Student Companion to Accompany Biochemistry (5th Ed.)
Gumport, R. I., Deis, F. H., Gerber, N. C., and Koeppe, R. E, II; Freeman, New York, 2002, 611 pp., ISBN 0-716-74383-3, $27.00.
This study guide is designed as a supplement to the latest edition of Stryer's Biochemistry. The text (co-authored by Jeremy Berg and John Tymoczko and reviewed elsewhere in this journal) has undergone significant revision to reflect the revolution in genomics and proteomics that has occurred in recent years. The companion volume has been updated and expanded accordingly.
It has come to be expected that publishers will offer a variety of supplements to their textbooks. The question is whether, in fact, these resources are useful to students and faculty. An informal survey of my students revealed that the only section of study guides that they consistently consult is Problem Solutions. They occasionally use the Self-test section to prepare for exams but have no interest at all in Learning Objectives and find Summaries to be useless if they are too general.
By these criteria, the new Student Companion will be valued mainly for its Expanded Solutions to Text Problems, a section new to this edition. In some chapters of the text, problems are completely revised, while others have some older problems supplemented with new material. The solutions in the Student Companion are clearly explained in the conversational but rigorous tone familiar to users of past editions.
I have always been a great fan of the Self-test section of previous study guides for Stryer's texts. The mix of formats (multiple choice, matching, and open response questions) along with the incorporation of “multiple-correct-multiple-choice” problems means that students must really understand the material and not rely simply on test-taking strategies. The new edition has the same mix of styles. The number of new and revised problems is not as striking as it is for the main text, but there are new questions on such topics as modern methods of protein analysis and mechanism of ATP synthase.
Students who use chapter summaries to review for exams will do better to use the summaries in the text than those in the study guide. Those in the study guide provide very little specific information.
Overall, the study guide should not be a mandatory purchase for students but will provide excellent additional problems and clear explanations for those who choose to use it.
A small quibble: both text and study guide continue to express energies in terms of kcal rather than the kJ in use among most chemists.