Assessment of an interactive simulation for the teaching of enzyme kinetics

M Costabile

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia

Biochemistry, is challenging for undergraduate students. One challenge in teaching Biochemistry is the diversity of the student cohort. Biochemistry N200, is a core course for Laboratory Medicine, Medical Science and Nutrition students, and an elective for Human Movement and Pharmaceutical Science students. Due to changing pre-requisite requirements, student intake has increased by 42% since 2010. This course is taught via traditional lectures and practicals. Of the 3 practicals, students struggle with learning the concepts of enzyme kinetics. To facilitate learning, a simulation was developed as a means of providing authentic experiential learning prior to the wet lab practical. The simulation was an exact replica of the wet lab practical. Progression through the simulation required the student to enter raw data, with help provided if required. There was a stepwise explanation of experimental data, its manipulation, presentation and interpretation and lastly, a multiple choice section. The simulation was implemented in 2014 and its impact assessed based on student report performance and feedback. Since its implementation, there has been a significant increase in mean score for the report (2014-16) compared to 2011-13 cohorts which did not have the simulation. There was also a continuous increase in the minimum and median scores following use of the simulation. There were significantly fewer students in the lower quartile, and specifically, the simulation helped weaker performing students who previously were likely to fail the written report due to a lack of understanding. The benefits of the simulation were both consistent and reproducible, with similar improvements in student results seen since 2014. It is clear that this intervention has been successfully and consistently applied in the teaching of enzyme kinetics, and with University support is currently being expanded within and across other courses.