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Students' conceptions of underlying principles in medical physiology: An interview study of medical students understanding in a PBL curriculum
Linköping University, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, Clinical Physiology . Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, Clinical Physiology . Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, Radiology . Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
2007 (English)In: Advances in Physiology Education, ISSN 1043-4046, Vol. 31, 364-369 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Medical physiology is known to be a complex area where students develop significant errors in conceptual understanding. Students’ knowledge is often bound to situational descriptions rather than underlying principles. This study explores how medical students discern and process underlying principles in physiology. Indepth interviews, where students elaborated on principles related to blood pressure and blood pressure regulation, were carried out with 16 medical students in a problem-based learning curriculum. A qualitative, phenomenographic approach was used, and interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, qualitatively analyzed, and categorized. Four categories were outlined. The underlying principles were conceived as follows: 1) general conditions for body function at a specified time point, 2) transferable phenomena between organ systems and time points, 3) conditionally transferable phenomena between organ systems and time points, and 4) cognitive constructions of limited value in medical physiology. The results offers insights into students’ thinking about underlying principles in physiology and suggest how understanding can be challenged to stimulate deep-level processing of underlying principles rather than situational descriptions of physiology. A complex conception of underlying principles includes an ability to problemize phenomena beyond long causal reasoning chains, which is often rewarded in traditional examinations and tests. Keywords for problemized processing are as follows: comparisons, differences, similarities, conditions, context, relevance, multiple sampling, connections, and dependencies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 31, 364-369 p.
Keyword [en]
general models, phenomenography, problem-based learning
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14557DOI: 10.1152/advan.00108.2006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-14557DiVA: diva2:23719
Available from: 2007-06-04 Created: 2007-06-04 Last updated: 2009-04-28
In thesis
1. Dynamiskt lärande: En ämnesdidaktisk avhandling om fysiologiska fenomen och läkarstudentens lärande
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dynamiskt lärande: En ämnesdidaktisk avhandling om fysiologiska fenomen och läkarstudentens lärande
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

It is well known that the outcome of teaching and learning in higher education is often unsatisfactory. Earlier studies have shown that medical students often have a surface approach to their studies and that misconceptions of fundamental physiological phenomena are common. The aim of this thesis is to support educational practice in medicine, particularly in medical physiology. The thesis can be categorised as subject matter-specific education research, which means that questions about teaching and learning are closely linked to the subject studied. The researcher should be well acquainted with the subject in question. The subject area dealt with in this thesis is physiological phenomena related to cardiovascular pressure-flow relations.

The thesis consists of studies of 3-dimensional intra cardiac pressure-flow phenomena in the heart (studies 1 and 2) and studies of how students conceive of and develop an understanding of physiological phenomena related to blood pressure and blood pressure regulation (studies 3 and 4).

Flow in the left atrium as well as inflow-patterns to the left ventricle were studied. The 3-dimensional method elucidates vortical flow phenomena which were previously unknown. The findings could contribute to increasing physicians and technicians understanding of flow phenomena in the diagnosis and assessment of heart disease and to the further development of diagnostic methods. In the studies of learning and understanding of physiological phenomena, the findings point to new aspects of a deep approach to learning, which have to do with the students’ ability to change perspective and adopt a variety of learning strategies to a phenomenon (Moving) versus a tendency to hold on to one explanatory model (Holding). The study also investigates the students’ ability to identify and apply fundamental physiological principles as well as how they conceive of the importance of detailed knowledge for understanding of physiology. The findings point to differences in the students’ conceptions of physiological principles. A problemising approach, which includes not only causally described relations, indicates a more complex conception of physiological phenomena. The study shows aspects of understanding which are seldom assessed in examinations.

The findings indicate a connection between the students’ approaches to learning and the quality of their understanding of fundamental physiological principles. In the thesis, teaching interventions are proposed in order to stimulate dynamic learning and a learning environment where students are not afraid to challenge their conceptions in order to acquire a rich and nuanced picture of physiological phenomena.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för medicin och vård, 2007
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 976
Keyword
Lärande, Förståelse, Fysiologi
National Category
Physiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-9026 (URN)91-85643-34-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-01-18, Berzeliussalen, Campus US, Universitetssjukhuset, Lihköping, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-06-04 Created: 2007-06-04 Last updated: 2009-08-22

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Fyrenius, AnnaSilén, CharlotteWirell, Staffan

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