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Mid-Semester Check-Ins Keep Your A&P Course on TrackTAPP Radio Ep. 38 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 LISTEN button provided.

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Episode 38 Transcript

Mid-Semester Check-Ins Keep Your A&P Course on Track

Kevin Patton: Author Brené Brown once wrote, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”

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 talk about sperm speed, hematopoiesis in the gut, what happens when you swallow a Lego? I introduce a new sponsor, and I talk about mid semester check ins.

Kevin Patton: There’s some information about sperm motility that came out recently that you might find useful in answering student questions in your A&P course. And that is that, slower sperm sometimes don’t make it through the narrower parts of the female reproductive tract.

Kevin Patton: So, when we’re looking at fertility in general, or just how sperm work in general, and we talk about recognizing that some sperm are fast and summer slow. Well, it turns out that’s an important difference in terms of ability to get to an egg.

Kevin Patton: The sperm that are faster are able to better get through the narrower spots, because at the narrower spots in the reproductive tract of the female, the current of fluid can be really high and they could be having to swim up against that current. And studies have already shown that sperm that sort of hug the wall of the reproductive tract are more likely to make it to the egg than those that are going straight down the middle.

Kevin Patton: We find that’s true that when you get to a narrowing, that the sperm that are very fast, might be able to very quickly get through that high current area in the narrowed region by swimming along the side, and then zipping right through that narrowed area. But those that are slow moving, keep getting pushed back by the current, and then they try again, but they’re just moving so slow, they can’t make it past that current.

Kevin Patton: So, it’s sort of filtering out those narrowed spaces or filtering out the slower moving sperm. So, it’s really only the faster moving sperm that are able to get to the egg, at least in some cases.

Kevin Patton: This podcast is sponsored by HAPS, the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, promoting excellence in the teaching of human anatomy and physiology for over 30 years. Go visit HAPS at theAPprofessor.org/haps.

Kevin Patton: Hey, I’m going to the Southern Regional conference in Louisville at the end of March. But the early bird rate for our conference registration, and the ability to put in a proposal for a workshop or a poster is coming right up here on March 1st. So, you might want to check that out at theAPprofessor.org/haps.

Kevin Patton: In the previous episode, that is Episode 37, I talked a little bit about the idea of reserve hematopoiesis in the bone marrow. A and I want to bring up hematopoiesis again because I want to point out another bit of recent research that was published a few months ago by some folks at Columbia University, which showed that there is significant hematopoiesis going on in the intestine.

Kevin Patton: And they claim that maybe up to 10% blood cells that are in circulation came from hematopoietic processes occurring in the intestines. And they were more specifically looking at patients with Crohn’s disease, and other diseases of the intestine where an intestinal transplant took place, that is an allograft from one individual’s intestine into the intestines of the patient.

Kevin Patton: And because hematopoiesis goes on in that intestinal tissue, the hematopoietic stem cells and some progenitor cells that are involved in hematopoiesis were transplanted along with what we normally think of is intestinal tissue. And as they monitor the situation in a number of patients over a period of time, they found that both the donor, and the recipient white blood cells were circulating in the bloodstream of the recipient.

Kevin Patton: So, at least for a while, that recipient became a chimera, and not only the fact that they had this allograft of tissue from another person in their intestine, but also in their blood. They had a mix of white blood cells from the donor, and the white blood cells that were already there from the recipient.

Kevin Patton: And they found that there was interaction between those two populations, and while they call it immunological cross talk between those two sets of blood cells that was basically protecting the transplant from the recipients immune system, but also protecting the patient from any immunological reaction from the transplant. So it turns out that, having that hematopoietic tissue in the intestinal tract actually, works out great for intestinal transplants, for allografts of intestinal tissue.

Kevin Patton: And over time, eventually, the recipients own white blood cells become dominant, and the donor derived cells fade away, and are no longer dominant and may not even be present at all after a period of time. And, of course, we have to do more research to see what’s going on here. But the researchers are really hopeful that understanding this might help us figure out the whole transplant thing in general. Not just with the intestines, but maybe with other tissues as well, and make them less risky than they are and maybe make the recovery process work better. So there’s some news from the world of hematopoiesis.

Kevin Patton: A searchable transcript and captions for the audiogram of this episode are funded by AAA, the American Association of anatomists at anatomy.org. Hey, I’m a member. Why don’t you join too?

Kevin Patton: Someday you’re going to get this question in class, if I swallowed a Lego, those little blocks. If I swallowed a Lego, how long would it take to get, from my mouth all the way through the alimentary canal and come out the other end? And luckily, I have an answer for you.

Kevin Patton: A study published a few months ago in the journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, specifically investigated that question. Because kids, especially do ingest a lot of different things, coins and little toys and so on. So, they were wondering, well, how long would it take?

Kevin Patton: What they used was a little figurine head from a Lego. So, those are a little rounder than the regular squarish blocks that you would get with a box full of Legos. And so, they did this study in adults. Actually, they found a bunch of health care professionals who were willing to be part of this study. And so, of course they had to screen them.

Kevin Patton: I mean, it’s actually interesting to read the paper itself because they talk about their screens, [inaudible 00:08:31] and not only did they need to have the ability to ingest foreign objects, okay, but they had to have a low a version to searching through their own fecal matter. And one of the things they had to do was sort of standardized their pre ingestion bowel habit to see, what if any changes were made before they swallow the Lego and when the Lego came out the other end.

Kevin Patton: And so, they developed this score to standardize that pre ingestion bowel habit, and they called that the stool hardness and transit score. So, the stool hardness and transit, they condensed into an acronym: SHAT. Then had the participants in just a Lego, and then they recorded the time it took for the object to be found in that participant’s stool, and that outcome was reported also as a score. It was the found and retrieved time.

Kevin Patton: So, if you take found and retrieve time, and condense that into an acronym, you get F-A-R-T. So, they had the FART score, and they found out that the average FART score was about 1.71 days.

Kevin Patton: As a side note, they also suggested that there was some evidence that females are more accomplished at searching through their stools than males are, but they did not validate that finding. So, I guess that’s their next big research project. I don’t know. But what’s valuable here besides just the silliness of this whole thing is the idea that, 1.7 days, a day and a half is about how long it takes for something indigestible to get all the way through the digestive tract.

Kevin Patton: But of course, I imagine that varies a lot on the object itself, and the individual and they did this in adults, not in kids. So, there might be some differences there too. So, you learned it here.

Kevin Patton: In my end of the year wrap up episode, that is Episode 36, I mentioned that there are costs to putting out this podcast. I pay for the most of those costs, but sponsors such as AAA, the American Association of anatomists and HAPS, the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society have stepped up to pay for some of those costs.

Kevin Patton: That makes sense, because our mission and goals are closely aligned. That way, I can sustain this project longer, and I don’t have to ask any of you to help cover my costs. Well, I’m happy to say that we have a new sponsor. It’s the Master of Science in Human Anatomy and Physiology Instruction program at NYCC, otherwise known by the acronym MS-HAPI or just HAPI. That’s H-A-P-I for Human Anatomy and Physiology Instruction.

Kevin Patton: Regular listeners to this podcast have heard of this HAPI program before because, well, I’ve mentioned it before. In fact, I promise to have a segment all about the HAPI program in a future episode, and I’m still planning that. What’s happening right now is that, this program has stepped up and is now underwriting the fee for distributing this podcast to the various podcasts, and radio apps and platforms, including the tap apps, specifically for this podcast.

Kevin Patton: The HAPI program is very dear to my heart because, well, I’m a faculty member in this program, and I was there from the beginning as the HAPI program took shape and then took flight. I love, love, love this program.

Kevin Patton: It’s not only the amazing faculty, and staff who work together in one of those hard to create collegial teams. And it’s not only the students, and alumni who bring so much talent and hard work to their studies making my courses a joy to teach. It’s also because it serves an important function in helping anatomy and physiology teachers become more effective.

Kevin Patton: If you’re involved in the larger teaching community, you probably already know some of our HAPI faculty, and HAPI students and alumni. Maybe you know a lot of them. If not, that’s, okay, ’cause you’re going to start meeting them in future episodes. So, what exactly is the HAPI program?

Kevin Patton: Well, we’ll be exploring that more deeply in future episodes to, but for now, I’ll just sum it up by saying that, it’s an online graduate program for those who are teaching or are preparing to teach college level human anatomy and physiology.

Kevin Patton: Among our entering students are clinicians who want to teach, biologists under prepared in human sciences and educational practice, anatomists who need some brushing up on physiology, physiologist to need some brushing up on anatomy and current A&P teachers who want to strengthen their credentials while upping their game in the classroom.

Kevin Patton: The HAPI curriculum includes a course sequence of anatomy and physiology courses that satisfy the credentialing of any college program in addition to courses in instructional practice tailored specifically to teaching A&P. This is the program I wish would have been available when I first started teaching A&P. I’ll cover more later, but in the meantime, check it out for yourself online at nycc.edu/hapi, that’s H-A-P-I. You can find this link and several others in the show notes, and in the episode page at theAPprofessor.org.

Kevin Patton: If you are a HAPI, and you want to share your experience in the program, or if you have questions we can answer about HAPI in a future podcast, call the podcast hotline at 1-8-3-3, the lion den, that’s 1-833-546-6336, or send me a recording or a text message at podcast@theAPprofessor.org. And thanks to my friends in NYCC’s HAPI program for helping keep the A&P Professor podcast available and free to everyone.

Kevin Patton: Those of you that are longtime listeners to this podcast may remember all the way back to Episode 17 when the topic was, the end of term reflection. And in that episode, I was discussing the idea that, maybe at the end of every semester, or a quarter, or a trimester or whatever, that it’s a good idea to just kind of sit back and reflect on how that term went.

Kevin Patton: And during that conversation, I mentioned that, well, it’s not a bad idea to do with our students as well, and maybe give them an opportunity to reflect on their work in your course, and how the course went for them, and maybe, even do some debriefing where you can take some information from that process and make the next go around even better.

Kevin Patton: Well, not long ago, I was having a conversation with my friend Krista Rompolski, whose name you recognize, I’m sure from previous episodes when she’s contributed a number of different ideas. And in this conversation with her, she brought up the idea that she does a mid semester survey, which had never occurred to me before. I mean, that’s a simple thing, right? But like so many wonderful things we can do in our course, it doesn’t always occurred to us that it’s something that would be useful in our course.

Kevin Patton: She pointed out that, at the end of a course, either we ourselves as individual faculty, or our department or our institution will take a survey of students, maybe in the form of a student evaluation where students get to complain about their course, and their instructor, and the course design, and of course policies and all that stuff.

Kevin Patton: And well, at that point, it’s kind of too late at least for those students. And not only that we don’t have any opportunity to discuss their concerns or their complaints with them, because they’re like, gone by the time we know what their complaints were.

Kevin Patton: So, she does her own survey in the middle of the course so, she can take a reading to see well, where are the complaints? Where are the pain points? What are the questions the students have about how her course is designed, or why she has the course policy she has and so on?

Kevin Patton: And she said that she has found that a lot of times, any dissatisfaction that comes up in that process is a result of the students not really understanding the rationale for that policy, or that element of the course design in. And so, she takes that opportunity to discuss that with them and explain why she does what she does. And it sounded to me in our conversation, like she is pretty open to making some changes of changes need to be made. And that got me to thinking.

Kevin Patton: And when that happens, whenever you have a conversation with somebody who has a podcast, and then you give them time to think about that conversation, it’s going to end up being an episode of the podcast. Here’s a case in point.

Kevin Patton: So, that conversation with Christa that got me to thinking about this idea of the value of the many values that there are in doing a mid semester check in of some sort. It could be a survey like Christa does, and I think that’s a brilliant idea. I’m going to see how I can work that into some of the courses I currently teach, but there could be other ways to do that.

Kevin Patton: For example, in the MS-HAPI graduate course that I teach in, we have something built into all of our courses where in the middle of the trimester. We have a built in reflection discussion forum. So, every student is required to write out several paragraphs to reflect on their experience so far in the trimester, and it’s open ended.

Kevin Patton: And it’s in those discussions that we, as the faculty get to see, well, where are the pain points? And the students, by doing it in every single course, they really get pretty good at this when I teach them my Courses almost halfway through the program. And so, they’ve already gotten some experience in doing this reflection. So, the reflections are pretty good, I think.

Kevin Patton: And they range from talking about things in my course that I do that are causing them pain, as well as things that are going on in their own learning process that, not just are causing them pain, but their triumphs as well, and the things that are really working well for them, and the progress that they see happening. That isn’t a survey exactly.

Kevin Patton: I mean, it’s a survey of one question: what’s going on? And the results are open, because all of the other students in there can look at what that student is saying. And of course, the instructor can look at that, at what’s going on, and we can all respond.

Kevin Patton: And I might jump in and respond and say, “Yeah, I understand that this thing that I have you do, takes a lot of effort, and it’s very frustrating and here’s why I do it. I know it’s frustrating. I know it’s difficult. I know it takes a lot more time than you feel like you have in your life, but here’s why I think it’s important.”

Kevin Patton: It also allows other students to say, “I had problems with the same thing, but I’m so glad we did it.” Or, “I have problems with the same thing, and I have no idea why he’s making us do this.” So we get all those ideas all out there, and we can discuss them, and we can go back and forth on them.

Kevin Patton: And sometimes I realized that, maybe I am asking my students to do things without being clear about why I want them to do it, or without being clear about my exact instructions on how to do it. And the reason it’s frustrating is, because I have not explained it well to them. So, I can change that.

Kevin Patton: Or I might even realize putting it all together that, that trimester I have asked too much of my students, and I might want to look at pulling back on some of the requirements I have. Whether it’s a multiple choice survey, or fill in survey, or an open ended reflection type thing. Those are both examples of ways that we can do this mid semester checking.

Kevin Patton: And I mentioned both of those, because I think it’s a good idea for all of us to think about the idea of this. And not necessarily do it exactly the way Christa does, or exactly the way we do it in our MS-HAPI program or any particular way. Just think about how you and your course can make that conversation happen.

Kevin Patton: Now, something that Christa brought up in our conversation, our recent conversation in which we were talking about this is, she pointed out that some of her colleagues have mentioned that, doing that, doesn’t that make you especially vulnerable is a teacher, and should we do something like that, that would open ourselves up to criticism and make ourselves more vulnerable than we already are?

Kevin Patton: In other words, it opens the door for students to criticize their teacher. And my response to that is, “Yeah, okay. And what’s your point?” Yeah, of course, asking for criticism makes you vulnerable, but how else can you improve unless you know what’s not working?

Kevin Patton: And maybe it is working as far as you’re concerned, and as far as what you can measure, but maybe your students don’t see that it’s working, or how it’s working. And maybe they can feel better about that, and buy into it more and make it work better if they have the opportunity to say, “This is too hard or too, whatever,” and you can come back and say, “Yeah, and here’s why it’s hard, and here’s why I’m asking you to do that.” And then they can be part of that team.

Kevin Patton: I mean, they’re the ones doing the learning, shouldn’t they be the main part of their learning team? And yet, sometimes we fail to see that connection. I think, I do. I fail to see that sometimes, and I need to be pulled back into that. And so, that’s what I’m asking us to do, is to give it some thought and think about, maybe doing something at that mid term point where we can bring the students back into the equation, if not for their sake, at least for our own sake, so that we can be more effective as teachers.

Kevin Patton: Getting back to this vulnerability thing, a question I have is, yeah, okay, maybe it does introduce some vulnerability, but really, which kind of professors do students ultimately have more respect for? Those who are defensive, and dig in every time they’re questioned by students? Or is it those who are open to student ideas and student feelings, whether those feelings are off base or not?

Kevin Patton: Maybe it’s those who are willing to discuss the issues, whether they agree with the student or not, who actually gain more respect from the students than those who are not willing to discuss those issues.

Kevin Patton: One of my all time heroes of biology teaching was a professor I had for several of my undergrad courses. His name was Dr. James Mulligan, and I loved him so much. I loved him so much, I asked him to come back later on when I started working on my doctorate to be on my doctoral committee.

Kevin Patton: I needed to people from outside the institution to be on my committee, and he’s one of them I asked because I knew if he was on my committee, he’s somebody I knew well, and I knew that he would be in my corner. But I also knew he would be totally honest with me, and let me know where things were working and where things weren’t. Because I’d seen that happen so much with him before when I had him in these classes as an undergraduate.

Kevin Patton: More than once, he had learned about something that wasn’t sitting well with students, and he would call us out on and say, “Look, I’ve heard this. I’ve heard this complaint. Let’s talk about that,” and we’d work it out. And sometimes the answer was, “Well, here’s why I’m asking you to do this,” and we’d all react with, “Oh, okay. We got it now. Yeah, that’s hard work. Yeah, we thought it was a dumb idea, but now we see why you’re doing it and that it’s not such a dumb idea.”

Kevin Patton: And I mean, think about that students, no matter what their age or experience, if they’re taking a course, there’s something about that course that they don’t know. Otherwise, why would be taking that course? Right? But the problem is, is a lot of times we go into, of course thinking, and somehow we have this mindset that well, everything we already know, is all we need to know, which doesn’t make any sense. I know it’s a paradox. It’s a paradox of being in a course. You walk in, and you’re trying to maintain this attitude of, you know it all when, in fact, the whole reason you’re taking the course is, you don’t know it all.

Kevin Patton: And yet, we sometimes approach that, and we think, “Well, why is the teacher doing this? Because, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Well, yeah, but the teacher knows more about how to successfully get you through the course, and allow you to meet those learning outcomes than you do. Because if you knew all about how to meet those learning outcomes, you would have done it on your own. You wouldn’t need the teacher, you wouldn’t need to be in that course.

Kevin Patton: So there’s that paradox going on, and I think once we recognize that, that makes this whole vulnerability thing, maybe a little bit easier to deal with realizing that, well, yeah, students are going to fight back because they’re caught up in this paradox thing that’s going on, of them thinking they know how it should be when in fact, they don’t. So let’s help them with that and let’s not be threatened by that. Let’s just recognize that, that that’s a normal kind of reaction sometimes, especially if what you’re doing in your course is a little different than what they’re used to.

Kevin Patton: And I tend to be one of those bleeding edge kind of teachers, where I’m always trying something new, and different and therefore, weird, and not like they’re doing it in the other sections of the course and not like they’ve ever done it in any other course you’ve ever done. So, I think that makes it even more likely that people are going to say, ” “Well, well, well, wait a minute. Why are we doing it this way.”

Kevin Patton: And Dr. Mulligan was like that, too. He was always trying new things. I mean, just really kind of wild and crazy things. He’s even looking back on a wild and crazy thing, and I’m so glad he did, because I learned so much from that. And maybe that’s the reason why I’m such a weird teacher to this day is that, some of that rubbed off on me. He would be happy about that, I think.

Kevin Patton: Before I move on. I just want to say: I get it. I get the vulnerability issue. I don’t want to dismiss it because it is a real thing. I mean, hey, I’m an old white guy who is already made full professor, that gives me a certain amount of privilege that not everyone has.

Kevin Patton: I get that it’s not the same for younger faculty. It’s not the same for female faculty. It’s not the same for minority faculty, or newly hired faculty or faculty who are being bullied by their peers, or their supervisors, or maybe even by their students or TAs.

Kevin Patton: So, yeah, I understand that there are those elements that we do have to deal with sometimes, and I don’t want to dismiss that and there are ways of dealing with those. Maybe that’ll be a good topic for a future episode. If anybody has any good ideas or maybe wants to contribute a segment on a future episode related to this, that would be great. Just call the podcast tell line, which I’ll give to you later.

Kevin Patton: What I’m saying here though is that, maybe there is a way to pull this off without the vulnerability thing being as big an issue as it might otherwise be. In other words, yeah, let’s acknowledge that there is vulnerability. Let’s acknowledge that sometimes that vulnerability is at a really high level for some of us individual faculty depending on our circumstances, and our background and the culture in which we’re working.

Kevin Patton: Yeah, okay, but maybe there are ways we can find to get around a little bit or to downgrade it in some way from being the main issue that, yeah, okay, here’s the vulnerability. We’ll work on some ways to deal with that. But considering that we’re vulnerable, let’s go ahead and do it anyway. And let’s take steps to protect us from being damaged due to the vulnerability but also, open ourselves up to improvement. Because if we don’t become vulnerable, then how can we improve?

Kevin Patton: Now, speaking of being an old guy, once you reach a certain age, I have found there is a part of our brain that gets stimulated by telling stories from our adventurous youth. Somebody ought to study this phenomenon.

Kevin Patton: It should be easy ’cause I think there are huge amounts of dopamine released during such episodes, and that ought to be really easy to measure. So, somebody write a grant and study this phenomenon of why old people get such a kick out of telling stories about when they were young.

Kevin Patton: And as I have mentioned, because of this thing in my brain that has kicked in, back in the olden days, I was an apprentice lion tamer. And all I really need to know about teaching I learned is a lion tamer. As matter of fact, I have a blog called, Lion Tamer Guide to Teaching, which I haven’t really been keeping up with. But I’ll have a link to that in the show notes and episode page.

Kevin Patton: My point here being that, lion taming is more than just an analogy of teaching. It actually is a form of teaching. You’re teaching lions, and talk about being vulnerable. I mean, that’s like the ultimate of vulnerability, because you’re always weaker than the lion, and you have to acknowledge that in order to survive in. And so, I don’t think that vulnerability part of it is really been a deterrent for me very much.

Kevin Patton: And one thing I learned in a lion taming as an apprentice lion tamer is that, you need to listen to the lions. If the lion doesn’t want to do something, you do not ask them to do it. If there’s one thing you need to know about lion taming if you’re thinking of a career change. That’s it, and that’s how lion taming works.

Kevin Patton: It just amazes me that some of these anti circus people are saying that these lions are being forced to do things that they don’t want to do. Try forcing a lion to do something it doesn’t want to do. You will not survive it. So, how does that relate to what I’m talking about here?

Kevin Patton: Well, vulnerability is okay. I mean, you can learn to live with the vulnerability, and if you’re always asking the lions, that is your students what’s working and what’s not working then, that puts you in a better position. You’re never in a position where the lions really want to attack you, where you’re going to be so vulnerable that it will work against you. So, yeah, okay, it’s just an analogy, but it’s something to think about.

Kevin Patton: Now, let’s get back to reality here ,and turn off that part of my brain that likes to tell stories of the olden days in the circus and talk about some of the other value in having this mid semester check in.

Kevin Patton: I think doing it gives students skills on how to learn or at least, strengthens their skills in how to learn. I think regular check ins can show students the instructional design of the course. They’re peeking behind the curtain, and they’re looking at those built in learning strategies that we have put into that course, and they can see how those things that they thought they’re strange are actually strategies for learning.

Kevin Patton: For example, why do we have to do all these case studies? I’m not a clinician yet. I don’t know enough yet. I’ll be learning that when I get to my clinical courses. But when you show them, but they’re trying to work them out as if they’re little medical mysteries or whatever. It’s kind of forcing them.

Kevin Patton: It’s nudging them into figuring out what they need to learn in order to be able to answer that case study. It’s sort of nudging them to figure out why they need to know that basic science that’s behind that case study. Because they’re seeing a clinical application of it, and it’s also nudging them to figure out how to go about learning it so that they can answer that case study.

Kevin Patton: And of course, stepping back, they’re learning the process of applying basic science facts to actual real life scenarios.

Kevin Patton: Another example would be, if you use any kind of a student response system, whether it’s a traditional clicker, or maybe just holding up cards, or whether you get it or not, or even like the muddiest point type strategy. Or you might be using a computer based, or a mobile device based strategy for asking students a question in class and then they can respond.

Kevin Patton: I’ve done that in classes, and one of the big push backs I get partway in is, why do we have to do this if it’s just so makes it easier for you to take attendance? They think that’s why they’re using a clicker is to take attendance, and I know why they think that. Because I tell told them on the first day, I’m not going to call roll because you’re using the clickers already. I’m just going to use that as a way to measure attendance. That’s how I’m going to take role.

Kevin Patton: So in their minds, that eventually gets conflated to be, the only reason I’m using the clicker is to take attendance, which of course, isn’t true. They see the other way around. That you’re already using the clicker, why not use it to take attendance? That’s the reality.

Kevin Patton: So, by doing a mid semester thing, that would give me the opportunity to answer that and say, “No, no, we’re not. Remember that’s not what I said. What I said was.” And I explain it again. And then go on to explain the many advantages it has for learning that allows every individual to become engaged. Not just that one or two students who’s always raising their hand first, and getting called on, or the people with the loudest voice. It’s even the one to stay quiet. Even the introverts get to engage, and get to answer that question and then, that becomes part of the aggregated results. Everybody’s response gets to be part of the aggregated results.

Kevin Patton: And another advantage is, it helps them practice with the tough items they’ll see on a test. I give them some of the tricky test items, or at least some variation of it, so we can work through it as a group. So, when they see that kind of a problem on the test, maybe it’s one of those case studies I just mentioned. Then they’ll know kind of how to work through it or know where to start, and what steps to take to solve it.

Kevin Patton: And then also, the process of using a student response system. It gives them more practice, and we know that retrieval practice is the key to learning. And so, I can explain that to the again, and it’s like, “Hey, I’m helping you do retrieval practice. Here’s another form of spaced retrieval practice so that we can get better, and it all gets into our long term learning, our long term memory.”

Kevin Patton: So it also, it gives us an opportunity to give them some advice on how to learn. It’s one of many opportunities that we should take in giving our students advice on how to learn, because a lot of students don’t know that.

Kevin Patton: And I’m talking, and not just about study tips, but beyond study tips is, how are we actually learning? Because, most students hack most teachers don’t really know how that works. And their learning sciences revealing to us all the time that there’s yet more to learn about how we learn.

Kevin Patton: So that’s one of the opportunities that we can and should take is that, mid semester check in, whatever form that takes to use that as an opportunity to remind students how they’re learning, and how that’s fitting into your course and what you’re doing for them to help them learn.

Kevin Patton: In the show notes in the episode page, I have a link to a recent article from inside higher ed. It’s called, teaching the skill of learning to learn. In there, they point out that, there are some recent studies that have shown that when educators teach their students the skills of learning, the students do perform much better in class.

Kevin Patton: Another reason why this mid semester check in, I think is valuable, is because it promotes metacognition. That is, thinking about how we think. And just that alone, just that process of doing metacognition. Even if we don’t do anything with it, or guide them in any way can help students see themselves, and how they do things and how they approach things.

Kevin Patton: It helps them see where they’re succeeding, and where they’re failing and perhaps, where they need to make some adjustments. And it really does allow them to recognize the successes they’ve had. And I think recognizing successes halfway through the adventure, halfway through the course is useful because they can say, “Wow, I’ve climbed half this mountain already. I can do this.” Rather than just slogging on, slogging on and being overwhelmed by the rest of the mountain yet to go, they can look back and say, “Whoa, whoa, I’ve climbed half a mountain already. This is great.” And I think that is a very useful thing.

Kevin Patton: So in summary, those mid term check ins can take many forms. It can be like Christa’s survey in the middle of the term, it can be a reflection like we do in the MS-HAPI program. They can provide a way to explain why we do things the way we do them.

Kevin Patton: It can also allow for student feedback, and perhaps some student influence on the core structure. And it can bring students and teacher closer together, solidifying that learning culture that we’re striving to create in each of our classes. And while we’re at it, why not do our own reflections at mid-term?

Kevin Patton: Hey, don’t forget that I always put links in the show notes, and at the episode page at theAPprofessor.org in case you want to further explore any ideas mentioned in this podcast. And don’t forget to call in with your questions, comments, and ideas at the podcast hotline 1-833-LION-DEN, that’s 1-833-546-6336. Or send a message to podcast@theAPprofessor.org.

Aileen: The A&P Professor is hosted by Kevin Patton, professor, blogger and textbook author in human anatomy and physiology.

Kevin Patton: The views expressed on this podcast are not endorsed by the sponsors. No, really. They have no idea of what I’m going to say or when I’m going to say it.

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Preview of Episode 39

coming soon

Kevin Patton: Hi there. This is Kevin Patton with a brief audio introduction to episode number 39 of The A&P Professor podcast, also known as TAPP Radio, an audio circus and menagerie for teachers of human anatomy and physiology.

Kevin Patton: In episode number 39 we’re going to be looking at the function of the cerebellum, how the liver responds to the sight of food, exercise’s effect on body weight, and our featured topic is the language of muscles, a strategy for learning.

Kevin Patton: I just wanted to take a brief moment to mention something about my two websites, theAPprofessor.org for teachers of human anatomy and physiology, the home base of this podcast, and lionden.com, a separate website aimed mainly at AMP students. Well, I’m sorry to say that both websites have been hiccuping a bit lately, the odd error message here and there and annoying stuff like that. There are a few technical reasons for that, which I’m working on fixing, but it’s going to take some time so we’re going to keep seeing hiccups for a while and I just wanted to apologize for that and assure you that I really am working on it. If there’s something that’s so messed up that you can’t use it, then let me know exactly what’s wrong and exactly where you found it and I’ll put that on the top of the list I’m working through. Thanks for your understanding.

Kevin Patton: The free distribution of this podcast is sponsored by The Master of Science of Human Anatomy and Physiology Instruction, the H-A-P-I or HAPI degree. Looking to power up your game in teaching AMP or do you have colleagues that could benefit from more training, check out this online graduate program at nycc.edu/hapi. That’s H-A-P-I. Or, just click the link on the show notes or episode page.

Kevin Patton: Well, it’s time once again for some word dissections, and we have a few so let’s get started. The first one is an easy one. That’s always a good place to start, right, with the easy one? And that is cerebellum. That’s a term we’re all familiar with and probably many of us already know what it means in terms of its literal translation but let’s break it down.

Kevin Patton: The first part of cerebellum, the cereb- part, comes from the Latin word cerebrum which literally means brain. Now, I know in anatomy cerebrum is a particular part of the brain, but what the word cerebrum means in the original Latin is brain. The -ellum ending then modifies the word brain to emphasize that it’s a small thing. So -ellum means a small thing. So when you put it all together cerebellum means a small brain. That makes sense, right? The very early anatomists who didn’t know much of anything about the inside of our body, when they first started looking at brains they noticed that there was this big, huge thing, in mammalian brains at least, that they just called the brain, not realizing that there were some extra parts that they weren’t really considering as part of the brain. And then they saw this little miniature version of it right next to it, right under, behind, posterior, or whatever to, and so they called that little brain. So we have the brain and the little brain. So that’s how it originated.

Kevin Patton: Our next term is another very common term, and that is muscle. We all know muscle. I mean, you don’t need to be in the field of anatomy or physiology to know what muscle is. All of us know what that is, but what does it mean literally? Well, it is a term that goes back, way back, to the original Latin where it’s rendered as musculus. So muscle is the English or Anglishized form of the Latin word musculus, M-U-S-C-U-L-U-S. Plural would be musculi, with an I ending, or musculee as some people say. So we’ll break that down. The mus- part at the beginning means mouse, literally. It’s from the word that means mouse. The -cle ending in the English form of the word, or the -culus ending if you’re looking at the Latin form of the word, that ending means little. So when you put mus- together with -cle at the end that means little mouse. So our muscles are literally little mice.

Kevin Patton: Now, as I mentioned this goes way, way back to ancient times in the Latin language. This isn’t some recent thing that anatomists or physiologists came up with. This is an ordinary language term, muscle. We don’t know exactly how it originated but I can just imagine sitting around with maybe some little kids and they’re learning the language and so on and the little toddlers watching their mom or dad do some chores and stuff and taking care of the kids, and here’s this little voice that says, mommy, daddy, what are those little things under your skin moving around? You can imagine a cheerful parent, turning around saying, oh those are little mice. That would have made some sense probably to those kids because they would have seen mice around in their household and outside the household, maybe underneath some cloth, maybe in a sack of grain or something like that.

Kevin Patton: So what I often do with my students is when I introduce that term I do explain the literal meaning of it because I think it’s kind of fun. I tell them, okay, look at your forearm, roll up your sleeve if you have to, now move your fingers around, flex them toward the palm and then extend them back again, start moving them all around, maybe independently of one another, and look at your forearm and you see all of those muscles that you’re using to move your phalanges around, those are muscles, but don’t they kind of look like they could be little mice inside of a sack of grain? It’s a fun way to start out with muscles because studying muscles can be very intimidating. So let’s play around a little bit in our storytelling and tell that little story. It’s an idea.

Kevin Patton: Related to that is our next term, and that is tendon. A lot of us use that term a lot, right? Well, I mean we have to use that term as AMP teachers and we know that what the tendon is is that dense fibers connecting unit and a muscle organ that is going to connect that muscle to a bone usually, or some other structure like maybe another muscle. It literally means, if we look at the tend- part, it means pulled tight. It’s actually the basis for our English word tension. So tend- means tension or something pulled tight. The -on ending means unit. So a tendon is a unit that is involved in tension. That makes sense because that is what the tendon does. I mean, that’s why it’s made of dense fibers tissue, isn’t it? It’s to help maintain that tension and not be injured when it’s under tension.

Kevin Patton: In life, tendons are always under tension, aren’t they? I mean, we kind of think of the increased tension that tendons experience when we’re doing work with a muscle, when we’re doing muscle contraction, whether it’s isotonic or isometric contraction, it doesn’t matter, there’s going to be tension in those tendons. But think about when the muscles are so called relaxed, they’re not really truly relaxed, right? There’s a certain amount of muscle tone so there’s still some tension there. If there wasn’t then we would just fall down. We would just be like a sack of bones falling to the ground. So yeah, there’s always tension in those tendons. So the meaning of that word can kind of help us understand the role of tendons in the body, at least I think. It helps me. Even if it helps no one else, it helps me and I’m telling you about it.

Kevin Patton: Our last term is a term I just used a moment ago, and that is the term Anglicized, and I’m going to use that again in the full episode coming up here, episode 39. Anglicize is based on the Latin word for English, Anglic. Anglic means English. And then you add the -isz or -ize ending to a word, what that does is it converts a noun into a verb in the sense of rendering that noun into something. You’re making it whatever that noun root is. So if you’re making something English you’re Anglicizing it, you’re English-izing it if you want to put it that way.

Kevin Patton: So we do that a lot in scientific terminology that we use AMP, we’re converting Latin words into an English form. As a matter of fact, a lot of those words are in fact converted into Latin, so they were Latinized Greek words for example. So you have a Latinized Greek word and now it’s in the Latin form, now we’re taking the Latin form and we’re Anglicizing it and we’re putting into an English form. We do that a lot with muscle names and other kinds of anatomical structures and even some physiological terms as well.

Kevin Patton: So that’s it for our word dissections for this preview.

Kevin Patton: This podcast is sponsored by HAPS, The Human Anatomy & Physiology Society, promoting excellence in the teaching of human anatomy and physiology for over 30 years. Go visit HAPS at theAPprofessor.org/haps. That’s H-A-P-S. And don’t forget the annual conference is coming up soon.

Kevin Patton: Of course I do. Of course I have a recommendation for The A&P Professor Book Club in this preview and what it is this time is a book called The Gift of Pain by Paul Brand with Philip Yancey. It was originally titled The Gift Nobody Wants, and that kind of gives you a hint as the message that is behind that title of The Gift of Pain. That’s kind of an odd way of thinking of pain. This book as been out there a long time, but it’s one of my favorite books related to my understanding of human anatomy and physiology and my teaching of human anatomy and physiology so I wanted to share it with you.

Kevin Patton: It goes all the way back to 1933 … No, it’s not that old. It goes back 1993. I read it 1995. It was that year that I was the host of the HAPS annual conference in St. Louis. In those days we used to have a keynote speaker, and I was looking around, I wanted to have the best keynote speaker yet at my conference. So I started asking around and my fried John Martin, long time HAPS member, had just recently heard Paul Brand, the author of this book, give a presentation, and he said, “This guy is fantastic. He’s going to really engage your audience, he’s going to really give a message that is very useful and meaningful for AMP teachers.” And so I said, sounds good to me. So I got a copy of the book and I stared reading it and I thought, yeah, John was right, this is a great message. So I called up Paul Brand and he said, “I would love to do this. That sounds like a great audience for my message. But it’s just impossible for me on those dates to make it into St. Louis and do this, so I’m sorry.” And I’m sorry too because I think that would have been a great presentation.

Kevin Patton: So, what is this book about? Well, can you imagine life without pain? Well, if you’re a physician working in a colony for leprosy patients where people literally feel no pain you can see the horrifying consequences of feeling no pain. It’s really life-threatening when that happens. That’s Paul Brand. That was his life. This is basically a memoir of at least one aspect of his life.

Kevin Patton: Paul Brandwas a physician, a clinical researcher, who grew up in a family of medical missionaries and later became a medical missionary himself. He was a British citizen, his whole family were British originally, living in India, and this memoir is focused on his work with pain. It starts out with his moving as a young man from India, away from his family, and going to London where the family was originally from, in order to go to medical school. This was during Word War II. In his medical school in London a lot of his time as an intern was spent in the wars treating the injured airmen that were defending Great Britain during World War II.

Kevin Patton: Something that he noticed right away is in this big war where there was just one cot after another of these injured airmen that he would notice that one cot there would be a patient with pretty minor injuries, who would be screaming and yelling and crying about the pain, and then in the next bed would be someone with much more severe injuries, who should be in a lot more pain than that first patient, but didn’t seem to be really experiencing as much pain and might even say to him, no, treat that other guy he’s in more pain, attend him first and then get to me. That just puzzled him that the seriousness of the injury did not indicate the strength of pain that was experienced by the individual patient. So being a good intern, he asked his supervising physicians and they all told him to go away and get to work because, as he discovered, there was no answer for that. He wouldn’t take that for an answer or take no answer for an answer so he dedicated the rest of his life to trying to understand pain.

Kevin Patton: When he went back to India to become a medical missionary he worked with leprosy patients. In leprosy, there’s nerve damage that causes you to not feel pain, at least in parts of your body, and then of course it depends on how severe your disease is, and he discovered that without pain you’re in serious, serious trouble because pain is supposed to be annoying, just like an alarm bell, because that’s what it is, it’s a physiological alarm bell that is telling us something is wrong and maybe even specifically where it’s wrong so we can maybe avoid further injury by removing ourselves from whatever is causing that pain. And as healing occurs, as the healing process occurs, that pain is going to keep reminding us you got a damaged part here, it’s healing, don’t use it too vigorously because that’s going to disrupt the healing process here, let’s take care of this part. And then that pain gradually subsides as more and more healing takes place.

Kevin Patton: Now, of course there are many other kinds of scenarios where we feel pain but it’s all kind of related to that function and sometimes it’s a disfunction, sometimes our body is causing us to experience pain because there’s some damage or something disfunction in that alarm system, but it’s supposed to be a working, helpful alarm system. We’re supposed to hate pain, we’re supposed to constantly pull our attention away from things that we want to be paying attention to because it’s telling us about an injury that needs to be paid attention to, that we shouldn’t be ignoring at that moment.

Kevin Patton: So it gets all into how we perceive pain, and maybe we should value pain as a gift rather than just as an annoyance, just like we should be thankful that we have fire alarms and severe weather alarms and things like that because, even though they’re annoying and we don’t have to deal with them when they go off, it’s a good thing we have them, right?

Kevin Patton: But the other thing that really is woven throughout this book is he talks a lot about the humanity of all patients, whether they’re feeling pain or not feeling pain, or feeling different levels of pain, and he talks about how important it is to maintain our own humanity as we care for others. That is our empathy and compassion.

Kevin Patton: So it’s really a very well told story and I would like every caregiver who ever takes care of me or ever will take care of me to have read this book, and for that reason I have, in the past, offered this as a reading assignment to my students in various ways, in different courses and so on, because I think it’s important for people preparing to go into health careers that they have heard stories like this, and here’s one of them. So go to the episode page, or the show notes, and I’ll have a link to that book if you want to get a copy of it and you should be able to get an almost free copy these days, it’s such an old book, and I really highly recommend it and I’d love to hear your response. If you do read it or you’ve read it before, call into the podcast hotline or drop me an email because I’d like to hear your feedback about that. I mean, that’s what makes it a book club, right? It’s a club if we start interacting with each other and sharing our thoughts and feelings about reading these books.

Kevin Patton: A searchable transcript and a captioned audiogram of this preview episode are funded by AAA, the American Association of Anatomists at anatomy.org.

Kevin Patton: Well, this is Kevin Patton signing off for now and reminding you to keep your questions and comments coming. Why not call the podcast hotline right now at 1-833-LION-DEN? That’s 1-833-546-6336. Or, visit us at the theAPprofessor.org. I’ll see you down the road.

Last updated: March 7, 2019 at 18:05 pm

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