Taking too long? Close loading screen.
This won't be long. We are testing your patience.

TAPP Radio Ep. 17 TRANSCRIPTEnd-of-Term Reviews Help Keep Your Course on Track

heading icon

The A&P Professor podcast (TAPP radio) episodes are made for listening, not reading. This transcript is provided for your convenience, but hey, it’s just not possible to capture the emphasis and dramatic delivery of the audio version. Or the cool theme music.  Or laughs and snorts. And because it’s generated by a combo of machine and human transcription, it may not be exactly right. So I strongly recommend listening by clicking the LISTEN button provided.

course review

Episode 17 Transcript

End-of-Term Reviews Help Keep Your Course on Track

Kevin Patton:                    Thornton Wilder once said, “We can only said to be truly alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

Aileen:                                 Welcome to the A&P professor. A few minutes to focus on teaching Human Anatomy and Physiology, with host Kevin Patton.

Kevin Patton:                    In this episode, I discuss the spelling of the term mamillary. And I talk a little bit about debriefing or reviewing at the end of a course.

Kevin Patton:                    In a recent episode, I discussed the fact that different anatomical and other scientific terms can have alternate pronunciations. Sometimes based on regional variations in dialect or how, which system of Latin pronunciation a person uses and so on. And I just want to mention today, the idea that of there being more than one correct form also applies to spelling.

Kevin Patton:                    For example, the term mamillary. There are two acceptable spellings of the term that describes a pair of hypothalamic nuclei in the brain. And other structures that resemble a small female human breast. As a matter of fact, that’s what the term mamillary means, literally. If you break apart the word parts, mam means breast. The il part means little. So, so far we have little breast. And the ary part at the end is relating to. So mamillary literally translated means relating to a little breast. Or we could translate that a different way to make it mean resembling a little breast. And that certainly, at least from certain angles, the hypothalamic nuclei do look like little breasts in a way.

Kevin Patton:                    It now, originally, the term was mamillary, with a single m in the middle. So it was m-a-m-i-l-l-a-r-y. So a single m in that middle. And that’s, from the Latin spelling, mamilaris, which starts with an m and then has that one other m in the middle of the word. The variant version, which has two m’s in the middle. So it’s m-a-m-m-i-l-l-a-r-y, that arose because of the close association with the related English word, mammary. And mammary, as we all know, has two m’s in the middle. It’s m-a-m-m-a-r-y. And that means relating to the breast. So mammillary and mammary literally mean the same thing. Except, I guess, mammillary is saying, “Relating to a little breast”, whereas mammary means relating to a breast.

Kevin Patton:                    So, which spelling is correct? Well, it turns out that both spellings are widely used. I, in my work, most often choose the spelling that uses the single m in the middle, m-a-m-i-l-l-a-r-y. That’s used in the ICD medical coding manuals. It’s used in a lot of medical text books. And it’s probably mainly because it most closely follows the Latin word from which it’s derived, mamilarus. And as some of you may have already noticed, I, being a former Latin student, I automatically just fall back to the Latin when I remember it. And so that’s probably the main reason why I do that.

Kevin Patton:                    And, parsing out of Latin roots is often something we as A&P teachers do in our classes. And so, and I certainly do. So my students are going to recognize that probably more easily. Maybe they won’t recognize it, but it’s certainly going to be consistent, coming from my end, because I do emphasize the Latin fairly regularly.

Kevin Patton:                    So this whole discussion then brings up an interesting and important phenomenon that applies to both spelling and pronunciation. And it’s one that I brought up before. There are sometimes several acceptable alternates. But we often assume that the way we learned it or the way it appears in the teaching resources that we use, it’s the only correct option. So, we have to be careful about that. And realize that a textbook author, a dictionary editor or lexicographer or anyone creating any kind of resources, they may not have presented all the alternates. They may have chosen and used that one only. And if that’s what you’re learning it from, you may get the mistaken idea that that’s the only way to do it.

Kevin Patton:                    So what I’m suggesting is that we keep in the back of our mind this idea that we need to be a little bit broader and keep our minds open to the fact that the way we learned it is not necessarily the only way to learn it.

Kevin Patton:                    So in my view, I think that our learning of scientific and medical terminology is never complete. So I think we should always double check what we think might be a misspelling or a mispronunciation, in case they turn out to be correct. Or correct, even if they’re odd, alternate, with which we’re just not yet familiar.

Kevin Patton:                    You may also be interested in going back to that previous episode, which I’ll have linked in the show notes, where I talk about sort of the same ideas regarding pronunciation, rather than spelling of various terms.

Kevin Patton:                    This episode may be hitting you right around the time that you’re winding down as a semester or trimester or some other term. And maybe going to do some other kinds of things this summer. And then get back into the full swing of things again in the fall. If so, you might want to stop and think about doing a conscious review of your course. This idea relates back to a previous episode where I talked about getting our students to debrief after every test so that they can really do some metacognition, really think about, really analyze, what went on in that test and what worked well, what didn’t work well, on many levels. Not just what content they may need to maybe go back and review and work on a little more. But also their test taking skills and other aspects of that whole experience. And then use that to do better the next time. And hopefully leverage that over a course of time to get better and better and better. And I think that we can do that with our courses also, from the teacher side of things.

Kevin Patton:                    I think it’s easier and probably most common to just, on that last day that you’ve turned in your last grade, just shut the door and head on out and be done with it. And move on and not really give it too much thought until you start getting those little reminders from the school saying, “Okay. We’ve got some preparatory things going on before the fall term starts. You’d better get back to it and start thinking about your courses that are coming up.” For a long time, I did that. And of course, there is some satisfaction being able to just close that door for the last time in that academic year and walk away. And it is harder to stop and take some time to analyze and evaluate went on in that previous term.

Kevin Patton:                    And I’m encouraging us all to make an effort to do that, because when I do that, I find that I feel even better about finally closing that door and walking away. And you’ll see what I mean by that in a few minutes, I hope, as I go through some of the ways that we can debrief or review at the end of a course.

Kevin Patton:                    Probably the most obvious thing we can do is take those end of course surveys that are, sometimes they’re called student evaluations or course evaluations that are put on by our administration. And of course, there’s all kinds of studies out there and opinion pieces and so on that really kind of slam the value of those end of course surveys that are done by a school. Those course evaluations. And I think there’s a lot of merit to those criticisms. I think that very often they’re used in place of some real hard work and really seeing what’s going on with a course and what’s really going in with anyone individual instructor. So there is that down side.

Kevin Patton:                    But the upside is, is that there’s something that you can get out of most of them, depending on how well constructed they are, of course. The more course specific such an instrument is, probably the better it is. And some schools, including my own, allow us to add our own questions to the cookbook version of a student or course evaluation. And I take advantage of that. Yeah, it takes a little extra time to get those into the system and make sure they’re there every time the instrument comes around for review, but it’s worth it to me because those questions usually tell me a lot more useful information than those very generic questions that often don’t even apply to my course or the way I teach my course. So if you’re able to do that, I strongly suggest you take the time to do that.

Kevin Patton:                    While I’m on the topic of those school driven end of course surveys, to all you administrators our there or all of you who have the ears of your administrators, I think it’s important for us to keep advocating for the idea that we need those back right away. I’ve been in schools where the students fill out his survey, and it’s three or four months, maybe even longer before we get back the results. I don’t know about you, but I’ve moved on to other stuff and I can barely remember what was going on with that particular students in that particular course or set of courses. So they really do lose value over time. They really do have an expiration date or sell by date or read by date. And I think it’ very, very important that whatever we can do to get our results back as soon as possible to review them, the better. Especially if we’re going to be doing an end of course review, then if we have that information we don’t have to wait for it and go back and try to do the review over again. It’s going to work a lot better.

Kevin Patton:                    Another thing to consider are written student reflections. I’m hearing this more and more from instructors who have as an assignment at the end of their course or near the end of their course, and I do this myself in some of my courses, have students write out a reflection. Sometimes not just at the end of the course, but also maybe midway along in the course. Those written student reflections, they can be very open. Just reflect on your experience in this course. Say whatever you want. Or it can be somewhat directed and say, “Well, you know, I would really like you to focus on the pace of the course, or the content of the course. Or the learning activities that we did. Or some other way that you could direct it”, especially if you are maybe experimenting with some things and you’re not sure how the students are reacting to them and what their thought processes are. Then you can get them to reflect on that and give you what their opinions are.

Kevin Patton:                    And so this can be part of your end of course review process, is really looking through those reflections and yes, I’m going to say it, reflecting on those reflections. Those reflections and your reflection upon them is also a great way to consolidate your understanding. So students can consolidate the understanding that they gained by taking the course by doing the reflections. And there’s actually some psychological research out there that confirms that this in fact happens.

Kevin Patton:                    Even for students who have a bad taste in their mouth. They feel like maybe their instructor wasn’t as strong as they’d like or maybe they felt like the course wasn’t organized in a way that they liked. Or maybe there was some other things going on in the environment that they didn’t like. And so, they’re feeling like, “Oh, man. I’m glad that course is over. I never want to go back again.” But a lot of times when they do their reflections and work out those feelings on paper, they kind of dissipate. And they start to step back a little bit from those feelings and really realize that there were a lot of things that they got out of the course and it really wasn’t as bad as they were first thinking. And so that, it can help with the attitude, it can help with consolidate the actual learning and understanding. And it can help us as instructors, really get a better understanding of what really happened in that course as we reflect on it.

Kevin Patton:                    Another kind of activity that we can do during our end of course review or debriefing, is to have a verbal face-to-face debriefing with the whole class or maybe small groups within the class. So I’ve done that with certain courses where on the last day, we have several different activities scheduled and one of them usually right in the middle. I don’t want it at the very beginning, I don’t want it at the very end. I want them to be in the mode of learning and in the same mindset that they ordinarily would be in in any other class in the semester.

Kevin Patton:                    And so I stop them and say, “Well, let’s just have a chat here. What worked really well for you in this course? What didn’t work so well? What suggestions do you have for me the next time around for that next group of students? What can I do differently that would help them that I didn’t do here? What can I change? What can I tweak?” And sometimes you get some really good feedback.

Kevin Patton:                    I’ll never forget the time I got some feedback where I had offered them a book to use as an option, I had the bookstore stock it. And I didn’t require them to have it. And at the end of the semester I was doing this review session and a whole bunch of them got really agitated about this book. And I’m like, “Well, didn’t it work for you?”. “No, it worked great. But the problem is you didn’t require it. It wasn’t a third of the way, a half of the way into the semester that I saw these other people using this book and asked them about it and looked at what it was and I thought, Oh man, I should have been using this all along. That would have really helped me understand things better.” And so, wow. I didn’t see that coming. And so from then on, you can be sure that that book was a required book so nobody had that negative experience of missing out on a book that had turned out that they really valued.

Kevin Patton:                    And if you do these verbal face-to-face debriefings in a very informal way, hopefully they’ve gotten to know you well enough by then to know that you’re going to be able to take criticism, and that you’re an okay person and that they really can give you some honest feedback. And the more informal the atmosphere is, I think the easier it is for students to speak up and really be honest with their feedback.

Kevin Patton:                    The other thing I strongly recommend in such a session is to take notes and make sure the students see you taking notes. The obvious reason you want to take notes is so you don’t forget anything that they’re telling you, so the important points that you want to maybe take some action on or reflect upon later, you want to make sure you write those down. But the other reason is, is when the students see you taking notes, then they know that you really are interested in what their feedback in. And that you’re not just blowing smoke and like, “Okay. We’re going to have a feedback session, whatever you say isn’t really important to me, because I’m not writing any of this down.” Don’t do that. Write it down and let them know it is important to you and that you will take it seriously. You get a lot more and a lot better information that way, I think.

Kevin Patton:                    The next step, I suggest, is that you then make a list of the changes you want to make the next time around. And actually, write down a list. I love making lists, because I love checking things off. It makes me feel really good to be able to check things off. And so I can’t do that unless I make a list first. So I always have a list in my file for each course of the things that I want to think about changing the next time around. And it could be something small like, “Oh, this policy is going to change. And so I need to make sure to update my syllabus.” Or, “Our textbook is out in a new edition, so I need to make sure to address that in all my course materials.”

Kevin Patton:                    So there’s those things. But then there’s also just the general things. Is there a new strategy that you want to experiment with? Did the strategy that you did experiment with, maybe not go as well as it could have. And so you want to tweak it a little bit next time. You’re going to forget about that until you’re partway into that next course and say, “Oh. Man I meant to change this up a little bit. I though to myself, “I wish I’d written that down.” So my point is, write it down. If you write it down, then you only have more of a chance of actually remembering to address it. So anything you can think of in any aspect of that course, write it down on a list and then you can come back to it later. That doesn’t mean you’re actually going to do everything on that list, but you’ll have seen it all and you can weed through it and say, “Well, here’s something that’s not a high priority. Here’s something that is a high priority. Here’s something I’ve thought more about. And maybe I want to put that off for a while. Or maybe I really don’t want to do it. I’ll just put that on my next year’s list and come back to that question again later.”

Kevin Patton:                    So, you want to accumulate a growing list. So things that maybe will drop off that list. You can add to them, add it to the next years list and rethink it again that following year. Now is also a good time to set some goals. And I know that we’re often forced to do these goal setting and mission and values, activities and various activities that are forced upon us by our administrators. And sometimes those go really well and they’re very productive. A lot of times they’re kind of a chore, because people aren’t really buying into them yet. They’re forced to do them. And so, this might leave a bad taste in your mouth about setting goals. But I think that if you’re setting your own goals and you’re realizing that, “Okay. My goal for next year is to redo my test banks. That is, go through all of the test items I’ve created over the years and really take a hard look at them and look at those ones that really do confuse students and see if I can fix them or maybe drop them out and replace it with something else. So that would be an example.

Kevin Patton:                    Another goal might be to read one or more books on teaching techniques, such as small teaching by James Lang. Or What the best college teachers do, by Ken Bain. Those are pretty classic books. There’s all kinds of books that you’re probably hearing about. And so make a goal that next year I’m going to read a book on how to teach better. Or maybe there’s some content area. You want to set a goal and say, “I want to learn more about the microbiome for next year, because I know that that’s an up and coming thing. And my students are going to be asking me questions about it. I’m going to be running into it more and more in the various news updates that I’m getting and so maybe I’d better do some reading on the microbiome.”

Kevin Patton:                    Maybe there’s a class you want to take? And maybe it’s a class that has nothing to do with A&P, but it’s going to help you as a person. Maybe do some stress relief or something, like an art class or a Tai chi class or yoga sessions or something like that. So all kinds of different kinds of goals that you can make. So you want to ask yourself, “What changes can be made now or soon? What changes do I want to make right before the next course? What changes are things I can do while the next course is going on? That is changes that are going on in the fly. And what changes maybe should be put on hold for a little while. So think through all of those goals that you’re listing for yourself. And then get it down to something that’s manageable. Don’t overdo it.

Kevin Patton:                    Another thing that we can do in these end of course reviews is to do our own written instructor reflection. Or it doesn’t necessarily written out by hand, but it can be typed up. It’s not a bad idea. If it works well for students, why wouldn’t it work well for us? To not only help us consolidate our insights about what went on in that particular offering of the course, but also our insights about our own feelings about the course. Because, I don’t know about you, but every time I have a course, I have a different mix of people and things go differently. Both in myself and in my students and in our interaction together. And so this helps me, it kind of forces me, because I’m writing it down, it forces me to think about all of those things and really process them and think, “Well, what is my reflection about that? What is my overall impression of what happened this semester?”

Kevin Patton:                    So it could end up making you feel a lot better about a term that you ended up getting frustrated with, at least occasionally. And then save that reflection. It could be useful for maybe reading it again before the next course starts. So, let’s say you’re not teaching over the summer and you’re ready for that next course to start in the fall. Pull that out before it happens and look at that reflection and it’ll jog your memory a little bit. And it’ll get you thinking again and some new and better ideas might even pop up and it is also likely to have the effect of getting you enthused about or more enthused about starting that new course in the following fall term.

Kevin Patton:                    You might want to think about pulling it out at the end of the next course, when you’re doing your end of course review again later, go through all your old reflections or at least some of them. Flip through them and see. Are there trends that are going on there? Are there things that you’ve mastered that you were having issues with before in your teaching or with handling students or handling the content or whatever?

Kevin Patton:                    So you could make reading previous reflections part of your end of course review process. You might also want to actually document different experiments that you’ve tried, new things that you’ve tried in your course, and then right down whether they worked or not of course, so that you have that information. But what I’m getting at here in documenting them, is so that when it’s time to fill out your promotion paperwork or maybe someone has nominated you for an award and you have to submit some things that demonstrate that you’re an innovator in the classroom. Or maybe you’re applying for a different job within your school or at a different school and you’re going to want to have a record of that. Believe me, those things fall out of your memory over the years. So if you keep a record of, “Oh yeah. This year I tried having my students draw pictures in class. This term I tried using pretests for the first time. In this term, I tried partially flipping my class.” I mean, there’s all kinds of different things, large and small. And get the small things in there too, because, just because they’re small doesn’t mean they’re ineffective or they’re not important. They are. So make sure that you’re documenting them in case you need to know that later. Or sometimes you just need to know when it was you tried it, because you need to know the timing of it for some reason.

Kevin Patton:                    And occasionally we’re asked to share with our peers. Maybe informally at a department meeting, someone will say, “Well, you tried that before Kevin. Didn’t you? Do you remember how that went for you?” And I might need to go back and jog my memory a little bit. But I’ll have documented it. I’ll have written it down so I will be able to maybe even do a presentation. But if not, at least have a conversation with the folks and tell them what I did and how I did it and how it worked out for me and what my impressions were and what I might do differently next time. Or you might be asked to do a formal presentation. Occasionally at my schools, I’m asked to do a presentation for other faculty. I’m occasionally asked to do presentations at other schools, by my friends and colleagues in other schools and in associations and so on. You might need, in order to get travel funds, you might need to do a presentation at a conference you want to go to. And you’re thinking to yourself, “What can I do? What can I do?” Well, go through these records that you’ve been keeping for a lot of the different innovations that you’ve tried and so on and an idea might strike your memory.

Kevin Patton:                    And you want to keep all that documentation for someday when you write your memoirs. My friends over in our English department tell me that memoirs are hot these days in the literature realm. So, your memoirs of years as an A&P teacher might be something that you want to do later on. And you’re going to have all the records you need. That’s probably one of the hardest things about writing memoirs is remembering all that stuff and when it happened and what exactly happened.

Kevin Patton:                    Another thing that we want to do probably at the end of our course, during that review process is to organize all our stuff. Now, I know that different people have different modes of operation this way, but I tend to really create quite a mess by the end of the semester. I don’t like having a big mess in my office, but that’s just the way I work, that’s the way my brain works. It’s a big mess.

Kevin Patton:                    And what I like to do is, at the end, before I walk out and close that door for the last time and say, “Whew! That one is over. And I can rest now.” Before I do that, I go through and I clean things up. I straighten them up, because next fall when I walk in, I want to walk in to a cleaned up, organized office, at least as far as I can get it in that direction. I’m going to feel a lot more at peace, I’m going to feel a lot more fully finished when I walk out, if I’m walking out of an organized office. If I know that all this stuff from that previous term is filed away where it’s supposed to be filed, I’m not going to have to come in and dig that all up and get it in it’s right place before I can even start on next term’s material. I’m going to feel flustered when I start next term. So I want to get that all out of the way now. And I’m going to feel better about it. I know that I’ll feel better about it.

Kevin Patton:                    So lot’s of different things that we can do during our end of year review. You might have some other things. I’d love to hear from you at the podcast hotline at 1-833-LION-DEN. That’s L-i-o-n D-e-n. Or by email. At Podcast@theapprofessor.org.

Kevin Patton:                    And I’ll just leave you with a quote from Thornton Wilder, who once said, “We can only be said to be truly alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” And I think that an end of course review is an opportunity for us to really look back and look at all of those treasures of the past semester. All of those wonderful teaching and learning moments. All of those moments that really do keep us doing what we’re doing in the classroom.

Aileen:                                 The A&P Professor is hosted by Kevin Patton, professor, blogger, and text book author in Human Anatomy and Physiology.

Kevin Patt

Kevin Patton:                    Thornton Wilder once said, “We can only said to be truly alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

Aileen:                                 Welcome to the A&P professor. A few minutes to focus on teaching Human Anatomy and Physiology, with host Kevin Patton.

Kevin Patton:                    In this episode, I discuss the spelling of the term mamillary. And I talk a little bit about debriefing or reviewing at the end of a course.

Kevin Patton:                    In a recent episode, I discussed the fact that different anatomical and other scientific terms can have alternate pronunciations. Sometimes based on regional variations in dialect or how, which system of Latin pronunciation a person uses and so on. And I just want to mention today, the idea that of there being more than one correct form also applies to spelling.

Kevin Patton:                    For example, the term mamillary. There are two acceptable spellings of the term that describes a pair of hypothalamic nuclei in the brain. And other structures that resemble a small female human breast. As a matter of fact, that’s what the term mamillary means, literally. If you break apart the word parts, mam means breast. The il part means little. So, so far we have little breast. And the ary part at the end is relating to. So mamillary literally translated means relating to a little breast. Or we could translate that a different way to make it mean resembling a little breast. And that certainly, at least from certain angles, the hypothalamic nuclei do look like little breasts in a way.

Kevin Patton:                    It now, originally, the term was mamillary, with a single m in the middle. So it was m-a-m-i-l-l-a-r-y. So a single m in that middle. And that’s, from the Latin spelling, mamilaris, which starts with an m and then has that one other m in the middle of the word. The variant version, which has two m’s in the middle. So it’s m-a-m-m-i-l-l-a-r-y, that arose because of the close association with the related English word, mammary. And mammary, as we all know, has two m’s in the middle. It’s m-a-m-m-a-r-y. And that means relating to the breast. So mammillary and mammary literally mean the same thing. Except, I guess, mammillary is saying, “Relating to a little breast”, whereas mammary means relating to a breast.

Kevin Patton:                    So, which spelling is correct? Well, it turns out that both spellings are widely used. I, in my work, most often choose the spelling that uses the single m in the middle, m-a-m-i-l-l-a-r-y. That’s used in the ICD medical coding manuals. It’s used in a lot of medical text books. And it’s probably mainly because it most closely follows the Latin word from which it’s derived, mamilarus. And as some of you may have already noticed, I, being a former Latin student, I automatically just fall back to the Latin when I remember it. And so that’s probably the main reason why I do that.

Kevin Patton:                    And, parsing out of Latin roots is often something we as A&P teachers do in our classes. And so, and I certainly do. So my students are going to recognize that probably more easily. Maybe they won’t recognize it, but it’s certainly going to be consistent, coming from my end, because I do emphasize the Latin fairly regularly.

Kevin Patton:                    So this whole discussion then brings up an interesting and important phenomenon that applies to both spelling and pronunciation. And it’s one that I brought up before. There are sometimes several acceptable alternates. But we often assume that the way we learned it or the way it appears in the teaching resources that we use, it’s the only correct option. So, we have to be careful about that. And realize that a textbook author, a dictionary editor or lexicographer or anyone creating any kind of resources, they may not have presented all the alternates. They may have chosen and used that one only. And if that’s what you’re learning it from, you may get the mistaken idea that that’s the only way to do it.

Kevin Patton:                    So what I’m suggesting is that we keep in the back of our mind this idea that we need to be a little bit broader and keep our minds open to the fact that the way we learned it is not necessarily the only way to learn it.

Kevin Patton:                    So in my view, I think that our learning of scientific and medical terminology is never complete. So I think we should always double check what we think might be a misspelling or a mispronunciation, in case they turn out to be correct. Or correct, even if they’re odd, alternate, with which we’re just not yet familiar.

Kevin Patton:                    You may also be interested in going back to that previous episode, which I’ll have linked in the show notes, where I talk about sort of the same ideas regarding pronunciation, rather than spelling of various terms.

Kevin Patton:                    This episode may be hitting you right around the time that you’re winding down as a semester or trimester or some other term. And maybe going to do some other kinds of things this summer. And then get back into the full swing of things again in the fall. If so, you might want to stop and think about doing a conscious review of your course. This idea relates back to a previous episode where I talked about getting our students to debrief after every test so that they can really do some metacognition, really think about, really analyze, what went on in that test and what worked well, what didn’t work well, on many levels. Not just what content they may need to maybe go back and review and work on a little more. But also their test taking skills and other aspects of that whole experience. And then use that to do better the next time. And hopefully leverage that over a course of time to get better and better and better. And I think that we can do that with our courses also, from the teacher side of things.

Kevin Patton:                    I think it’s easier and probably most common to just, on that last day that you’ve turned in your last grade, just shut the door and head on out and be done with it. And move on and not really give it too much thought until you start getting those little reminders from the school saying, “Okay. We’ve got some preparatory things going on before the fall term starts. You’d better get back to it and start thinking about your courses that are coming up.” For a long time, I did that. And of course, there is some satisfaction being able to just close that door for the last time in that academic year and walk away. And it is harder to stop and take some time to analyze and evaluate went on in that previous term.

Kevin Patton:                    And I’m encouraging us all to make an effort to do that, because when I do that, I find that I feel even better about finally closing that door and walking away. And you’ll see what I mean by that in a few minutes, I hope, as I go through some of the ways that we can debrief or review at the end of a course.

Kevin Patton:                    Probably the most obvious thing we can do is take those end of course surveys that are, sometimes they’re called student evaluations or course evaluations that are put on by our administration. And of course, there’s all kinds of studies out there and opinion pieces and so on that really kind of slam the value of those end of course surveys that are done by a school. Those course evaluations. And I think there’s a lot of merit to those criticisms. I think that very often they’re used in place of some real hard work and really seeing what’s going on with a course and what’s really going in with anyone individual instructor. So there is that down side.

Kevin Patton:                    But the upside is, is that there’s something that you can get out of most of them, depending on how well constructed they are, of course. The more course specific such an instrument is, probably the better it is. And some schools, including my own, allow us to add our own questions to the cookbook version of a student or course evaluation. And I take advantage of that. Yeah, it takes a little extra time to get those into the system and make sure they’re there every time the instrument comes around for review, but it’s worth it to me because those questions usually tell me a lot more useful information than those very generic questions that often don’t even apply to my course or the way I teach my course. So if you’re able to do that, I strongly suggest you take the time to do that.

Kevin Patton:                    While I’m on the topic of those school driven end of course surveys, to all you administrators our there or all of you who have the ears of your administrators, I think it’s important for us to keep advocating for the idea that we need those back right away. I’ve been in schools where the students fill out his survey, and it’s three or four months, maybe even longer before we get back the results. I don’t know about you, but I’ve moved on to other stuff and I can barely remember what was going on with that particular students in that particular course or set of courses. So they really do lose value over time. They really do have an expiration date or sell by date or read by date. And I think it’ very, very important that whatever we can do to get our results back as soon as possible to review them, the better. Especially if we’re going to be doing an end of course review, then if we have that information we don’t have to wait for it and go back and try to do the review over again. It’s going to work a lot better.

Kevin Patton:                    Another thing to consider are written student reflections. I’m hearing this more and more from instructors who have as an assignment at the end of their course or near the end of their course, and I do this myself in some of my courses, have students write out a reflection. Sometimes not just at the end of the course, but also maybe midway along in the course. Those written student reflections, they can be very open. Just reflect on your experience in this course. Say whatever you want. Or it can be somewhat directed and say, “Well, you know, I would really like you to focus on the pace of the course, or the content of the course. Or the learning activities that we did. Or some other way that you could direct it”, especially if you are maybe experimenting with some things and you’re not sure how the students are reacting to them and what their thought processes are. Then you can get them to reflect on that and give you what their opinions are.

Kevin Patton:                    And so this can be part of your end of course review process, is really looking through those reflections and yes, I’m going to say it, reflecting on those reflections. Those reflections and your reflection upon them is also a great way to consolidate your understanding. So students can consolidate the understanding that they gained by taking the course by doing the reflections. And there’s actually some psychological research out there that confirms that this in fact happens.

Kevin Patton:                    Even for students who have a bad taste in their mouth. They feel like maybe their instructor wasn’t as strong as they’d like or maybe they felt like the course wasn’t organized in a way that they liked. Or maybe there was some other things going on in the environment that they didn’t like. And so, they’re feeling like, “Oh, man. I’m glad that course is over. I never want to go back again.” But a lot of times when they do their reflections and work out those feelings on paper, they kind of dissipate. And they start to step back a little bit from those feelings and really realize that there were a lot of things that they got out of the course and it really wasn’t as bad as they were first thinking. And so that, it can help with the attitude, it can help with consolidate the actual learning and understanding. And it can help us as instructors, really get a better understanding of what really happened in that course as we reflect on it.

Kevin Patton:                    Another kind of activity that we can do during our end of course review or debriefing, is to have a verbal face-to-face debriefing with the whole class or maybe small groups within the class. So I’ve done that with certain courses where on the last day, we have several different activities scheduled and one of them usually right in the middle. I don’t want it at the very beginning, I don’t want it at the very end. I want them to be in the mode of learning and in the same mindset that they ordinarily would be in in any other class in the semester.

Kevin Patton:                    And so I stop them and say, “Well, let’s just have a chat here. What worked really well for you in this course? What didn’t work so well? What suggestions do you have for me the next time around for that next group of students? What can I do differently that would help them that I didn’t do here? What can I change? What can I tweak?” And sometimes you get some really good feedback.

Kevin Patton:                    I’ll never forget the time I got some feedback where I had offered them a book to use as an option, I had the bookstore stock it. And I didn’t require them to have it. And at the end of the semester I was doing this review session and a whole bunch of them got really agitated about this book. And I’m like, “Well, didn’t it work for you?”. “No, it worked great. But the problem is you didn’t require it. It wasn’t a third of the way, a half of the way into the semester that I saw these other people using this book and asked them about it and looked at what it was and I thought, Oh man, I should have been using this all along. That would have really helped me understand things better.” And so, wow. I didn’t see that coming. And so from then on, you can be sure that that book was a required book so nobody had that negative experience of missing out on a book that had turned out that they really valued.

Kevin Patton:                    And if you do these verbal face-to-face debriefings in a very informal way, hopefully they’ve gotten to know you well enough by then to know that you’re going to be able to take criticism, and that you’re an okay person and that they really can give you some honest feedback. And the more informal the atmosphere is, I think the easier it is for students to speak up and really be honest with their feedback.

Kevin Patton:                    The other thing I strongly recommend in such a session is to take notes and make sure the students see you taking notes. The obvious reason you want to take notes is so you don’t forget anything that they’re telling you, so the important points that you want to maybe take some action on or reflect upon later, you want to make sure you write those down. But the other reason is, is when the students see you taking notes, then they know that you really are interested in what their feedback in. And that you’re not just blowing smoke and like, “Okay. We’re going to have a feedback session, whatever you say isn’t really important to me, because I’m not writing any of this down.” Don’t do that. Write it down and let them know it is important to you and that you will take it seriously. You get a lot more and a lot better information that way, I think.

Kevin Patton:                    The next step, I suggest, is that you then make a list of the changes you want to make the next time around. And actually, write down a list. I love making lists, because I love checking things off. It makes me feel really good to be able to check things off. And so I can’t do that unless I make a list first. So I always have a list in my file for each course of the things that I want to think about changing the next time around. And it could be something small like, “Oh, this policy is going to change. And so I need to make sure to update my syllabus.” Or, “Our textbook is out in a new edition, so I need to make sure to address that in all my course materials.”

Kevin Patton:                    So there’s those things. But then there’s also just the general things. Is there a new strategy that you want to experiment with? Did the strategy that you did experiment with, maybe not go as well as it could have. And so you want to tweak it a little bit next time. You’re going to forget about that until you’re partway into that next course and say, “Oh. Man I meant to change this up a little bit. I though to myself, “I wish I’d written that down.” So my point is, write it down. If you write it down, then you only have more of a chance of actually remembering to address it. So anything you can think of in any aspect of that course, write it down on a list and then you can come back to it later. That doesn’t mean you’re actually going to do everything on that list, but you’ll have seen it all and you can weed through it and say, “Well, here’s something that’s not a high priority. Here’s something that is a high priority. Here’s something I’ve thought more about. And maybe I want to put that off for a while. Or maybe I really don’t want to do it. I’ll just put that on my next year’s list and come back to that question again later.”

Kevin Patton:                    So, you want to accumulate a growing list. So things that maybe will drop off that list. You can add to them, add it to the next years list and rethink it again that following year. Now is also a good time to set some goals. And I know that we’re often forced to do these goal setting and mission and values, activities and various activities that are forced upon us by our administrators. And sometimes those go really well and they’re very productive. A lot of times they’re kind of a chore, because people aren’t really buying into them yet. They’re forced to do them. And so, this might leave a bad taste in your mouth about setting goals. But I think that if you’re setting your own goals and you’re realizing that, “Okay. My goal for next year is to redo my test banks. That is, go through all of the test items I’ve created over the years and really take a hard look at them and look at those ones that really do confuse students and see if I can fix them or maybe drop them out and replace it with something else. So that would be an example.

Kevin Patton:                    Another goal might be to read one or more books on teaching techniques, such as small teaching by James Lang. Or What the best college teachers do, by Ken Bain. Those are pretty classic books. There’s all kinds of books that you’re probably hearing about. And so make a goal that next year I’m going to read a book on how to teach better. Or maybe there’s some content area. You want to set a goal and say, “I want to learn more about the microbiome for next year, because I know that that’s an up and coming thing. And my students are going to be asking me questions about it. I’m going to be running into it more and more in the various news updates that I’m getting and so maybe I’d better do some reading on the microbiome.”

Kevin Patton:                    Maybe there’s a class you want to take? And maybe it’s a class that has nothing to do with A&P, but it’s going to help you as a person. Maybe do some stress relief or something, like an art class or a Tai chi class or yoga sessions or something like that. So all kinds of different kinds of goals that you can make. So you want to ask yourself, “What changes can be made now or soon? What changes do I want to make right before the next course? What changes are things I can do while the next course is going on? That is changes that are going on in the fly. And what changes maybe should be put on hold for a little while. So think through all of those goals that you’re listing for yourself. And then get it down to something that’s manageable. Don’t overdo it.

Kevin Patton:                    Another thing that we can do in these end of course reviews is to do our own written instructor reflection. Or it doesn’t necessarily written out by hand, but it can be typed up. It’s not a bad idea. If it works well for students, why wouldn’t it work well for us? To not only help us consolidate our insights about what went on in that particular offering of the course, but also our insights about our own feelings about the course. Because, I don’t know about you, but every time I have a course, I have a different mix of people and things go differently. Both in myself and in my students and in our interaction together. And so this helps me, it kind of forces me, because I’m writing it down, it forces me to think about all of those things and really process them and think, “Well, what is my reflection about that? What is my overall impression of what happened this semester?”

Kevin Patton:                    So it could end up making you feel a lot better about a term that you ended up getting frustrated with, at least occasionally. And then save that reflection. It could be useful for maybe reading it again before the next course starts. So, let’s say you’re not teaching over the summer and you’re ready for that next course to start in the fall. Pull that out before it happens and look at that reflection and it’ll jog your memory a little bit. And it’ll get you thinking again and some new and better ideas might even pop up and it is also likely to have the effect of getting you enthused about or more enthused about starting that new course in the following fall term.

Kevin Patton:                    You might want to think about pulling it out at the end of the next course, when you’re doing your end of course review again later, go through all your old reflections or at least some of them. Flip through them and see. Are there trends that are going on there? Are there things that you’ve mastered that you were having issues with before in your teaching or with handling students or handling the content or whatever?

Kevin Patton:                    So you could make reading previous reflections part of your end of course review process. You might also want to actually document different experiments that you’ve tried, new things that you’ve tried in your course, and then right down whether they worked or not of course, so that you have that information. But what I’m getting at here in documenting them, is so that when it’s time to fill out your promotion paperwork or maybe someone has nominated you for an award and you have to submit some things that demonstrate that you’re an innovator in the classroom. Or maybe you’re applying for a different job within your school or at a different school and you’re going to want to have a record of that. Believe me, those things fall out of your memory over the years. So if you keep a record of, “Oh yeah. This year I tried having my students draw pictures in class. This term I tried using pretests for the first time. In this term, I tried partially flipping my class.” I mean, there’s all kinds of different things, large and small. And get the small things in there too, because, just because they’re small doesn’t mean they’re ineffective or they’re not important. They are. So make sure that you’re documenting them in case you need to know that later. Or sometimes you just need to know when it was you tried it, because you need to know the timing of it for some reason.

Kevin Patton:                    And occasionally we’re asked to share with our peers. Maybe informally at a department meeting, someone will say, “Well, you tried that before Kevin. Didn’t you? Do you remember how that went for you?” And I might need to go back and jog my memory a little bit. But I’ll have documented it. I’ll have written it down so I will be able to maybe even do a presentation. But if not, at least have a conversation with the folks and tell them what I did and how I did it and how it worked out for me and what my impressions were and what I might do differently next time. Or you might be asked to do a formal presentation. Occasionally at my schools, I’m asked to do a presentation for other faculty. I’m occasionally asked to do presentations at other schools, by my friends and colleagues in other schools and in associations and so on. You might need, in order to get travel funds, you might need to do a presentation at a conference you want to go to. And you’re thinking to yourself, “What can I do? What can I do?” Well, go through these records that you’ve been keeping for a lot of the different innovations that you’ve tried and so on and an idea might strike your memory.

Kevin Patton:                    And you want to keep all that documentation for someday when you write your memoirs. My friends over in our English department tell me that memoirs are hot these days in the literature realm. So, your memoirs of years as an A&P teacher might be something that you want to do later on. And you’re going to have all the records you need. That’s probably one of the hardest things about writing memoirs is remembering all that stuff and when it happened and what exactly happened.

Kevin Patton:                    Another thing that we want to do probably at the end of our course, during that review process is to organize all our stuff. Now, I know that different people have different modes of operation this way, but I tend to really create quite a mess by the end of the semester. I don’t like having a big mess in my office, but that’s just the way I work, that’s the way my brain works. It’s a big mess.

Kevin Patton:                    And what I like to do is, at the end, before I walk out and close that door for the last time and say, “Whew! That one is over. And I can rest now.” Before I do that, I go through and I clean things up. I straighten them up, because next fall when I walk in, I want to walk in to a cleaned up, organized office, at least as far as I can get it in that direction. I’m going to feel a lot more at peace, I’m going to feel a lot more fully finished when I walk out, if I’m walking out of an organized office. If I know that all this stuff from that previous term is filed away where it’s supposed to be filed, I’m not going to have to come in and dig that all up and get it in it’s right place before I can even start on next term’s material. I’m going to feel flustered when I start next term. So I want to get that all out of the way now. And I’m going to feel better about it. I know that I’ll feel better about it.

Kevin Patton:                    So lot’s of different things that we can do during our end of year review. You might have some other things. I’d love to hear from you at the podcast hotline at 1-833-LION-DEN. That’s L-i-o-n D-e-n. Or by email. At Podcast@theapprofessor.org.

Kevin Patton:                    And I’ll just leave you with a quote from Thornton Wilder, who once said, “We can only be said to be truly alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” And I think that an end of course review is an opportunity for us to really look back and look at all of those treasures of the past semester. All of those wonderful teaching and learning moments. All of those moments that really do keep us doing what we’re doing in the classroom.

Aileen:                                 The A&P Professor is hosted by Kevin Patton, professor, blogger, and text book author in Human Anatomy and Physiology.

Kevin Patton:                    This episode was recorded in the Wooded Hills of Weldon Springs, nestled along the banks of the wide Missouri river.

 

on:                    This episode was recorded in the Wooded Hills of Weldon Springs, nestled along the banks of the wide Missouri river.

Stay Connected

The easiest way to keep up with new episodes is with the free mobile app:

download on the App Store

Available at Amazon

Google Play button

Or you can listen in your favorite podcast or radio app.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Podcasts

Spotify badge

Click here to be notified by blog post when new episodes become available (make sure The A&P Professor option is checked).

Call in

Record your question or share an idea and I may use it in a future podcast!

Toll-free:
1·833·LION·DEN
(1·833·546·6336)
Local:
1·636·486·4185
Email:
podcast@theAPprofessor.org

Share

Share buttonPlease click the orange share button at the bottom left corner of the screen to share this page!

Last updated: October 19, 2018 at 12:00 pm

No votes yet.
Please wait...