Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

James H. Wandersee


The purpose of the this research was to explore undergraduates' conceptual development for oxygen transport and utilization, as a component of a cardiopulmonary physiology and advanced respiratory care course in the allied health program. This exploration focused on the student's development of knowledge and the presence of alternative conceptions, prior to, during, and after completing cardiopulmonary physiology and advanced respiratory care courses. Using the simulation program, SimBioSysTM (Samsel, 1994), student-participants completed a series of laboratory exercises focusing on cardiopulmonary disease states. This study examined data gathered from: (1) a novice group receiving the simulation program prior to instruction, (2) a novice group that experienced the simulation program following course completion in cardiopulmonary physiology, and (3) an intermediate group who experienced the simulation program following completion of formal education in Respiratory Care. This research was based on the theory of Human Constructivism as described by Mintzes, Wandersee, and Novak (1997). Data-gathering techniques were based on theories supported by Novak (1984), Wandersee (1997), and Chi (1997). Data were generated by exams, interviews, verbal analysis (Chi, 1997), and concept mapping. Results suggest that simulation may be an effective instructional method for assessing conceptual development and diagnosing alternative conceptions in undergraduates enrolled in a cardiopulmonary science program. Use of simulation in conjunction with clinical interview and concept mapping may assist in verifying gaps in learning and conceptual knowledge. This study found only limited evidence to support the use of computer simulation prior to lecture to augment learning. However, it was demonstrated that students' prelecture experience with the computer simulation helped the instructor assess what the learner knew so he or she could be taught accordingly. In addition, use of computer simulation after formal instruction was shown to be useful in aiding students identified by the instructor as needing remediation.