Busy TAA People: Richard Mullins
TAA member, Richard J. Mullins is “finally a published textbook author” having published Organic Chemistry: A Learner-Centered Approach with Pearson Education. First printed in March 2021, the book will be used by students this fall, says Mullins, Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry, Xavier University.
According to Mullins:
“Whereas other organic chemistry books are written to be encyclopedic references about organic chemistry, this book was written to teach students how to learn organic chemistry without sacrificing the necessary rigor.
Seeking to incorporate the best features of an engaging organic chemistry lecture, this book establishes a rapport with students through a conversational approach, levity and humor, the use of analogies, and by highlighting how students encounter organic chemistry in everyday life. Starting in chapter 1, students are taught the importance of grit, a growth mindset, and are given a basic understanding of how information is stored in short term and long term memory. Equipped with this understanding, it is hoped that students will make better use of this resource and the pedagogical features contained within.
Important pedagogical features include, among others:
- Thinking Like a Chemist, where students are encouraged to invent/discover reactions and concepts alongside the author,
- Solved Assessments that introduce new concepts, reinforcing the notion that with some basic knowledge, students can predict the next one.
- Recall Boxes that link new, complicated reactions and mechanistic steps to ones studied previously.
- Coaching Tips, delivered in-line or in the margin by Cartoon Rick and Friends. These break up the monotony of reading, often asking students to think more deeply, recall a particular concept, or even to re-read/re-examine a previous line of text/figure.”
As the sole author, Mullins recognizes the community of people who helped him produce the published textbook.
“While this book technically has only a single author, as is always the case, it took a village of editors, artists, development editors, and of course, a supportive group of friends and family members to bring it to fruition. Equally important to those people that have their hands on the project each day are the ones that inspire while at the same time providing a road map for how a project of this magnitude should be completed. For me, TAA has been that and more. It is a wonderfully supportive group of authors, mentors, and friends who have never hesitated to share their guidance for how to do this better. After every annual TAA conference, I came home more energized and inspired to continue working. While I am really excited to share this work with students, I am equally excited to share this work with my fellow TAA colleagues who also played a major role in this project, even if they did not know it. Thank you to all members for what you do for TAA and for aspiring authors like me!”