Evaluation of Physiology Teaching at Select Major Universities within Canada and Internationally

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Craig Asmundson, Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology (BPK)

Project team: Gina Whitaker and Victoria Claydon, BPK and Brett Shaw, research assistant

Timeframe: January 2014 to June 2014

Funding: $5,000  

Courses addressed:

  • BPK 205 – Introduction to Human Physiology
  • BPK 207 – Human Motor Systems
  • BPK 305 – Human Physiology I
  • BPK 306 – Human Physiology II
  • BPK 407 – Human Physiology Laboratory
  • A third year core physiology course may be created
  • A core cellular physiology laboratory course will be created

Final report: View Craig’s final project report (PDF)

From the final report: "This survey highlighted some pedagogical strengths of the Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology program at our institution. These included the use of diverse instructional modalities, including traditional lectures, a strong laboratory focus, reinforcement of concepts through tutorials, and numerous opportunities for experiential learning through directed studies, honours, co-operative placements and practicums." Read more >>

Description: Within the department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, we are currently undergoing an analysis of current curriculum covered in our core physiology courses. Our goals are to determine potential gaps, overemphasis and redundancies in our current teaching, giving us insight into changes that need to be made. With the intention of assigning learning outcomes to our physiology curriculum and furthermore, to individual core courses, we are currently using the American Physiological Society Medical Physiology Learning Objectives (www.acdponline.org/med_phys_obj.htm) as our framework. Although the American Physiological Society learning objectives are useful, they are designed for medical schools and thus the content does not completely reflect the curriculum of an undergraduate physiology program. It is therefore important that we gain perspective by conducting an environmental scan of other universities in Canada and around the world that offer Physiology programs similar to that in our department at SFU.

In this project, firstly, we will collect course outlines from individual departments from the top 10-15 universities. We will use these outlines to determine what concepts are covered as core degree requirements. Secondly, we will develop a questionnaire for professors or advisors to complete regarding the curriculum/courses offered. We will also contact advisors to see if student information (GPA, future endeavours at these universities, etc.) is recorded and available. Lastly, we will conduct a comprehensive literature review relating to physiology teaching at the university level.

Questions addressed:

  • What physiology curricula are currently covered in the Physiology departments of 10-15 top universities across Canada and worldwide?
  • What are the student statistics, in terms of GPA and future endeavours at these universities?
  • What is presented in current literature regarding pedagogical techniques, as well as organization and delivery of content relevant to university level physiology

Knowledge sharing: Dissemination will take place initially within the Physiology Interest Group committee. Additionally, results will be presented to the department, and strategies will be implemented to incorporate our findings into the broader teaching environment at SFU. With the intention of writing up our results for submission to a peer-reviewed journal, this data will be accessible and useful worldwide and contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning within the field of physiology and beyond.