It is a Process, not a Product

22 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.  Check out the fourth post in a series of HAPS blog posts featuring A&P student extraordinaire, Becca Ludwig.  

A message from Becca!

A post from Becca!

My professors use the phrase “it is a process not a product” when educating us about treating our patients and helping them through the rehabilitative process. It is a common theme in my Occupational Therapy program. In a way getting through school is a process not a product.

Leaning should be fun. Yes, there are more exciting classes (A&P!) than others (research….) but each class provides something special to the educational experience. I know I am guilty of stressing over the final grade in my courses and my overall GPA. I have come to realize that when I stressed less about the product of the grade and focused more on the process of learning I enjoyed school a lot more. It is not about the grade on the transcript that matters in the corporate world, but it is the experiences that you had to get there.

The learning is in the process.

The learning is in the process.

There does need to be a standard of mastery for every class. How else would good professionals be produced? The professor’s role in this equation is they are responsible for providing the safe place to “fail.” Failing facilitates growth. Growth takes time. By taking the time to fail and getting the feedback to grow students really are engaged in the process of learning.

It is the “just right challenge” that I enjoy in classes. I like challenges and being stretched out of my comfort zone. I never know what I can do unless I try. Each assignment and each class that I take has (mostly) offered me a challenge and a chance to grow as a person.

Supplemental Instruction

18 Mar
A message from HAPS President-Elect, Betsy Ott.

A message from HAPS President-Elect, Betsy Ott.

We’re just past mid-semester, and that means some of our students are starting to ask for help in catching up on what they should have been doing every week. As with many institutions across the country, we have been working on improving student success and retention for a number of years now.  We assign the textbook-related website, we have our own online resources, and we provide an on-campus open lab for reviewing models and answering questions.  So, you might wonder, what are we missing? Why aren’t all of our students availing themselves of all these wonderful opportunities, and achieving their dreams in A&P?

The HAPS List serve had a lively discussion this week about allowing electronic devices in classes.  One of the points made was that students don’t always make the best choices, and that poor decision-making can, at least in some cases, be explained by their state of maturity (or lack thereof) due to age and experience.  Each of us, as faculty, needs to decide how much we will control in our courses, in terms of student behavior. We all implicitly control student behavior through awarding points for exams, discussions, participation, or other course-related activities, so banning or enhancing the use of electronics is just one more example of options we exercise to control the learning environment.  The exchange of ideas has me wondering if I’m providing enough structure for students to make better choices.  To me, that means setting clear consequences for failure to comply with the requirements I set up – all of which are designed to improve student outcomes.  But do students see these policies in the same light?  Or do they simply recognize additional barriers that they need to circumvent?

At my institution, we are planning to implement two major changes, which we predict will improve student mastery.  We are requesting approval to add the online text website access as a tuition-related course fee, and to add a contact hour of compulsory open lab attendance.  The process for each involves explaining the rationale for the action, ensuring that it is revenue-neutral (at least), and that it is feasible.  I think we can justify these actions based in part on data provided by our textbook publisher (in terms of success of their online resources) and a small pilot program in our open lab.  Yet, it remains to be seen if we get the level of success we are hoping for.  I hope to use my soon-to-be-acquired educational research skills to help inform future decisions of this sort.

I have yet to find a way to consistently jump-start all students’ intrinsic motivation, curiosity, or mental acumen within a single semester.  I don’t seem to have much impact in determining what students sign up for my course, or whether they are truly readying themselves to focus on their coursework.  So, I try to zero in on what I can do to encourage, enable, and channel their actions toward success.  I’m hoping our new online and in-person supplemental instruction initiatives will have a measurable effect.  I’ll be sure to share results with you all, and hope to hear from you about what you are doing that works well.

Is it OK to get a “B?”

16 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.  Check out the third post in a series of HAPS blog posts featuring A&P student extraordinaire, Becca Ludwig.  

A message from Becca!

A post from Becca!

Many times in college I have wondered if getting a “B” in a class was acceptable, meeting the expectation, or showing a sound understanding of the material. At the end of the semester and grades are posted I often analyze my growing transcript. I find myself thinking “If I worked a little harder I could have gotten an A.” My question to the professors is this: Is getting a “B” in a class okay?

Many students who are driven tend to feel pressured into obtaining the “A” standard and being the best that they could possibly be. I would classify myself as one of these students. I am passionate about my major and want to learn as much as I can in school. In doing some self-reflection I think a lot of my need to get the “A” is so that I can show my employer that I mastered the material. What I do not understand is that just because I have an “A” on the transcript do I really know the material? I can pass a test, perform a lab exam, present a good project, but does that really show that I know the material and can apply it to my potential patient? I feel like getting an “A” can be over rated at times. I would rather focus on the learning and mastering the material than on the letter associated with it.

When we focus so much on grades, sometimes we forget to learn.

When we focus so much on grades, sometimes we forget to learn.

I feel like getting the proper feedback from a professor can make all the difference in how I feel about the letter grade. If the professor tells me both positive feedback and constructive feedback as to why and where my points were deducted I feel better about my overall score because I know how I could have improved and continue to make changes to show that I am learning the material. The thing that frustrates me the most is when I get no feedback, positive or constructive, about the work that I do. How am I supposed to know what I am doing well or what I can do to improve? I understand that it is a balance. There is always room for improvement and that is why there is school. Getting both the positive and the constructive feedback means more to me than the letter grade.

My Education is MY Responsibility

8 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.  Check out the second post in a series of HAPS blog posts featuring A&P student extraordinaire, Becca Ludwig.  

A message from Becca!

A post from Becca!

When I was in high school I had a history teacher that was passionate about his subject and his job. The one thing that I remember the most about him and his class is the poster on the wall that read “your education is your responsibility”. He opened the class with his speech about the poster. The speech went along the premise of: it is the student’s job to learn, it is the teacher’s job to facilitate the learning.

His view of his grade book looked like this: if a student failed his course it was because the student did not take the responsibility to get the help they needed, not his fault for failing them. Each semester this speech runs through my mind when things get hard. It is my job as a student to take the responsibility for my learning. I feel like so many students miss this concept.

  1. It is not the professor’s fault I did not understand the material and failed the test. I should have asked the questions.
  2. It is not my computer’s fault for crashing the night before my paper is due and I still have half of it left to write. I should have started it earlier and saved it in more than one location.
  3. It is not Wikipedia’s fault that I got misinformation. I should have cross referenced or not have even used the source at all.
  4. It is not my roommate’s fault for keeping me up at night and not studying. I should have been assertive and said “after my A&P exam I can hang out with you.”
It is time to take responsibility.

It is time to take responsibility.

I am honestly embarrassed to say that many people in my generation are afraid to take responsibility. There is always something or someone to blame.

I know it can be scary to have office hours with a professor. The humbling experience of asking for help is intimidating enough, let alone the fact that professors are super smart in their subject areas and I don’t want to look stupid in front of them. More often than not, I leave the office more relaxed knowing that I am on the path to success in their class. In fact, correct me if I am wrong, isn’t it a professor’s JOB to answer questions for students? Students need to learn to use all of their resources.

When I take the responsibility upon myself to learn the material and grasp the concepts it makes school life so much easier. I find that I can be proud of the work that I did and feel a real sense of accomplishment towards mastering the course. So here is a call to action for every student. Take the responsibility to learn because it is your responsibility.

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)

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