Conceptual Assessment of Physiology

Homeostasis Concept Inventory (HCI)

Homeostasis is a core concept in physiology (Michael & McFarland 2011). We have developed and validated a 20-question Homeostasis Concept Inventory (HCI) for undergraduate physiology students. Our multiple-choice questions focus on important component ideas in the homeostasis conceptual framework (HCF) and use common misconceptions as distractors. The HCI was developed through an iterative process: constructing a conceptual framework for homeostasis, identifying student misconceptions concerning this core concept, writing questions to address framework components, uncovering student misconceptions, conducting student think-aloud interviews, obtaining faculty (expert) feedback via surveys and conference workshops, large scale testing in undergraduate courses, and editing questions at several stages in this process. We have shown that the HCI questions and not biases and have a wide range of difficulty and can be used as an assessment of a broad spectrum of undergraduate physiology students. The HCI can be used in formative assessment and in pre- and post-tests to assess how well students understand homeostasis. The HCI questions are also designed to detect some common misconceptions to guide student learning and instruction.

The paper describing the HCI and validation process is in progress. If you would like to use this HCI and help us gather more pre- and post-instruction data, please contact Jenny McFarland at