Years ago, I took a graduate level educational class called “Teaching Reading in the Content Area.” This class was geared toward elementary and secondary schools; I never dreamed the information presented would be relevant to me later as a professor in a college classroom.
I teach a second semester combined Anatomy and Physiology course nearly every term. My students are primarily freshmen planning to pursue programs in Nursing or other Allied Health Fields. Early in the semester, I tell them this class is like learning a new language. So, I try to emphasize word roots while pointing out the meanings of Latin prefixes and suffixes.
Even though studious students focus their efforts on memorizing anatomy-specific vocabulary, they surprisingly have difficulty on exams with the meanings of English words that I assume all students know. After seeing a discussion about this issue on the HAPS listserv in December 2015, I realized I wasn’t alone.
Over the course of a few days, A&P professors all over the country added basic vocabulary words their students struggled with to a list I compiled.
Table 1 includes some of the non-content-specific words with which A&P students routinely have trouble.
Table 2 includes many content-specific words that A&P students often confuse.
Quizzing students on the meanings of these words, on the first day of class, might be an effective tool for encouraging students to assess their current level of preparation and readiness for the course.
Thinking back to my educational class, I realize this is not a new problem. So, what does the literature have to say about the problem and what steps are suggested to provide solutions to the problem? Molly Theus, one of my former students and now a first year veterinarian student at UGA, prepared a literature review on the subject. To read Molly’s review, stay tuned for next week’s blog.