Unpacking the homeostasis core concept in physiology: an Australian perspective

Elizabeth Beckett, Voula Gaganis, Anthony J Bakker, Michelle Towstoless, Alan Hayes, Deanne H. Hryciw, Louise Lexis, Kathy Tangalakis, Task Force, Christian Moro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Australia-wide consensus was reached on seven core concepts of physiology, which included homeostasis, a fundamental concept for students to understand as they develop their basic knowledge of physiological regulatory mechanisms. The term homeostasis is most commonly used to describe how the internal environment of mammalian systems maintains relative constancy. The descriptor “the internal environment of the organism is actively regulated by the responses of cells, tissues, and organs through feedback systems” was unpacked by a team of three Australian Physiology educators into 5 themes and 18 subthemes arranged in a hierarchy. Using a five-point Likert scale, the unpacked concept was rated by 24 physiology educators from 24 Australian Universities for level of importance and level of difficulty for students. Survey data were analyzed using a one-way ANOVA to compare between and within concept themes and subthemes. There were no differences in main themes for level of importance, with all ratings between essential or important. Theme 1: the organism has regulatory mechanisms to maintain a relatively stable internal environment, a process known as homeostasis was almost unanimously rated as essential. Difficulty ratings for unpacked concept themes averaged between slightly difficult and moderately difficult. The Australian team concurred with published literature that there are inconsistencies in the way the critical components of homeostatic systems are represented and interpreted. We aimed to simplify the components of the concept so that undergraduates would be able to easily identify the language used and build on their knowledge. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The homeostasis core concept of physiology was defined and unpacked by an Australian team with the goal of constructing a resource that will improve learning and teaching of this core physiology concept in an Australian Higher Education context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-435
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Advances in Physiology Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2023


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