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Grove, N. P., Copper, M. M., Cox, E. L., “Does Mechanistic Thinking Improve Student Success in Organic Chemistry?,” J. Chem. Educ., 89 (7), 850-853. 2012.

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Article

Using Trityl Carbocations to Introduce Mechanistic Thinking to German High School Students

1Faculty of Chemistry, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Hans-Meerwein-Straße 4, Marburg, Germany


World Journal of Chemical Education. 2018, Vol. 6 No. 1, 18-23
DOI: 10.12691/wjce-6-1-4
Copyright © 2018 Science and Education Publishing

Cite this paper:
Catharina Schmitt, Michael Schween. Using Trityl Carbocations to Introduce Mechanistic Thinking to German High School Students. World Journal of Chemical Education. 2018; 6(1):18-23. doi: 10.12691/wjce-6-1-4.

Correspondence to: Michael  Schween, Faculty of Chemistry, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Hans-Meerwein-Straße 4, Marburg, Germany. Email: schweenm@staff.uni-marburg.de

Abstract

Mechanistic problem-solving is the scientific core competence of organic chemistry. Hence, many students struggle with developing multivariate mechanistic thinking. They very often rely on memorized rules and propose products without providing a detailed mechanistic pathway. They simply apply problem-solving strategies from general chemistry, which is more product-oriented than organic chemistry. A process-oriented view that is highly demanded in organic chemistry requires the understanding and connection of basic principles and concepts. In order to practice the process-oriented approach and introduce advanced German high school students to mechanistic thinking, we developed a set of three new experiments to generate carbocations in model reactions for the observation of reactive intermediates. Trityl cations proved to be the best ones for an experimental investigation of a reaction’s progress which is accessible with a simple analysis that generates explicit results by changes in color and electric conductivity. The experiments are arranged in a guided inquiry workshop of six steps alternating theoretical (oral group discussions) and experimental phases.

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