Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Active Concept Maps for Enhanced Student Learning

We all know that concept maps help students learn anatomy and physiology in at least two ways.

One way is when we use concept maps to teach principles in a visual manner that clearly shows relationships among several ideas. Students thus clearly see how to organize their thoughts about connected ideas as they construct their own conceptual frameworks as they learn.

Another way concept maps help students learn is when they build their own concept maps from what they already know about anatomy and physiology. Concept-map-making can thus be a powerful study tool. However, students without prior experience with concept maps often have a difficult time getting started. A few good examples of concept maps that relate to the ideas they are learning in your course are all they need to get a good start in making their own.

Starting with this edition of The Human Body in Health & Disease we are providing Active Concept Maps in the Student Resources in Evolve

Each Active Concept Map is an animated video of a concept map presented in a similar style to the concept maps used throughout the text of The Human Body in Health & Disease. However, these concept maps are "active" in the sense that they build from a single block as the narrator walks the viewer through each related concept that appears as the concept map branches and grows.

The block-by-block guided walk-through of a major concept will help students understand what they have read and heard in class more deeply. It will also model for students how they can build their own concept maps for other sets of related ideas that they encounter in your course.

Perhaps most importantly, the Active Concept Maps will provide a template for how to think in a "connected" way about the major concepts of the anatomy and physiology course. For challenged students, this is an especially important skill they must develop to succeed.

Here's a brief video walk-through that shows where to find Active Concept Maps in Evolve and how they work:

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Embedded Hints Improve Learning

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 a textbook? Probably not.

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

Technically detailed textbooks such as science textbooks are not much like books of popular literature. One cannot just sit down and read a chapter of a health science 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 anatomy and physiology 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 The Human Body in Health & Disease,

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.

Take a look at any chapter in The Human Body in Health & Disease, 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 to follow the directions in the hints to get the most out of their health science textbooks—and reduce their total study time!

Adapted from Anatomy & Physiology

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Help Students Master the Language of Science & Medicine

You can't really learn and experience what's going on in your world until you can use the language. In a beginning  course, most students don't come in as native speakers of scientific and medical terminology.

Even if they know what roots, suffixes, and prefixes are, most of them don't know the literal meanings of "meta," "juxta," "reno," or "cyto." If they pick up these word parts as they learn, however, they can quickly get comfortable with the language of science and medicine—and really ramp up their learning of core concepts.

In The Human Body in Health & Disease, we have woven language learning into every chapter so that students can more efficiently master the language of science and medicine.

Nearly every anatomy and physiology and patho teacher I know mentions word parts frequently in class discussions—especially when introducing the more convoluted terms that represent important concepts.

Besides breaking down impossibly long words into easily consumed, bite-sized pieces, it's also a stealthy strategy to "sneak in" some language learning. Without having to "put it on the test" we can introduce word parts— and how they are used to construct phrase-like terms—in a way that allows natural language learning. Students often don't even realize that our repeated mentioning of the meaning of common word parts is adding to their mental lexicon. Soon they start recognizing these word parts on their own.

When students know what common word parts mean, they start using them as mnemonic tools (memory aids). They find themselves using the word parts as clues to remember the actual working definition of the term—and the essence of the concept that the term represents.

In The Human Body in Health & Disease, we support this widely used classroom approach in several ways. A central strategy is our inclusion of word parts in the chapter word lists.

Previewing unfamiliar words before reading a chapter helps to get those words into the reader's mental lexicon more quickly—and how that, in turn, improves reading comprehension. Because we also include word parts in the chapter word lists, scanning these lists naturally builds competence in scientific and clinical language.

A widespread and effective strategy in teaching reading skills—from elementary school to advanced courses in college reading efficiency—is often called word study. In a nutshell, word-study instruction encourages readers to strengthen their recognition of word patterns as first step, rather than simply memorizing new words as they encounter them. This is based on the fact that we read words and phrases as a whole. It's one of many brain-based strategies of learning that translate current concepts of neuroscience into practical strategies.

Incorporating word parts in the chapter word list, where they can be scanned before reading the chapter, offers the opportunity for readers of The Human Body in Health & Disease to make the word study method part of their overall reading strategy. By building pattern-recognition skills, readers can better get new terms into their mental lexicon and thus be able to read them without stumbling and thus learn concepts more efficiently.

But wait! There's more! In The Human Body in Health & Diseasewe provide even more built-in tools to help students gain skill in using their new language. In an upcoming post, I'll point these out.

Article content adapted from Anatomy & Physiology

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Help Students Integrate Concepts with CONNECT IT!

New to The Human Body in Health & Disease is a supplemental feature called Connect It!. First introduced in our larger textbook Anatomy & Physiology as A&P Connect, it was a logical evolution of sidebars and boxed essays as we progress through a new age of digital learning tools.

We've always heard from students how much they like boxed essays in the print version of our textbooks. The more our users explored, the more interested in—and enthused about—anatomy and physiology they become.

Putting additional topics of interest on a digital platform seemed to be a great way to better satisfy the natural curiosity of students—and let students get a deeper understanding of concepts by exploring clinical applications and current research trends.

What we soon found out was that branching out into brief sidebars that reside on the digital Evolve platform, we had the freedom to add diagrams, anatomical art, medical images, and micrographs that we simply didn't have room to add to the textbook proper.  Because most concepts of human structure, function, and pathophysiology, benefit by such visual representations, students have welcomed this evolution of the traditional sidebar.

Because Connect It! articles are not located in a particular spot in a print book, they can be easily referenced in any part of the book.  We leveraged this strategy to help student better integrate the concepts they are learning.

For example, the new Connect It! article on the human microbiome not only explains an emerging central concept of human biology—it also allows us to apply the concept to almost every system of the body. The article itself integrates many organ systems in its approach, so when it is reviewed in different chapters of the book, new and deeper understanding of how the functions of the body are integrated emerges.

Repeated mention of an integrating topic also reinforces the understanding of the connectedness of human structure and function. Such integration also helps deepen the understanding of general principles of pathophysiology by applying them to several different disorders.

Another example is our Connect It! article Protective Strategies of the Respiratory Tract, which helps integrate concepts across discussions of respiratory structure and function, as well as immunity. Likewise, the article Medical Imaging of the Body links concepts that appear in several different chapters.

The fact that the Connect It! articles reside outside the textbook proper also gives the instructor some flexibility. For example, you might pick a few of the topics for special emphasis in your course and provide one or other of the Connect It! articles as a lecture/discussion handout—perhaps as a resource when solving a case study or as part of a set of class notes/study guide. Simply copy and paste from the article to your course materials! Another option is to mention an article by name in your syllabus or course outline.

You may also consider using some of the diagrams or other images from the Connect It!  in your teaching slides or other teaching materials.

I'm very excited about this intentional use of our Connect It! articles in helping students integrate concepts of structure, function, and pathophysiology to achieve a deeper understanding of human biology for the health professions. And professors will appreciate the role of this new feature in elevating student enthusiasm and motivation!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Here's the Scoop!

This blog is a way for me to communicate with users and potential adopters of my anatomy and physiology textbook, The Human Body in Health & Disease.

In coming months, look for brief articles that explain the learning theory behind our textbook's features and design. I'll alert you to changes to each new edition—and the rationale behind them. There will be behind-the-scenes information about how the book is created. I'll describe best practices in using the textbook in your course, with your students.

To start the ball rolling, I'll tell you about that crazy image on the cover of the new 7th edition due out in February 2017.

It's a scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—often called MRSA (MER-sah). The image has false color added, rendering the MRSA organisms as a golden yellow.  The large, reddish, blob-like structure is the remains of a dead human neutrophil.

The image was selected for several reasons. We wanted a dramatic but "real" photo as the main image.  We looked for something from the human body, but also were interested in reflecting the "disease" and related clinical aspects of the textbook's content.  MRSA is an important pathogenic bacterium in human medicine, and this micrograph shows the damage to human cells that it can wreak in the human body.

An interesting classroom or online discussion exercise to ask students what it looks like to them. When the answer is discovered, ask students what they already know about bacterial infections—and MRSA in particular.  This may serve as part of your first-day class activities to generate interest and interaction among a new group of learners!

Photo: NIAID