Monday, June 22, 2020

Pandemic Scramble: Keeping It Simple

In my opinion, the big mistake that professors commonly make when moving an on-campus course to remote teaching is to make things more complicated than they need to be. That unnecessary complexity stems from the idea that one must take their entire course, including every element and detail, and move it more or less "as is" to an online environment. I think we get much better outcomes if we strive to keep it simple.

First, "remote" need not always be "online." There are a lot of learning opportunities to be had with reading and retrieval practice assignments from the Patton Anatomy & Physiology textbook. Students have invested a lot in acquiring this resource and a large team has worked together to make it an effective learning tool. Now's a great time to do better by our students by helping them engage fully in both reading and raiding their textbook. 

Second, now is a great time to revisit our learning outcomes and compare those to our course design. Most of us keep adding more expected outcomes, and therefore more content, to our courses over the years. As we consider various learning activities, we often add them rather than replace existing activities. Our course becomes bloated, complex, and heavier than it needs to be. So my advice is to prune, prune, prune to the main outcomes—the truly essential concepts—of our A&P course. Then, and only then, are we ready to move to remote teaching.

Third, rather than simply digitize our course components—recording lectures, converting tests and quizzes to online formats, etc.—we should rethink our course design. I suggest trimming back on what we are telling and showing showing students and rely more on their own discovery. And resisting the urge to use every last one of the cool toys that our instructional designers are helping us to discover.

What I mean by that is focusing our recorded lectures on the hard-to-understand "pain points" of A&P. And even then, we should consider trimming our narrative down to half or less of that 50-minute time block that we are used to. Then taking those shorter lectures and chunking them into even smaller, bite-sized pieces.

We can also substitute those occasional, mind-bending summative tests with frequent, low-stakes formative tests by using the our learning management system's online quizzing engine. This leverages the learning benefits of retrieval practice by shifting the work of learning to the student—where it belongs. This approach also makes light work of learning, thus avoiding a burdensome load during this time of stress and uncertainty.

To learn more about these suggestions and more, watch my video presentation Simple Ideas for Moving to Remote Learning or listen to an audio version from my podcast.





Monday, June 15, 2020

Pandemic Scramble: Use Netter's 3D Anatomy Included with Your Textbook

A big part of the still-in-progress "pandemic scramble" of trying to get our A&P course from is on-campus venue to a remote or semi-remote format is grappling with finding a good tool to teach the anatomy that we usually teach in a lab.  Many of my colleagues are looking here and there and everywhere for just the right tool. A tool at an affordable price.

Guess what? If you and your students are using the Patton Anatomy & Physiology textbook in your course, you already have a great tool! At no extra cost! Really. No new licenses. No subscriptions. No extra fees. Not only that, there's nothing for you to arrange in order for your students to have it. They already have it!

Netter's 3D Anatomy scratch-off access code
Open the book and on the page facing the inside front cover, you'll see the scratch-off label for Netter's 3D Anatomy. Use the access code and you'll unlock a beautiful set of anatomy tools based on the famous illustrations by Frank H. Netter and his successors. Rendered in three dimensions, these amazing illustrations of the structures of the human body can be moved and rotated around easily to see them from any angle. Structures can also be pulled apart and put back together, thus making this platform a true virtual dissection tool. 


But how does one use Netter's 3D Anatomy in teaching a course—especially when trying to replicate an in-lab learning experience? There are many options, but here are a few to spark your own creative solutions:
  • Use your "lab list" of required structures to identify in a dissection—or develop such a list—and assign students to find them, just as they would in a "wet" dissection.

  • Consider having students take screen shots of their work and compile their own "guide to the body."

  • Take your own screen shots—perhaps even a narrated video screen shot—to guide students through each region you'd like to have them "dissect" on their own.

  • Use captured screen shots to produce a virtual dissection quiz.

  • Assign students a set of structures to "teach" the class, and let them share their screens and walk the rest of the class through their assigned structures. 
Netter's 3D Anatomy screen capture of brain dissection

I use Snagit by TechSmith for my screen captures—both still and video—because I've become comfortable with its many features, such as easy markups of screen captures. However, you can use any screen capture tool—including the one probably already installed in your system.

Have any other ideas for using Netter's 3D Anatomy in your course? Just go to the bottom of this post at the Anatomy & Physiology blog and share your idea!


Monday, June 1, 2020

Pandemic Scramble: Use Your Included Online A and P Course

As we scramble this summer—and possibly through the fall—to shift our A&P course from its usual on-campus venue to remote teaching, let's not forget the tools that we already have at hand. Why go out looking for new tools when we already have all or most of what we need right there in our toolbox?

One such tool that we may already have handy is Anatomy & Physiology Online. This product is packaged at no extra cost with many versions of the Anatomy & Physiology textbook. Check which version has been adopted in your course to see if the online course is included. If it's not included, check with your Elsevier education consultant about your options. But mostly likely, you and your students already have it!

woman with tablet computer and dog

Anatomy & Physiology Online is a ready-to-go online experience for your students! Let me say that again. Ready. To. Go.

There's nothing to prepare, organize, plan—nothing. 

Well, okay, there is one thing you have to do. That is to decide whether you want to import the course into your learning management system and operate it there or instead operate it within Elsevier's learning management system (Evolve).

As I recommend in my free eBook Pandemic Teaching: A Survival Guide for College Faculty, a good strategy is to trim back the "extras" and focus on the core concepts that students really need to take with them into their next courses. Anatomy & Physiology Online does that for you! Yep, it's already aimed at those core principles from the textbook in a manner well-suited for most courses.

Yeah, okay, maybe if you'd created an online course, you'd have done this or that a bit differently. Perhaps added a bit here or left that other thing out. But this is a pandemic scramble, right? We don't have time now to do it perfectly. But if you do have extra time—an amusing concept—nothing is stopping you from adding other course elements alongside Anatomy & Physiology Online.

So why invent a wheel you and your students already have? Anatomy & Physiology Online seems custom-made for this pandemic scramble we're in right now!

If you need help, contact your Elsevier education consultant any time.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Pandemic Scramble: Adapting to Remote Learning, Suddenly

Well, friends, I'll bet most of us didn't see this pandemic coming. Not to the extent of impact it's had on the teaching and learning of anatomy and physiology. But it's here and we're going to roll with the punches and deliver a positive and productive learning experience for our students, right?

To help us all get ourselves organized and on the right track as we adapt to suddenly having to move our face-to-face course homes to a remote venue out there in the vast expanse of space, I've assembled a few "get started" resources to help you adapt.

Quickly Moving to Remote Delivery—The Musical

This is an "emergency" bonus episode of my podcast (The A&P Professor). The brief audio presentation presents nineteen tips on how to get started. And there are three A&P songs from my friend and fellow A&P teacher, Greg Crowther. For a sing-along! We could all use a light-hearted sing-along about sodium ions right now, am I right?

Go to theAPprofessor.org/64b for an audio player plus a lot of links and other resources. Or subscribe in your favorite podcast player and look for Episode 64b.

There is also an earlier episode called Mid-Winter Winterizing of Our Courses meant to help prepare us before this all flooded in upon us. Many of these prep tips are still useful, even as the metaphorical flood waters continue to rise all around us. Go to theAPprofessor.org/63b

TEACH Instructor Resources for Anatomy & Physiology

This little gem has been there all along! Really. In your Evolve (Instructor) Resources for Anatomy & Physiology 10th Edition.  TEACH has all kinds of tips and strategies that can be used to generate ideas for learning activities that can be adapted for remote teaching.

Included in TEACH are:
  • Lesson Plans
  • Student Handouts
  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Pretest Questions and Pretest Answers


If you don't have an Evolve account, then just go to evolve.elsevier.com and click on Sign In in the upper right, then click on Create Account near the bottom of the form that pops up. Make sure you apply for a faculty account. It will take a day or so to verify your faculty status. In the search box on the home page, or when you click Catalog at the top, type in Evolve Resources for Anatomy & Physiology 10th Edition, then request access. The TEACH resources will be listed in the Instructor Resources tab.

But wait! There's more...

Teaching Tips

Also found in your  Evolve (Instructor) Resources for Anatomy & Physiology 10th Edition, a separate sheet of advice—simply called Teaching Tips—supplements the TEACH resources to spark ideas for your transition to remote teaching.  

Besides the TEACH resources and Teaching Tips, there are all kinds of other resources in your  Evolve (Instructor) Resources for Anatomy & Physiology 10th Edition:

  • Audience Response Questions—meant for "clicker" systems in a classroom, they can be easily adapted for online presentations to spark student thinking during an online "lecture" or demonstration.
  • Image Collection—contains (labeled and unlabeled) jpeg and PowerPoint versions of each image from the textbook.
  • Test Bank—can be a great resource for quickly constructing online quizzes and reviews. Consider using them for Testing-as-Teaching, a type of retrieval practice mentioned later in this post.

The A&P Professor

I already mentioned The A&P Professor podcast, but there is lot more there for you than those "emergency" bonus episodes. It's worth exploring the whole list for practical tips and advice as you move to remote teaching. The great thing about podcast episodes is that you can listen to them while you are wiping down the surfaces in your home, making your family's meals, and rearranging your stacks of toilet paper. Here are a few selected topics to start with:


Besides the podcast, The A&P Professor website includes other resources, such as online seminars for teaching anatomy and physiology. Here are a couple that may be helpful as this time:

Free eText

VitalSource and Elsevier have partnered to provide eText access to students. To assist students at disrupted semester-calendar schools who are losing access to course materials due to COVID-19 campus closures, VitalSource has been joined by Elsevier to offer free access to etexts to students whose classes have moved online from March 16 through May 25, 2020. Students will be able to access the expansive catalog of eTexts from participating publishers through the VitalSource Bookshelf app effective immediately.


Besides this being useful to students who are "stuck without" their textbooks, it can offer additional opportunities to connect with students in a remote environment. 

For example, something that I do in an online course I teach is let my students "subscribe" to the highlights and notes in my own copy of the eText version of the textbook. 

I can mark areas of particular importance, add commentary on what they should be looking at in a section or illustration, and clarify concepts that commonly challenge student learning. This could be particularly useful in "holding the hand" of a confused and dazed student who is trying to adapt to a new learning environment.

Coloring Book

I've been seeing a lot of advice to folks in general, telling them to sit around as a family and color in their coloring books. That makes a lot of sense in terms of diffusing stress and connecting in a positive way with those with whom we are house-bound. 

Why not suggest to students to do that, but use Mosby's Anatomy & Physiology Coloring Book as one of their coloring books? 

In a post from my blog The A&P Student, I recommend coloring as a way to study anatomy and physiology in a new and fun way—that also calms the nerves. So their nerves will become calm as they study their nerves! Check out Coloring Books Are Powerful Study Tools (And They Help Manage Stress).


Okay, whew! That's enough for now, eh? Don't hesitate to reach out if I can be of help to you. 



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:

https://elsevier.zoom.us/meeting/register/0e4dc230bd47f4498c34be5db4a05ad8 

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 a.nagel@elsevier.com . 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. 

Salmeterol
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.