoline additive MTBE in the Intro course this past term. Arguably, that had little to do directly with core material, but I thought it was worthwhile for class time because of the general issues involved (and in this case a number of people had expressed some interest in the topic). In any case, a comment at the time of a perceived problem would have allowed for some discussion of the point (privately or publicly).

Most students rated this item very highly, thus did not think there was a problem. As so often, there are reasonable differences of opinion. Sometimes it is best if you will speak up at the time, so we can address the difference of opinion.


Students sometimes ask for more information in the handouts, or for some information to be presented "more clearly". If you will tell me what you had trouble with, I can deal with it. The nice thing about the handouts (and web pages) is that it is easy to elaborate/clarify. I am constantly tuning the pages, but pointing me to a specific perceived problem is the best way to get something done. (I should add that occasionally students will suggest the handouts are too long. Again, if you offer such a comment, please be specific.) I will generally try to look for highlighting of key points as I go through the handouts for this coming semester.


Some students suggested that I put out more questions for you to work on during class. This is tricky, since people's preparation varies widely. I did experiment some, in both courses, with having some questions for you prior to class; this was based on a suggestion from a previous student. My sense is that it went well, and I will probably expand that. In general, there are plenty of practice questions, whether from the book, or my practice quizzes and sample tests. If more are needed on certain topics, let me know, and I will develop some supplemental problem sets. I am already working on such a set for the basic reactions of aromatics. If you are concerned about the test question style, it is particularly important that you do some work with the sample tests. (I would note that the X402 email puzzles did not go over well this semester!)


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Last update: November 19, 2015