Undergraduates' understanding of cardiovascular phenomena

Joel A. Michael, Mary Pat Wenderoth, Harold I. Modell, William Cliff, Barbara A Horwitz, Philip McHale, Daniel Richardson, Dee Silverthorn, Stephen Williams, Shirley Whitescarver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Undergraduates students in 12 courses at 8 different institutions were surveyed to determine the prevalence of 13 different misconceptions (conceptual difficulties) about cardiovascular function. The prevalence of these misconceptions ranged from 20 to 81% and, for each misconception, was consistent across the different student populations. We also obtained explanations for the students' answers either as free responses or with follow-up multiple-choice questions. These results suggest that students have a number of underlying conceptual difficulties about cardiovascular phenomena. One possible source of some misconceptions is the students' inability to apply simple general models to specific cardiovascular phenomena. Some implications of these results for teachers of physiology are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-84
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Advances in Physiology Education
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Conceptual difficulties
  • Mental models
  • Misconceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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