Conceptual Assessment of Physiology (CAP)
Conceptual Assessment of Physiology (CAP) is a long-term project to identify the core concepts of physiology and create a concept inventory to assess core concepts (was an NSF funded project Award Number DUE-1043443).
This project, Defining and Assessing the Core Principles for Undergraduate Physiology, is a timely response to recent calls to action: Vision and Change (AAAS, 2009), A New Biology for the 21st Century (NRC, 2009) and Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (AAMC, 2009). Implementation of these reports’ recommendations will rely on biology educators’ ability to assess students’ understanding of and ability to apply the concepts of physiology.
The identification of core concepts of physiology turns the focus of learning physiology to understanding the fundamental ideas of physiology – the concepts. This project is led by a team of faculty involved in physiology education research, who with the input of a diverse demographic of physiology faculty have
- identified fifteen core principles in undergraduate physiology
- unpacked a three of the core concepts (homeostasis, 'flow down gradients' and 'cell-cell communication') into hierarchical conceptual frameworks appropriate for undergraduate physiology
- identified students' alternative conceptions (i.e. misconceptions) regarding three of the core concepts (homeostasis, cell-cell communications and flow down gradients).
- created a valid and reliable conceptual assessment of homeostasis for undergraduate physiology (the homeostasis concept inventory, HCI) and finally we will
- make the homeostasis concept inventory, HCI, available and accessible to faculty teaching undergraduate physiology across the U.S.
The goal of the Conceptual Assessment of Physiology (CAP) project is to improve undergraduate physiology education by prioritizing the concepts for which instructors can develop breadth, by developing an assessment tool with which to measure students’ conceptual understanding, and by building a network of faculty who know about and will use the concepts and tool.