Thursday, September 20, 2018

The New Adaptive Quizzing Tool Is Available!

Did you know that there's a new version of  Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing (EAQ) now available for Anatomy & Physiology 10th edition?

I've mentioned the value of EAQ in the past, but this version has been updated and enhanced to be an even more valuable learning and teaching tool! 
  • Have you ever wished that you could tell where your students are struggling with content by just glancing at a dashboard?

  • Wouldn’t it be amazing if your students were being quizzed on material they’re struggling with versus material they’ve already mastered?

How would you like to create a quiz or a test that adapts to your student’s needs, in just 3 easy steps?

Check out this 1 minute video below to show you how!

My friend Ashley Nagel over at Elsevier Publishing is hosting a 30-minute live demo on EAQ for Anatomy & Physiology 10th edition on Thursday, October 4th at 1:00 PM CST.

If you would like to attend, simply register by clicking or copying/pasting this link: 

If you attend, Ashley will send you a fantastic gift that’s fit for an A&P Instructor!

If you’re unable to make it to this demo, but would like to set up a private demo at a time that better works for your schedule, still register for this meeting and then shoot Ashley an email at . She’ll be happy to set up a time with you!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What's Up with Eponyms in A&P? Part 2

In my previous article, I gave some reasons why in the Anatomy & Physiology textbook I avoid possessive form for all eponyms (which I lump together with toponyms) and avoid capitalizing eponyms in which the name is converted to a different form. For example, I use Henle loop instead of loop of Henle and I use eustachian tube instead of Eustachian tube.

Next, why are eponyms usually presented as only the secondary or alternate term? For example, why is the term preferred in the textbook pancreatic islets and not islets of Langerhans or Langerhans islets? It turns out that this is another contemporary trend that I agree with.

Eponyms can be problematic. As much as I love saying Islets of Langerhans out loud—and I truly do—the term does not tell anyone much about the actual structure. Okay, it tells me that they are small and isolated, which I get from the term islets. However, the eponym doesn't tell me where to find them. Or what they do. Or much of anything very useful. But pancreatic islets tells me much more about them. Not everything, of course—but such descriptive terms tell me much more than does the eponym islets of Langerhans. 

Another potential problem with eponyms has to do with the people themselves. For example, recent discussions of Hans Asperger have expressed concerns about a potentially complicated relationship with Nazi "race hygiene." Although named for him, the condition Asperger syndrome (AS) may have been first described nearly two decades earlier by a Russian woman working in the field of child psychology.

Besides that, the Asperger eponym has been dropped from the ICD (International Classification of Disease) and the DSM (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in favor of a new range of conditions under the umbrella term autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In general, the ICD and DSM usually consider eponyms as secondary alternatives to "proper" disease terminology.

There are several issues at play with terms like the Asperger eponym. One is the fact that many (perhaps most) eponyms recognize the individual with the best awareness ratio, most aggressive supporters, and (probably mostly) lucky timing—not necessarily the person(s) most deserving of recognition. 

Another issue is the fact that we don't want to be reminded of Nazi ideology or atrocities when we are using scientific and medical terminology—nor are we anxious to honor individuals who may have used morally questionable methods or have other unsavory qualities.

Yet another potential issue with such eponyms is that they may reflect the dark underbelly of the history of science.
 Cross section of fallopian tube
Cross section of fallopian tube

For example, Asperger syndrome may have been first described by a woman—but the condition was named for a man. This case is probably more about luck of timing and particulars of awareness of the existing literature at a time when scientific reports were not as easily accessed across the globe as is the case nowadays. However, it can't be denied that most eponyms are named for men and that probably reflects the historical exclusion of women from science—and from scholarly endeavor in general.

A number of discussions have also questioned why many anatomical structures that are uniquely female are named with eponyms that honor men such as Fallopius, Bartholin, Skene, and so on.

Even though this my second consecutive article on the topic of eponyms, I'm still not finished! Stay tuned for Part 3 of my discussion...coming up in my next blog post. In that, I discuss the various lists of terminology and how we A&P teachers can best help our students deal with a changing terminology during this time of transition.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

What's Up with Eponyms in A&P? Part 1

Eponyms are terms based on a person's name—such as Langerhans islet. Often, it's the recognized discoverer of a structure, process, condition, medical procedure, or whatever.

Toponyms are similar, but are named for a place rather than a person. For example, Lyme disease is a toponym, named for a town in Connecticut where the condition was first identified. In anatomy and medical circles, toponyms are often lumped together with eponyms. I'll do that here, too—because my explanations apply equally to both kinds of terms.

In Anatomy & Physiology, you may notice some things about the use of eponyms and toponyms that you are wondering about. So here's the scoop...

First, you may wonder why I avoid the possessive form of eponyms. For example, Parkinson disease  rather than Parkinson's disease. This method converts the possessive form to an adjective. By doing that, it's clear that Dr. Parkinson did not own the disease, nor did he have the condition himself. It's now very clear that the term refers to a particular disease named after Parkinson. I agree with this strategy.

It turns out that this has been the trend for a quite a while, but only recently becoming widespread in use. For example, the American Medical Association (AMA) and other professional organizations that have something to say about terminology, recommend this approach. Because I think a textbook should reflect contemporary usage and engage with emerging approaches that have recently become mainstream, it makes sense to go in this direction.

Something else you may wonder about is that some eponyms are capitalized and others are not. For example, why are fallopian tube and eustachian tube not capitalized when Corti organ and Henle loop are capitalized?

Honestly, I only recently learned about this issue—when my copyeditor and I started going back and forth changing each other's terms from capitalized to lowercase, back to capitalized again, then lowercase again. It turns out that it's an increasingly common style to drop the capitalization when the person's name is converted to an altered form. As when Fallopius is altered to fallopian.

What is important to remember is that using possessive forms eponyms is not wrong. Nor is capitalizing Haversian canal. However, neither usage is in favor around many professional circles right now. My purpose is merely to explain why my usage may differ from the way you and I were trained.

You may also wonder why I usually relegate eponyms to only secondary or alternate status when naming structures and processes of the body. And you may wonder how we handle these changes in usage in a world where some professionals still use the older terminology. Those answers will have to wait until my next few articles. This one is already too long!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

New Unit Pre-Tests Help Jump-Start Student Learning

A particularly exciting update in the new edition of Anatomy & Physiology is the new learning feature in the opening of each unit of the book.

Recall that A&P is chunked into more, smaller chapters than other 2-semester A&P textbooks to reduce a reader's cognitive load while learning. This improves both the reader's engagement with the book, making them more likely to actually read it, and the overall ability to learn from it. These small chapters are grouped into six logical units, mapped out in the color-coded list on the first page of the book (facing the cover) that corresponds to the color tabs visible on the page edges.

In previous editions, the unit-opener page had a listing of the chapters within that unit plus a brief introduction to the "story" of the unit. I have now expanded that into a two-page spread that also includes a brief pre-test to get students engaged in the upcoming topics.

Learning science shows that pre-tests help jump-start student learning. Long used solely to measure students' prior knowledge, pre-tests have demonstrated their own ability to enhance learning outcomes—even if teachers never look at the scores. I have found this to be profoundly true in my own A&P teaching.

The concept and design of our new unit openers was worked out by textbook learning guru Michael Greer, veteran A&P teacher Terry Thompson, and myself. Terry then worked in consultation with me and our editors and book designers to execute the final versions.

Students will see just a few illustrated questions that help students refresh learning from prior chapters that they'll need when reading the new unit, along with questions that preview new concepts they'll encounter. Such pre-testing "primes the pump" by getting them thinking about key concepts ahead of their reading. And it sets the stage for connecting new learning with prior learning.

Readers get immediate feedback on the accuracy of their answers by using the answer key printed sideways along the page edge.  Just like in a magazine quiz, eh? That ensures that they're not accidentally remembering the wrong answer as they read.

Readers also get an embedded hint that tells them why the pre-test is there (to jump-start their learning).

Of course, our students may just skip the unit openers. So we need to tell them about it. Continued and emphatic reminders of the value of these pre-tests in making their reading and learning easier is a key to its role in student success in our course.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

New 10th Edition of Patton's A&P textbook is now available!

I'm excited about the official release of the new edition of my textbook for 2-semester courses in human anatomy and physiology!

Although at first glance the cover of Anatomy & Physiology looks similar to that of the previous 9th edition—black background with splashes of bright colors—closer inspection reveals a series of bright human figures.

Those brightly colored human figures may at first appear to be medical images. However, they are artist’s renderings of what the human skeleton looks like as a person plays basketball.

The human skeleton in action represents several important aspects of what readers will learn by studying this textbook. First, the images get us thinking about what is going on inside our bodies as we do ordinary things—as we live our lives. 

The fact that the cover of Anatomy & Physiology shows a sequence of images reminds us that even simple processes are made up of many individual steps. We can also clearly see that form fits function, that the elements of the skeleton fit together and move in a way that allows certain kinds of actions.

That phrase, form fits function, has been standardized into that one formulation—from its many variants—in this edition. I have used it repeatedly, where appropriate, to help students absorb and eventually own that important principle of anatomy and physiology.

And a version of this explanation of the cover art is found just inside inside the book. Curious students who pick up the book for the first time may thus get a head start on learning human science.

Over the next few weeks and months, expect more posts from me that explain the story behind all the great new things you'll find inside the new edition of Anatomy & Physiology. Stay tuned by subscribing to my newsletter!

In the mean time, contact my friends at Elsevier to get a review copy or to schedule a conversation with a consultant who can tell you all about the new edition.

NOTE: The digital versions and binder-ready version of Anatomy & Physiology will be released very soon!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Using Your Textbook to 'Teach Up' in Anatomy and Physiology

One of the concepts that co-author Gary Thibodeau and I have considered to be important in our textbook Anatomy & Physiology is the idea of teaching up.

What is "teaching up?" 

What we mean by teaching up is the strategy used by nearly every A&P professor that we know when they add some concepts or facts that go beyond the typical "baseline" content of an undergraduate A&P book. Facts that are not plainly visible in the typical A&P textbook.

Teaching up is the logical consequence of tailoring learning experiences to individual learners, particular programs, or the unique objectives of a particular course.

Examples include adding a few additional bone markings to the course when you know that your students are likely to encounter them in their unique clinical courses at your school. Or there may be a particular theme or concept that you want to emphasize, and you need a few more details of anatomy to set the stage for your explanation.

In a nutshell, teaching up is taking an introductory textbook (such as Anatomy & Physiology) and adding your own additional content for your unique course.

How we enable teaching up

Gary and I have always done our best to make sure that the construction of the text narrative--and especially the illustrations and tables--are suitable for such teaching up.

When commissioning new anatomic art, we ask the medical illustrator to make sure that certain features are drawn in, even if they are not called out in the text narrative or labeled in that illustration. We do the same when designing diagrams and organizing summary tables for each chapter.

One of our jobs as textbook authors is to maintain an awareness of what is "usual" in A&P courses--and what is expected. Not as easy as it sounds, but I think we manage okay. However, we also know that each course is different and we want to make our book usable for those that like to add a little bit here and a little bit there in their courses. By make our book teach-up friendly, we attempt to help all of our users

How to teach up

Here's the method I've used (and tweaked over the years) to teach up in my A&P courses.

First, when I introduce that extra bone feature (for example), I make it clear that it's not emphasized (or perhaps even mentioned) in the book. One can do this during a live or video lecture, a course outline or syllabus, a handout, announcement in the learning management system (LMS) or course website/blog/twitter, or any number of ways.

It's important to take care in emphasizing your deviation from the textbook, because if it is presented in your course in an off-handed way, most students won't realize it's not that way in the textbook, and may fail to make proper note of it.

Expanding on that first point about emphasizing moments when I teach up, I want to add that I nearly always specifically tell them to make note of it. Not just mention that it's added content, but to also take a moment NOW and write it down. Really. I often say that out loud: "Really! Write it down now!"

Often, it's merely a matter of adding an additional label to an existing illustration, so I may tell them the specific Figure number and show them where to put the new label. Then give them a moment to do so. I even do this in the video lectures I use in my course.

Second, when emphasizing the addition of extra content, I often explain the rationale for why I'm adding things. A&P students often feel very overwhelmed by just the baseline content of the course--they want to know why you insist on adding more to their overflowing brains.

For example, mentioning that, "I know many of your will be in our nursing clinicals, and I know that this fact is something that will help you there if you learn it now." Or "those who are going into our rad tech program are really going to need to know this fact."

Besides letting students know that there is a method to your madness, this strategy also helps them realize the connection between isolated facts and real-world applications. That's not always so easy to see in the basic science courses--before they've encountered their clinical courses. By giving those occasional "why you need to know this" explanations, we are actually shifting the mindsets of our students in a way that helps them learn more deeply.

If any of you have some of those "teaching up" concepts that you'd like see reflected in the details of our illustrations, pass your ideas along to me. Please include your rationale for including them in your course. We'll see what we can do make sure we set the stage properly for your teach-up moments!

Top photo: Stefan Krilla

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Where Are the Learning Objectives?!

From the very first edition, there have never been chapter objectives in Anatomy & Physiology. Why is that?

Let me start by asking the question How likely is it that every single course using a particular textbook would have the SAME objectives? Not likely. The makeup of the student population in a course matters. The context of the institution matters. All kinds of factors are involved in setting a proper set of learning objectives for any particular course.

We feel that it's much better for the objectives to appear in the course syllabus (or similar course-based location). That way, they exactly reflect what the student should achieve. This results in far less confusion for students trying to reconcile all the many concepts and facts in the book vs. what they will actually be held accountable for learning. Students will have a much better idea of how to prepare for tests.

But the instructors are not left to fend for themselves completely. In the TEACH lesson plans—available online in the Evolve Instructor Resources that accompany Anatomy & Physiology—there are sets of objectives already laid out for you. These include chapter objectives AND section objectives—all aligned with the HAPS Learning Outcomes.

The idea is that each instructor (or department) can copy over to their syllabus only the objectives that actually apply to their course. Perhaps adding, changing, deleting bits here and there. We feel that this works much better for student learning. But it does take some thought and effort on the part of the instructor.

This isn't one of the reasons we don't include chapter objectives in Anatomy & Physiology, but this about this—how many times have we all realized of how "stinking big" all the two-semester A&P books are? So I'm loathe to add (how many?) pages to the book by adding 48 sets of objectives!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Easter Eggs in A&P

In my introductory post for this blog, I promised some behind-the-scenes trivia from the Anatomy & Physiology textbook—and I realize I have yet to deliver on that promise. So, with actual Easter eggs still fresh on our minds, I thought I'd reveal a few bits of the "hidden information" that gamers like to call easter eggs.

This round (yes, I'm implying more in the future) features a few visual easter eggs.

First up is that illustration in the Big Picture section that introduces the Anatomy & Physiology textbook, It's on page 2, facing the opening page of Chapter 1. The woman in the central photo of that illustration is my wife, Jenny. 

Early editions of Anatomy & Physiology used a different model, but we needed to update the photo for a planned rearrangement of its elements. So Jenny and I went out to our college's Lake Patton (that's what I call it, anyway), and Jenny posed on a boulder in the same position as the original model (who was sitting on stairs). She wore clothing of similar color and style to the drawn art components, and held a book the same way.

Although we have reconfigured that Big Picture illustration a few times since then, we're still using Jenny's picture. For each edition, our production team replaces the cover within the photo with a cover to match that edition.

The ninth edition of Anatomy & Physiology features a whole new set of photos that depict different types of body movements, such flexion, extension, circumduction, etc. Most of them appear in Chapter 14 (Articulations).

Before I tell the story of the new photos, I'd like to mention that I had some hesitation in replacing some of the older photos. I had some ideas for a new approach, so I finally made the leap to a new set of photos with a consistent presentation. But a few of the older images were from a way-back photo with my co-author Gary Thibodeau, featuring his two kids, Doug and Beth, who were teens at the time. Although I hated to lose that "family connection," I think the new images work really well for teaching, too.

The new series was shot at a huge photo studio in St. Louis, just down the street from my old high school. I live near St. Louis and my editors are all based at the St. Louis offices of Elsevier Publishing. It was an amazing experience. The advanced equipment, advanced facilities, and skilled photographers and professional models, all made the several days of shooting seem more like fun than work. Before that day, I didn't even know there was such a thing as a "foot model," so it was a great learning experience, too!

All those photos were shot in front of a gigantic green backdrop that curved forward to cover the floor. After choosing our final selections of each photo, the photographer digitally replaced the green background with a transparent background. By doing so, each model appears to have the page itself as a background—and the text can be easily wrapped around some of the images without being distracting. I also like the "clean" look of photos with no apparent background.

A pair of illustrations on page 196, in Chapter 10 (Skin) are two more more illustrations with a bit of a story.

Figure 10-19 is another photo from the multi-day photo shoot I just mentioned. We wanted a new shot of male pattern baldness and we hadn't hired a model for just for that shot.

In fact, this shot wasn't even on our planned list of new photos. But when it came up, a photographer said, "just a minute!" and picked up his camera as he ran off to a suite of offices down the hall. He came back with a smile and great photo of a colleague from an office down the hall.

On the same page (196), that photo of the mix of black and white hairs that make up a typical head of gray hair is a shot of my head. When I was working on revising this chapter in a previous edition, I grabbed a digital camera and handed it to my wife, Jenny, and asked her to take a close up of hairs on my temple. I'm thinking of using this on the "about the author" page in the next edition.

Getting back to that amazing photo shoot in St. Louis, there is one more photo I want to mention. It's a shot of a slice of pizza used in a Case Study on page 961, near the end of Chapter 41 (Nutrition and Metabolism). It was nearing lunch time on the first shooting day, and an astute photographer brought up the "pizza shot" we had on our planning list. He suggested ordering a pizza from a nearby pizzeria that had very photogenic pizza that also happened to taste amazing.

Although it wasn't the thin-crust St. Louis style pizza that had originated in that very neighborhood, I have to say it really was amazing. And photogenic. And it really was that loaded with toppings (no trickery, truly!).

Wow, here I am at the end of a too-long blog post and I haven't even covered the tip of the iceberg. So I'll have to make this a recurring series of behind-the-scenes trivia, gossip, and St. Louis food recommendations. Be sure to subscribe, so you don't miss it!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Pathology Photos Spark Student Interest

As an anatomy and physiology instructor, you already know that students have an innate fascination with the body. I think everybody does, to some extent. But A&P students more so, because they have a demonstrated interest in health care, athletics, or some field related to the human body.

That's one reason that we've always included a lot of dramatic pathology photos in our textbooks. They spark a curiosity in readers that motivates them to read more and find out about that dramatic condition they see in front of them.

Another benefit of pathology photos is that it "brings home" the reality of conditions described in the text narrative. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. And dramatic pictures are perhaps worth even more. Such images may also help the brain reinforce memories by acting as a mnemonic device.

But why have any pathology at all in a "basic science" textbook focused on normal structure and function? Because pathology is a great way to clarify "normal" by revealing what can happen when specific mechanisms or structures "break." It helps prepare students for the clinical concepts they'll be learning in their next courses.

Many users forget, however, that there are lot more of these dramatic pathology images than are seen in the pages of the textbook itself. There are many more among the A&P Connect articles available in the Student Resources online at Evolve.

The online A&P Connect articles feature many images that use various medical imaging techniques, giving students a great introduction to the kinds of medical image that they may see in later courses and in their clinical experiences.

Medical images not only enhance student motivation, they also provide great opportunities to practice visualizing the body in many different planes and from different perspectives.

A&P professors may want to "spice up" their course materials with pathology images from the book (available at Evolve Instructor Resources) and from the A&P Connect articles (Evolve Student Resources).

CT scan: Yale Rosen (not from textbook)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

2016 Textbook Excellence Award for A&P 9e!

I'm happy to announce that today, the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA) announced that our textbook—Anatomy & Physiology 9th edition—is a winner of the 2016 Textbook Excellence Award.

This award "recognizes excellence in current textbooks and learning materials."

TAA is a group of textbook and scholarly authors who work together as peers in striving to improve our effectiveness.  The honor of receiving this award is enhanced by the fact that it was thoroughly examined by accomplished textbook authors in our discipline—a very humbling experience.

I think the judges have recognized that our book has a unique combination of strong text narrative, illustrations, and learning features that sets it apart as an effective learning tool.

I think the award also recognizes the excellent work of the many members of our team responsible for the continuing success of this textbook. Besides Gary and I as authors, there are many contributors, reviewers, editors, other publishing professionals, illustrators and designers, learning consultants, and many other colleagues, who have critical roles in producing our textbook.

If you haven't had a chance to check out what sets this A&P textbook apart, click here and see for yourself.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Update in the Periodic Table of Elements

In the ninth edition of Anatomy & Physiology, you may notice some missing spaces in the 7th period (row) of the periodic table of elements pictured at the bottom of p. 39. Those "missing" elements can now be filled in, according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

IUPAC is the "official namer" of elements, and so it's up to them, using a very careful and deliberate process of verifying experimental results from labs around the globe, to keep the periodic table of elements up to date. Last week, while we were all getting ready to celebrate the new year, IUPAC formally announced that elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 had all be officially verified, thus "completing" the seventh period (7th row) of the table.

When discussing the periodic table of elements in my A&P course, I use it to point out its usefulness in identifying the known elements and their chief characteristics. I then point out the handful of elements in the top corners of the table that are frequently encountered in the human body and, therefore, frequently encountered in the A&P course.

I bring this new information to your attention so that you can write in the new elements in your copy of Anatomy & Physiology. This news will not only keep you up to date; it will be there as a reference if any of your students asks about the missing elements on p. 39, or brings up a headline they recently saw regarding the newly verified elements. And it's a little bit of a preview to the next edition of A&P!

Want to know more?

Discovery and Assignment of Elements with Atomic Numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118

Newly updated version Periodic Table (image)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Chunking Content Provides Flexibility

In some of my previous posts, I explained some of the advantages of chunking a large volume of complex content into smaller bits:

Chunking breaks content into smaller bits
Those previous discussions described chunking material into smaller chapters, smaller sections, smaller subsections, smaller paragraphs, and smaller sentences. I also described chunking material in Anatomy & Physiology in the form of summary tables that also help students discover conceptual patterns.

This post builds on these ideas by introducing the value of breaking textbook content into smaller chunks when adapting the textbook content to the specific needs of your A&P course.

In an article I wrote last year at The A&P Professor titled Your Textbook is a Mitten, Not a Glove, I called attention to the fact that each of us tailors the depth and range of topics, the style of presentation, and sometimes the sequence of concepts, to fit the specific objectives of a course—or even a particular section of the A&P course. I believe that a thoughtfully chunked textbook assists both instructors and students in making the textbook "fit" the course.

Flexibility in selecting and organizing content for your course is enhanced by having the Anatomy & Physiology textbook broken down into smaller units. For example, by having the entire course broken down into 48 chapters—instead of the usual 20-something chapters—the instructor can "move around" content into a different sequence from the Anatomy & Physiology textbook's sequence with very little disruption to the students. Reducing disruption by being able to move whole chapters—rather than a half or third of a chapter here and there--can greatly enhance the student experience. It also makes it easier for the instructor, who is thus relieved from unraveling the confusion in syllabi, course schedules, and student inquiries.

Smaller, more discrete chapter topics also makes it easier to skip a topic. For example, in some programs, most topics in immunity are not covered in the A&P course, but are instead covered in microbiology or another course. Most A&P books combine lymphatic and immunity topics into a single chapter, so an A&P professor may find themselves wrestling with the student confusion caused by assigning only a partial chapter.

And "good luck" if your students are using a published workbook or online adaptive learning tool that is organized by chapter.

In Anatomy & Physiology, however, separate chapters on lymphatics, innate immunity, and adaptive immunity make it very easy to reorganize—or even skip—topics to suit the needs of a particular A&P course.

Students benefit from clear organization
Likewise, carefully subdivided sections and subsections assist instructors in skipping or rearranging the sequence of topics within a particular chapter. Even if the instructor does not call attention to a rearrangement of certain elements of the A&P story in class (vs. the sequence in the textbook), the clear labeling of discrete sections and subsections helps the student figure out where the concepts are covered in the textbook.

Chunking has many benefits—and we can now see that enhancing the instructor's flexibility in organizing course content is one of them. And that can result in less student confusion—and greater student success.

Images: Robert Michie (top)
KPatton (middle)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Embedded Hints Improve Reading Comprehension

Can we assume that our students come to us already knowing how to read a book? Probably. 

Can we assume that they know how to effectively read and use an A&P textbook? Probably not.

Really? you may wonder. What's special about reading a textbook?

Technically detailed textbooks such as A&P textbooks are not much like books of popular literature. One cannot just sit down and read a chapter of an A&P textbook from start to finish—like you would with a novel—and expect to have learned much. And whatever you did comprehend would probably disappear from your brain by day's end.

No, college reading experts tell us that students must use reading strategies to comprehend what they read in a textbook. But I see that my students come to me without any such strategies or skills. They've gotten by without them until they hit their A&P textbook, then wonder why the textbook doesn't seem to be helping them much. Then they limp along on class notes only—missing out on the deeper learning possible with the complementary material in the textbook.

I was an excellent reader when I was an undergraduate. Looking back, however, I realize that I didn't use any special strategies—and I didn't really get a whole lot out of my hours of textbook reading. Not compared to what happens now when I do technical reading employing some of the proven strategies to increase my reading comprehension of technical scientific works.

So what to do? Spend a week teaching our students how to read their textbooks? After getting some training ourselves in college reading strategies?

I've provided a better option in Anatomy & Physiology.

To guide students step by step through an effective reading strategy, I've embedded a series of hints that tell students exactly what to do to learn from their textbooks more effectively—and by spending less total study time.

Some of these strategies I've discussed here in previous posts. For example, I've already walked you through the word-study approach to reading vocabulary and The Big Picture summary of interrelationships of concepts.

Take a look at any chapter in Anatomy & Physiology to see the embedded hints clearly marked with the Hint icon. If you don't have a copy, just go to this link and request a free review copy now!

Then let's help our students by advising them follow the directions in the hints to get the most out of their A&P textbooks—and reduce their total study time!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Case Studies Promote Critical Thinking Skills

The use of case studies in teaching is probably as old as teaching itself. What better way to solidify the learning of basic concepts than to practice applying them to hypothetical "real life" scenarios?

The teaching and learning of human anatomy and physiology lends itself particularly well to case study applications. Most of our learners are preparing for health professions or fitness-athletic careers in which they'll be doing nothing but applying A&P principles to real-life cases.

That's why every chapter in Anatomy & Physiology includes a brief, engaging Case Study scenario that challenges the reader to apply what they've learned in that chapter. It appears with the end-of-chapter review material, as part of a suite of active learning opportunities that help readers really "get" the core concepts of human structure and function.

Brain -based learning principles hold that students learn better when they are challenged with activities that allow them to construct and consolidate their own mental models of basic concepts. Puzzling over a case study after reading a chapter helps students do just that.

I've found that many of my A&P students rely heavily on inductive reasoning and therefore may find that case studies make it easier to understand core concepts. The chapter narrative uses a deductive approach, moving from general principles to specific concepts—then the case study turns things around a bit and allows the reader to explore specific cases to construct a mental framework of the broader principles. They thus learn their A&P "backward and forward," eh?

Study after study has shown that the case-study strategy is an effective learning tool for A&P students, so why not incorporate that into their reading process?

Take a look at the Case Studies in your copy of Anatomy & Physiology to see that it really does fit the needs of your students to improve reading comprehension. If you don't have a copy, just go to this link and request a free review copy now!

X-ray credit: Hellerhoff

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pharmacology Answers "Why Do I Need to Know All This?"

Is there any A&P professor who doesn't often hear some version of "why do we need to know all this?" in a tone that implies that we are surely asking way too much of our students. Of course, some of that is a natural reaction to a challenge. But some of it is rooted in the idea that health professionals can somehow understand clinical concepts without much of a foundation in basic scientific principles.

One area in particular that makes many A&P students—and even a few professors—chafe under the load is the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Why in the world would a health professional such as a nurse need to know about cholinergic and adrenergic fibers and receptors? Not to mention the fact that there are subclasses of autonomic receptors like alpha, beta, nicotinic, muscarinic, and bears—oh my! Okay, not bears. But in a student's mind, all these concepts may as well be gigantic, dangerous beasts!

The thought is "do we really need to know all that?" If I'm a nurse, will I ever have to use a detailed knowledge of ANS function, particularly all those subclasses of autonomic receptors? The short answer is, "YES!"

But students don't always trust that simple answer—because "really? Beta2-adrenergic receptors?!" 

So in the new edition of Anatomy & Physiology, I've just gone right ahead and addressed the issue head on. Which, it turns out, is much easier than a head-on encounter with a gigantic, dangerous beast.

In Chapter 22—Autonomic Nervous System, a new section titled Pharmacology follows the discussion of ANS receptors. It begins with this passage:
The interest in autonomic transmitters and receptors is not simply theoretical. Knowledge of specific transmitter-receptor locations and types, their various interaction, and how they are modulated in co-transmission, is important for understanding how many common drugs work. Pharmacology, the study of drug actions, has used such knowledge to determine how known drugs—and even traditional therapies—work in the body.
The new Pharmacology section then goes on to explain how familiarity with the general idea of receptor classes gives one a practical understanding of many of the most common types of drugs that health professionals—and patients, for that matter—encounter on a daily basis in clinical practice.

These concepts thus prepare students to make good patient-care decisions. 

beta2-adrenergic agonist
used in treating
asthma and COPD
In short, this new section directly answers the question, "why do I need to know all that?" with a direct, common-sense application. By doing that, one hopes that as the student progresses, they may trust us a bit more when we challenge them with details that may not be seen as directly useful in one's clinical career.

If you have a copy of Anatomy & Physiology, flip over to Chapter 22 (p.511) and read through this section. It's not very long, but you'll be able to see how we develop the "here's why you need to know this stuff" theme a bit further with a table showing patterns of transmitter-receptor activity compared and contrasted with agonist and antagonist categories of drugs.

If you don't have a copy of Anatomy & Physiology, why not?! Just go to this link and request a free review copy now!

Photos: Produnis and Mendel

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Netter's 3D Interactive Anatomy Provides a Multimodal Learning Experience

Even though the access page for Netter’s 3D Interactive Anatomy practically jumps out at you when you open the book—it's on the inside of the front cover of Anatomy & Physiology—many users seem unaware of the powerful learning potential of this amazing software.

Each reader receives free 1-year access to Netter’s 3D Interactive Anatomy, powered by Cyber Anatomy, with a new purchase of Anatomy & Physiology. A redemption code for the subscription is under a scratch-off box on the access page inside the front cover.

A "hidden gem" in plain sight of anyone who opens the textbook, Netter’s 3D Interactive Anatomy is a state-of-the-art software program that uses advanced gaming technology and interactive 3D anatomy models to learn, review, and teach anatomy.

You probably already know the name of Frank Netter, the brilliant and widely respected anatomy and medical illustrator.  Dubbed "the Michelangelo of medicine" by the Saturday Evening Post, Netter revolutionized how anatomy is learned and taught through visual depictions. His work is realistic, yet clear and uncluttered.  And it is beautiful.

Netter’s 3D Interactive Anatomy adapts Netter's vast library of anatomical art to a gamification environment to make the study of Netter's "virtual" anatomy highly engaging.  The environment does this by melding 3D versions of anatomical structures with the ability to manipulate them in real time—thus adding the fourth dimension of time.  

Because each user is "in control" as they zoom, twist, pull apart, unwrap, peel away, and pan, this program also adds the kinesthetic dimension characteristic of the best "virtual reality" experiences. Users can add or remove labels at will. This multimodal approach implements principles of brain-based learning a a way that gives the user the enjoyment of playing an exploratory game.

Professors can also use this tool in the classroom or lab to demonstrate anatomical relationships in a way that 2D illustrations, plastic models, and even dissection specimens cannot.  For example, layers of the GI wall can be easily peeled away to demonstrate each coat.  The skull bones can be pulled apart—then put back together—to help students quickly learn this tricky part of the skeleton. 

The really cool thing about using Netter’s 3D Interactive Anatomy as a teaching tool is that each student can recreate—and extend—this experience on their own during individual or group time!

Enough of me jabbering away about it—watch the video below or get a free trial subscription—and see for yourself how just amazing and addictive Netter’s 3D Interactive Anatomy really is!  Or even better—have your Elsevier Educational Solutions Consultant give you a free, personalized demonstration.

Watch this brief video to see how Netter's 3D Interactive Anatomy works!


Note: some content adapted from ElsevierAdvantage

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tables Help Students Recognize Patterns

One of the things our Anatomy & Physiology books are known and loved for is their extensive set summary tables. Although students quickly discover how useful they are, I'm not sure many A&P professors give them much thought.  But as an A&P author, I have to give them a lot of thought—and I want to share a few of my thoughts about these tables that may surprise you!

Tables help students construct a conceptual framework.
Sometimes, beginning students are so overwhelmed with details that they have a hard time seeing how it all fits together into a whole idea. Summary tables bring details together in a way that assists learners in starting their own cognitive scaffold for new facts and ideas. Those of us who already appreciate "the big picture," often forget how critical it is for newbies to properly build their understanding in steps.

Tables serve as a handy reference tool.
Students often use their textbooks for "raiding" specific facts, rather than reading whole sections.  For example, when learning the bones and markings of the skeleton, summary tables can quickly and effectively give a pithy description of illustrated structures in the textbook. As professors, we often forget how much the beginner relies on such tools to get started in learning.

Tables help students recognize patterns.
Many of the tables in an A&P textbook are not meant to be memorized.  Instead, they are used to compare and contrast ideas in a visual way that is difficult to do in the text narrative.  This moves students beyond "just the facts" to how those facts can be applied in understanding human structure and function.  In a table, patterns become obvious and critical thinking starts to "click" in the minds of readers. We instructors, who have already had our "aha" moments with these topics, sometimes don't appreciate how helpful a carefully arranged table can be in producing such moments.

Tables must be easily readable.
This may seem too obvious a fact to mention here. However, I've found that well-prepared teachers can easily read and understand even a horribly formatted, vaguely written table. Students who are just learning the concepts often get lost as they go across a row and don't know enough to figure out where they are supposed to look next.  Which brings me to my final, and perhaps most important, point . . .

Effective tables are carefully designed.
This is what makes a table easily readable—thoughtful design. In the latest revision of Anatomy & Physiology, effective table design is a major focus.  Having experimented in previous editions, I collaborated with our designer, editors, and previous students, to find a format that is both "readable" and "raidable."  I'll list a few things we did to make that happen in a moment.  But first, I also want to mention that I also put a lot of work into making sure that content that lends itself to a summary table is put into a table in way that complements and supports the text narrative.  That is, the table content is not simply a re-hash of the text—it is a thoughtful rearrangement of concepts to add more depth to student learning.

Table design features that promote effective learning in Anatomy & Physiology:

  • Background screens
    • Different shades of color behind different rows of each table helps the brain quickly see logical groupings of concepts.  
    • The color of the screens is apparent, but not too bright or too saturated to distract the brain from the content
  • Rules (borders)
    • White horizontal rules are just visible enough that they (along with the color screens) subtly guide the reader's eye across rows
    • Vertical rules help the reader clearly distinguish columns and cells so that it is clear how the concepts are organized in the table
  • Fonts
    • Font sizing allows tables of a compact size—which allows ease of seeing patterns in the whole—but is still big enough for easy reading
    • Intentional use of boldface and italic headings within the more complex table help clarify the organization of ideas—thus reducing the cognitive load of understanding table content
    • The occasional use of color fonts helps highlight conceptual patterns
      • For example, the book's color code can be applied in tables related to blood vessels (oxygenated red and deoxy blue) or nerves (afferent blue and efferent red)
  • Illustrations
    • Judicious use of small, embedded or nearby sketches help students more clearly "see" the concepts listed in a table
    • This is a careful balancing act, because tables with overly large illustrations, too many illustrations, or very complex illustrations can reduce the effectiveness of a table
There is lot more to what goes into designing each table in Anatomy & Physiology to make it an effective learning tool.  But this post is already almost too much to read in one sitting, eh? In later posts, I'll be calling attention to particular tables—especially those new to the latest edition—to give examples of how effective they are for deep student learning.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Color is the Key to Student Success in A&P

As part of our overall strategy of applying brain-based learning principles to Anatomy & Physiology, we use a consistent color key in each illustration to promote student success.  What I mean by that is that a particular structure is represented in exactly the same color wherever it appears in a diagram in Anatomy & Physiology.

For example, mitochondria are always a shade of the same pinkish color.  Cell membranes are always a particular blue.  Protein molecules are always a certain shade of green.  Lipids are always "lipid yellow."  DNA is purple and RNA is orange. 

When the brain is trying to make sense of visual information in diagrams, it is easier to detect similarities or variations in color and shade than to detect shapes.  So for a beginning learner, it's helpful to use the assistance of a color code when trying to figure out which organelle is a mitochondrion in a diagram (its pink) and which organelle is a nucleus (its purple).  

Likewise, it's not hard to figure out which side of a (blue) cellular membrane is intracellular if that region is always represented in yellow and which side is extracellular if that side is always represented in light blue.

Using a consistent color code for key structures reduces the cognitive load of interpreting diagrams. It thus allows the reader to spend most of their "mental energy" on the main idea of the diagram—rather than get bogged down in trying to figure out all the little parts of the diagram first.

It's only after a student has become familiar with the microscopic and gross terrain of the body that they can then start to recognize mitochondria, nuclei, intracellular spaces, and extracellular spaces by their locations and shapes.  A color code helps students become competent faster by allowing them to learn in a step-wise fashion—much as using training wheels can shorten the time it takes to learn how to ride a bike.  

In Anatomy & Physiology, we also tell the reader what we're doing by providing a comprehensive color key in the preface of the textbook.  By revealing the strategy up front, a savvy reader can gain even more benefit from it by being mindful of the color-coding technique of learning as they use the textbook.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Clear View of the Human Body Helps Students Integrate Anatomical Relationships

One of things that readers first notice in Anatomy & Physiology is the set of transparent overlays tucked into the book.  I always smile when I see the look on my students' faces when they first discover it—they are positively fascinated by it.  Actually, so am I.  Even after all these years.

I first created the Clear View of the Human Body for the 6th edition with the help of my friend Paul Kreiger, a talented A&P professor-author-illustrator, and the amazing team at Dragonfly Media Group. I've continued to tweak it in successive editions to make the best anatomical tool possible.

The Clear View is set of anatomical illustrations of a male and female body printed on transparent sheets.  As one lifts each sheet, the underlying anatomical structures become visible—constituting a kind of virtual dissection.

It's fun to watch students as they pull up a layer, then replace it, only to pull it up again. They do this because they are naturally curious about the three-dimensional relationships among the structures of the body. They want to apply the knowledge they've gained from their study of the diverse organ systems to a whole-body exploration.  In other words, the Clear View satisfies their natural desire to integrate what they are learning with the "big picture" of the human body.

Because it's always tucked into the textbook, it's always handy to integrate new A&P lessons into each student's developing picture of human body structure.

Besides showing the male and female body in a classical, slightly modified anatomical position, the Clear View allows students to easily apply what they are learning in the textbook and their A&P course. Also present are transverse sections from various levels of the body that help students further develop their multi-dimensional understanding of human body structure.

Something that's quite unique about the Clear View is that there is a second set of overlays that enable one to dissect the layers from the posterior aspect.  Most A&P texts show whole-body illustration only from the anterior aspect, but the Clear View shows both.  This further enhances a student's ability to fully integrate what they've learned into a multi-dimensional mental image of the human body.

Try it yourself!  Get a copy of Anatomy & Physiology and play around with the Clear View of the Human Body, and you'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Adaptive Quizzing Helps Students Get Ready for Tests and Exams

I've been using online quizzing in my A&P courses for over a decade. I've used a home-grown test bank with my LMS to produce randomized tests that prepare students to take their in-class exams—as outlined in my presentation Testing as Teaching.

I admit that I had some reservations before trying this strategy, But then I realized that it makes excellent use of what computers do best—automated, repeated tasks at any time of day. This allows each student to practice answering challenging questions until they "get it." And we all know that repeated practice—whether it be basic facts or applications that involve critical thinking—is what helps students progress to full competency in learning outcomes.

As an enthusiastic convert to automated quizzing as an important tool (among many) in A&P courses, I'm pleased that two proven resources for implementing your own automated learning strategies are available with the new edition of Anatomy & Physiology. I introduced Elsevier Adaptive Learning (EAL) powered by Cerego to you in my last article. Now, I want to introduce you to a second, equally powerful tool.

Called Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing (EAQ), this tool allows you to quickly and easily set up online quizzes for your A&P course. No need for home-grown test banks! Test items created and vetted by veteran A&P professors are each keyed to:

Once your quizzes are set up, you can immediately see analytics showing student progress and student engagement. As you open up EAQ, your dashboard pops up with this information laid out in an easy-to-follow dashboard that tells you exactly how your students are performing. 

You will know at a glance who your top performing students are—and your lowest performing students. You'll also immediately know which topics are giving all your students the most trouble. This information allows you to fix problems right away—before students fall so far behind that they can't catch up.

Imagine a student coming to your office and telling you they need help but don't know what's going wrong. You can simply pull up their EAQ profile and see exactly where their strengths and weaknesses are—allowing you to quickly and accurately diagnose their situation and see exactly what they need to get back on track. It's not exactly peeking inside their brains to see what's going wrong, but it's pretty darn close!

Using a "flipped" class format or Just in Time Teaching? Use your EAQ analytics to fine tune what you need to be focusing on with each student group!

I've also found that when I can see data on how my students are performing in specific content areas, I can make better decisions about my course design and my teaching strategies. Continued use of such tools over successive semesters improves my overall course quality because I revise my course to address problem areas—making it a better and better course over time.

With EAQ you have a choice to allow students to take chapter "practice quizzes" on their own to prepare for their in-class exams or you can easily customize quizzes based on your own specific objectives for a teaching module.

Your Elsevier Education Solutions Consultant can demonstrate all the rich features of EAQ—far too much for me to get into here—and even arrange a free trial for you. They can also work with you to formulate the best strategies for you to implement EAQ along with EAL and other resources available with the new edition of Anatomy & Physiology.

Watch the Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing (EAQ) guided tour video

Photo credit: theveravee

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Students Have Fun and Learn Quickly with EAL Adaptive Learning

A few years ago, I had a remarkable meeting with some key players at Elsevier Publishing regarding device-based adaptive learning strategies. Joining our small group was Andrew Smith Lewis, the founder of Cerego.

I learned that the Cerego was created to put validated learning science to play in making learning fun and easy. But more importantly, the adaptive learning strategies in Cerego help make learning permanent.

Repeated practice of core concepts—based on what each individual really needs—flattens out the "learning curve" at its peak.  No downhill slide of the "forgetting curve."  Memory strength for each key concept is built up and then retained for the long haul.

I am happy to report that meeting eventually led to a partnership with Cerego in which we have provided an amazing and effective learning tool called Elsevier Adaptive Learning (EAL) available with Anatomy & Physiology.

EAL sets the conceptual foundation your A&P students need by getting them up to speed on all the core concepts of each chapter of Anatomy & Physiology.  It does so quickly and in a way that is fun for students.  And it does all this "in the background" as students work individually at their own pace, on their desktop or mobile device, without taking any extra instructor time.  Well, except for the few minutes you'll want to spend reviewing the statistics of your students progress!

By placing the EAL process after their reading assignment and before their classroom activity, your students will then be ready to start applying what they know in your classroom and lab activities. Nobody will be left behind and you'll find that your students are much more grounded in their facts—and more engaged as they learn to apply their knowledge. 

If you want to know more about EAL go to Elsevier's Adaptive Solutions or ask your Elsevier rep to schedule a demonstration of EAL. It's one of those things you really need to see and experience to appreciate!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Helping Students See the Big Picture

Teaching thousands of anatomy and physiology students over the decades has taught me that a major hurdle is being able to see the "big picture" of the structure and function of the human body.

Because the A&P course necessarily includes a nearly overwhelming collection of detailed, technical facts expressed in a language that is foreign to many beginning students, they become so focused on each bit of information that they have hard time putting it all together into a coherent conceptual framework.  

One approach would be to present a concept map—or some type of graphic representation—of all the core concepts of each body system.  For example, a graphic showing how the system explored in a particular chapter ties into the structure and function of all the other systems of the body.

I think a graphic approach can be very useful, but I wonder if that strategy isn't better used as an active learning exercise in which each learner creates their own concept map—perhaps after some of the initial learning of a topic has already taken place.  Or, even better, make it a collaborative study project among a group of peers. 

I think a better approach in a textbook with limited page space is to build a "big picture" perspective into the narrative of the story.  So that's why in Anatomy & Physiology we have included a highlighted section at the end of each chapter that briefly pulls the reader back from the details of the chapter and widens the focus to take in a bigger, more global perspective.

Called The Big Picture, this feature does several things:
  • It calls the reader's attention to a whole-body, integrated view of the current topic's place in the wider scheme of human structure and function.

  • It gives specific examples of  how the current topic relates to—or builds upon—concepts covered in previous chapters.  This encourages students to integrate new concept with their growing framework of of knowledge to construct a solid  understanding of A&P.

  • This feature also looks ahead to concepts of later chapters by mentioning how the current topic will lead to a fuller understanding of concepts yet to be explored in the A&P course.

  • It improves reading comprehension of each chapter by calling attention to the main themes and reminding the reader of core concepts within a meaningful context.

  • The Big Picture specifically relates the current topic such core principles as homeostasis and form-fits-function.

  • Besides outlining specific examples of connections among concepts, The Big Picture also asks students to think about the integration of concepts themselves—thus encouraging them to develop the critical thinking skills needed to take their A&P learning forward into later courses (and into their professions).

To get the reader's attention, a one-page introduction called Seeing The Big Picture faces the first page of Chapter 1 of Anatomy & Physiology.  This feature grabs the readers attention immediately and sets them along their path already looking for the big picture.  It encourages students to think about relationships as they read—but also tells them to look for The Big Picture at the end of each chapter to help them "get" the big ideas of the chapter.

We have given a lot of thought to which strategy works best to help readers understand whole-body relationships. We are certain that the tried-and-tested summary narrative The Big Picture works well in stimulating critical thinking and construction of a solid conceptual framework than a pre-constructed chart that may short-circuit the learning process in a learner's mind.