What is the HAPS Exam?

Take Rational Course Design with Margaret Weck!
HAPS President Emeritus Margaret Weck, shares some history about the HAPS Exam.

From the founding of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) as an organization in 1989, there has been a general agreement that many of our students find the study of Human Anatomy and Physiology to be difficult.  For some there is the difficulty in the sheer volume of new words to process and for most there is also a difficulty in conceptualizing the body as a set of integrated organ systems with interdependent processes necessary to sustain the life of the whole person.  Partially to counteract grade inflation pressures on individual campuses, partially to justify requests for baseline prerequisite courses, and partially just for our own reference, there has been an ongoing desire for more “objective’ ways to know how well our students are doing.  Out of this impulse the “HAPS Comprehensive Exam” was born in first draft around 1992 and piloted in June of 1993. I have great familiarity with the exam as I took over scoring the exam from Chris Farrell (Trivecca Nazerene University) and did all the central scoring of paper and pencil exams from the summer of 2007 through the spring of 2015, when the paper and pencil version was discontinued.

The exam has undergone several major revisions through time and has migrated from the original mail order, self-scored, paper and pencil form to a secure on-line testing environment.  The HAPS Exam Program continues to write new questions and refine the scoring algorithm.  Some questions (up to 20 per administration) are being tested for validity and reliability before being permanently added into the master question database.  The exam has costs associated with the maintenance of the database, validation of new questions, test administration, and data analysis of the results.  Consequently the exam is offered on a per-test fee basis to faculty and administrators at accredited institutions of higher education.

The HAPS exam is now a secure 100+ item test correlated to the HAPS Learning Outcomes for Undergraduate Anatomy and Physiology.  It is currently the only validated means for obtaining comparison data across textbooks and publishers to help benchmark the performance of your students against the performance of other A&P students across the North American continent.

The HAPS Exam is now a computerized assessment.
The HAPS Exam is now a computerized assessment.

There are now several versions of the exam including the combined exam and subsets for A&P I only and A&P II only.  Neither the complete exams nor the individual items contained in the exams are, or have ever claimed to be, perfect or without flaws.  The HAPS exam is not an exhaustive examination of everything that your students actually know or even theoretically should know.  The HAPS exam is not a substitute for a final exam targeted to your student population and your particular course.  The HAPS exam score by itself in isolation is not a total representation of your students’ learning or the quality of your course(s).  But in this era of assessment and accountability the HAPS Exam remains the only nationally normed and somewhat standardized examination over the content and concepts of Human Anatomy and Physiology.

What makes the HAPS Exam valuable?

The HAPS exam data is very useful in accreditation reports to validate efficacy of curriculum changes that have been made or to provide leverage to support requests for proposed changes.  Sequentially administered test results over several years is a potentially powerful data source for answering the question, “How do you know it works?”  Although administrators often find this the most compelling reason to justify the annual expense of the exam, I have found, personally, that the ability to gain perspective on my students’ performance to be of even more value.

I have found that the HAPS exam gives us at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy the opportunity to step back away from our local concerns and get a bit of perspective on how our students are actually doing.  They may not be mastering the nervous system in the way we would like, but guess what?  Turns out that many students across North America are struggling with that system.  This doesn’t mean that we give up or quit trying.  It just means that we have a more realistic sense of the challenge we are facing – not just at our school but across all of HAPS.  If we are all having difficult in getting our students to deeply engage with a particular topic or system, I know I can go to the HAPS listserv (I still call it that) and ask around for what others are doing to address the issues we are facing.  It is very empowering to know that neither I, nor my colleagues, nor my students as a group, are necessarily failing, even when I can see room for improvement in my students’ development of meaningful understanding of A&P.  Perspective taking can be very powerful.

And if my/our students do particularly well in one area compared to the normed average?  Well then I/we have the perfect topic/technique/workshop to share at the next HAPS annual meeting, or an article for HAPS Ed, or other publication!  I can feel especially confident in offering my thoughts, suggestions and materials to others because I have evidence that what I and my colleagues are doing is helping our students meet not only our expectations, but allowing achievement at or above the national norm.

The more schools and students who participate, the more meaningful the results become.  If you have not done so before, think about the HAPS exam this year.

Study Abroad: Human Anatomy in Poland

Student-interactive activities at the Public Higher Medical Professional School in Opole.
Student-interactive activities at the Public Higher Medical Professional School in Opole.

Two years of planning, many discussions, and revisions of the program’s agenda and it finally happened!

On May 29, 2017, a wonderful group of CCBC (Community College of Baltimore County) biology students and faculty left for an exciting 10-day adventure, dubbed Human Anatomy in Poland.  The human anatomy and education parts of the program included a visit to the Anatomy Museum at the Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow (the oldest university in Poland), the Criminal and Forensic Medicine Museum at the Wrocław Medical University, the unforgettable experience of visiting and attending a workshop at the world-famous Plastinarium in Guben, and student-interactive activities at the Public Higher Medical Professional School in Opole.

Workshop at the Plastinarium in Guben, Germany.
Workshop at the Plastinarium in Guben, Germany.

This anatomy focused experience was intermingled with touring the cities of Wroclaw, Opole, Krakow and Warsaw. The participants learned about Polish history, culture, and architecture by visiting many sites registered on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List, including the Centennial Hall in Wroclaw, the Old Town in Krakow, the Nazi German concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Salt Mine in Wieliczka, and the Historic Centre in Warsaw.

Description of the study abroad program would not be complete without adding that the participants were enthralled with Polish food, enjoying all varieties of pierogi (commonly confused with “pierogis”). Some are even still experiencing “lody (ice cream) withdrawal”. I was asked on multiple occasions throughout the study abroad by the participants whether the program will be repeated; I share this enthusiasm and hope it isn’t the last of its kind!

It was a fantastic trip!
It was a fantastic trip!

Ewa Gorski is a biology professor at the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland where she has been teaching human anatomy & physiology and physiological pathology courses for about twenty years. The majority of her students are preparing for careers in nursing and mortuary science. Ewa has been HAPS member since 2002.

Meet a HAPSter- Quelly from Brazil!

This post describes Quelly Shaive’s anatomy program in Manaus, Brazil.


Anatomy for Medicine is a class which emphasizes the application of anatomy knowledge within a clinical anatomy model.  The approach of Anatomy for Medicine is topographic, where we explore each segment, structure or organ in great detail . This course is divided into 2 parts: Anatomy I and II. This course consists of teaching the anatomy itself as well as pertinent clinical correlations to facilitate student learning and to prepare them for further clinical and surgical education. Students are responsible for presenting seminars where they demonstrate their understanding of anatomy within a clinical case format.

The aims of Human Anatomy I (given in the first period) and Human Anatomy II (given in the second period) are to know the main aspects of regional anatomy and the relationships with the clinical diagnosis of major diseases that affect humans.  Students also have guidance on anatomical dissection practices and the technical notion of invasive procedures, both diagnostic and therapeutic.

Our topographical approach focuses on the regional division of the human body and incorporates in its discussions the medical/surgical importance and applied anatomical knowledge.  This provides students of medicine good learning conditions to study the subjects that are prerequisite: Medical Propedeutics, Neuropsicoimunologia and Operative Technique and Experimental Surgery.

We have 8 teachers and we count on the help of Teacher’s Assistants, who are selected through written test. These Teacher’s Assistants give us support in practical classes, help students in extra class schedules, organize symposiums and events in anatomy and perform the anatomoclinical sessions. The Teacher’s Assistants also participate in events outside the state of Amazonas, such as Brazilian Medical Education Congress.

The Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM) offers the discipline of Anatomy for various courses in the health area, which is offered according to the needs of each course as shown in the table below:

COURSE DISCIPLINE WORKING HOURS
Degree in Sciences: Chemistry and Biology Anatomy and Physiology 60 H
Dentistry Fundamentals of Human Anatomy 90 H
Natural Sciences, Physical Education, Biological Sciences and Psychology Fundamentals of Human Anatomy 60 H
Pharmacy Human anatomy 90 H
Physiotherapy Fundamentals of Human Anatomy

Functional Anatomy Neuroanatomy

90 H

120 H

60 H

It is noteworthy that these subjects offered by UFAM are not exactly the same for all federal universities in Brazil; however, there is equivalence of the nomenclature, workload and content approach.  The Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) is the institution which determines accreditation and coordination for all public and private universities.

Some studies published in Brazil show that anatomical teaching in our country began on 18 February 1808 by Decision No Régia. 2, D. João VI, the Bahia School of Surgery, was formed in Salvador, and over the years, other medical schools were opened in Brazil until today.

The Anatomy courses are divided into theoretical and practical classes. For lectures, we make use of Power Point and whiteboard. The classes are held in laboratories with real human specimens without using any advanced technology, such as 3D Dissection Tables. The human cadaver parts used for dissection are preserved in formaldehyde, alcohol and glycerine. When anatomical variations are found they are cataloged and published in appropriate journals.

The importance of the use of cadaver dissection is appreciated for providing a faithful model of the future student reality. UFAM has adopted these practices to help students of anatomy, favoring the development of teamwork, respect for the body, familiarization with the body, application of practical skills, integration of theory and practice and preparation for clinical work

To improve my performance in class, I participated for the first time in the 30th HAPS Annual Conference in May 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. As a member of HAPS, I receive messages daily about novelties in anatomy, clinical discussions of best books tips, applications, websites and videos that is of great value to improve my knowledge in the area. I have a long way to go in higher education, and I know I can count on the support of HAPS and my fellow members to improve my teaching of one of the oldest arts in the world: Anatomy.

quelly
Quelly Shiave, in her Anatomy Laboratory – UFAM.  Painting the background made by a former student of Medicine.

Quelly Shiave is a professor of anatomy at the Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM) in Manaus, Brazil.

2017-2018 Call for Nominations: An Opportunity to Serve

This post comes to you from Judi Nath, HAPS President Elect.

Reading the HAPS listserv and HAPS Educator, serving on the board or  a committee, reviewing position statements, implementing HAPS learning outcomes and returning from an annual or regional conference with new ideas are all ways that I have benefitted from the volunteer efforts of our many engaged HAPS members. Hearing from others who express their gratitude for the services offered by our organization provides evidence that we are helping meet the professional needs of the A&P instructors we represent. Yet, there are always improvements to be made, fresh ideas to be considered, and management tasks that must be completed. A vibrant and dedicated leadership team helps guide the HAPS organization in these various areas. Please consider joining this team, or nominating others, for the Board positions that will be open for elections in Spring 2018.

As HAPS President-Elect, it is my privilege to chair the annual Nominating Committee and solicit potential candidates for leadership positions. Working with me this year on the Nominating Committee are Javni Mody, Kevin Petti , and Dic Charge. You will likely recognize these people because each individual has served HAPS in various roles too numerous to mention throughout many years of devoted membership.

We are currently accepting nominations for candidates to fill four HAPS offices with terms that will commence on July 1, 2018.  These offices are the following: President-Elect, Treasurer, Eastern Regional Director, and Western Regional Director.  Both self-nominations and nominations from colleagues are welcome and are due to the Nominating Committee by January 31, 2018.  Questions can be submitted to me.

All discussions of potential candidates will remain confidential within the Nominating Committee.  The Nominating Committee will review all nominations and verify willingness to serve.  A final slate of candidates will be recommended to the Board of Directors for approval in March, with a maximum of two candidates for President-Elect and maximum of three candidates for each of the other offices.  The final candidates will be asked to provide a biography, position statement, and photo for the April ballot.

All elected officers serve on the Board of Directors during their designated term.  The Board holds in-person meetings twice a year:  one occurs during a weekend in October (next year’s meeting will be held in Denver), and the other occurs for two days prior to the annual conference in the host city).  The work of the Board is conducted the rest of the year through scheduled monthly e-meetings, synchronous video calls, and other asynchronous communication as needed.

Descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of each office can be found in the HAPS Bylaws available on the HAPS website (login required).  Below is a short synopsis of each office that will be filled in the 2018 election:

President-Elect

Election to this office involves a three-year commitment, one year each as President-Elect, President, and Past-President.  The year as President-Elect provides a year to become accustomed to serving on the Board of Directors before transitioning into the role of President.  The President, in consultation with the Board, provides direction and guidance by establishing and managing the policies and affairs of the Society.  Following the President’s term, they become Past-President to provide leadership continuity.

Treasurer

The Treasurer is the chief fiscal officer of the Society, one of the official signing officers, and serves on the Executive Committee.  The Treasurer oversees all financial transactions, keeps financial records and prepares the annual budget in consultation with the Board of Directors and Steering Committee.  The Treasurer’s term of office is for two (2) years, but there is no limit to consecutive terms.

Regional Directors (Eastern & Western Regions – see website for boundaries.)

Although each Regional Director serves as a representative of one of the four HAPS regions to ensure diverse geographical representation on the Board of Directors, they are elected by the entire membership.  Each acts as a liaison between the region’s constituency and the Board and promotes increased involvement of the region’s membership in the activities of the Society, including regional conferences.  Each Regional Director’s term of office is for two (2) years.  Regional Directors may not serve more than two (2) consecutive terms.

Becoming part of the HAPS leadership team is a great way to give back to our organization and to enhance personal and professional development within a nationally respected educational society.  Whether you, or someone you know, would be interested in this opportunity, please let us know.

For those who are not comfortable participating at the Board level at this time, but who are still interested in becoming involved, please consider participating on a HAPS committee.  We value the time and talent of all those who strive to improve HAPS.

HAPS Offers Grants and Scholarships!

In 1994 the HAPS Executive Committee initiated a program of modest grants, scholarships, and awards for anatomy and/or physiology faculty and their students. These awards support the mission statement of the Society, which is to promote excellence in the teaching of human anatomy and physiology. Applications for all grants, scholarships, and awards must be submitted online. Links to online applications, eligibility, and additional information can be found on each grant-specific webpage.

The submission deadline for all the scholarships listed below is December 1, 2017. Some of the applications require letters of recommendation, so now is a great time to check them out.

Click on a grant or scholarship to see if you qualify!

The deadline to submit your application for any of the above scholarships is December 1st. So go on and get started!

Join HAPS– for the conversations!

The HAPS Discussion group (also known as HAPS-L and before that as “the listserv”) is the place where the most interesting conversations in A&P are happening.  This discussion group has hundreds of members, is very active, and has often features amazingly high level conversations among leaders in the field.  This group was started in 1998 as an email listserv, and some still call it that, but it is a modern discussion group with email preferences and a web archive.  The HAPS discussion group is open to all current HAPS members and is one of the most valuable perks of membership.

This week, one discussion revolved around the most accurate classification of bone types. In this discussion, Mark Nielsen (University of Utah Anatomy Professor and winner of the 2017 HAPS-Theime Excellence in Teaching Award) shared multiple illuminating contributions to the conversation. Check out the excerpt below…and then imagine having content like THIS delivered to your email box on a regular basis.

WOW, there is a lot of interesting discussion going on here, this is one of the nice things about the HAPS listserve. It is always great to share and discuss. While I agree with many of the sage comments about classification and “does it really matter because the bones do not care or know where they fit in the scheme of things”, it is still important to recognize that there is correct and incorrect within a classification scheme. Following is the bases of the classification scheme:

Long bone = what is the one characteristic shared by long bones that none of the other bone types have, one thing and one thing only, a medullary cavity, and yes all the phalanges, even the small distal phalanges have a medullary cavity, as does the clavicle. The following bones have a medullary cavity:

  • clavicle
  • humerus
  • radius
  • ulna
  • metacarpals
  • proximal phalanges of hand
  • middle phalanges of hand
  • distal phalanges of hand
  • femur
  • tibia
  • fibula
  • metatarsals
  • proximal phalanges of foot
  • middle phalanges of foot
  • distal phalanges of foot

I believe someone stated that long bones are characterized because they have a diaphysis with proximal and distal epiphyses. This is not true. Many long bones only have epiphyses at one end and not the other. This is the case for many of the phalanges. Again, the characteristic that defines a long bone is the presence of a medullary cavity. Besides, many bones have epiphyses – for example, short bones and irregular bones have epiphyses.

Short bones = are characterized by a core of spongy bone with an outer covering of compact bone. They typically have a length, width, and depth that are approximately of equal dimensions. The carpal and tarsal bones are placed in this category.

Flat bones = the true flat bones of the body all reside in the skull, but the ribs are also often considered to fall in this category because their bone structure is similar to the flat bones of the skull. These are bones that are characterized by external and internal tables (laminae) of compact bone sandwiching dense trabecular diploe, the diploic spaces of the trabecular bone being filled with hemopoetic red marrow in the living subject. This would include the parietal bones, frontal bone, squamous portion of the occipital bone and temporal bone, sutural or wormian bones that are ossification centers that never fused with the fore mentioned bones.

Most of the remaining bones did not fit into one of these three categories. Like the short bones and flat bones all the remaining bones had an outer covering of compact bone and an internal core of spongy bone and no medullary cavity, but they were not short and they were not flat. This led to the next category that became the catch all:

Irregular bones = a variety of bone shapes consisting of an outer covering of compact bone and a central core of spongy bone, with some bone surfaces that are so flat and thin that they lack spongey bone completely e.g., the scapula, ethmoid. Most of the other bones fall in this category – vertebrae, the bones of the facial skeleton and inferior cranial vault bones, hyoid, malleus, incus, stapes, and the scapula and os coxae.

The final category is the sesamoid bones = these are bones that form within tendons. In human anatomy they are similar in bony structure to short bones but have a unique classification as sesamoid bones because of their location within tendons. In some other vertebrates they are very long slender bones within tendons.

One other recognized category is a pneumatized bone. These are bones that contain air spaces within their cores and can overlap with other categories. For example, the frontal bone is both a flat bone and a pneumatized bone. The ethmoid bone, sphenoid bone, and petromastoid part of the temporal bone are both irregular bones and pneumatized bones.

So there is a logic to classification and it is not a random thing that we can bend to our whims. We now have the choice to ignore it or teach it correctly.

So if you’re a HAPS member, by all means, join this discussion group. And if you’re not a member, JOIN HAPS so you can join the discussion group. (Then adjust your email settings, because most HAPSters have experienced the infamous “blown up email box” that results from some of the more rigorous conversations! Thankfully, executive director Peter English wrote a blog post with instructions for doing just that.)

Please Vote in the Elections for Board Positions!

President-Elect Ron Gerrits

Serving as an officer in any organization requires a commitment of time and effort. Because HAPS members generally lead busy lives, it can be a challenge finding candidates who are confident they can devote enough time to managing the current affairs of HAPS while also strategically planning for its future. In spite of these challenges, there was a strong response to the nomination process this year and the Nominating Committee is excited to finalize a slate of candidates that nearly fills the allotted slots allowed for balloting. In fact, we had more nominations this year than ever for multiple positions, such that we were not able to put all of those interested on the ballot. This increase in interest in leadership positions speaks well of the engagement level of the society and we are hopeful that it will continue into the future.

Besides identifying qualified candidates, an organization also benefits when there is a high level of participation by the general membership in the election process. I am requesting that all of us review the descriptions of the open positions, read the candidate statements and complete the ballots when received.

The positions that are up for election starting in July 2017 include the following:

President-Elect:
Election to this office involves a three-year commitment, one year each as President-Elect, President, and Past-President.  The year as President-Elect provides a year to become accustomed to serving on the Board of Directors before transitioning into the role of President.  The President, in consultation with the Board, provides direction and guidance by establishing and managing the policies and affairs of the Society.  Following the President’s term, they become Past-President to provide leadership continuity.  

Secretary:
The Secretary is responsible for maintaining the official records of the Society. This includes recording minutes of Board and general membership meetings, and maintaining bylaws and other corporate documents. The Secretary’s term of office is for two (2) years.

Regional Directors (Central & Southern Regions)
Although each Regional Director serves as a representative of one of the four HAPS regions to ensure diverse geographical representation on the Board of Directors, they are elected by the entire membership.  They act as a liaison between the region’s constituency and the Board and promote increased involvement of the region’s membership in the activities of the Society, including regional conferences.  Each Regional Director’s term of office is for two (2) years. The current incumbents each qualify to serve again.

The candidate information and biographies can be found here, which summarize the activities of these members both within and outside of HAPS.


HAPS members will receive ballots on March 13



HAPS members will receive ballots today, so please watch out for them in your email.  The voting will continue through March 31. Because we have three candidates for each Regional Director, as well as for Secretary, we are utilizing instant runoff voting this year (a form of preferential voting in Robert’s Rules of Order). Instant runoff voting is a form of rank order voting that is commonly used in universities and municipalities when there are more than two candidates for a position. It provides a mechanism for obtaining a majority vote without having to hold additional rounds of balloting, which might otherwise be required. You will be asked to rank candidates in order of preference (1-3). We understand that this can be challenging, especially if you consider all candidates strong, but it is necessary in order to hold the elections in an efficient manner.

Election results will be announced in April, as well as at the annual conference in Salt Lake City.

Thanks to everyone in advance for taking the time to participate in the election process. And a special thanks to those that have agreed to serve in office if elected. It is a commitment that benefits all in the society.


Ron Gerrits is the HAPS President-Elect & 2016-2017 Nominating Committee Chair.  He is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.  Vote now