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Organic Reaction Mechanism Controversy: Pedagogical Implications for Chemical Education

  • Date Submitted: 05/08/2012 09:30 AM
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ORGANIC REACTION MECHANISM CONTROVERSY: PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR
CHEMICAL EDUCATION






AHIAKWO, JOSHUA MACSON
DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION
RIVERS STATE UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
PORT HARCOURT
Phone:08033107657
e-mail: mcsahia@yahoo.com























ABSTRACT

The paper investigated the pedagogical implications of the controversy generated by the nature of reaction mechanism in organic chemistry as to whether it can be proven or not.   A conference of a chemist, chemical educator, a graduate chemistry teacher and a graduate assistant was organized.   The conference lasted for four weeks of two interactions per week. Each interaction took three hours. Interactions during the conference took a total of 24 hours (8x3).   A postgraduate student recorded minutes of each interaction.   The minutes of the total interactions served as the source of information for the discourse in the study.   While the chemist treated reaction mechanism as a fact supported by experimental evidences, the chemical educator was conscious of reaction mechanism as a theory which can be refuted.   The students were not sure of the nature of reaction mechanisms.   These were discussed in the study.


Keywords:   Organic,   Reaction,   Pedagogy,   Chemistry, Education


Introduction
Chemical reactions are common in chemistry and related disciplines.   Infact, chemists study chemical reactions.   Chemical reactions can be simple or complicated to understand.   For example, a reaction that simply goes from A to B or from B to A may be easy to understand.   However, there are so many chemical reactions notably in organic chemistry where reactions may not directly lead to products.   Some complexes may form between reactants and products which will make it difficult to understand reaction pathways to products.  
Definition of Reaction Mechanism
Khan and Khan (2006) defined reaction mechanism as “a step-by-step description...

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