A Multidimensional Journal Club Activity for an Undergraduate Advanced Organic Chemistry Course
- Jessica K. Kisunzu*
Discussions of the primary literature are an important part of undergraduate education, and much work has been done to develop methods of integrating the literature into the curriculum. Examples include individual single-article discussion activities, literature-based courses, and regular journal club events. While many published examples focus on the use of these activities to gain experience in reading the literature and identifying specific content, fewer examples describe intentionally incorporating a more holistic discussion of the process, particularly in synthetic organic chemistry. The multidimensional journal club activity described here provides a space for students to continue practicing reading the literature, retrosynthetic analysis, synthesis development, and reaction mechanisms while also placing the process of organic synthesis as well as the target molecule (morphine) into a broader historical and societal context. Out-of-class preparation was done both individually and in small groups. The in-class portion included a group discussion of the broader context and strategies, followed by small-group presentations of synthetic steps. After the activity, the course’s take-home exam required students to consider other syntheses of morphine and their place within the greater body of work. This activity has been carried out in three separate sections of a small, condensed-format upper division organic chemistry course but can be implemented in a longer course format or potentially at the end of a second-semester organic chemistry course. Insight into the process behind the choice of materials is also provided.
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