Beginning Organic Chemistry (BOC)
2. Hints for Learning Organic Chemistry.
a. Organizing for Learning

Return to BOC Index. | 2b. Understanding and Belief.

Start Right!

Organic chemistry may well be one of the most difficult courses that you ever have to take. It is very important, therefore, that you start right. Following are some tips which you can use to organize your learning.

Most important: Only You can learn the material. Start now.

On Your Organization.

It is really very, very important that you organize your weekly timetable so that you can get done all those things which you will need to get done. Much time must be spent learning the material, reading your text books, writing essays, learning how to solve problems and then solving problems, etc. It is considered necessary by most experts in learning that you timetable these out-of-class activities, so . . . do so!. If you are doing a university organic chemistry course, I think that you should be spending at least nine (9) hours per week, in addition to lectures and labs, on that chemistry course.

On Taking Notes.

1. Take notes from your text book as you read.

2. Looking at the words is not good enough for learning organic chemistry.

3. Writing things down aids memory.

However:

Note the following about taking notes:
If you copy the book as notes, you will have a copy of the book!
If your notes are dry and unimaginative lists, you will find them dry and unimaginative to review for quizzes, tests and exams!
If you make a list, you will have a list! In my view, lists have to go in Taxon memory (which is hard work) and not in Locale memory.
When writing notes, ask yourself. "Why am I doing this?" That is, what do you need the notes for? What are you going to use them for?
Write them to best fit those needs and uses that you identify for yourself.
If you spend time organizing your notes and note-taking, you are already learning the material.

Deeper material on organization and note-taking for organic chemistry.

On Definitions for Exam and Quiz Purposes.

You do not have to quote the text, or me, or anyone else word-for-word. You are encouraged to use your own words and to remember definitions by using your imagination (ie Locale memory) rather than by rote leaming (ie Taxon memory), and by understanding (imagining) why the definition is needed.

Problem Solving.

A tutorial in problem solving is available, and though strictly written with general chemistry in mind, there are some tips that you might pick up from reading it through now.

Problem Solving: A through E

Getting to Know Your Text.

Your text book will be your most valuable resource for this course. You should familiarize yourself with the layout. For right now, find answers to the following question concerning your text book.

What information is on the front and end sheets of the book?
What information is given in the appendices?
Where are answers to selected end-of-chapter problems?
Where is the glossary, and how useful is it?
How useful is the index going to be?

On Appropriate Conditions for Learning.

Because of our reluctance to change our imaginings and beliefs (discussed on 'Hints for Learning 2'), it is important to recognize that to give ourselves a chance, we must have in place conditions that will foster mind-changing. Conditions suggested by ME Knowles (The Modem Practice of Adult Education, Cambridge UP / Prentice Hall, 1980, pp57-58) indicate that such an environment includes:

physical comfort;
mutual respect and mutual helpfulness in groups;
freedom of expression in groups;
accepting differences within groups;
perceiving the goals of learning as your goals;
sharing the planning, the responsibility, and the operation of the learning experience;
actively participating and seeing progress towards your own goals.

Date created: 2005 06 07.