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I have developed a teaching style that emphasizes more than just rote memorization. Students need to be encouraged to think critically by applying familiar mechanisms to new situations.”

Bio

After being heavily influenced by the education that I received at Haverford College, I pursued my PhD at The Pennsylvania State University with a goal of teaching at the undergraduate level.

Since 2006, I have taught a variety of chemistry courses while focusing on organic chemistry. With a background in organic synthesis and methodology, I have done research in the methodology of indoles and related natural products as well as hydroboration methodology.

More recently, I have developed a focus on chemical education research, specifically in looking at student self-assessment and how that effects performance in courses.

Most of my work has focused around student learning and looking for ways to improve student learning. As an organic chemist, I often teach what is regarded as one of the most difficult courses that students take.

Too often, organic chemistry is thought of (and presented) dryly and has gained a stereotype as a class used to “weed out” pre-med students. I have developed a teaching style that emphasizes more than just rote memorization. Students need to be encouraged to think critically by applying familiar mechanisms to new situations.

For example, when I teach organic reactions, I present the material organized by reaction mechanisms. I emphasize to students that memorization will only take them so far in the course. When I teach the chapter on nucleophilic acyl substitution, I make sure students realize that while this chapter has more than 20 reactions; most of the reactions use two general mechanisms. Therefore I attempt to get students to learn reactions by mechanisms and not memorization as it will allow them to apply what they have learned to new reactions.

By challenging the students in this way, it is my hope that students can transfer this learning to other situations (whether school related or not).

Through different strategies in the classroom as well as my research in chemical education, my students are well prepared for their future coursework and careers of choice.

Sample Courses

  • CHM 2011: Organic Chemistry I
  • CHM 2015: Organic Chemistry I Laboratory
  • CHM 3040: Biochemistry
  • CHM 2022: Organic Chemistry II
  • CHM 2025: Organic Chemistry II Lab
  • CHM 1015: General Chemistry I Laboratory
  • CHM 2040: Intro General/Organic Chemistry
  • CHM 1025: General Chemistry II Lab

Memberships

  • The American Chemical Society, 1999-present
  • National Science Teachers Association, 2015-present 

Publications

  • “The Role of Student Major in Grade Perception in Chemistry Courses,” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2016. Authors: Andrew Karatjas and Jeffrey Webb
  • “Synthesis of Pinacolboranes,” Boron Reagents in Synthesis, 2017. Authors: Andrew Karatjas, Heidi McBriarty, Stephan Braye and David Piscitelli
  • “The Role of Gender in Grade Perception in 100-Level Chemistry Courses Publication,” The Journal of College Science Teaching, 2015. Authors: Andrew Karatjas and Jeffrey Webb
  • “Use of student self-assessment of exams to investigate student learning in organic chemistry classes Publication,” Innovative Uses of Assessments for Teaching and Research, 2014. Editors: Lisa Kendhammer and Kristen Murphy. Author: Andrew Karatjas
  • “The Use of iSpartan in Teaching Organic Spectroscopy,” The Journal of Chemical Education, 2014. Author: Andrew Karatjas
  • “Comparing College Students’ Self-Assessment of Knowledge in Organic Chemistry to their Actual Performance,” The Journal of Chemical Education, 2013. Authors: Andrew Karatjas