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Students' understanding of external representations of the potassium ion channel protein, part I: Affordances and limitations of ribbon diagrams, vines, and hydrophobic/polar representations†
Article first published online: 5 SEP 2012
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Volume 40, Issue 6, pages 349–356, November/December 2012
How to Cite
Harle, M. and Towns, M. H. (2012), Students' understanding of external representations of the potassium ion channel protein, part I: Affordances and limitations of ribbon diagrams, vines, and hydrophobic/polar representations. Biochem. Mol. Biol. Educ., 40: 349–356. doi: 10.1002/bmb.20641
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. 073694.
- Issue published online: 19 NOV 2012
- Article first published online: 5 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 23 JUL 2012
- Manuscript Received: 1 MAY 2012
- National Science Foundation. Grant Number: 073694
- Visual literacy;
- tertiary education;
- scholarship of teaching and learning
Research on external representations in biochemistry has uncovered student difficulties in comprehending and interpreting external representations. This project focuses on students' understanding of three external representations of the potassium ion channel protein. This is part I of a two-part study, which focuses on the affordances and limitations of representations of the potassium ion channel according to students across the chemistry and biochemistry curriculum. Analysis showed that if the students do not possess the required prior knowledge then they are stymied in their interpretations of the representations. Students were able to easily interpret the familiar ribbon diagram representation; however, they found the vines and hydrophobic/polar representations to be less informative. Suggestions for instruction are to probe student understanding and to help students activate prior knowledge to build a more connected set of concepts pertaining to protein structure. © 2012 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology