This project, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, has focused on identifying the core principles underlying physiological mechanisms, deconstructing the elements of the principles to provide a framework for identifying misconceptions related to these principles, and developing a series of concept inventories to provide a means of assessing acquisition and understanding of these principles.
The project began by surveying faculty who teach physiology at community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities, and professional schools. The results yielded a prioritized list of core principles (Michael and McFarland, 2011; McFarland and Michael, 2011). Homeostasis was identified as the core principle that was most essential for understanding physiological phenomena. Subsequent work focused on this concept. To date, we have produced a conceptual framework for homeostasis and identified common misconceptions related to this framework (McFarland et al., 2012). Based on this work, we have developed a concept inventory to assess understanding of this critical concept (McFarland, et al., 2014).
Future work will focus on repeating this process with the other key core concepts identified by the faculty cohort.