Chapter 6: Mechanistic Reasoning Using the Electron-pushing Formalism
Published:17 May 2021
G. Bhattacharyya, in Problems and Problem Solving in Chemistry Education: Analysing Data, Looking for Patterns and Making Deductions, ed. G. Tsaparlis, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021, ch. 6, pp. 127-144.
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Proposing reaction mechanisms using the electron-pushing formalism is central to the practice and teaching of organic chemistry. It is also, arguably, among the more useful of the transferrable skills taught in typical undergraduate organic chemistry courses (Organic One and Organic Two), since many of the core topics in the biomedical sciences and allied fields incorporate MR (Mechanistic Reasoning) using the EPF (Electron-Pushing Formalism). I propose that MR EPF should be considered its unique form of reasoning – one that incorporates components of several other forms of reasoning. Additionally, I review recent research on how students learn EPF mechanisms and attempt to solve EPF tasks to offer some reasons for which students tend to memorize entire EPF mechanisms. This research is also used to discuss newer forms of assessing MR EPF. The chapter closes with an emerging model of the process by which students may learn MR EPF.