Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Horrigan, LA
Advances in physiology education
Tackling the threshold concepts in physiology: what is the role of the laboratory class?
Optional Fields
conceptual laboratory physiology theory threshold concepts
Laboratory practical programs are expected to fulfill many roles in the learning process, including the development of laboratory skills and problem-solving skills. However, little is known about the role of laboratory practical classes in the conceptual learning of physiology. Therefore, the main aims of this study were to identify some of the threshold concepts in physiology and to explore the role of our laboratory practical program in helping students to tackle these concepts. An online questionnaire gathered opinions from students on the value of the laboratory classes in helping them to learn. Interviews with students and with lecturers were performed to ascertain which concepts students find particularly difficult, why they find these concepts difficult, and what their opinions are on the role of the laboratory practical classes in helping students to grasp difficult concepts. A number of threshold concepts in physiology were identified, and some possible reasons underlying the difficulties were explored. Overall, the majority of respondents found that the laboratory practical program helped them to learn physiology. While the laboratory classes were found to promote conceptual learning in a number of ways, a prominent finding was that the laboratory classes help students to grasp the theory because they allow students to visually see the physiological events, they bring the theory to life, and they allow students to experience some applications of the theory. The study also highlighted areas for further development in relation to the promotion of conceptual learning within the teaching laboratory.
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