Archive | February, 2014

HAPS Leadership (#19): Presidents Emeriti

26 Feb

The Human Anatomy & Physiology Society (HAPS) is over a quarter-century young and still growing.  Each year has given us new adventures and new challenges.  It has been the presidents that have lead us through those times, helping HAPS to grow, survive, and prosper.

140226 (1) Emeriti

The Presidents Emeriti Advisory Board is the collection of this venerable group.  These individuals help to maintain the institutional memory of the Society (“Oh my god, we already tried that!”).  The Emeriti are a great bunch to talk with at the Annual ConferencesHenry Ruschin can tell you about evacuating the hotel in Toronto in the middle of the night.  Ric Martini can regale you with stories of dealing with SACS and accreditation.  John Waters can explain how that led to the creation of the HAPS-Institute.  Don Kelly and Dee Silverthorn can tell you about the challenges of keeping up with online technologies.

140226 (2) Emeriti

First-Timers for each annual conference get a special treat.  We offer a special First-Timers Breakfast (Sunday morning), where first-time attendees get to have a sumptuous breakfast with the Emeriti, learning about how incredible the coming week is going to be.  Don’t believe all of the stories that Bill Perrotti and Kevin Petti will tell you, but enjoy the experience nonetheless.

140226 (3) Emeriti

As I get closer and closer to becoming the current President of HAPS (holy crap, that’s just 125 days away!), I’m happy to know that I’ve got a great advisory board of knowledgeable and enjoyable people to rely on.  Joe Griswold is the master of strategic plans.  Sandy Lewis, Gary Johnson, and Mike Glasgow can expound upon the growing pains of HAPS from a little club to a sizeable educational society.

140226 (4) Emeriti

Not all of the Emeriti are able to attend each annual conference, but we generally have a very strong presence each time.  Check out the President’s Suite and you’ll invariably find a few holding court.  Margaret Weck will show off her tie-dye shirt and Kevin Patton will tell you about the historic bottomless bucket-o-crab legs!  Be careful making eye-contact with Henry Ruschin; you may find yourself volunteering to host a future HAPS conference.  But, hey, with such a great group of people to hang around with, would that be such a bad thing?

140226 (5) Emeriti

7- Active Learning Makes Me Happy

23 Feb
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Sometimes my class is a party…

Maybe you are starting to get a sense of this, but I like it when my students are happy. I often use their satisfaction as evidence that a technique or lesson is “successful.”  I understand that happiness may or may not correlate with LEARNING, but I can’t seem to shake the drive to make my students happy (though I am unwilling to give them extra credit or “easy” exams to accomplish this.)  My push to make happy students isn’t linked to the external requirement for positive student evaluations; I am still technically a part-time instructor and we are officially evaluated ONCE every THREE YEARS. But I still find my pedagogy revolves around what students LIKE.  While I think there are some very important reasons to stay true to this intention, I had an interesting experience this week that might provide an important nudge away from the “do what it takes to make students happy” camp.

We began the skeletal system in Human Anatomy on Tuesday.  This lab is notorious on our campus for being the point at which quantity of content PLATEAUS.  The labs prior to the bone lab are progressively more challenging, but none of the labs after the bone lab are MORE difficult (though they certainly are not easier!)  I always note that if you can master the bone lab, you are ready to handle the rest of the course.

Because of the notorious difficulty of the lab, I came up with a task for students to carry out during their three hour lab period.  I divided our bones into 6 stations (skull, superior limbs, pelvis, etc), provided groups with sticker tags, and asked them to create a practical quiz for their assigned station.  I then gave them about 20 minutes to create the quiz for their station, complete with an answer key, and then I had them move through the stations and take each others’ quizzes.  I found the experience a little exhausting in my morning lab, because there was a general undercurrent of disgruntlement about the activity that just made me tired.  So when the afternoon lab came in, I ended up giving them a CHOICE: they could do my activity, or study on their own.  All of the students in the afternoon lab chose to study on their own and the general mood was much more pleasant.

And then I graded their quizzes, which were given to each group at the end of their lab sessions.  Ready?

The early lab (who DID the activity) scored an average of 1.2 points higher on their 10 point quiz when compared to the late lab (who studied on their own).  Now these are students who FIGHT to the DEATH about one point on a 100 point exam…so this difference will be perceived as ENORMOUS for my team.  Of course, I wondered if perhaps my afternoon students were always…more challenged than the early group, so I compared the averages for the two previous quizzes.  One quiz had the early lab leading by 0.2 points and the other quiz had the late lab leading by 0.1 points.  That counts as a wash in Wendy-land.

...and sometimes not.

…and sometimes it isn’t.

This was a “moment” for me. I won’t ever ditch the idea that happy students learn more and I really believe that the ability to motivate students is a powerful teaching tool.  But I do think I need to follow my instincts and require my students to do the same, whether they are happy, or not.

HAPS Leadership (#18): Marketing Committee

19 Feb

140219 (1) Elizabeth Hodgson 2013“Hi, you’re on the air with Elizabeth Hodgson, chair of the HAPS Marketing Committee!”

I laugh and explain that I’m calling to find out the latest and greatest about the HAPS Brand and what we’re doing to expand our image.  I ask what tasks currently face the Marketing Committee on a weekly basis.

“Well, that’s an interesting and surprising complex question.  We post on our Twitter account about items and events that promote HAPS as a society.  We post items such as conference deadlines, HAPS-I information, scholarship details, and Blog updates.  We also promote individual members making headlines, such as President Valerie O’Loughlin giving the keynote address at an international conference!”

The return of a classic?

The return of a classic?

Do you have plans for HAPS brand merchandise to sell on the HAPS website?  Many people are clamoring for the Lumbar Mugs to come back.

“Ha, yeah right.  Kevin Petti is finally over his night terrors about finally getting rid of all of those.  I suppose we could try Cervical Shot glasses…hmm.  Actually, we are addressing that issue and looking at our options.  Determining an inventory and storage location are two details that we need to iron out.”

Are the rumors true about our hostile takeover of Nestle Purina?

140219 (4) Chocolate“Yes, we plan to take over the chocolate branch, but will leave the dog food production untouched.  Chocolate is WAY more important.”

Where were you on the morning of January 15th, when a silver blur saved 27 commuters trapped on the elevated train?

“Wait, I WAS that silver blur!  Did you miss the tweet?”

Are there any questions that I missed?

Print“For the answer to that and other thought-provoking questions, check out the HAPS twitter account.  Until then, aloha!”

6- Case Studies

17 Feb
The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science Logo

The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science is an absolute treasure trove of interesting cases!

After spending nearly a year recording video lectures for my flipped classes, I have finally arrived at a semester in which MOST of the lectures have been recorded (for better or worse) and I am able to focus my time on improving the quality of the ACTIVITIES we do during class time.  Although I am painfully critical of the quality of my existing video lectures, I am grateful to finally have more time to work on the class activities.

I am always intrigued by case studies and if you haven’t taken a look at the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, you really need to check it out.  This resource is included in the APS Archive and it is literally a gold mine of interesting cases.  I’ve signed up for their email listserv and receive monthly updates describing new cases they’ve recently posted.  When I get these emails, I usually end up wishing I taught more classes, because the topics are so engaging.  I was particularly interested in checking out a relatively recent case about Colony Collapse Disorder in honeybees.

The group also facilitates an annual summer workshop where participants explore different kinds of case studies, and then write and deliver their own cases to a guinea pig group of undergrads who offer feedback on the experience.  Someday, when I figure out how to squeeze 48 hours out of each 24, I would LOVE to participate in this conference.   But there are other sources of case studies for use in the flipped classroom.  One of my favorite workshops at the HAPS Annual Conference last year in Las Vegas was Cherie McKeever’s workshop on writing your own case studies.  She also offers an online summer class on how to write and implement fun cases.

I am going to experiment with a clicker-based case study on hearing loss this week in Human Physiology.  I will keep you posted!

Squirrel!

Squirrel!

HAPS Leadership (#17): Southern Regional Director

12 Feb

We’re checking in with Jason LaPres this week to learn what is so gosh-darn special about the HAPS Regional Conferences.  Jason is our Southern Regional Director, as well as an attendee and/or committee member at a few of our Regionals.

???????????????????????????????“The Regional Conferences are a little more intimate than the Annual Conference.  Usually just over a weekend, they are a little more low-key.  Most people are close enough to drive and a lot know each other before reaching the conference.  There are fewer vendors, only 1 or 2 update lectures, but most of the focus is usually on the workshops.”

Uh…gee, Jason, that sounds somewhat “less” than the Annual Conference.

“Heck, no, Tom.  It’s just different.  As I said, the Regional Conferences tend to be more intimate than the Annuals.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Annual Conferences.  The night and day energy at those is incredible.  Meeting so many new people and experiencing so many new things is absolutely breath-taking.  But, what makes the Regional Conferences a jewel is their focus.”

“See, each Regional Conference tends to develop a bit of a theme for itself.  We’ve had Regional Conferences that were built around cadaver dissection, around online courses, around high school educators, the list goes on.  The Annual Conference is a chance to explore a whole bunch of – SQUIRREL!

140212 (2) Up“Sorry, lost my train of thought.  Oh yeah, the Regional Conferences are a great way to really roll your sleeves up and immerse yourself into a tight group of educators who are just as passionate as you.  We have an Eastern Regional Conference in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 15 of this year.  I’ve spoken to a number of people are very excited to attend that one.”

Are there other Regional Conferences in the works?

“Yes, Murray Jensen is working on a Central Regional Conference for October of this year.  We’ve had proposals from a number of other HAPSters who want to host a Regional Conference in their neck of the woods.  Hosting a Regional Conference is a great way to see if your location could serve as a future site for an Annual Conference.  For more information on hosting a Regional Conference, feel free to contact Ellen Lathrop-Davis, Chair of the Conference Committee or check out their committee’s web page.

Thanks, Jason.  That gives me a lot to think about.  I’m going to check out the Regional Conference web page and think about attending.

Excitement at the Southern Regional in Texas this past year!

Excitement at the Southern Regional in Texas this past year!

Vendors, Workshops, and Seminars..oh my!

Vendors, Workshops, and Seminars..oh my!

5- The Dead Rats: Success!

9 Feb

In contrast to my first attempt with Dead Rat fun times a year ago, Endocrine Rats lab activity last week was very popular with my students.  I ended up recording a brief lecture to help guide them through the process of determining which rats were treated with which hormones, and also made a few changes to my own lab handout for the next time I use it.  Overall, it was a much more successful experience, judging solely by classroom climate.

I am very aware that just because my students “liked” it, doesn’t mean they learned anything.  To that end, I have to make tonight’s post particularly brief because I am in the middle of writing exams for both my classes (ouch).   On nights like this, I usually conclude that sleep is overrated and then I load up on caffeine and keep going.  However, after Valerie’s email to the HAPSters on the list-serv on Thursday, requesting a HAPS liaison to participate in the National Sleep Foundation’s task force, I realize that perhaps I should revise my general approach to sleep:

You_can_sleep_when_you're_dead!Ahhhh, ok.  Short post it is.

HAPS Leadership (#16): HAPS-Institute

5 Feb

140205 (2) HAPS-i-LOGOAre you looking for graduate credit in the field of Anatomy & Physiology?  Are you looking to share your expertise on a specific A&P-related topic with peers who are as passionate as you about the subject matter?  If the answer to either question is “yes”, then the HAPS-Institute is the place for you.

140205 (1) Peter EnglishHi, I’m Peter English.  As the Executive Director of the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society, I serve as the Director of the HAPS-Institute.  I oversee the curriculum that we develop, the schedule of courses that we offer, and the enrollment of great individuals such as yourself.

At HAPS-I, we have maximized salary and minimized tuition to make this the best possible service to the HAPS community.  With all of the issues surrounding accreditation, it is becoming increasingly important that faculty have graduate credit in A&P, and our credit is earned through Alverno College in Milwaukee.  HAPS-I is one way in which HAPS is helping members meet the evolving needs in the changing landscape of higher education.

Every HAPS member has his or her specialty, and HAPS-I is taking advantage of this.  In most cases, HAPS-I courses center around an educator teaching the class of his or her dream: a specific, incredibly rich understanding of a topic being taught by an expert with an amazing depth of knowledge.  Courses can be completely online or can be a mix of online and in-person instruction.  Many of the in-person components are tied to Regional Conferences or the Annual Conference.  For 2014, we are offering four courses.  Looking ahead, we will have our first traveling course with participants studying A&P in Italy this summer.

Future groundbreaking of our western campus.

Future groundbreaking of our western campus.

In order to attract the best instructors, we pay an above average $2,500 per course based on an enrollment of 6 students (enrollment above this number pays more and pro-rates compensation for fewer students so that low-enrollment courses can still run).  All HAPS-I courses have end-of-course surveys to ensure that we continue to hire only the best instructors.

Be one of the proud, one of the elite!

Be one of the proud, one of the elite!

For the students, tuition is just $550 per credit hour for HAPS members ($750 per credit hour for non-HAPS members), which is less than one-third the cost of some other graduate credit programs.  Most HAPS-I courses are 2-credits, but between now and this summer, we’ll be offering 1-credit, 2-credit, and 3-credit courses to meet everyone’s demands.

The HAPS Foundation has recognized the importance of this sort of continuing education and offers HAPS-I scholarships four times per year.  The scholarships cover the cost of 1-credit of instruction and the next due date for applications is February 15.

So, what do you say?  Ready to be part of something incredible?    The HAPS-Institute is ready for you!

4- APS Archive Activity: The Dead Rats

2 Feb
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Reinforce student understanding of the endocrine system by using “Virtual Rats”! This activity is described in a journal article posted in the APS Archive of Teaching Resources.

I wonder how many Physiology students dropped my class this semester when they saw the “Dead Rats” activity on the course schedule.  There certainly have been many who tentatively ask me about that particular activity.  After briefly traumatizing them with visions of dead rats piled high to the ceiling, I inform them that the activity actually makes use of PAPER dead rats.  I can SEE that great sigh of relief as it exits their lungs!

I found this activity through the APS Archive of Teaching Resources.  It simulates an actual physiology lab in which students treat rats with various hormones, then kill the rats and weigh their organs to learn more about how the hormones affect different body systems.  The activity eliminates the need to kill rats (for which I am extremely grateful) and also adds a bit of authentic mystery into the mix, because the students in the scenario forgot to label the hormones before treating the rats.  My students are then tasked with figuring out which hormone was used to treat each rat.

This activity works fantastically in the flipped class.  My students will watch their lecture on the endocrine system and complete the lab handout based on the article from the Archive, all before coming to class on Wednesday.  Then they will get into groups and examine their packets of “dead rats.”  There are many skills students use in this activity.  First, they have to have a working understanding of each hormone and the different ways the hormones affect each other and body organs.  I do not require them to memorize these interactions or details, YET.  I just want them to be able to APPLY what they’ve learned about the hormones to help them understand the dead rats. One of the most challenging things for them involves HOW they organize their data.  This is tricky and I have to be careful about giving them instructions that are too specific, because then the activity becomes an exercise in following a recipe, instead of an opportunity to practice critical thinking skills.

I piloted this activity in my class a year ago, and perhaps because it was done so early in the semester, students found the open structure of it quite frustrating.  I am used to this kind of frustration when I try something new, mostly because I don’t yet understand the pitfalls they will tumble into.  In class tomorrow, I will warn them about the importance of effectively preparing for the activity by watching the lecture AND completing the lab handout.  I will also remind them to make sure their brains are optimally engaged as they study and prepare.

Finally, I’d love to say I have a sophisticated assessment planned to accompany this activity…but unfortunately, I do not.  That, however, is one of the GREAT things about teaching…I get to constantly improve my craft.  Adding a rock-star quality assessment into the mix will be my goal NEXT semester.