Meet Becca!

1 Mar

HAPS is a society focused on the teaching and learning anatomy and physiology, but educators are just half of this equation.  We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our students.  So welcome to a new series of HAPS blog posts featuring A&P student extraordinaire, Becca Ludwig.  

A message from Becca!

A post from Becca!

I have been a student for a solid 17 years if you count from the day when I first stepped into my kindergarten class in 1998 to the time I walk across the stage with my Occupational Therapy degree in 2015. This is my last semester of coursework in my program before I go off into the big world to practice the art of Occupational Therapy. This holds some bitter sweet feelings for me. I love the idea of being a professional and making and impact on my clients’ lives, but I also love being a student and learning new things.

I have been a member of HAPS for a year now and have come to appreciate the professor’s side of the educational process. What you guys do is not easy. Over the course of the semester I will be writing a short series of posts about the student perspective on common things related to college life. This is a chance for you HAPSters to get inside of the student mind….

WARNING: It may be a scary place!

Note I am not the typical student…… or person for that matter, but I will try my best to explain the student perspective.

It's all good!

Assessing Assessment

25 Feb
A message from HAPS President-Elect, Betsy Ott.

A message from HAPS President-Elect, Betsy Ott.

I’ve just returned from the annual assessment conference, held by Texas A&M University.  One of the themes that was repeated by many speakers was strategies to deal with faculty resistant to assessing general education competencies.  Another was the difficult task of assessing critical thinking skills.  A third was the challenge of acquiring and interpreting useful information.

I have encountered faculty resistance to assessment on my own campus, and I still have difficulty understanding its basis.  Our peers in the health sciences and other professional programs routinely carry out assessments as an intrinsic part of their program review.  Is it simply resentment of an additional burden on our time?   At the assessment conference, I heard several speakers state that including faculty in the development of assessment processes helped reduce resentment, as did clarifying the meaning of “academic freedom.”  I have heard some of my peers express doubt that the assessment results have any purpose to the “powers that be,” but the value of assessment to me is that it helps me determine what changes I can make to improve student outcomes. I truly believe that we can use assessment for our own purposes, and at the same time satisfy the requirements of any regulatory bodies.

One of the most challenging assessment tasks is to determine if our teaching of critical thinking is effective.  The state of Texas has charged institutions of higher education to teach critical thinking, but left it up to us to determine what that means and how to accomplish it.  In A&P, we have a holistic understanding of critical thinking and can instantly tell if our students have it, or not – but how do we break that down into teachable skills, and how do we assess it?  This is something we are still working on, and the efforts of educational researchers at the conference are still in progress, too. I think our colleagues in the health science programs have a longer track record of teaching critical thinking, and I look forward to learning more from them in the near future.

Some of the sessions I attended were reports of attempts to find significant links between student demographic information and success and retention in college and in professional careers.  I have zero background in research in social sciences, but my past history in more concrete research makes it hard to accept some of the data presented as reliable or indicative of what the researchers claimed. Can students’ self-interpretation of knowledge and ability be used as a proxy for student learning? Are sample sizes large enough and random enough to generate reliable data? Should institutional decisions be made based on data that is acknowledged to be imperfect and incomplete?  For this last question, the answer of at least some administrators is a qualified “yes,” if for no other reason than that this is all they have on which to base decisions.

So from all this, I have come away with a sense of commitment, if not urgency, to contribute to the collection of useful information.  To me, this means I am measuring what I think I am measuring, that I am collecting reliable data, and that I am interpreting it correctly, with a goal to improve student mastery of the course outcomes.  I know you all have the same values in your professional positions, and I hope we can all work toward the common goal of providing the best A&P courses we can for our students.  I look forward to a lively exchange of ideas at HAPS – San Antonio!

HAPS Central Regional Meeting

21 Feb
A message from the ComCom

A message from the ComCom

Can’t make it to San Antonio for the Annual Conference May 24-28?  See if a trip to Cincinnati OH will fit into your schedule!

The HAPS Central Regional Meeting will be held at Galen College of Nursing on March 7.  Online registration is available through the day of the conference, but sign up now to make sure you get a space.

The conference will include keynote addresses from  Laura Woollett, Ph.D. and Raymond Boissy, Ph.D., both of the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine.

Mummies of the World

Come see the “Mummies of the World” exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

After the day of meetings, there will be an informal trip to visit the Cincinnati Museum Center to see the “Mummies of the World” exhibit.  This exhibit displays a collection of real mummies and artifacts from all around the world. The collection is presented with dignity and respect and includes ancient mummies dating back as far as 4,500 years. Contributions came from 10 world-renowned Institutions and two private collectors.  You will learn how mummies are created, where they come from and who they were. You will also discover how modern science is used to study mummies through innovative and non-invasive techniques, allowing incredible insights into past civilizations.

This trip will complement a workshop on human preservation by Ronn Wade.  Carpooling will be available for this event.

Galen College of Nursing in Cincinnati OH

Galen College of Nursing in Cincinnati OH

Annual Conference Deadlines

16 Feb
A message from the ComCom

A message from the ComCom

It is definitely time to start thinking about the HAPS Annual Conference.  Described by MANY as the best, most friendly, and most FUN conference you can attend, HAPSters start counting down to the next Annual Conference the day after the previous one ends!

So if you’re planning on attending the HAPS Annual Conference in San Antonio May 24-28, here are a couple of things to add to your To Do list this week.

 

  1. Register for HAPS 2015 by Friday 2/20 and you can still get the early bird registration rates
  2. Consider sharing your cool ideas by presenting a workshop.  The HAPS 2015 Workshop Proposal Submission Form is  quick and easy to fill out.  This needs to be done by Friday 2/20 at 11:59 pm.
  3. If you’d rather present a poster, the HAPS 2015 Poster Proposal Submission Form is easy too!  It is also due by Friday 2/20 at 11:59 pm.

The conference promises to be amazing, as always.  There will even be an opportunity to participate in a bird watching trip with HAPS Executive Director Peter English and famous birder Victor Emanuel.  (If you are interested in this, sign up soon!)

Green Jay

If you’re lucky, HAPS birders might even spot the incredible Green Jay on the trip!

Spring Season

11 Feb
A message from HAPS President-Elect, Betsy Ott.

A message from HAPS President-Elect, Betsy Ott.

It’s the season for local athletes to sign letters to commit to teams at the next level, and I find it heartwarming when these young people acknowledge the impact of their coaches and other mentors.  They realize that their opportunity came about not only because of their own talent and drive, but also because they were trained in skills and habits that helped them succeed.  I think that part of the reason these student athletes are so successful is that they accept the need for training and understand the time demands involved in becoming the best they can be.  They realize that their skills and abilities improve over time.

If my A&P students had the mind-set of student athletes, I think they could all make it to the pros.  They would drill on their weaknesses and get personal coaching to correct problems, knowing that they would be accumulating additional knowledge and skills.  They would attend every practice session and review videos of their performance – okay, well maybe not that last, but they would watch the videos I post for them and complete homework assignments, anyway. They would know at the outset the commitment they needed to make, and they would fit the rest of their lives – temporarily at least – around the demands of mastering the curriculum that forms the foundation of their chosen profession.

Some of my students seem really detached from the course requirements – they don’t appreciate why, for example, we assign adaptive reading modules. As a consequence, they circumvent the deep learning that is supposed to occur, and they “phone in” their performance.  If an athlete demonstrated that same mind-set at practice, I think the coach would very effectively communicate his/her displeasure!  The invisibility of their poor preparation allows them to dodge, deny, or at least defer, the consequences of a poor performance.

So, it seems to me that one of my roles is to help coach my students to up their game.  I can make sure they know what they’ve signed up for, time-wise, and help them develop personal schedules that include enough prep time.  I can suggest they see themselves as professionals-in-training, rather than the passive students many of them were in high school.  I can do more than convey content; I can help them develop basic academic skills, adopt habits of mind, and embrace a set of ethics and values that will serve them in both school and work.  And maybe, they will all make it to the pros at some level, and when they do, some of them will remember the coaching staff that helped them find their way.

Time to sleep!

9 Feb
A message from the ComCom

A message from the ComCom

HAPSter Robert Rawding recently participated on an expert panel with the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) to come up with a new set of sleep recommendations.

The new recommendations separate adults into three categories, which hasn’t been done before.  And for those of us who are smack in the middle of a new teaching term, this serves as a good reminder that sleep probably shouldn’t be the thing to go during a busy week.

The new recommendations of sleep hours per day are as follows:

Thanks to HAPSter Robert Rawding, it is clear that we shouldn't be skimping on sleep!

Thanks to HAPSter Robert Rawding, it is clear that we shouldn’t be skimping on sleep!

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours (previously, 12-18 hours)
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours (previously, 14-15 hours)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (previously, 12-14 hours)
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours (previously, 11-13 hours)
  • School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours (remains the same)
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours (new age category)

Reasons for Reason

28 Jan
A message from HAPS-President Elect, Betsy Ott.

A message from HAPS President-Elect, Betsy Ott.

I’ll be guiding my students through an introductory exploration of the body’s resistance to disease tomorrow morning. Traditionally, I would start with the types of resistance, the layers of defense, and the components of nonspecific mechanisms before digging into adaptive immunity in a later lecture.  Last semester, however, I started with a conversation about risks to health-care workers due to contagious diseases.  We discussed aspects of risk evaluation, particularly complications of vaccines versus risk of serious illness.  The conversation was lively, and students appeared to internalize not only the information but also the process of analysis. They practiced assessing pros and cons and applying that to their career choices.  Some shared personal stories of family members who couldn’t tolerate vaccines, and we related that to the benefit of herd immunity, so they could see beyond the benefit/risk to a single individual.

I don’t think I’ll have any trouble coming up with examples of cases that crop up when people don’t get vaccinated. There was a local case here in east Texas of an other-wise healthy young man who almost died of complications of flu.  The measles cases in southern California are very recent, but we also had a cluster of cases in the Fort Worth area, centered at a church run by a pastor who was vocal in his opposition to vaccination.  The horrible deaths due to Ebola help remind us all of the ravages of epidemic diseases and the value of vaccination.

Knowing that I would be discussing this in class, I’ve been reading web posts on Ebola, measles, and influenza, but also Big Pharma, toxins in vaccines, and other conspiratorial secrets of mainstream medicine.  I think it’s important to focus on scientific reasoning from the get-go, but also to explore the basis of decision-making by people with limited understanding of physiology and medicine.  I’m dismayed by the uncivil language in many of the comments on web posts, but I read through them anyway, to see if I can glean common threads in the thought processes of people who proclaim their rejection of aspects of modern medicine.  Students in my class might be on the front line of discussions with people making such decisions in the near future, and I want them to be able to demonstrate clear thinking and rational decision making while recognizing the emotional basis of decision making in others. It’s not easy, when claims of competing ‘facts’ aren’t evaluated on their merits.

I remember reading an article on cultural anthropology that explored the ability of individuals to assess risk.  Basically, any tragedy that is personally witnessed is perceived to be a greater risk than any other potential – but unseen – problem, even if the odds of it happening again are quite small.  This is why the risk of dying of measles seems more remote than the possibility of developing autism.

So, I use valuable class time to reinforce and practice the processes of science.  I model and guide the application of logical reasoning to reliable evidence.  I teach students to evaluate sources as well as examine information.  And then, I hope they will use these skills in the real world, to make smart decisions on issues that impact the health of us all.

HAPS News: Primal Pictures-HAPS Scholarship Nominations DUE 2/3/15

25 Jan
A message from the ComCom

A message from the ComCom

In every class, there is at least one student who simply stands out from the rest.  S/he is enthusiastic, motivated, bright, and just gets fired up by learning about Anatomy and Physiology.  S/he is authentically interested in what you have to say and treats the learning experiences you offer as the amazing opportunities they really are.  These rare students often fuel you through each semester, and they truly make teaching the incredibly rewarding profession it is.

HAPS not only values its teaching members, but it values the students who HAPS-PP2-2inspire and fuel these fantastic teachers.  So if you have (or had) a student this year (2014-15) who is particularly exceptional, consider nominating her/him for the Primal Pictures-HAPS Scholarship.

The goal of this scholarship is to promote excellence in anatomy and physiology, encourage innovation and celebrate learning.  The winning student will receive a cash award of $1000, free entry to the Annual Conference in San Antonio, and up to $1100 for reimbursement of travel expenses.

Please consider nominating one of your best students for this award.

NOMINATIONS ARE DUE BY TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3rd.

Instructors who nominate students must:
  • be teaching at an accredited institution in the US or Canada
  • have at least two years of Human A&P or Human Biology (broadly defined) teaching experience
  • have direct knowledge of the student being nominated and be able to explain why the nominee deserves this award.
Nominated undergraduate student must be:
  • a degree-seeking student enrolled full-time at an accredited higher education institution in the US or Canada during the 2014-2015 academic year
  • enrolled in at least one Human A&P or Human Biology course in the 2014-2015 academic year
  • a person who would benefit from attending the HAPS Annual Conference

Award recipients will receive their award at the HAPS Membership Meeting on May 25, 2015 and must be present to receive the award.

Resolution Review, and Looking Forward

21 Jan
A message from HAPS President-Elect, Betsy Ott.

A message from HAPS President-Elect, Betsy Ott.

I’m feeling kind of unsettled this month. After taking a break from blogging over the month-long year-end break, I’m finding it difficult to kick-start myself.  In preparing this post, I looked back at my resolutions – and I want to assure you, I’ve kept them as well as I can.  Although, I did have a student today ask if he should finish the “pre-lab 2″ assignment before or after attending lab 2.  It’s hard to know how much clearer I can make assignment titles.

I spent quite a bit of time over the holiday break refining my courses, particularly the online instructions.  I actually had a student tell me she was intimidated by how much she was going to have to wade through just to start the course.  I’m not sure how to fix that.  I remember when I started teaching microbiology lab, that my pre-lab briefs were pretty short.  As my experience increased, the length of my briefs did, too – I kept adding to the things that could go wrong, as students continued to find new ways to mess up the lab.  So now, I find myself adding to the instructions about how the course works, to the point (apparently) that students are overwhelmed by the instructions before they even get to the content.

So, I’ve decided to look for expert help.  I will ask our resident instructional designer to review my course orientations, and see if they can be streamlined – or if they are fine the way they are.  I”m reading about teaching and learning, which I’ll report on in future posts.

Most significantly, I’ve signed up for Valerie O’Loughlin’s HAPS-I course on educational research.  After thirty-plus years of being a professional educator, I suppose it’s high time I actually get some professional development on education.  I’m looking forward to creating a system of asking, and answering, questions about how my students learn and what I can do to facilitate their success.  Particularly as I am chair of the college’s General Education Committee, I feel compelled to collect meaningful information that measures parameters that matter, rather than just what is easy to quantify.

One of the best aspects of a HAPS-I course is the interaction with peers.  With a focus on a specific outcome, the quality of discourse can be amazing, and I’m looking forward to working with HAPS colleagues to explore aspects of metacognition and the scholarship of teaching.  I encourage you to join us – or to find some other avenue to enhance your scholarship of teaching.  Have a great spring semester!

Betsy Ott
President-Elect

HAPS Web 15- Partnering with the LifeSciTRC!

19 Jan
APS Life Science Teaching Resource Community

Access HAPS resources from the Life Science Teaching Resource Community directly from the HAPS website!

Welcome back from the holiday!  The Communications Committee (responsible for maintaining this blog) took a restful break and we’re fired up and ready for a new set of fun blog posts.

Not surprisingly, while the Communications Committee (fondly known as the ComCom) was enjoying good food, the rest of the HAPS leadership was hard at work maintaining this great organization.  True to the theme describing all the amazing resources HAPS has to offer its members, today’s post is about a new partnership garnered over the break.

HAPS works hard to provide its members with high quality teaching resources and the intention of this blog theme is to make sure HAPSters know what is available to them.  And true to form, instead of sitting back and admiring the good work that has been done, the HAPS leadership has been busy pursuing additional resources and conveniences for its membership.  This is evidenced by a recent addition to the HAPS website.

HAPS enjoys a strong partnership with the American Physiological Society (APS).  This is the society that maintains the Life Science Teaching Resource Community (formally known as the APS Archive of Teaching Resources),  which was featured in a series of HAPS blog posts last year.  HAPS has always been a partner with APS and has actively contributed resources to the LifeSciTRC.  For example, materials developed in HAPS-I courses have always been published in the LifeSciTRC.  However, in the last few weeks, HAPS Executive Director Peter English has taken this partnership a step further.  Peter put together a page within the HAPS website that explicitly brings together the materials from these HAPS-I courses since 2012!  The resources are organized into collections that put all course content in one easy to access link.

So check out this latest addition to the wealth of resources found on the HAPS website.

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