Each year Thieme supports great teaching by supporting one of the largest scholarships that HAPS awards. This is always a very difficult award to give, because HAPS is full of amazing educators. This year’s winner was also the 2017 Conference Chair and hosted the conference at the University of Utah. We all congratulate Mark Nielsen on his amazing teaching. You can read more about Mark below.
Mark Nielsen is a professor of anatomical sciences at the University of Utah where he has taught a wide variety of anatomy courses for the past thirty years. His teaching expertise includes comparative vertebrate anatomy, embryology, neuroanatomy, human anatomy, histology, and the history of anatomy. He has taught anatomy to over 30,000 students, which include undergraduates, medical students, physician assistant students, and massage therapy students. In teaching this diverse population of students he has been recognized as one of the outstanding teachers at the University, where he has received every recognized teaching award from both students and colleagues, some of them multiple times. He has also received a number of national teaching awards. He teaches demanding courses that exact high expectations of his students, but he teaches them how to navigate the details of anatomy through an understanding of principles and patterns of developmental and comparative anatomy. He loves to see students eyes light up as they learn to consume large quantities of information with the elegant patterns he shares with them. He has trained approximately 1,500 teaching assistants through his anatomy teaching program, many who have gone on to become outstanding teachers. He is also the author of numerous nationally and internationally recognized anatomy textbooks and software programs.
Don’t forget that as part of their support for HAPS members, Thieme offers 30% off and free shipping on their products using the code HAPS30 at checkout
With the support of Wiley, the Gail Jenkins Award recognizes an A&P instructor who inspires students and colleagues alike. This year the winner was first-time conference attendee Richelle Monaghan. You can read more about Richelle below.
Richelle Monaghan joined Wilfrid Laurier University as an Assistant Professor in 2012 as the Head of Science Programming for the Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) in Public Health, and was cross-appointed with the Department of Biology in 2014. Richelle completed her Ph.D. in Biology at the University of Waterloo in 2011 by developing cell culture models to study intracellular fungal parasites. She is currently the elected Chair of Parasitism, Immunity and Environment (PIE) for the Canadian Society of Zoologists. Prior to graduate school, Richelle was in private practice for 15 years as a regulated health care provider with a clinical focus on pain management. In this role, she gained strategies to explain anatomical and physiological concepts to her patients in ways that were relevant to them, and has continued to use these techniques for her students over the years. Richelle is an avid canoeist and enjoys traveling with her family.
In 2017 ADInstruments funded three Sam Drogo Awards, supporting excellence in the classroom. As usual, the ADInstruments team came out in force to support HAPS and this amazing group of instructors who have distinguished themselves with their use of technology in the classroom.
LESLIE DAY earned her B.S. in Exercise Physiology from UMass Lowell, an M.S. in Applied Anatomy & Physiology from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in Biology from Northeastern University. She currently works as an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences at Northeastern University with her main teaching role in upper level Gross Anatomy and Neuroanatomy courses, but still loves teaching her introductory anatomy course. She has received ﬁve teaching awards at the university, including the coveted University Excellence in Teaching Award. She is also a digital author for the Hole’s Anatomy & Physiology and Hole’s Essentials of Anatomy & Physiology textbooks. Her current research focuses on the effectiveness of different teaching pedagogies, including the ﬂipped-classroom and various technology. She brings her love for anatomy and quest for trying new technology into the classroom to make for a dynamic evidence-based teaching style that is friendly to all students.
Barbekka (Barb) Hurtt received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Colorado, where I first gained experience teaching undergraduates. Since then, I’ve worked both in and out of academia, largely focused on technology integration and implementation into undergraduate natural sciences content. I am currently an Assistant Professor-Teaching in the University of Denver Biological Sciences department, although I’ve also taught at the medical school and graduate health professions levels as well. Throughout my career I’ve utilized numerous different technologies in my courses and labs, with the aim of integrating constructive and meaningful resources to improve the educational process for students and faculty alike. My current technology undertaking focuses on student-directed 3D simulation in the human anatomy labs as one component of a multi-modality lab education experience. We use the Visible Body Human Anatomy Atlas in the zSpace 3D system on a weekly basis, in addition to dissection and modeling in the labs. Students drive the 3D simulations during the learning experience, and additionally use them to “peer-teach” the other students in their lab sections. The purpose of implementing the 3D system is multi-faceted, but overall has received positive reviews from students. An IRB approved educational research study is underway to evaluate the impact of this technology on student learning, retention, and educational engagement.
He Liu is an assistant professor at Gannon University. He teaches Animal Physiology and lab, introductory Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Research Methods in Biology courses in the Biology Department. His research is on the molecular basis of learning and memory, and physiological effects of environmental contaminants.
Have you ever noticed how variable the depth of learning is amongst students in your classroom – even when you have students with very similar backgrounds and levels of preparation? Perhaps you’ve looked for patterns or specific characteristics that might help explain this variability. After all, if you can find consistent and predictable behavioral patterns, you might discover the key to motivating and assisting those who are struggling with coursework. One useful tool for doing just that is to identify each student’s preferred “learning style,” a method that groups students based on their preferred means of learning. Interestingly, this very topic was the focus of a HAPS –L discussion forum this past summer. Following is a brief summary of the main points of that discussion supplemented with a little additional information.
A 2004 book by Coffield, et al. (1) identified 71 different learning style models, most of which are variations of two particular general themes. One of these themes is psychologically-oriented and looks at how individuals make sense of their personal experiences. Examples include David Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory (LSI) and Zubin Austin’s Health Professionals Inventory of Learning Styles (H-PILS). The second major theme focuses more on neurological sensory information processing. Examples include the right-brain vs. left-brain dominance tests and Neil Fleming’s Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic (VARK) inventory, a tool that indicates a person’s preferences for sensory modalities that most smoothly facilitate the mastering of new information.
Will I be able to definitively resolve the central issues of learning styles in this post? Of course not. As we all know, it is notoriously difficult to “prove” anything, even without the additional handicap of measuring psychological processes through self-report. In my opinion, it’s not worth the necessary paper or electrons to engage in a heated debate over this, especially since the take-home message is pretty much the same regardless of the outcome.
Even those who strongly advocate the use of learning styles are aware of the limitations of each specific model and the instruments used to categorize individual learners. Furthermore, the results of every inventory are full of questions of validity, reliability, and stability. In other words, what does it really mean for someone to be an “assimilator,” or a “kinesthetic learner,” or “right brained?” Are people with one tendency actually incapable of learning in any other way? Are these tendencies fixed, or can one improve or broaden native capabilities or preferences with enough effort and exposure to new types of learning? The questions are endless, and addressing them is beyond the scope of this article; however, Edutopia (2015) has an overview of the various opinions and positions held by education leaders on learning styles: http://www.edutopia.org/article/learning-styles-real-and-useful-todd-finley.
Since 2008 (2) rigorous educational research has not shown that specific instruction targeted toward a student’s learning style produces any statistically significant improvement in measured learning as compared to a non-preferred learning style. Yet the debate over the usefulness/uselessness of learning styles persists.
As far as course design is concerned, “universal” instructional design already encourages the use of multiple delivery modes to both present and assess student understanding of the most important ideas in our content. Using multiple forms of representing and expressing key information automatically helps students find at least one point of entry into the content. So if preferred learning styles are real facilitators of learning, universal design already addresses them to a large degree. Additionally, multiple presentation and assessment modalities provide reinforcement and a variety of possible retrieval cues which should help everyone – regardless of learning style.
One big positive offered by learning styles is that they are a non-threatening way to engage students in conversations about their learning. Many students do not routinely participate in systematic self-reflection, but we can encourage them to talk about how they learn and what it means to demonstrate their own understanding of a subject by using easy-to-understand terminology found in the learning styles inventory. As long as we don’t affix permanent labels to our students, which in effect “excuses” them from mastering the material, learning styles can provide students with insight into their own learning and offer a source of concrete strategies for engaging with course material.
Coffield, F., Moseley, d., Hall, E., & Ecclestone, K. (2004) Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 Learning: A systematic and critical review. London: Learning and Skills Research Centre.
Pashler, H., McDanierl, M., Rohrer, D. & Bjork, R. (2008) Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 9(3):105-119.
In Parts 1 and 2 of this blog series, we identified that Anatomy & Physiology students are having difficulty with reading comprehension. More specifically, their struggles are not limited to understanding specific content; rather, they are struggling with general vocabulary comprehension.
(To view Part 1 &/or Part 2 of this series, Click the Link(s):
“Do Our A&P Students Know How to Read -PART 1-PART 2
For her Southern Scholars senior research project, Molly Theus, first year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student at the University of Georgia in Athens, attempted to seek insight into this problem by asking four questions:
Does a positive correlation exist between cumulative GPA and vocabulary comprehension?
Does a positive correlation exist between time spent reading for pleasure and vocabulary comprehension?
Does a positive correlation exist between being read to as a child and vocabulary comprehension?
Is there a link between a student’s major and vocabulary comprehension?
Molly chose six classes as candidates for investigation: General Biology II, Principles of Biology, Anatomy and Physiology II, Cell and Molecular Biology, Studies in Daniel, and Pathophysiology (Table 1). These classes were chosen to include one lower (n=42) and one upper division (n=31) biology-major class, one lower (n=43) and one upper division (n=32) nursing class, and one lower (n=27) and one upper division (n=20) general education class (total n=195). To assess personal reading habits and history, a questionnaire was distributed to all students in the six selected classes. To assess vocabulary comprehension, a twenty-question multiple choice vocabulary quiz was also distributed. In order to assure anonymity, informed consent and student information forms were assigned a unique three number code corresponding to each questionnaire.
Participants were given a two-week period of time in which to complete the questionnaires. Once the packets were collected, each informed consent document containing student names was separated from the rest of the forms so that quiz scores were kept anonymous. The names were needed to compile average GPAs and class-standing information for each participant. GPA and class-standing was then matched to quiz scores using the unique numerical codes. We made use of an ANCOVA linear model to analyze our data. The number of questions missed on the vocabulary assessment was the dependent variable and the independent variables are listed in Table 2. University GPA was rank-transformed to meet parametric assumptions. Analysis was performed using R version 3.3.0.
The preliminary result yielded three key results:
KEY RESULT 1: Students’ reading for pleasure had no statistical significance for predicting higher scores on the vocabulary quiz (Table 2). This was contrary to what we had hypothesized based on the literature.
KEY RESULT 2: In our model, the amount of time parents spent reading to their child was a statistically significant predictor of scores on the vocabulary comprehension quiz. This relationship was consistent even when controlling for university GPA (F(3, 183) = 4.80, p = 0.003; Figure 1).
KEY RESULT 3: A higher cumulative university GPA was also a significant predictor for improved quiz scores (F(1, 183) = 20.39, p = <0.001; Figure 2).
Molly and I were surprised that reading for pleasure was not a statistically significant indicator of vocabulary comprehension. Molly suggests several possible interpretations:
Students choose reading materiel at or below their reading level.
If a student’s reading level is low, that might inhibit acquisition of non-content specific collegiate vocabulary.
Self reporting is not a precise tool.
What can we do with this information?
Early intervention seems to be key to the issue of vocabulary comprehension
Collegiate students identified as struggling with non-content specific vocabulary comprehension need interventions as well. Possible interventions include encouraging them to read challenging books outside of class and providing mentor support.
This is an interdisciplinary issue that needs to be addressed in every department.
The preliminary results are very interesting and both Molly and I are interested in collecting more data in the future by expanding the background questions asked and surveying both private and public institutions. If you are interested in helping us, contact me at email@example.com.
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.
Have you heard this from some of your students ? “I chose a career in the health professions because less high school math was required.” Many of my anatomy and physiology students become quite anxious when it comes to anything “numbers-oriented”. I definitely see this when I return their graded midterm exams. There are always a few students who want me to calculate their percentage on the test because they say they can’t do it. This phobia arises again when they need to calculate heart rate from electrocardiograms of different time lengths. They can’t do the math to obtain beats per minute with a 10 second strip (multiply the rate by 6). Because of this, my colleagues and I have resisted incorporating analysis of the physiological data collected in the lab.
The Solution …
One of the ways I have tried to reduce this anxiety is to find interesting ways of incorporating “math” in the laboratory. When students collect their personal physiological data, their interest in analyzing it overshadows their fear of math. For example, during the spirometry lab students measure their tidal volume, vital capacity, and additionally calculate their FEV1/FEV ratio. Inevitably they want to know how they individually compare to other people in the class on the basis of specific demographic information (such as sex, age, height, activity level, waist circumference, and smoker versus nonsmoker). At this point we can look at class averages, but the class sizes are small. This brought up the question “what if many colleges collected the same information and we found a way to pool this data?”
To get this project off the ground, I wrote an article about this new HAPS Student Lab Data Project for the HAPS-Educator (Spring 2014) and subsequently presented a poster at HAPS 2015 in Las Vegas about the content available on the Teaching Resources page. A number of instructors have expressed interest, but we need more participants!
What physiological data can you share ?
In addition to demographic information, the following measures can be shared:
Electrocardiogram – heart rate, PR interval, P wave duration, QRS duration, T wave duration (before and after exercise)
Blood pressure (systolic and diastolic ) before and after exercise
Spirometry – respiration rate, tidal volume, inspiratory reserve, expiratory reserve, vital capacity, FEV1, FVC (before and after exercise)
Students can use any equipment for physiological data collection. Participating schools are asked to include the type of equipment such as Vernier with Logger Pro, BioPac, iWorks, etc. In the future anyone could compare results from different devices and see if there is a significant difference.
How can you and your students participate ?
If you would like to participate, visit the HAPS – Student Lab Data Project page on teh website. You can also navigate to the HAPS website, then click on: [Resources], [Teaching Resources], and [Student Lab Data Project]. This page provides my contact information; email me directly to receive the link to a private, editable Google Sheet (spreadsheet) for your institution (Note: Only I will have access to your Google Sheets.) I will “curate” the data (examine it for erroneous results), move it to an Excel spreadsheet with previously pooled data, and then put it on the webpage. HOWEVER, its important to note that for privacy reasons, access to the curated spreadsheet requires one to sign in to the HAPS website (i.e. HAPS membership is required… so visit the HAPS website now to review the types of membership).
What can you do with the data ?
Instructors can give students access to the link for the Google Sheet and students can upload their physiological data during lab (they do not need a Google account). At the end of lab, instructors could demonstrate how to calculate class averages and then demonstrate how to isolate topics of interest to calculate the average (ex. systolic blood pressure of males and females). Comparing these results by observing if the means are similar or not is fine. Students can then try this on their own using data that interests them. However, if you wish to apply inferential statistics to see if the differences in the means are statistically significant, there are two templates on the webpage for this purpose. Instructions are included.
Students have a lot of fun playing with their data. One of my classes was especially intrigued when they discover that a 5’3″ slightly built female had an incredible expiratory reserve volume exceeding the male average by almost double. It turns out that she had been a synchronized swimmer for 12 years! The very fit, male Human Kinetics students in the class were humbled.