Unpacking and Validating the 'Physiological Adaptation' Core Concept of Physiology

Suzanne Estaphan, Glenn D. Wadley, Gabrielle Todd*, Michelle Towstoless, Deanne H. Hryciw, Louise Lexis, Alan Hayes, Kathy Tangalakis, Task Force, Christian Moro, Tamara Paravicini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


A National Task force of 25 Australian physiology educators used the Delphi protocol to develop seven physiology core concepts which were agreed to nationally. The aim of the current study was to unpack the 'Physiological Adaptation' core concept with the descriptor 'Organisms adjust and adapt to acute and chronic changes in the internal and external environments across the lifespan'. This core concept was unpacked by three Task force members and a facilitator into four themes and nine subthemes that encompass the role of stressors and disturbed homeostasis in adaptation, and the capacity for, and the nature of, the Physiological Adaptation. Twenty-two Task force members then provided feedback and rated the themes and subthemes for level of importance and difficulty for students to learn via an online survey using a 5-point Likert scale. Seventeen respondents completed all survey questions. For all themes/subthemes, importance was rated 1 (essential) or 2 (important; n=17, means ±SD ranged from 1.1±0.3 to 2.2±0.9) and difficulty was rated 3 (moderately difficult; n=17, means ranged from 2.9±0.7 to 3.4±0.9). Subtle differences in the proportion of importance scores (n=17: Fishers exact p=0.004, ANOVA F12,220=2.630, p=0.003; n=22: Fishers exact p=0.002, ANOVA F12,281=2.743, p<0.001), but not difficulty scores, were observed between themes/subthemes, and free-text feedback was minor. The results suggest successful unpacking of the Physiological Adaptation core concept. The themes and subthemes can inform the design of learning outcomes, assessment, and teaching and learning activities that have commonality and consistency across curricula.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-837
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Advances in Physiology Education
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2023


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