(The FASEB Journal. 1998;12(4):A59)
Student Misconceptions about Respiratory Physiology.
J. Michael et al.
Rush Medical College, Chicago, IL 60612
Misconceptions are mental models of phenomena that are at variance with accepted scientific models of these phenomena. We surveyed 472 students entering 5 undergraduate physiology courses at 3 different institutions about their understanding of four respiratory phenomena. (1) Approximately 57% of the students believe that during exercise f increases but VT decreases, replicating a previous study (Michael, in press). (2) Nearly 90% of the students predicted that CO binding to Hb causes PaO2 to change. (3) 70% predicted that breathing 100% O2 directly changes PACO2. (4) Finally, 33% of the students thought that increased metabolism results in either a decrease or no change to minute ventilation. The misconception about changes in breathing pattern when minute ventilation changes seems to arise from students’ misperception or misinterpretation of their own breathing pattern. The other misconceptions most likely arise from the formal teaching that they have experienced. It is important that teachers of physiology understand that their students come into their class with misconceptions that will affect their learning, and that they must seek to minimize the misconceptions when they leave. (Funded in part by NSF Grant No. DUE-9652782.)