We have now heard from our third and fourth update speakers, Barbara Vanderhyden and Nadia Abu-Zahra.
On Wendesday Dr. Vanderhyden, a Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Ottawa and a Senior Scientist in the Cancer Therapeutics Program at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, presented “Going Back in Time: Can We Reverse the Effects of Age and Other Risk Factors on Ovarian Cancer Incidence?”. Dr. Vanderhyden showed us how ovarian cancer may arise from the fimbriae of uterine tubes and how risk decreases with parity, hormonal birth control methods, and breastfeeding. She explained this phenomenon is likely due to reduced ovulation. She also discussed how use of Metformin, a drug used to treat type II diabetes, is associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer due to its anti-fibrotic properties.
On Thursday Dr. Abu-Zahra, an Associate Professor in the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa, presented “Inclusive Education. Ways in Which We Learn and the Development of Strategies to Promote Engagement and Inclusion”. Dr. Abu-Zahra discussed how online teaching is changing the way we think about education. She told us education is about more than transferring information. It also encompasses community building. She provided examples of internal motivation and discussed “ungrading” and accountability. The following #HAPS2020Chat focused on methods for building community in classes.
In the evening, the exam program chairs hosted a town hall event in which they discussed the HAPS exam in a new normal going forward.
Catch up with us this evening at the Welcome Reception hosted by McGraw-Hill! This will be a chance to check in with friends old and new as we toast one another and learn a little more about just how HAPSy we can be in this remote social. Check your email for event links. BYOB!
Day one of the 2020 Virtual Conference is complete! Today we heard from two of our update speakers: Anne Burrows and Peter Ward.
Dr. Burrows, a biological anthropologist at Duquesne University, presented a fascinating seminar called “Making Our Face – The Evolutionary Story of the Human Face”. She discussed facial recognition in the brain, thereby explaining how we see faces in potato chips. During the social media discussions in the evening, HAPSters decided this talk was very relevant to online teaching and video conferencing lectures.
Dr. Ward, from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, presented a captivating talk called “Pushing the Boundaries of Clinical Anatomy”. Dr. Ward challenged the concept of “normal anatomy” and suggested teaching variation as the norm. Later HAPSters questioned whether click-bait headlines about “new” organs could be used to teach science literacy.
Fabella – A sesamoid bone Dr. Ward informed us forms in the tendon of the lateral head of the gastrocnemius that is sometimes mistaken for a fracture.
Anthony Edwards has begun the online discussion this morning by asking, “What’s your favorite part about teaching A&P?” #HAPS2020 Follow the hashtag to respond on LinkedIn.
We all know that students use Wikipedia. But many don’t have the skills to evaluate the accuracy of the information they read there (Wineburg et al., 2016). Instead of issuing a blanket ban on the website, many professors are now having their students write Wikipedia articles as an assignment. As one put it, “Students can’t cite Wikipedia if they’re writing it.”
In a Wikipedia writing assignment, students play the role of “expert” as they summarize course content into relevant Wikipedia articles. The exercise essentially mirrors a lit-review assignment, except that millions of people have access to that student work.
It’s part of a growing movement of educators embracing Wikipedia as a learning tool, with instructors from more than 500 universities involved in the US and Canada. Most aren’t familiar with the inner-workings of Wikipedia, but still successfully guide their students in editing articles thanks to free support and student trainings offered by Wiki Education.
Practicing science communication on a world stage
By bringing their work to Wikipedia, students make a difference for public knowledge while also diving deeply into course content. Last term, a student at Drew University contributed well-referenced content to Wikipedia’s article about Sheehan’s syndrome, adding sections about its causes and history. Now the almost 200 daily visitors to the page can access better information summarized from academic sources.
Another student, from Fordham University, expanded the Wikipedia article about intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells in 2017, adding new sections about structure and function. They were even inspired to create and add a new diagram (Fig.1). Since then, the page has been viewed almost 50,000 times by Wikipedia’s readers.
Fig 1: Diagram of inputs and outputs of ipRGCs and their corresponding location in the brain, created by a Fordham University student as part of their Wikipedia writing assignment [image link]
Sometimes instructors have students create new Wikipedia biographies for women scientists instead of having them expand articles about course topics. Only 18% of Wikipedia biographies are about women, so when students participate in this endeavor, they are helping correct that gender gap in public knowledge. Having students write Wikipedia biographies for women in STEM not only demonstrates to them that diversity and inclusion belongs in STEM, it asserts that to the world.
Student learning outcomes
Instructors have found a Wikipedia writing assignment to be an opportunity to solidify students’ research skills, critical media literacy, and ability to write for a public audience (Vetter et al, 2019). By participating in the production of knowledge on a site they use all the time, students understand where that information comes from and how to assess the accuracy of online information they encounter in the future.
Want to get involved?
If you’re interested in improving science content on Wikipedia, there are a few ways to get involved:
Use Wiki Education’s free assignment templates to have your students write Wikipedia articles related to your course topic: teach.wikiedu.org.
Learn how to edit Wikipedia yourself and expand your educational reach to the public: learn.wikiedu.org
As Wiki Education’s Outreach and Communications Associate, Cassidy Villeneuve helps share the impact of Wikipedia editing on students, professionals, and public knowledge.
Community College Anatomy and Physiology Education Research (CAPER) Program: Promoting Change in Classroom Pedagogy to Benefit Students
Active learning is not a new concept within HAPS. Annual conference poster and workshop sessions are chock-full of ideas on how to incorporate more student-centered techniques and personal storiesof faculty experiences with various methods. Nearly all of us likely have active learning terms in our lexicon and the majority of HAPS members would agree we should use such techniques (if not, please see the meta-study by Freeman et al. ). Yet an awareness of active learning and its benefit by itself does not necessarily drive change in our classroom practice. The more change is required, especially when that change is associated with significant effort, possibly even a seismic shift from our past teaching routines, the less likely we are to rush out and try it. And if an instructor is really motivated to find out what most benefits their specific population of students, the thought of developing an actual pedagogical study can seem utterly overwhelming. This is where peer-mentoring and a set timeline can really help. The Community College Anatomy and Physiology Education Research (CAPER) Program is designed to provide the needed support for participating community college instructors.
CAPER is an NSF-funded project, with Murray Jensen (University of MN) as Principal Investigator. CAPER is aimed at supporting community college faculty who are interested in identifying how evidence-based instructional practices (EBIPs) impact the community college student population, a population that has been under-studied in the active learning literature. The current cohort of six participants kicked off the project by participating in the HAPS-I Educational Research course in fall 2018. Their culminating project for the course was an educational research proposal they are implementing this spring. A group of additional active HAPSters also participated as mentors in the HAPS-I course, providing feedback on project proposals and helping as needed. Kerry Hull, for example, is heading up an interdisciplinary group at Bishop’s University in Ontario, Canada that provides expertise in experimental design, data analysis, and manuscript preparation.
In addition to the studies being conducted by each instructor, all instructors are working with the research team to investigate the impact of EBIPs on reducing student stress and increasing their feelings of academic self-efficacy. If you are attending the meeting in Portland, be sure to check out the CAPER posters, or attend our workshop, to learn more specific details about the project.
Principal Investigators: Murray Jenson, Kerry Hull (BU sub-contract)
Mentors: Ron Gerrits, Betsy Ott, Kyla Ross
Research Support: Heather Lawford, Suzanne Hood
Graduate Students: Laura Seithers, Rob Palmer
 S. Freeman et al., “Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., vol. 111, no. 23, pp. 8410–8415, Jun. 2014.
Submitted by Ron Gerrits on behalf of the CAPER group. Ron Gerrits is a Professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering where he teaches health-science courses, mainly physiology. His professional interests are science and engineering education. Currently he is one of the mentors on the CAPER project, which includes several HAPSters interested in improving physiology education (which seems to be a group trait of HAPS!).
I assigned concept maps as homework in my A&P courses and it has proven to be extremely effective. Students are provided instructions for how to access a free concept mapping website and a list of concepts to be included in their map. I typically assign one map per major topic or body system (8-10 per semester). Concepts to be included are heavily based on the HAPS Learning Outcomes. Since students can make concept maps in many different ways, they are primarily graded for level of detail and completeness. After the first assignment is submitted, I choose several maps and display them anonymously to the class. I ask students to identify how that particular map is helpful and to find ways the map might be improved, stressing their use as study tools. As students gain experience, the quality of their maps improves significantly. By the end of the semester, many are astonishingly complex and detailed.
(Click on image above or here for a full-size PDF)
Student scores on a standardized departmental final have improved in the classes that I’ve utilized concept mapping and many students reported that concept maps were extremely helpful in A&P. Many nursing programs now heavily integrate concept mapping into nursing education so this assignment was particularly helpful to pre-nursing students. I also discovered that the rate of homework completion was higher for concept maps than more “traditional” homework. Students stated that creating the map forced them to really read the text and think about how the concepts related to each other, but that they were also fun!
Since several of these students had previously utilized concept mapping in my courses, they volunteered to create a comprehensive concept map that included all of the 900+ HAPS Learning Outcomes. Their goal was to use this project to reinforce their own understanding of A&P and to create a teaching tool that could be displayed for future student use.
They worked on this project on their own time between early January and mid-May, 2018, including spring break, while also juggling classes, jobs, and other responsibilities. The final product, a 16-foot-long concept map with over 5000 elements, was printed and displayed during the conference.
Paul Luyster, Associate Professor of Biology, and nine TCC students, Brian Cisneros, Daniel Duran, Stephanie Galaviz-Webster, Jocelyn Gonzalez, Karely Leon, Mitchell McDowell, Auston McIntosh, Lisabel Ruiz-Steblein, and Jami Williams, presented a workshop titled “Using Case Studies and Concept Mapping Assignments to Enhance Student Engagement and Learning in A&P” at the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) Conference in Columbus, Ohio, May, 2018.
These students are proud of their concept map but even more importantly, they know with certainty that they have constructed – in a diagram and in their mind – a detailed set of concepts and relationships that integrates all of the important aspects of A&P.. They know their stuff, and they KNOW that they know it. Isn’t that what teaching is all about?
Paul Luyster is an Associate Professor of Biology at Tarrant County College, Fort Worth, Texas, where he enjoys teaching Anatomy and Physiology, Majors Biology, Undergraduate Biology Research, and an Environmental Biology Wilderness Course.
You know that old, grim academic saying, “Publish or perish”? We at HAPS prefer to say “Publish and flourish!” While your home institution may have specific expectations regarding scholarship, we offer several options for “publishing” (in the broad sense of the word) that will make communicating with your fellow A&P professionals fulfilling and fun! Some of these resources are only available for HAPS members (HAPS Discussion Group and Teaching Tips) while others are publicly available for the benefit of the entire A&P community (HAPS Blog and HAPS Educator). Details of each publication venue are provided below.
HAPS Discussion Group (HAPS-L Listserv): Maybe you don’t really want to write up anything formal — you just want to share a link to a cool news item and comment on it.Or maybe you have a question for your fellow educators. Great for getting rapid feedback, often from experts like A&P textbook authors. Why do some texts refer to a “dorsal body cavity” while others do not? How does pelvis shape vary according to geography? The listserv has you covered.
Teaching Tips: As the name implies, teaching tips are concise pieces of practical teaching advice. Teaching tips can be submitted here; submitters choose appropriate learning outcome tags to assist others in locating their tip for usage in class or lab. Each submission is reviewed by Curriculum and Instruction Committee members to assure that it is posted in an optimal location.
Blog: Want feedback during the early stages of a research project? Want to provoke discussion that is more extensive or more timeless than the typical listserv chit-chat? The blog is the place for you. Blog posts are published once a week during the academic year and contain a wide variety of ideas from short teaching tips (see above) to descriptions of unique A&P-related experiences. Each post is edited before publication, so no need to worry about minor errors or incomplete thoughts. Ideas and drafts can be emailed to email@example.com. Please include a headshot or other picture and a short author bio.
HAPS Educator: The most formal of these four options, but run by friendly editors! HAPS Educator aims to foster teaching excellence and pedagogical research in anatomy and physiology education. This open-access journal publishes peer-reviewed articles under three categories. Educational Research articles discuss pedagogical research projects supported by robust data. Perspectives on Teaching articles discuss a teaching philosophy or modality but do not require supporting data. Current Topics articles provide a state-of-the-art summary of a trending topic area relevant to A&P educators. All submitted articles undergo peer review. Educational Research articles will additionally be reviewed for the quality of the supporting data. HAPS Educator is the official publication of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) and is published online three times per year: on March 1, July 1, and November 1.
The human hand is challenging to study, due to having many narrow vessels and tendons packed together in a small space. Because of this, it is useful to have clear diagrams showing just a few structures at a time. From February to mid-March 2017, a human distal forearm was dissected and used as a model for six drawings in the style of a traditional anatomical atlas. These images are meant to be teaching tools for helping students identify structures, just like a professionally made atlas. During the dissection process, rough pencil sketches were made in the lab as new structures were exposed. Later, these sketches were redrawn in full color with colored pencil. Anatomical illustration could be an educational activity for students: by trying to draw diagrams clear enough for others to understand, students would retain more information and improve their communication skills.
In Dr. Olson’s basic gross anatomy course at NIU, the undergraduates often use atlases to help identify countless tiny structures. These atlases introduce students to the art of anatomical illustration, which has roots as far back as the Renaissance. The hand is an ideal subject for an atlas because it has so many tendons, vessels, and bones that can be difficult to keep track of, so it would be helpful to have clear diagrams of these parts. The hand is also more “relatable” relative to internal organs; hands are frequently used for nonverbal communication. People depend on their hands to do so many tasks everyday but rarely think about what goes on behind the scenes.
To separate the forearm from the cadaver, Dr. Olson steadied the body while I sawed (with an actual hand saw) through the radius and ulna distal to the elbow. I used a scalpel to cut a vertical slit in the skin along the anterior side of the arm, from the wrist to the bottom. Then I cut a horizontal line along the wrist and pulled back two flaps of skin to expose the flexors. With a scalpel and forceps, I removed fascia and fat from each muscle and vessel to see the structures more clearly. I made a pencil sketch of the flexors and used the Thieme Atlas of Anatomy 2nd edition to try to identify the structures myself. Then I checked my answers with Dr. Olson. For the next few weeks, I repeated this process of dissecting more structures, sketching the muscles, and labeling the drawings with help from Dr. Olson and TA Sally Jo Detloff. I was generally able to dissect tissues without damaging them, although I accidentally cut the ulnar nerve and had to tie it together with string. Between dissections, I sprayed the arm with humectant and wrapped it in terry cloth to retain moisture.
CREATING THE ATLAS:
When I had finished dissecting most of the arm and hand, I had a set of rough draft sketches to turn into final drafts. I redrew each drawing on larger paper and colored the new drawings with colored pencils. To make digital versions of the diagrams, I scanned the drawings and used the GNU Image Manipulation Program to fix margins and erase blemishes. Finally, I presented my work at NIU, at both the Phi Sigma Research Symposium and at the Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day poster shows. I enjoyed teaching the attendees everything I had learned about how the arm works. At URAD, my project won second place out of fourteen exhibits (NIU “URAD and CES Winners Announced.”)
THE DRAWING PROCESS:
Before starting the atlas project, I had never made scientific illustrations and had not taken any illustration courses at NIU. My artistic education was mainly from drawing for fun and taking public school art classes prior to college. Other than confirming the labels with Dr. Olson, I worked on the atlas diagrams independently.
I used photos taken in the lab as references for my color palette, which was meant to be realistic but still simple to understand. Hence, the atlas colors were bolder and more diverse than in the actual arm, where arteries and vessels were the same colors and everything turned more orange over time. The nails were colored to match the cadaver’s nails, which were, in fact, dark magenta. See the final Forearm Atlas diagrams: Flexor Compartment Layers 1-3, Flexors in the Palm, Extensor Compartment Layer 1, and Lateral View: Extensors.
Other students could benefit from drawing their own diagrams of their dissections. Doing so would help them memorize the names, locations and relationships between structures. While drawing, students might come up with deeper questions about how the body works, like I did during my project. Students could trade drawings and give each other feedback about the clarity of the diagrams. Students would be reminded to focus their critiques on legibility and accuracy rather than on aesthetic appeal. By making their diagrams understandable to others, students would improve at teaching and communicating. Ideally, they would also have fun improving their drawing skills.
Thank you to HAPS for the Student Grant, and thanks to NIU’s Office of Student Engagement for providing me a grant from the Student Engagement Fund. This project was supported by the Body Donation Program at Northern Illinois University, supervised by Dr. Daniel Olson, Director of the Anatomy Laboratory, which ensured the proper and respectful handling and disposal of the tissues used in this project.
Schuenke, Michael, et al. Atlas of Anatomy. Second ed., New York, New York, Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 2012.
Eliya Baker graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.S. in Premed Biology and minors in Psychology and Chemistry. She is not formally trained in art, but enjoys making art as a hobby. Her teacher and lab instructor is Dr. Daniel R. Olson Ed.D., the Director of the Anatomy Laboratory at NIU.
To many A&P instructors, music is a tool for learning about the auditory system (Ganesh et al. 2016) or adjusting students’ moods (Anyanwu 2015, Modell et al. 2009, Weinhaus & Massey 2015), or a metaphor for the learning process (Modell 2018). These are valid, reasonable ideas. But for me, odd duck that I am, music is mostly a mechanism for teaching science content. If you can imagine a version of Schoolhouse Rock with really short songs written and performed by amateurs for undergraduate audiences (Crowther et al. 2015), you have the general idea.
There are many reasons why I do this, some well-rooted in research and others less so. Content-rich lyrics can condense some material into concise, memorable phrases. Such lyrics can be interrogated to make their meaning clearer, somewhat in the manner of an English class dissecting a poem. And singing about content with your students is a good way to convey that you care deeply about their mastery of it, and that scientists are human beings too.
If any of these ideas resonate with you, consider the following a friendly challenge for the fall. Are you ready?
Identify and write down the 1-5 most important overall themes that you will emphasize in your course.
Write a short song or rap introducing your students to those themes. If you are not musically inclined — or even if you are — collaborate with a spouse, colleague, previous student, or me to create the best piece that you can. (Here is an example of such a song: http://faculty.washington.edu/crowther/Misc/Songs/blessing.shtml.)
Perform it live for or with your students on the first day of class.
Facilitate a class discussion of what the lyrics mean. (Sample study questions for the song mentioned above are listed toward the bottom of the web page listed above.)
Leave a comment to let me know how this went for you!
Revisit your song at the end of the fall for further reinforcement and reflection.
What about those of you in the “silent majority” who are not quite ready to serenade your students, but are curious about this form of teaching and learning? Well, consider attending VOICES (https://www.causeweb.org/voices/2018/program) on Sept. 26. It’s a one-day online conference devoted entirely to teaching STEM subjects via songs. And it only costs $10! Is that music to your ears, or what?
E.G. Anyanwu (2015). Background music in the dissection laboratory: impact on stress associated with the dissection experience. Advances in Physiology Education39(2): 96-101.
G.J. Crowther, K. Davis, L.D. Jenkins, and J.L. Breckler (2015). Integration of math jingles into physiology courses. Journal of Mathematics Education8(2): 56-73.
G. Ganesh, V.S. Srinivasan, and S. Krishnamurthi (2016). A model to demonstrate the place theory of hearing. Advances in Physiology Education40(2): 191-193.
H.I. Modell, F.G. DeMiero, and L. Rose (2009). In pursuit of a holistic learning environment: the impact of music on the medical physiology classroom. Advances in Physiology Education33(1): 37-45.
H. Modell (2018). Jazz as a model for classroom practice. HAPS Educator22(2): 165-170.
A.J. Weinhaus and J.S Massey (2015). Pre-lecture reviews with anatomy tunes. HAPS Educator19(3): 35-38.
Dr. Greg Crowther teaches anatomy and physiology at Everett Community College (WA). His peer-reviewed articles on enhancing learning with content-rich music have collectively been cited over 100 times.
This quarter I am teaching a histology unit without a microscopy lab. Wait, histology without microscopes… what!?!? I have never experienced a histology course without a lab component and when I first heard this I was very surprised. How do you teach histology without microscopes? What about the concept of magnification? Isn’t operating a microscope a necessary skill? Then I read a couple of journal articles and considered the merits of a purely virtual histology course.
Unless they are involved in a research project requiring optical microscopy or a pathologist analyzing samples, how frequently does the average researcher or medical professional actually use a light microscope? Could time spent practicing optical microscopy be better used learning other skills more relevant to their studies? Maybe career specific workshops or SPSS training? Microscopes are expensive and require upkeep. Could funds instead be used for resources needed in other courses. *cough cough Gross Anatomy cough*
Virtual microscopy is much more efficient for an institution and the students. A college or university could collect a large bank of images that can be updated continuously and won’t deteriorate over time. Online and long distance students are able to fully participate in labs. Slides can be shared rapidly between institutions without risking damaged or lost mail. Instructors can draw on slides to highlight structures without damaging them and students can compare slides of different magnifications or staining techniques side by side.
Histology curriculum often focuses on identifying structures in tissues and relating cell biology to the function of organ systems more than manual lab work. Students could practice reading slides as part of an active learning activity instead. Could microscopy be a workshop or research elective? Training would still be available for students, but only if they are planning to use this skill. This way students genuinely interested in microscopy could receive more individual attention from faculty.
So really, if you consider it, are students losing that much in a histology unit without a microscope? The course I am teaching is “Cell and Tissue Structure and Function.” It is part of the Biochemistry department. Students learn biochemistry and cell biology for the first seven weeks and end with a histology unit from me. We covered the four basic tissue types, integument, circulatory system, cartilage, and bone. The course is part of a physical therapy program. A laboratory component may be important in a course designed for future histologists, but these are physical therapy students. My lectures are packed with images, I have a workshop day set aside to practice analyzing slides, and I think they’ll be okay.
These are some of the papers I read while thinking about this change:
Mione, S., Valcke, M., & Cornelissen, M. (2013). Evaluation of virtual microscopy in medical histology teaching. Anatomical Sciences Education, 6(5), 307-315.
Mione, S., Valcke, M., & Cornelissen, M. (2016). Remote histology learning from static versus dynamic microscopic images. Anatomical Sciences Education, 9(3), 222-230.
Thompson, A. R., & Lowrie, D. J.,Jr. (2017). An evaluation of outcomes following the replacement of traditional histology laboratories with self-study modules. Anatomical Sciences Education, 10(3), 276-285.
Post comes from Julie Doll, MS, Anatomy Instructor in the Department of Anatomy for Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University.
Exploring the Reasons Students Don’t Engage with Instructors to Improve Performance
“I was too embarrassed. He would think I was stupid,” replied my private tutoring client. This was her only response to why she did not meet with her professor after failing every exam the first time she took A&P 2 at a nearby university. I told her that most professors I know don’t assume that you are unintelligent if you’re struggling to understand material. The startling part of this exchange was her response to my reassurance, which was to ask, “Really?” She was genuinely surprised to hear that he would not assume she was an incapable student.
I didn’t think too much about this again until I picked up another student who also failed A&P 2 at a nearby community college. The story was the same, with a few added details. Despite failing 4 exams, no attempt was made to meet with the professor to discuss strategies for improvement. I asked her why. “Probably because I was embarrassed I did so poorly. I didn’t want to face my professor. Also, I didn’t think it would be helpful to go back and look, because reading the correct answers doesn’t really help matters if you don’t understand the content to begin with, so why make myself look stupid?”Now my curiosity was peaked. Is this how most students who don’t want to review and discuss their performance feel? Do they assume that they will either be judged, or that there’s nothing to be learned from seeing their mistakes? This might be especially true when exams are not cumulative. They may assume it’s better to just move on, in which case they are likely to repeat the same mistakes in preparing for the next assessment. It is easy to assume that only the students who are struggling will make appointments to review their performance, but from my experience, t’s usually the students hitting close to the average that view their exams, and the high and low scoring cohorts stay silent. The question then remains: Why would embarrassment stop a student from discussing their performance? Wouldn’t the desire to avoid more failure, or repeating a course, outweigh the risk?
Let’s assume for simplicity’s sake that you have created a supportive environment, you make yourself available, and when students do come, you provide constructive feedback that leaves them more confident and better prepared moving forward. However, the students who are struggling still don’t reach out. What else can, or should, an instructor do, for a student afraid of judgment? It is all too easy to write this off as a “silly” emotion, especially if you are a friendly, enthusiastic instructor (and I’ve never met a HAPSter who wasn’t!). However, after my experiences with the tutoring students over the summer, I decided to change up the language I used when I invited exams this academic year. I stressed the importance of failure in success. I shared stories of my own academic struggles with students, stressing that some topics came naturally, and others were very hard to grasp, and took many hours of self-study outside the classroom to finally take hold. Finally, and what I feel made the biggest difference, I added the simple statement “please do not feel embarrassed to meet with me and review your exam” to my class email. The result? The number of my A&P students who came to review their midterms this year tripled from the five previous years.
For students, it does not always go without saying that we won’t judge their intelligence or ability. Say it. It takes almost no time, but you may see it make a big difference in the number of students who reach out for help. Do the easy things to get them in the door, and they may leave more self-directed, confident students. It may be hard for those of us who work in education to imagine letting embarrassment prevent us from getting better grades, but I’m sure that if we were all honest with ourselves, we could identify something we avoid because of fear of judgement. Students ultimately have to help themselves, but we can certainly help them get out of their own way.