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The Inclusive Anatomy & Physiology Course | Part 1 | TAPP 108

The Inclusive Anatomy & Physiology Course | Part 1

TAPP Radio Episode 108


Episode | Quick Take

As anatomy and physiology faculty, we put a lot of effort into developing strategies for learning the core concepts of human biology. It’s easy to forget to build in some inclusive strategies that help all students grow and succeed. In this first of two episode, host Kevin Patton begins a list of simple and effective ways to make our A&P course more inclusive.

  • 00:00 | Introduction
  • 00:46 | The Inclusive Course
  • 04:45 | 1. Reflect Diversity
  • 12:21 | 2. Accessible Resources
  • 21:06 | Sponsored by AAA
  • 21:52 | 3. Inclusive Syllabus
  • 26:03 | 4. Use Inclusive Language
  • 30:25 | Sponsored by HAPI
  • 31:30 | 5. Gender Pronouns
  • 34:09 | 6. Use Preferred Names
  • 40:47 | Sponsored by HAPS
  • 41:40 | 7. Small Group Introductions
  • 46:26 | Staying Connected


Episode | Listen Now

Episode | Show Notes

Inclusive, good-quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies. (Desmond Tutu)


The Inclusive Course

4 minutes

This episode—and the next one—discuss a large basket of practical ways we can make our anatomy and physiology course more inclusive.

  • Association of College & University Eductators (AUCE) toolkit (various resources for the inclusive course) AandP.info/inclusive-teaching-6be1c1
  • ADVANCING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN HIGHER EDUCATION (report on benefits of making courses inclusive) AandP.info/8879cb

collage of varied faces with text: The Inclusive Anatomy & Physiology Course | Part 1 | TAPP 108


1. Reflect Diversity

7.5 minutes

Think about how we can reflect diversity in our society and in our world.


2. Accessible Resources

7.5 minutes

Are our resources accessible to all students—and not just those students in our course right now?


Sponsored by AAA

1 minute

A searchable transcript for this episode, as well as the captioned audiogram of this episode, are sponsored by the American Association for Anatomy (AAA) at anatomy.org.

Searchable transcript

Captioned audiogram 

Don’t forget—HAPS members get a deep discount on AAA membership!

AAA logo


3. Inclusive Syllabus

4 minutes

Are there opportunities in our syllabus to be more inclusive?

  • AUCE toolkit #3 (resources related to this tip) https://aandp.info/inclusive-teaching-4e7522
  • The Syllabus Special | TAPP 75 (includes discussion of Test Zero)
  • Diversity Statement On a Syllabus (one of many how-to articles available to help you) AandP.info/diversity-statement-ee204a
  • Kevin’s syllabus (my Pre-A&P syllabus has a number of features that promote inclusion; did I miss something? If so, let me know!) lionden.com/fis.htm
  • Kevin’s pronoun page (every time I use (he/him), including my syllabus, I link it to this page) lionden.com/pronouns.htm


4. Use Inclusive Language

4.5 minutes

Our language is evolving to be more inclusive—both in science and in society at large. Keeping up with and using inclusive language makes our course more inclusive.


Sponsored by HAPI Online Graduate Program

1 minute

The Master of Science in Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction—the MS-HAPI—is a graduate program for A&P teachers, especially for those who already have a graduate/professional degree. A combination of science courses (enough to qualify you to teach at the college level) and courses in contemporary instructional practice, this program helps you be your best in both on-campus and remote teaching. Kevin Patton is a faculty member in this program at Northeast College of Health Sciences. Check it out!


Logo of Northeast College of Health Sciences, Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction


5. Gender Pronouns

2.5 minutes

Using our preferred gender pronouns invites students to be their authentic selves in our course.


6. Use Preferred Names

6.5 minutes

Using a student’s preferred name—not necessarily the one on the roster and not necessarily the version you can pronounce more easily—values a student’s personal identity and therefore improves inclusion in our course. Preferred pronunciation of their name is important, too.


Sponsored by HAPS

1 minute

The Human Anatomy & Physiology Society (HAPS) is a sponsor of this podcast.  You can help appreciate their support by clicking the link below and checking out the many resources and benefits found there. Watch for virtual town hall meetings and upcoming regional meetings!

Anatomy & Physiology Society


HAPS logo


7. Small Group Introductions

5 minutes

Starting the course with opportunities for students to introduce themselves in small groups can jumpstart the building of an inclusive course culture.

  • AUCE toolkit #7 (resources related to this tip) https://aandp.info/inclusive-teaching-e08b9e
  • The Syllabus Special | TAPP 75 (where I describe my first-day, small-group introduction activity)

Need help accessing resources locked behind a paywall?
Check out this advice from Episode 32 to get what you need!

Episode | Captioned Audiogram

Episode | Transcript

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 audio player provided.

AAA logoThis searchable transcript is supported by the
American Association for Anatomy.
I'm a member—maybe you should be one, too!

PDF icon


Kevin Patton (00:01):
The late Desmond Tutu once wrote, “inclusive good quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies.”

Aileen (00:15):
Welcome to The A&P Professor. A few minutes to focus on teaching human anatomy and physiology with a veteran educator and teaching mentor, your host, Kevin Patton.

Kevin Patton (00:30):
This is the first of two episodes discussing ways to make our A&P course more inclusive.

The Inclusive Course

Kevin Patton (00:46):
I want to be an inclusive educator. I want my course to be an inclusive course, but what does that really mean? And why do I want to do that? Well, the way I’m using inclusive here is that I want to include all students, and not only do I want to feel like all students are included but I want them to feel included. And I think even the most important part of that whole equation is that they feel included because then they’ll be engaged in learning and they’ll be a true cool part of the whole learning community that I’m trying to establish in my course. But the trick is how do I do that? Well, I’ve been teaching for decades and even though I can’t say that I’ve always used the term inclusion and inclusiveness, I’ve always felt that way. I’ve always felt that I didn’t want to leave any of my students behind.

Kevin Patton (01:45):
I didn’t want to leave any of them outside of what we were doing in class and I’ve always wanted them to feel included. So whether I’ve used that term or not, I’ve been working on this for a long time and I’m not finished. I continue to work on it. And I think that’s the key, it’s to continue to work on it. And so over time, I find out that there are things that I’m doing or the way I have things set up in my course that are making people feel excluded or actually excluding them in some real way and I don’t even know it. So part of my work over these decades has been trying to find out what do other people do? How do students feel? How do things affect students? So that I can continually reexamine my course and reexamine myself as a teacher in finding out what are the things that I can do better?

Kevin Patton (02:43):
How do I do them better? What are the practical methods that are out there that I can use to make myself a more inclusive teacher? And in doing that,…

I recently ran across a tool, actually a tool kit. That’s what it’s called, a toolkit, that was put together a number of years ago by The Association of College and University Educators, ACUE. And they came up with 10 tips on how we can be more inclusive educators. And those tips have been very useful to me. And they’re pretty generic, so what I’m going to do is go through each one of those tips and apply it to the anatomy and physiology course and bring in some things I learned about using them and some things that I can do as I do better, because honestly, as I went through this list, I ran across things that I had not thought about in a while.

Kevin Patton (03:39):
And really needed to see again in order to make my course more inclusive. And then at the end of that, I added a few more things that I’ve learned along the way so we’re kind of starting out with the ACUE tool kit for having an inclusive course, inclusive teaching practices, but we’re going to add a few of Kevin’s practices. Not that I invented them, I just picked him up along the way and added to it. And so you’re thinking to yourself, oh my gosh, we’re going to have a three hour long episode and no, we’re not. I’ve divided this up into two episodes so we’re going to do this over two episodes, the first seven we’re going to do in this episode and then I have eight more that we’re going to do in the next episode. So let’s go ahead and get started. So each little mini-segment is going to be a different one of these tips that we can review to see if there’s something embedded in there that we can use to make our courses more inclusive.

Reflect Diversity

Kevin Patton (04:45):
The first strategy that I want to discuss in helping me become a more inclusive teacher and helping make my course more inclusive is to ensure that our course reflects a diverse society and a diverse world. But what does that really mean? Of course, I recognize that our society is diverse, and I recognize that our world is diverse. That’s my world-view. And well, if it’s not, I guess I need to work on that, and well, to be honest with you, that can always be better. The more I learn about what’s going on in the world, the more I learn about history and culture, the more things I discover, the more diversity is revealed to me. So that’s a good thing, but really I think this strategy focuses more on how do we apply that to our course and to our teaching? And the way we do that is by being intentional about it. So when we’re developing a learning activity or we’re facilitating a learning activity, we very often are focused on what is the learning outcome we’re looking for here? What are the concepts involved?

Kevin Patton (06:08):
How are we going to get our students to understand those concepts and explore those concepts? And we’re focused on that content and we’re not so focused generally speaking on bringing a message of diversity of making sure that diversity is represented there because we’re focused on the concept. And so this strategy says, let’s be more intentional when we select images, when we select other kinds of multimedia, when we select examples when we tell stories. In our course, let’s try to be intentional about making them diverse. So not only does that mean bringing in the things that are in the textbook, which by the way, are becoming more diverse in their presentation as well. But looking outside those resources that we typically use and bring in other resources that are even more to verse, for example, if I’m discussing digestion in my course, I will not only use the usual images and multimedia and so on to help my students, but I will also bring in other images of people eating, of food, talking about kinds of food, asking students share about different kinds of new food experiences they’ve had and so on.

Kevin Patton (07:43):
All of those things are going to increase the diversity of experience of our students in our course. And it’s not just with food obviously, it’s in everything. If we just keep that in our minds, if we’re intentional about it, then we can do that. And by the way, if you want to bring in more media, there’s lots of resources available to find media and I’ve collected some of those at a webpage at theAPprofessor.org website, just go to theAPprofessor.org/media, and you’ll see all kinds of collections of media of different kinds. Some of them are free photographs. And some of them are anatomical images, physiological images, all kinds of histology, dissection images, all kinds of things. There’s more and more availability of images that are free to use and are very high-quality images that we can bring in and as we’re selecting those if we can bear in mind that we want to be as diverse as possible in our representations and that’s great. And when we think about learning activities like case studies, I love many case studies.

Kevin Patton (08:56):
Have I ever mentioned that in previous episodes? I think I have that. But I love, love, love many, that’s three times, many case studies. And when I do that, I make up little stories about people and about their experiences and then I ask students to interpret those experiences in terms of what they know about how the body works. About what’s going on with that person’s blood pressure or blood glucose level or breathing rate or whatever it is that we’re trying to learn at that particular moment, and when I do that, am I using names and context that are diverse? Or am I always talking about me and my family, which actually is a somewhat diverse family anyway, but it’s certainly nowhere near as diverse as I can be and try to be when I’m making up those little stories. So I always try to be intentional about making sure that it’s not always the same people, with the same cultural background, the same skin color, the same beliefs, all those different ways in which we can be diverse.

Kevin Patton (10:05):
Another thing is when I’m bringing in news articles, I will sometimes say, hey, there was just something in Science News, or there was something in the Nature journal or in the Science journal, or any one of a number of places that affects what we’re talking about right now. When I do that, I very often will look at the authors of the original research and look and see if that represents diversity, and usually, it does in a variety of ways, in surprising ways, more and more, we see that there are collaborations of people from around the world in labs in different parts of the world. And we see that this Japanese female researcher is collaborating with this white male European researcher and they’re collaborating with an indigenous person from South America.

Kevin Patton (10:59):
We can point that out and say, oh, look at this collaboration, people from all over the world in different backgrounds are coming together to make this discovery. And so that is a representation of diversity and it really helps our students understand that we live in an increasingly diverse global society, and that there are these connections being made and that we can be part of that. It strengthens science when we do that. And I do a similar thing when I bring in some of the history of science and talk about some of the contributions of people from groups outside the groups that we normally hear about. And not only can that make some of my students feel more included, it builds up an attitude of appreciating diversity that is going to help the whole group, the whole class relate to one another in a different way that values diversity. We’re going to circle back to that in a later strategy, but this kind of sets the stage for that. Strategy number one is to make sure that we’re intentional about making our course reflect a diverse society and a diverse world.

Accessible Resources

Kevin Patton (12:21):
The second strategy that I want to discuss for making ourselves and our courses more inclusive overlaps the one that we just talked about and that was making sure that our courses were select a diverse society and world. And we said that a part of that is looking at the media that we use. So the second strategy is to take another kind of look at the media and not only ensure that we’re being intentionally diverse in selecting our media but also making sure that any media we use is accessible. And so that’s going to include people that have challenges in accessing media from only one angle or only one format. For example, we want to use a variety of media, to begin with because I think that makes a course more engaging anyway, and we know that different people really have preferences for different kinds of media and get more engaged more immediately in different kinds of media.

Kevin Patton (13:24):
So that can’t hurt. I’m not saying it’s a barrier, but it can’t hurt, but there are people that have actual barriers to certain kinds of media. I happen to be hearing-impaired. I’m hard of hearing and I do wear hearing aids, and I have other methods that I use like lip reading and so on to help fill in the blanks there. But there are some things I just don’t catch. Sometimes it depends, but if I’m accessing media, then usually if it’s accessible media, there’s something I can do. I can turn on some captions, some closed captions. I can maybe turn up the volume or play it on a different kind of player where the volume can be amplified more than typical and then I have better access to it that there aren’t things I miss, because I want to be included. I want to feel included as a learner and as an instructor too.

Kevin Patton (14:20):
I mean, we want to be included don’t we? We want to make sure that when we are creating a video that we’re thinking about people that are hearing-impaired, and we’re thinking about people with visual challenges, and we’re thinking about people with what language challenges and so on, and trying to make it as accessible as possible. Now, sometimes we’re choosing a video, and when we choose a video, we need to be intentional in that choosing process to not only look at how it’s helping our students learn, but we need to look at how are our students going to access this? And I’m talking here about not only the students that we have this term, but students that we might ever have because our materials need to be accessible from day one. And it’s not something that we really can go back and say, oh, well, give me three months to go back and add captions to all my stuff.

Kevin Patton (15:23):
No, we need to do that from day one. We need to prepare ahead of time because if we have this inclusive attitude, we’re going to want to do it that way. Of course, one of the tricks is, we know some of the answers about how to make videos or audio files like this podcast and so on, more accessible to various kinds of consumers of that media. But we need to think about things that maybe we don’t ordinarily think such as the documents we give out like our syllabus, our handouts, papers that we want students to read. We need to think about any slide presentations that we give. Just all kinds of different things, even discussion groups. Is the discussion accessible to everyone in there? If we have a person who’s hearing-impaired, are they going to be able to hear the other people?

Kevin Patton (16:14):
Are they going to be able to hear the conversation? That’s a particular challenge for me I know because using my hearing aids, even though they’re very high tech hearing aids, even so, even if I adjust them, if I’m in a room where there’s all these small groups talking, and I’m in a small group, I have a really hard time understanding the person talking because there’s all this background noise. My brain can filter out some of that, but not all of it because of these hearing aids that I’m using, that also can filter out some of that, but not all of it. And so it’s a real challenge. And when that small group is set up in a way that I can’t see everyone’s face, then that makes it even more of a challenge. So these days when everybody’s wearing masks and so on, that is really hard.

Kevin Patton (17:04):
And our schools will often give a clear mask to the teacher, but they won’t give a clear mask to all the students in the class so that a hearing-impaired student can hear all the other students. So this is an issue, and we need to think about these things, think about all the different kinds of things we’re doing in our course, and intend for it to be accessible. Now you may not have realized that thing with the small groups and the issue with the masks and so on if you’re not hearing and impaired yourself, and why we need to get some additional training and talk to people that have some of these challenges and ask them questions and learn from that. And so a lot of the things that I do to make my courses more accessible are things that I do to be more accessible in the way I interact with students or things that I’ve learned the hard way by making mistakes and having people correct me.

Kevin Patton (17:57):
And there are also things that I’ve learned in various discussions with other instructors and educators and discussions I’ve had with people whose business it is trying to increase accessibility for different kinds of learners. What I’ve found is, if I continue to work on that always, then I get better and better and better at it. Well, of course, I do. Anyone would, right? So let’s do that. I’m encouraging us all to join in on that and share with each other what we learn, especially those practical little tips that really do help students. Another thing that I’ve learned along the way is when I create anything in a course, I need to be thinking about accessibility because it’s much, much better, and it’s much easier to make every learning object I create accessible from the start when I create it, rather than going back and trying to retrofit it because sometimes I end up having to do it all over anyway.

Kevin Patton (19:03):
So I’m just doubling my effort. If I do it from the beginning, then I don’t have that problem. But secondly, it usually ends up being better for all students. So when I add captions to a video, there are a lot more students than just those who are hearing-impaired that get a benefit from that. Many students benefit from seeing the text being printed along with the vocal expression of what is being said in that particular video and that’s just one example. There are many other examples of where things that were meant to make things accessible to people with particular challenges, actually wind up making things universally accessible. So there we go, a universal design, the whole idea of universal design is to make everything as accessible to everyone, easy to access for everyone, whether they have big challenges or little challenges or no identifiable challenges.

Kevin Patton (20:03):
And another thing along with that I want to throw in there before we wrap this one up, and that is, it really helps to learn how to do it correctly. So if you’re adding in alt-tags, which are little descriptions that can be embedded in digital versions of an image, if you have an alt-tag that is describing an image, it’s not a bad idea to get a little bit of training or look up how to do that well. Because if it were me, I’d have a six paragraph long description of every detail when all they really need to know is a brief sentence about that image. They don’t really need to know all the detail. And so if I don’t know that that’s the way to do it correctly, then I’m going to be maybe doing more harm than good for some of those students. So learning how to do it correctly is a noble goal as well. So that’s our strategy. Ensure that our course and media are accessible.

Sponsored by AAA

Kevin Patton (21:06):
Before we move on to our next segment I just want to take a brief moment to remind you that there’s a searchable transcript and a caption audiogram of this episode and every episode available at the episode page. In the TAPP app, which is our dedicated podcast app and at listennotes.com and on our YouTube channel, these high-quality transcripts are funded by AAA the American Association for Anatomy, publishers of that popular journal for teaching and learning anatomy and physiology called Anatomical Sciences Education, check it out at anatomy.org.

Inclusive Syllabus

Kevin Patton (21:53):
The third strategy that I want to discuss for making our courses and ourselves more inclusive is to ensure that our syllabus sets the tone for diversity and inclusion. Now, I know only one point 0.5% of our students ever read that syllabus, but there are some things that we can do and that we’ve discussed in past episodes for making that percentage higher in our course, a lot more of my students in 1.5%, read the syllabus for a couple of reasons. One is I have a first-day activity that I’ve described in previous episodes. I’ll link to it in the show notes at the episode page. But yeah, I have a first-day activity where my students really have to climb into that syllabus and find answers to questions that they’ve developed already about the course like, well, how many tests are there going to be?

Kevin Patton (22:47):
What kind of tests are they? Is attendance required? Are there going to be pop quizzes? You know, all those questions that any student including myself is going to have when I walk in the first-day so that’s what I am doing the first-day. It’s well, list out your questions. Okay, next one, here’s the syllabus. Now, in your small groups, let’s help each other find the answers to those. And so that’s my first-day activity. Another thing I do is I have a test zero, which I’ve mentioned several times in past episodes, and that’s where I have a preliminary test before their first topic test or module test or chapter test or whatever you want to call it, which is a refresher, it’s reviewing concepts that they’ve learned in previous courses, whether that’s their other biology and chemistry courses that they’ve taken before A&P, or even in high school or something like that, or maybe it’s a refresher of things that they did in A&P 1, now that we’re in A&P 2.

Kevin Patton (23:45):
And so I’ll have a refresher course, but embedded in there are questions from the syllabus because it’s an open book, open resource test. So they can go in again to their syllabus and look around and see what’s in there to answer the questions from test zero. So you might have your own ways for getting students to engage with the syllabus, at least engage with the things that are important for that student in that syllabus. And as they’re doing all this rating of information, like let’s go get this little bit of treasure and that little bit of treasure that we need, maybe they’ll bump up against some things that you are saying in your syllabus about diversity and inclusion. Maybe you have a diversity statement of some sort, or maybe it’s woven into the way that you’re explaining the various other course policies and procedures and so on in your syllabus.

Kevin Patton (24:39):
And you’re valuing diversity and you’re explaining that you want to be inclusive, you’re explaining that you want to address any issues that students have, that you want them to be a full part of the course and the learning process. If you do that in your syllabus, if you’re intentional about that in your syllabus, then that’s going to help make your course more inclusive, and by the very nature of what’s going on there, that means that you are being an inclusive educator. And as far as a diversity statement goes, I have some links for how to do that as well so you might want to check out the links in the show notes at the episode page. Wrapping this one up, go to your syllabus and make sure that’s setting the tone for diversity and inclusion. My syllabus happens to be online, or at least there’s an online version of it and in there I’ve embedded some little photos, partly just to make it a little bit interesting. So it’s not some huge block of text, because that’s always scary to everybody including me.

Kevin Patton (25:46):
So I embedded in there some interesting and engaging photographs and I’ll make sure that those are diverse. Remember how we talked about how making sure that our media that’s diverse can be helpful? Well, we can do that in our syllabus as well.

Use Inclusive Language

Kevin Patton (26:04):
A fourth strategy for helping us be more inclusive educators and helping make our courses more inclusive is by using inclusive language. And again, it’s all about being intentional here, the intent to use inclusive language. I know for myself, that’s a personal goal of mine. I want to speak in a way that’s inclusive, but I’m always finding that I have patterns that I’ve developed over decades of life that are not very inclusive, maybe even actively exclusive of certain groups.

Kevin Patton (26:40):
And it’s just the way I talk. And I have a choice, do I just say that well, that’s just the way I’ve always spoken, or do I say, oops, I don’t mean to do that. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to harm people that way so I’m going to try my best to change those habits. Now, it takes time and I make mistakes all the of time. But when I make those mistakes, I come back to them and I try to do better and try to make inclusive language my habit. And one of the first steps in making inclusive language my habit is to figure out what the inclusive language is. That is take those active steps, take some time and effort to look into ways of speaking, ways of expressing things and writing that are not inclusive, and figure out well, why aren’t they inclusive?

Kevin Patton (27:38):
Because knowing the why, always helps me make future decisions. Why aren’t they inclusive? And why are these newer ways of speaking more inclusive? And how can I incorporate those in what I’m doing in my course? That’s something I’ve been putting a lot of work into recently because as a textbook author, I want my textbook to be inclusive. And I don’t always know how to do that. I don’t always know which phrases or terms I’m using that are not inclusive. And so I need to not only figure out those but I need to figure out, well, how do I say it then? What’s the other option? What’s the inclusive option? I think I know what happened, when we use inclusive language, our students feel acknowledged. They feel like their personhood is acknowledged and you might think to yourself, oh, get over it.

Kevin Patton (28:38):
They have to live in the real world. Well, you know what the real world evolves and I think that we should be on the leading edge of that evolution if we’re going to be competent educators. And if we’re going to value our students, if you’re not valuing your students, you’re listening to the wrong podcast. But also I think that maybe you should reconsider your career choice. Yeah, we all value our students, don’t we? And so we want to include them in a really powerful way and doing that is using inclusive language and doing that, we’re going to help build a better, stronger, more effective learning community in our course and on our campus. And our students are going to do better because they’re going to relate better to us and they’re going to relate better to the other students in that little learning community, that learning culture, that we’re building within our course.

Kevin Patton (29:37):
And so this is something that I’ve really been working on and the more I work on it, the more I realize I really have a lot more work to do and so when you hear me not being inclusive or using terminology in this podcast on different episodes and it’s not inclusive, call me out on it. Call the podcast hotline, send me an odor, whatever, because I want to be better and you can help me be better. We can all help each other be better when we do that and when we put effort into it. So our strategy number four is to do the best we can in using inclusive language and that includes studying up on what that new and evolving language is.

Sponsored by HAPI

Kevin Patton (30:25):
Hey, I hope you didn’t pay anything extra to listen to this podcast because well, it’s available for free listening almost anywhere you listen to audio. That free distribution of this podcast is sponsored by the Master of Science in Human Anatomy and Physiology Instruction. The HAPI degree. As a faculty member of this program at Northeast College of Health Sciences, I get to be one of those sideline coaches, as each cohort of diverse learners puts their prior masters and doctoral degrees to a different and expanded use as they explore contemporary evidence-based strategies to teach all the core concepts of both anatomy and physiology. Check out this online graduate program at northeastcollege.edu/hapi, that’s H-A-P-I. Or click the link in the show notes or episode page.

Gender Pronouns

Kevin Patton (31:30):
The fifth strategy that I want to discuss regarding making our courses more inclusive and making ourselves more inclusive educators is to share our gender pronouns. And I talked about this way back in episode 41, but here it is again as a reminder to go ahead and dive into this recent practice that has been developing among professionals to include their gender pronouns after their name. When I go to a Zoom meeting, I’ll see a scattering of these. I try to do that, well, not try, I do it in Zoom meetings, you’ll see Kevin Patton and then he/him afterwards and on Microsoft Teams, you can’t really do that if you’re using a corporate or school account so if anybody knows a way to do that and where I can do it and not have the college IT administrator do it, I sure would like to hear it. So drop me a line sometime. But on many of those platforms, we can do that. So I can do it in my syllabus. I can do it on these interactive web meeting platforms. I can do it in a variety of areas and I do.

Kevin Patton (32:47):
I try to do it everywhere because well, for a variety of reasons. This is a growing trend to sort of signal to people that you have an inclusive attitude, that you want to know what the gender pronouns are of everyone that you interact with. So the way you do that is by saying, well, here’s mine, so feel free to share yours. Well, I want every student in my course to be free to be themselves because if they’re not free to be themselves, they’re not going to be as an engaged learner. They’re not going to interact as freely, and they’re not going to learn as effectively. It really does affect learning, and engagement, and all of these things that this positive learning community culture that we’re trying to build in our courses is going to be damaged when students don’t feel free to use the identity that they feel most comfortable with.

Kevin Patton (33:49):
And by using my gender pronouns, that’s going to open up that door and say you can use your gender pronouns in this course as well. We want to include you, whoever you are, share that with us and we will include you. You will be part of us. T.

Use Preferred Names

Kevin Patton (34:09):
he number six strategy that I want to discuss in this episode about trying to get our courses to be more inclusive and trying to help develop ourselves as more inclusive educators is to use each student’s preferred name or names. And that’s something I also discussed back in episode 41, but here it is again and it’s a good reminder to us that a lot of students in their enrollment documents use their legal name, which they’re supposed to use, right? But that’s not necessarily how they’re known to friends and family. And to have a really strong learning environment, it’s not a bad idea to encourage us to all think of each other as friends and family within that learning community.

Kevin Patton (35:00):
And so if we have a student who maybe really dislikes their legal name, or certainly doesn’t prefer their legal name, but has a nickname or a shortened version of their legal name that they’d rather use, then let’s use it. And so that ought to be one of the first steps that we do in our course is to learn the preferred names of our students. And how do we do that? By asking them. Say, look, I want to use your preferred name. What name do you want to use in this course? What will make you feel most comfortable? And we can do that on a one-by-one basis, or we can do that in a group basis and invite students to let us know what their preferred name is. But that does a couple of things when we do it right at the beginning.

Kevin Patton (35:48):
I mean the obvious one is that we are going to start using the names that they want to be addressed by. So that’s going to strengthen that bond between me and them. It’s also going to do this other thing of being a model for all the other students to address that person with their preferred name. So that’s going to strengthen all those interest student bonds and so, yep. That’s that learning community that’s being built up, that ideal culture of learning that we’re striving to build and nurture and our course is going to be improved by doing that. But another thing that we’re doing at the beginning is signaling to everyone that this is going to be an inclusive group and I am trying to adopt an inclusive attitude here. Whether you have a preferred name or not, that’s going to affect you.

Kevin Patton (36:42):
It’s going to affect you that, oh, this is the kind of group it’s going to be. This is the kind of class it’s going to be. This is the kind of professor that I have for this course. Someone who includes everyone, who wants to value every personhood. So yeah, this is going to increase inclusion in our course. I think there’s some other steps that we can take too. And that is to make sure that we pronounce it correctly and really take the time to do that. And one thing that is not inclusive and I feel is exclusive in many cases, is when someone has a name that’s maybe not easy to pronounce. And this happens a lot when we have a language system that we’re very comfortable in, I’m very comfortable in the Midwestern dialect of American English. And when I’m asked to pronounce a word or a name that is not using word parts of phone names put together in a way that I’m used to seeing them put together, then that’s difficult for me.

Kevin Patton (37:49):
And I have a choice. And one choice is not the best choice. And that is to say, oh, your name is, whatever this name is and you just picked the first syllable, and do you mind if I call you Al? Well, no, I just told you. They’re thinking to themselves, no, I just told. You asked me what my preferred name is, I told you what my preferred name is, and you’ve decided you’re not going to take the extra time and effort to learn it. You’re just going to take their first syllable and call me that. Or you’re going to take their name and somehow convert it to a typical anglicized name from the Midwestern United States. That’s not that person’s name and you as the professor have quite a bit of power in that situation. So if you say, do you mind if I call you Al? Then you’re sort of telling them I’m not going to call you by your preferred name. I’m going to call you Al if you like it or not.

Kevin Patton (38:43):
Even if that’s not your intent, that’s going to be the message received and that’s not inclusive. That is excluding that person. And so what I do in cases like that, because I do have difficulty sometimes, I ask that person when I see them alone to help me practice that. Am I getting that right? Tell me if I’m not saying it right because I want to say it right, and actually practice it. Maybe write down a little phoneme spelling or something. One little note card that I carry in my pocket and practice it in-between times. If we take that extra effort, that’s going to make a huge, huge difference for that student. And by doing that, it’s going to have an impact on the whole class because they’re going to see me getting it right and not dismissing it like they’ve seen some other instructors do. And so learning and using and pronouncing correctly a student’s preferred name can really be a pretty potent way to make our courses more inclusive and that certainly helps me be a more inclusive person because I’m taking that time and effort to do that.

Kevin Patton (39:54):
Another thing that we can do in this regard is to help students get that preferred name in places where it needs to be. Sure it needs to be on the enrollment registration system for our institution, their legal name, but if they have a different preferred name, then maybe we can get that into the learning management system somehow, or maybe we can get it into Zoom or get it into some of these other platforms to help them feel more like themselves when they’re interacting with each other as a class. So that is our strategy. Then going forward right is to learn and use students preferred names, and when we say use, we mean actually use them. Get them out there everywhere and also pronounce them correctly because that’s part of using them, right?

Sponsored by HAPS

Kevin Patton (40:47):
Marketing support for this podcast is provided by HAPS the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society whose main focus is sharing techniques in science and experiences in teaching A&P. Looking for teaching tips and articles outlining research about what works in teaching and learning anatomy and physiology? Well, check out the HAPS Educator Journal. Want more than that? Well, then I invite you to join us for our regular town hall meetings and our regional and national conferences. And then you can find out why first-timers just keep on coming back. Get more information online at theAPprofessor.org/haps, that’s H-A-P-S.

Small Group Introductions

Kevin Patton (41:41):
Another strategy for inclusion in our course and in ourselves as teachers is to engage students in a small group activity in which they introduce themselves to each other and chat among each other a little bit and just have a conversation. And if we do that at the beginning of the course, and I’ve already alluded to this before, not only in this episode but in past episodes, I have that first activity where students specifically do that.

Kevin Patton (42:10):
That’s the very first thing they do before they look syllabus, where they talk about the course or anything. What I have them do is get them into small groups and just introduce themselves to each other and I give them a couple of prompts and say, well you can talk about why you’re taking A&P or why you’re going to this school. What are things you like to do outside of class? You know, those kinds of things to get them started and most of the time they don’t need that. They just start it right away and start introducing each other and asking each other questions and so on, and do you know what? That early opportunity to do this with a small group, not the whole class, not introductions to the whole class, but introductions to just a small group get them connected in a very powerful way to a few other individuals.

Kevin Patton (42:57):
And once they build that, it’s now easy for students to start connecting outside of that small group with more and more individuals from the larger course. So what we’ve done by doing this early introductions’ activity is not only start getting students connected with one another, we’ve done the first step of building that learning community I’ve been talking about all along, with that culture of inclusion that I’ve been talking about all along because we’re now forming a group where everyone’s included. That is now a new social group that has just been created over here in this corner and another one over there in that corner, and one right in the middle here. And as they do those introductions, even if they all kind of look alike in that group, they all look like they’re cut from the same cloth. There’s going to be a diversity of some sort there.

Kevin Patton (43:53):
There are a lot of things that are hidden when you look at someone that makes them different from you or me. And so that might come up in the conversation or the first little clues of that might start coming up in that initial conversation and the more they share with each other, the more diversity will appear. That they’re coming at this from different directions maybe, for different reasons, they have different backgrounds, they have different issues in their life. I teach at a community college and there, boy, we have a lot of diversity. And so you’ll have a student fresh out of high school in the same group with someone who’s been out of school for 20 years and they’re coming back, or you’ll have a student who may be fresh out of high school, but they’re already a single parent, or maybe they’re not a single parent, but they’re a parent of young children.

Kevin Patton (44:45):
And so you have all these diverse experiences that are being brought to bear there. They might also be coming from different parts of town or even different towns and they have that kind of diversity too that they’re now sharing with one another. And what that does is it forms those connections and makes it clear that we are a group of diverse learners and we value each other because we just met each other in a friendly context and we’re built this learning community together. So engaging students in small groups from the get-go, from the very first thing, and in my small group activity at the beginning of the course, it’s the very first thing, before I do anything is… Well, okay. The first thing I do is tell them what class they’re in and who I am in case they’re in the wrong room.

Kevin Patton (45:35):
And if they are in the wrong room, I point them in the right direction. So once that’s out of the way, I tell them to get together in small groups and introduce each other. And while they’re doing that I’m getting the syllabus all sorted out and all that stuff and I pass that around to each group and get all those other things going. So that’s not the only thing we do on the first-day, but I give them a good period of time to get to know each other a little bit at the beginning there. And I think that helps build that culture that I want to build in my course. You might have a different way of doing it and if so, then you can share that with us. Well, I just want to remind you that these strategies are not the end of the list. I have a whole nother set of strategies that I’m going to share in the next episode. So stay tuned for that.

Staying Connected

Kevin Patton (46:26):
Hey, if you got anything at all out of this episode, will you return the favor by mentioning it to a colleague? Just go to theAPprofessor.org/refer to get a personal share link that you can give your friend to get them right to this episode. And I always have links to additional resources. If you don’t see links in your podcast player, go to the show notes at the episode page at theAPprofessor.org/108, and while you’re there, you can claim your digital credential for listening to this episode. That badge will help you keep track of your professional development experiences and it’ll show others that you really do care about growing as an effective A&P professor.

Kevin Patton (47:16):
And you’re always welcome to call in with your questions, comments, and ideas on the podcast hotline. That’s 1-833-LION-DEN, or 1-833-546-6336, or send a recording, a written message to podcast@theAPprofessor.org. And you’re invited to join my private A&P teaching community way off the social platforms at theAPprofessor.org/community. And don’t forget, I have more tips on keeping our A&P course inclusive in our next episode. That is episode 109. And in the meantime, I’ll see you down the road.

Aileen (48:05):
The A&P Professor is hosted by Dr. Kevin Patton, an award-winning professor and textbook author in human anatomy & physiology .

Kevin Patton (48:18):
Please apply this podcast only to the affected area.

Kevin Patton (48:34):
We’re living in strange times, aren’t we? There’s a lot of health misinformation and disinformation coming at us from all directions. As science faculty, we have an obligation to promote only evidence-based information and critical analysis. Let’s all help each other keep everyone safe and healthy.

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Last updated: August 27, 2023 at 14:42 pm

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