Unpacking the renal system component of the “structure and function” core concept of physiology by an Australian team

Ben D. Perry, Melissa S. Cameron, Matthew B. Cooke, Michelle Towstoless, Deanne H. Hryciw, Alan Hayes, Louise Lexis, Kathy Tangalakis, Task Force, Voula Gaganis, Anthony J. Bakker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


An Australia-wide consensus was reached on seven core concepts of physiology, one of which was “structure and function” with the descriptor “Structure and function are intrinsically related to all levels of the organism. In all physiological systems, the structure from a microscopic level to an organ level dictates its function.” As a framework for the structure and function core concept, the renal system was unpacked by a team of 5 Australian Physiology educators from different universities with extensive teaching experience into hierarchical levels, with 5 themes and 25 subthemes up to 3 levels deep. Within theme 1, the structures that comprise the renal system were unpacked. Within theme 2, the physiological processes within the nephron such as filtration, reabsorption, and secretion were unpacked. Within theme 3, the processes involved in micturition were unpacked. In theme 4, the structures and processes involved in regulating renal blood flow and glomerular filtration were unpacked; and within theme 5, the role of the kidney in red blood cell production was unpacked. Twenty-one academics rated the difficulty and importance of each theme/subtheme, and results were analyzed using a one-way ANOVA. All identified themes were validated as “essential” to “important”/“moderately important” and rated between “difficult” to “not difficult.” A similar framework consisting of structure, physiological processes, physical processes, and regulation can be used to unpack other body systems. Unpacking of the body systems will provide a list of what students should be taught in curricula across Australian universities and inform assessment and learning activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-460
Number of pages8
JournalAdvances in Physiology Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • core concept
  • curriculum
  • framework
  • physiology education
  • structure and function


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