HAPS + Education

15 Apr

I’m at that point in the semester when I really have to start planning for the next terms – both summer and fall – and that makes me dream big at the same time I’m addressing minutiae.  Can I develop the summer test schedule at the same time I’m designing new assignments that will spur deeper learning? Why, yes – yes, I can. In fact, if I don’t start it now, I wont’ have time to get the long-range plans accomplished.  I have to analyze now, while it’s still fresh,what doesn’t seem to be working in this semester’s initiatives, and tweak, or throw out and reinvent, for the brief summer term as well as the new students in the fall.  My first step is to survey this semester’s students to see what resonated with them and what fell flat.  They seem to appreciate videos more than text, and interactive assignments more than straight reading.  Of course, those types of assignments take more time to develop, and I’m constantly looking for inspiration – a new angle, or a new application – along with new technology to record, post, and assess online lessons.

I’ve perused the new edition of the HAPS Educator – a very fine online journal with a variety of articles produced to help us as educators and as science enthusiasts. I’m particularly impressed with examples of HAPS members sharing their tips with their colleagues.  I’ve also attended presentations given by HAPS members at our regional and national meetings, and I always get good ideas, not only from what they present, but also by how they present it.  I’m pondering how we can leverage that into a shared resource, something that we can all tap into when we feel tapped out.

So, I’m looking forward to the HAPS annual meeting in San Antonio at the end of May. We’ll not only get insight into educational research from recognized experts, but also those teaching tips that just smooth our presentations and get our students in the zone.  We’ll experience that electrifying synergy that energizes us all the way home.  We’ll gain lasting resources that will enrich our classes and satisfy our creative sides.  We might even find out what amazing app/software/website is the secret to our students’ success.  I hope to see you there!

The HAPS EDucator Spring 2015 Edition is Here!

13 Apr
A message from the ComCom

A message from the ComCom

The HAPS-EDucator for Spring 2015 is HERE. This members-only perk is available if you log into the HAPS website to view the newest edition.

Articles in this edition include:

Marvels of the Bologna Anatomical Wax Museum: their theoretical and clinical importance in the training of 21st century medical students
By Francesco M. Galassi, Alessandro Ruggeri, Kevin Petti, hutan Ashrafian

A Functional MRI (fMRI) Study Showing Neuroanatomical Correlates of


HAPS-EDucator is the official publication of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) and is published online three times per year on April 15, August 15, and December 15.

Medical Image Interpretation and Effects of Art Instruction on Visuo-spatial skills in Medical Education
By Elliot Dickerson BS, Caryn Babaian, MC, Med, Kim Curby, PhD, Beverley Hershey, MD, Scott H. Faro, MD, Feroze B. Mohamed, PhD

The Anatomical Landmarks Most Important for Dental Implant Surgery
By Sarah Cooper

Anastomosis: Connecting History and Anatomy Education
By Vinson H. Sutlive

Indentification of Unknown Mammalian Quadruped Bones by Histological Techniques And Bone Morphology
By Olena Prikhodko, Sarah Cooper, and Jennifer Wood, PhD

The Nerve of it All: The BRachial Plexus in 3D. A Workshop Presentation at Central Regional Conference in Cincinnati
By Christine Yu

A Summary of the HAPS Regional Conference in Cincinnati
By Bonnie Richmond, PhD

Living Science

1 Apr A message from HAPS President-Elect, Betsy Ott.

In Texas, the new state guidelines for teaching A&P at the college level include teaching scientific methods and experimental methods.  While I’m sure most of us cover something about the ways of science, I know at my campus we will be expanding our coverage of the experimental methods used by scientists.  This expansion will include experimental activities in lab, but I also intend to introduce examples of current science research in my lectures.  In line with my desire to make course material more personal to my students, I’ve been looking for relevant case studies that showcase the ways of science as well as teaching human physiology.  I think I’ve found what I need…

I’ve been watching “Cancer, the Emperor of All Maladies” this week on PBS.  It’s a riveting mix of historical accounts and vignettes of recent interviews and profiles of cases.  For example, the history of tobacco use, lung cancer, and the politics of marketing are highlighted in more than one episode.  A brief overview of DNA and cell division help clarify the reasons that mutagens are linked to cancer.

I find it particularly insightful in hearing about the investigations into how cancer was treated a generation or two ago.  Assumptions, such as that cancer spread locally (the reason for radical mastectomies), were so entrenched that anyone challenging that paradigm was professionally ostracized.  The clear lesson in adhering to the methods of science stands out in these stories.  The dedication of those scientists who pushed past the dogma to look for other explanations is inspiring. At around the same time, the shift in patient treatment from killing cancer to palliative care gave everyone a different perspective – not only medical personnel, but also the public at large.

Today’s research initiatives, particularly in how to analyze cancer genomes, are mind-boggling.  The cancer genome atlas has revealed a huge number of mutated genes, revealing that not only oncogenes, but also tumor suppressor genes, can mutate and lead to the development of cancer. It’s particularly satisfying to hear renowned scientists explain complicated information with wonderful clarity.  The computer-generated 3-D animations of molecules developed to fight cancer are incredible.  And, while the realization that cancer cells continually mutate, making treatment continually difficult, is hard to accept, at least we continue to add to our knowledge of cellular mechanisms.

Many of the questions raised certainly go beyond basic and applied science, addressing issues of access to, and cost of treatment, and political aspects of research and regulation of carcinogens.  I can send my students to see the episodes for themselves to get the full story, and I’m betting they will be as entranced as I have been.

As with many other fine productions on PBS, there are educator resources available on the website (at http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/cancer-emperor-of-all-maladies/educators/). These include online activities and additional resources.  I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I plan to.

Thank You.

30 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 fifth post in a series of HAPS blog posts featuring A&P student extraordinaire, Becca Ludwig.  

A message from Becca!

A post from Becca!

“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry

Being a professor is not an easy job. Professors have a big role in shaping their students to be the people that they are. Everyone has a professor or teacher that they will always remember for some quality. That impression lasts a life time. Some of my most valued professors have fueled my love of learning. They have encouraged me to reach beyond and challenge what my best really is. I know that there is a direct correlation between my success in school and the support from these respected mentors. Because professors have not given up on me, I know that I cannot give up on myself. That lesson is the most important.

Most of the time the job of a professor goes unnoticed and if it is noticed by students, it is often not seen in positive light. Many students get caught up in the grade, grumble about the rigors of the assignment, or how hard the grading was. Instead of complaining, they should look at the positive and reflect on how much they learned by going through the class and how they are a different person because of it. It is not in the students’ mentality to thank their professor for all of the long nights and stressful days, but I feel like this needs to change. Professors often work harder than their students and continually do it semester after semester, yet they don’t complain like we students do.

I wish to extend a “Thank you” to all of my former, current, and future educators for taking the time to work with me and challenge me to be a better learner than I am today. Everyone has something to teach me and every opportunity has a lesson attached.

Thank You!

What’s on Your Bucket List?

30 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 fifth post in a series of HAPS blog posts featuring A&P student extraordinaire, Becca Ludwig.  

A message from Becca!

A post from Becca!

One semester I had an assignment that was unusual. I was tasked with creating a bucket list and then crossing one thing off of the list by the end of the semester and write a reflection paper about it. This was an odd assignment as it had nothing to do with the occupational therapy world, but as I was creating the list for the assignment I found that a bucket list had everything to do with the OT world and life in general.

A bucket list provides a way for goals to be set and the motivation to obtain them. Many students get bogged down with the stressors of the semesters and completing the requirements to get their degree. I see it in my peer’s faces. The worry about what will happen tomorrow, how I will get a job, who they will marry, how they will pay off their loans. The list is endless. Those are valid concerns, but what they are forgetting is that they have their whole life ahead of them to sort out those details. Many students lack sometimes the ability to see that there is more to life than school. If I were to ask 100 people on my small campus what is one thing that they want to accomplish the top three answers would probably be:

  1. Get married (there are more females than males on campus. The pickings are pretty slim! It's all good!)
  2. Get a degree
  3. Find a job
Make your bucket list, then cross something off it!

Make your bucket list, then cross something off it!

Those are all practical things to want and desire, but my question is what is the one thing that they will look back on and say they accomplished it? Life is not textbook in manor. No one can tell you how to live your life, you can decide. Why not take the challenge to do something for yourself and accomplish something that you never thought you could? The bucket list challenge was one of my hardest assignments because I was challenged to do something for me. I challenge you HAPSters to do the same thing to your students and watch how the students react. This assignment might change everything.

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!


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