Supplementing Organic Learning: An Introduction

Hello fellow members of the Frederick Honors College community! My name is Goutham Lakkaraju and I am a current Junior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Molecular Biology and minoring in Chemistry and Hispanic Language and Culture. This fall semester I am working alongside Dr. Jaclyn Powell in creating an interactive video learning platform to supplement critical Organic Chemistry 2 (CHEM 0320) concepts.

Often one of the more difficult courses that a pre-health student takes during their undergraduate career, CHEM 0320 challenges students to push the boundaries of their thinking, bringing abstract concepts together to solve complex problems. Whether it be synthesizing compounds or determining the mechanism of a reaction, the concepts taught in the two term Organic Chemistry series build off of each other. Having taken Dr. Powell’s class in the Spring of 2022, I noticed that at times there are very little supplemental materials that emphasize some of Organic Chemistry’s core concepts. It is not uncommon to see students bogged down by long tutorial videos that are rich in detail but lacking in content. Additionally, it is very tempting to speed through the videos and never truly grasp the key concepts. 

To address these issues and more, I teamed up with Dr. Powell to formulate a series of minilectures designed to guide students through topics such as acid/base chemistry, SNAc mechanism, Diels-Alder reaction, and more. Throughout the minilectures, students will be given the chance to challenge their minds by answering quickfire questions. Designed to test the progress of their learning, students will be given immediate feedback. The questions that I will create will be designed to foster a more active style of learning, one where recall is emphasized over recognition. Setting the primer for good studying habits, I hope to impress on others the study techniques that I found helpful when I took CHEM 0320.

A sneak preview of my first minilecture!

It is often said that when one is able to teach concepts to others effectively, they have mastered the content. As a pre-med student, I believe being able to break down complicated ideas into simpler easy-to-chew concepts will go far in helping one learn. This is no more apparent than in medicine. Expected to learn how the human body works and fails to work within a mere four years, future doctors are expected to absorb a mountain of information without time to waste. Surprisingly, this philosophy of thinking and learning has made me excel outside the classroom. Having played the clarinet for six years, this same principle has allowed me to break down difficult music into more manageable segments. However above all, The Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship will bring me one step closer to achieving my dreams of becoming a doctor by helping me refine my own learning style.

Follow my journey throughout this semester as I aim to supplement organic learning!

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