As a recent student myself, and the former Content Intern at Alchemie, I enjoy talking to students about their experience using Mechanisms. Over the summer I spoke with several students to learn about what they like and do not like about the app. Overall, their feedback was very positive and they said that using the Mechanisms app greatly contributed to improving their understanding of organic chemistry. Most importantly, they confirmed that Mechanisms achieves many of the goals we hoped it would achieve when we were designing it, including helping students develop a better understanding of mechanisms.
I pulled some of their quotes that highlight what they like most about the app and specifically, what they found most beneficial. All names of the students have been changed.
First, students appreciate the hints within the puzzles because they provide instant feedback that does not exist when doing mechanisms on paper. More importantly, the hints explain why certain things do not happen which helps students understand more of the chemistry behind the mechanism. This leads to less of a reliance on memorization. I know before I took organic chemistry, I was told that it was all memorization, but it is quite the contrary. When students understand the reasoning behind steps within a mechanism, there is no need to memorize the steps. Emily from CUNY Lehman College recognized this after using the app and said:
Several other students also reiterated that the app translates well to paper and pencil. Rachel from Georgia Southern University said that her professor made them draw out the mechanism while doing the app which helped with the translation. Joe from Florida Southern University specifically said:
Multiple students specifically mentioned that Mechanisms is especially helpful because they focus more on why electrons move a certain way rather than copying structures repeatedly. Sam from University of Texas at Tyler summed this up, and her experience with the app, by saying:
Most importantly, many of the students said that the app helped them better understand arrows. Sometimes when doing demos with professors, they are concerned that there are no arrows in the app. However, we are finding that students do not always understand the arrows. Rather, physically moving the electrons in the app is leading to a better understanding, as Zack from Eckerd College said:
These quotes all demonstrate the power of Mechanisms and confirms that the app is achieving the goals we intended for it when designing the app. Students are gaining a better understanding of reactions in organic chemistry, and more importantly, gaining a better understanding of the mechanistic reasoning behind the reactions. The app is doing this so much so that Caroline from the University of Cincinnati - Blue Ash said:
All of these comments are very pleasing to hear, knowing that the products we are creating are helping students all over the country; and it makes me wish even more that I had Mechanisms when I was a student in organic chemistry.