2013 homeostatic misconceptions

(The FASEB Journal. 2013;27:739.5)

Preliminary Results on the Prevalence of Physiology Students’ Homeostatic Misconceptions

Ann Wright1, Jenny McFarland2, William Cliff3, Joel Michael4, Harold Modell5 and Mary Pat Wenderoth6
1 Biology, Canisius College, Buffalo, NY
2 Biology, Edmond’s Community College, Lynnwood, WA
3 Biology, Niagara University, Niagara University, NY
4 Molecular Biophysics and Physiology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL
5 Physiology, Physiology Educational Research Consortium, Seattle, WA
6 Biology, Unversity of Washington, Seattle, WA

We specifically asked forty-seven physiology students in a survey about the core concept “homeostasis.” Physiology students (200 level) were asked to define homeostasis and describe the process by giving a physiological example of homeostasis. Finally, students chose whether heart rate, blood pressure, or both were homeostatically regulated and justified their answer. Definitions, examples of the homeostatic process, and justifications of whether heart rate, blood pressure, or both were homeostatically regulated were scored as Unclear Definition, Partially Complete Definition, or Complete Definition. For the most part, the results indicated that students’ understanding of homeostasis is incomplete and superficial. We are also concerned about the language students used to answer the questions. For example, we wonder what students mean by a “balanced internal environment?” At what level do they understand “balance?” The results also reveal the importance of incorporating many different examples of homeostasis as a general model during instruction to improve understanding. Supported by NSF grant DUE-1043443.

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