STUDENTS’ UNDERSTANDING OF MICHAELIS-MENTEN KINETICS AND ENZYME INHIBITION
Currently there is a need for research that explores students’ understanding of advanced topics in order to improve teaching and learning beyond the context of introductory-level courses. This work investigates students’ reasoning about graphs used in enzyme kinetics. Using semi-structured interviews and a think aloud-protocol, 14 second-year students enrolled in a biochemistry course were provided two graphs to prompt their reasoning, a typical Michaelis-Menten graph and a Michaelis-Menten graph involving enzyme inhibition. Student responses were coded using a combination of inductive and deductive analysis, influenced by the resource-based model of cognition. Results involve a discussion regarding how students utilized mathematical resources to reason about chemical kinetics and enzyme kinetics, such as engaging in the use of symbolic/graphical forms and focusing on surface-level features of the equations/graphs. This work also addresses student conceptions of the particulate-level mechanism associated with competitive, noncompetitive, and uncompetitive enzyme inhibition. Based on the findings of this study, suggestions are made regarding the teaching and learning of enzyme kinetics.