One moment, please. We are testing your patience.
Almost ready!
Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

Actual Learning vs. Feeling of Learning | Journal Club Episode | TAPP 83

by Kevin Patton

Actual Learning vs. Feeling of Learning | Journal Club

TAPP Radio Episode 83

Episode

Episode | Quick Take

Krista Rompolski again joins host Kevin Patton for a Journal Club episode to discuss a study of whether student feelings of how much they learn accurately reflect their actual learning. What were the results and how do they impact the effectiveness of our courses?

  • 00:46 | Kevin & Krista: Journal Club
  • 02:43 | Sponsored by AAA
  • 04:00 | Article Summary
  • 09:52 | Sponsored by HAPI
  • 11:36 | Feeling of Learning vs. Actual Learning
  • 35:39 | Sponsored by HAPS
  • 36:51 | More Discussion: Our Students
  • 47:49 | Staying Connected

survey

Episode | Listen Now

Episode | Show Notes

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. (Chinese Proverb)

 

Kevin & Krista

2 minutes

Krista Rompolski joins host Kevin Patton for another TAPP Journal Club episode!

 

Journal Club: Actual Learning vs. Feeling of Learning in Response to Active Learning

 

Sponsored by AAA

1.5 minutes

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

 

Article Summary

6 minutes

Krista Rompolski summarizes the essential content of this episode’s journal article.

  • Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom (our journal article of focus) my-ap.us/3mG5gIn

see-saw: low end labeled "feeling of learning" high end labeled "actual learning"

 

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. Check it out!

nycc.edu/hapi

NYCC Human Anatomy and Physiology Instruction

 

Feeling of Learning vs. Actual Learning

24 minutes

Krista and Kevin discuss what they learned from the article and how that relates to their own experience as teachers and learners.

Episode 83 cover: Journal Club: Actual Learning vs. Feeling of Learning

 

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

theAPprofessor.org/haps

HAPS logo

 

More Discussion: Our Students

11 minutes

Kevin and Krista bring back the discussion to how the new research might apply to our non-Harvard, non-engineering students—or whether it applies at all.

photo of harvard campus with label "applying research to our courses and our students"

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

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!

Kevin Patton:
There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”

Aileen:
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:
Krista Rompolski joins me for another Journal Club episode, this one about whether students’ feeling of learning matches up with their actual learning.

Kevin Patton:
Well, I’m here once again with Krista Rompolski, and so you know what that means. It’s time for another Journal Club episode. So, hi, Krista.

Krista Rompolski:
Hi, Kevin.

Kevin Patton:
Welcome again.

Krista Rompolski:
Hi. How you doing?

Kevin Patton:
Hey there. Let’s tell everybody what you brought us this time for your Journal Club article.

Krista Rompolski:
Sure. I brought an article that when I proposed it to you in the summer really had no idea how relevant it would become, I think, to so many of us teaching either fully online or some sort of blended flipped classroom format. But, this article is called Measuring Actual Learning Versus Feeling of Learning in Response to Being Actively Engaged in the Classroom. It was a study out of the department of physics, chemistry, and chemical biology, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. So, obviously a very elite institution, quote, unquote. But, definitely a lot to unpack in this study that I think could really be relevant for anyone teaching anything, really, at the higher ed level…

Read More

Kevin Patton:
Well, when you first sent it to me to read, so this was months ago, the first thing I saw was that physics, engineering, Harvard? What does this say to an A&P teacher? Then, I thought, “But, I’m going to trust Krista because she always picks really good articles.” And sure enough this is another one. I’m really excited to finally be able to start talking about this one. And Krista is right about this. It really does apply to what all of us are doing now in our classes.

Kevin Patton:
What we’re going to do before we actually dive into our conversation is to have Krista, once again, as she always does so well, summarize the whole article so we all have in our head basically what the article is saying to us. Then, we’ll pull it apart later.

Kevin Patton:
Before we get to Krista’s synopsis, I want to take a moment to remind you that a searchable transcript and a captioned audiogram of this episode are funded by AAA, the American Association for Anatomy. Now, this is important for both accessibility for all learners and as an easy way to find just what you’re looking for in this or any of our past episodes.

Kevin Patton:
And did you know that AAA has a great journal for A&P teachers? It’s called Anatomical Sciences Education. And even though it sounds like it’s just about teaching and learning anatomy only, it’s not. There is a lot of focus on the kind of combined A&P course that you and I teach. And, well, yeah, there’s some stuff in there about separated A&P courses taught in many different programs. But, all of it has stuff that teaches me how to be a better A&P teacher. Check out Anatomical Sciences Education at anatomy.org.

Krista Rompolski:
Measuring Actual Learning Versus Feeling of Learning in Response to Being Actively Engaged in the Classroom, by Louis Deslauriers, Logan McCarty, Kelly Miller, Kristina Callaghan, and Greg Kestin from the departments of physics, chemistry, and chemical biology in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Krista Rompolski:
Extensive research supports that students learn more when they are actively engaged in a classroom than they do in a passive lecture environment and that active teaching increases lecture attendance and engagement, especially in college-level science courses. Despite a great body of evidence to support this, many instructors still use traditional didactic lecture, particularly in large enrollment courses. This study was intentionally designed to make everything as similar as possible in an active versus passive classroom in a physics course.

Krista Rompolski:
The author sought to measure students’ perception of learning and actual performance when active learning alone was toggled on and off. These physics classes met for 90 minutes two times per week. The experimental intervention took place during two consecutive class meetings in week 12 of the course on two different topics. Students were randomly assigned to room A, a passive lecture, or room B, active learning. The slides, paper handouts, which included key concepts, equations, and example problems targeting learning objectives were provided during both classes and were exactly identical. All that was different was that in the passive classroom students followed along as instructors solved the problems while in the active classroom students were asked to solve the problems in small groups with instructors providing a full solution only after the students attempted it. Thus, the crucial difference was whether students were told directly how to solve each problem or were asked to try to solve the problems themselves before being given the solution.

Krista Rompolski:
At the end of each class period, students completed a brief Likert-style survey about their feeling of learning, FOL, followed by a brief multiple choice test on that day’s content. To avoid any bias, both instructors had extensive identical training in active learning and comparable experience delivering fluent traditional lectures.

Krista Rompolski:
The FOL, or feeling of learning, survey consisted of four questions. One, I enjoyed this lecture. Two, I feel like I learned a great deal from this lecture. Three, the instructor was effective at teaching. Four, I wish all my physics courses were taught this way. The results of the FOL showed that for each question and in both classes students preferred the passive lecture environment, despite the fact that they scored significantly higher on the multiple choice test in the active classroom. In other words, students in the active setting felt like they learned less, enjoyed the class less, and that the teacher was less effective, despite the fact that they performed better in the active setting.

Krista Rompolski:
Through a survey of existing literature, the authors proposed three reasons to explain this negative correlation. One, that the cognitive fluency of lectures can mislead students into thinking that they are learning more than they actually are. Two, that novices in a subject have poor metacognition and are thus ill-equipped to judge how much they have learned. Three, those that are unfamiliar with intensive active learning may not appreciate the increased cognitive struggle accompanying active lecturing and that this is actually a sign that learning is effective. Research has shown that when students are forced to struggle through something that is difficult, the disfluency leads to deeper cognitive processing.

Krista Rompolski:
In order to dive deeper into these three explanations, the authors conducted follow-up focus group interviews with 17 students, the outcomes of which supported the three explanations. In response, the authors carried out a semester-long intervention in the following year to see if they could change student attitudes towards active learning. The course began with a 20-minute presentation that described active learning and its evidence for effectiveness, as well as the data from the previous study showing the connections between perceived fluency, feeling of learning, and actual learning.

Krista Rompolski:
At the end of the semester, over 65% of students reported on a survey that their feelings about the effectiveness of active learning significantly improved. And 75% reported that the intervention at the beginning of the semester helped them feel more favorable towards active learning.

Krista Rompolski:
In conclusion, when comparing passive lectures with active learning using a randomized experimental approach and identical course materials, students in active classrooms learn more, but they feel like they learn less. And this negative correlation is caused in part by the increased cognitive effort required during active learning. The authors suggest that it is of paramount importance that early in the semester students appreciate the benefits of struggling with the material during active learning and that faculty who adopt active learning should intervene and address this misperception early. Although students may eventually discover the value of active learning on their own, their learning could be impaired during the first part of a course.

Kevin Patton:
You know, this podcast didn’t cost you any additional fees to listen to it, but there is actually a cost to distribute it in a way that you can find it and listen to it. And that free distribution of this podcast is sponsored by the Master of Science in Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction, the HAPI degree. Whether you’re a veteran A&P teacher or you’re new to it, or maybe not quite there in the classroom yet, this program has a lot to offer in reinforcing the concepts of all the systems of the body that we teach in a typical A&P course. And you learn about contemporary teaching practices in a way that goes way beyond those occasional workshops that you go to. And yes, that includes remote learning.

Kevin Patton:
If you enroll, I’ll be one of your faculty. And I give extra points in my courses if you mention my podcast. Okay, I don’t really do that. But whether you mention my podcast or not, I’ll do everything I can to help you be successful enough not to need any extra points, and so will each one of my faculty colleagues in the HAPI program. Ask around. You’ll see that I’m right about that. Check out this online graduate program at nycc.edu/hapi, that’s H-A-P-I, or click the link in the show notes or episode page.

Kevin Patton:
Well, Krista summarized that article for us, so we know the gist of what they did, and how they did, and what their conclusions were. But, that’s all in a nutshell, and we haven’t really had a chance to any of us in our mind pull it apart. Well, okay, Krista and I have had a chance to pull it apart because we’ve been talking about this off and on over a couple of months and again right before we recorded here just to kind of get an idea where we want to go with it in our conversation just in a very broad stroke. So Krista, maybe you want to kind of give your reaction to that first part of the study where they found what they found, that is that the students maybe weren’t as comfortable with these nontraditional ways of learning.

Krista Rompolski:
Sure. Well, I wasn’t at all surprised by the results. I expected from years of teaching undergrads that … so that the main scale or that the main outcome, the feeling of learning inventory, which only had four questions, which were I enjoyed this lecture, I felt like I learned a great deal, the instructor was effective, and I wish all my physics courses were taught this way, I wasn’t surprised that there was a preference for the passive lecture environment, despite the fact that they scored significantly higher on the test in the active classrooms.

Krista Rompolski:
I was surprised at the level of which … the sort of the discrepancy or the level to which that was there, particular out of students at a place like Harvard. I think it’s easy for us to think, “Oh, maybe it’s our students.” But even when students that … I mean, I never even thought about trying to get into Harvard, but I’ve heard it’s hard.

Kevin Patton:
Yeah.

Krista Rompolski:
And your personal student and high-achieving student. So to even students at that level to not be … to basically think that they learned more in a passive lecture environment despite the fact that they actually clearly learned more in the active. It sort of really takes … I think can make us all feel a little bit better about our own experiences in that sense that they are quite universal with students, that …

Krista Rompolski:
And even with ourselves. It really got me thinking about the amount of times that I have listened to a lecture, whether I was auditing a class since college or a TED Talk or where I was just totally enamored by the charisma of the speaker and their ability to clearly articulate with passion the knowledge that they have. I’m just thinking, “I get this entirely.” But then when I go to apply it hours later or the next day, maybe I’m taking a test or working on something, I’m like, “Oh, my God. I don’t get this at all. What happened? Was there a spell put on me?” Versus if they …

Krista Rompolski:
What I thought was interesting that they pointed out in the study that if they had … Basically, if the instructor was saying the same script but kind of fumbling through it or stuttering, the students would probably feel like that was a terrible lecture, even if the words were exactly the same. I think that it really got me thinking about both how easy it is for students to perceive instructors as very effective just based on their natural charisma on the stage, if you will, versus their actual knowledge and ability to convey it. I think there’s a lot to unpack there in terms of how good of a performer, if you want to call it that, you are as a teacher and the effect of that.

Krista Rompolski:
But, then it also got me thinking about how much of my thoughts of a student enjoying a class are more wrapped up around my own enjoyment of being that performer. Because I do find it very natural to literally be on a stage, which I’ve had to be with some class sizes over the years and just loving it and feeling like I have my audience engaged and thinking, “Oh, I had a great class.” So, I think there’s a lot to unpack both for understanding our students as well as understanding ourselves and why maybe so many instructors prefer passive lecturing as well and are resistant to change.

Kevin Patton:
Right. All of what you just said resonates very strongly with me. That last thing, I used to be in show business. I mean, a part of what I loved was engaging with the audience. I worked with wild animals. I felt like I was teaching them about the abilities of wild animals. And that’s what they were walking away with, being impressed with what those animals can do and what they were as individuals in a species. I got some of those same feelings when I started teaching, and I love that.

Kevin Patton:
When I started adopting other kinds of ways of teaching and when I finally went online … I do some what you could call lecturing online, but it’s a very small part of what’s going on in the whole course. So, I kind of miss performing. I miss that, even though I get to do it in little bits and pieces. Maybe that’s why I started a podcast because then I can get back to that. But, the thing is I also found that my students learn much better and much more. And there is that hurdle that they have.

Kevin Patton:
Something else, too, that resonated with me … Because you talked about your experience as a learner, like watching a TED Talk versus actually understanding deeply what was said. How often have a lot of us listened to a great TED Talk, this idea’s rolling around in our head, and we’re so excited, and we tell someone else, a colleague, a friend, a family member, “Oh, I saw this TED Talk, and it was …” And you struggle to explain what it was. It’s like in your head you knew you liked it. You knew that it resonated with you, but you can’t really explain it to someone else.

Kevin Patton:
I had a conversation with a colleague just a few hours ago about how we’re talking about that process of teaching. He said, “Until you can explain it to somebody else, you don’t really know it.” We were talking about that aspect of teaching, so I fully agree with that.

Kevin Patton:
Something that made me kind of laugh is this last weekend I went to a virtual regional conference from HAPS. As we’re seeing more and more in both face-to-face and virtual conferences with HAPS and other organizations, we’re getting more of a variety from the traditional lecture or panel discussion, and we are starting to get some active learning elements in those things. I caught myself sort of thinking, “Oh, there’s three different workshops at the same time that I want to go to.” Being virtual, you can usually jump in, see what’s going on, jump into the other one and see what’s going on and so on.

Kevin Patton:
I was thinking to myself, “I am so exhausted from working all week. I don’t know if I can handle an active learning workshop.” That does become a barrier. Even though I can appreciate the fact that I’m going to learn more when I do that, sometimes I have that hesitancy. Luckily, I just said, “Yeah, but …” In my head, “But, Kevin, you know that you’re going to learn more. And look who it is presenting it. It’s somebody that really knows about this topic, somebody that I know I want to learn from.”

Krista Rompolski:
I’ll just interject, Kevin, I think you have the life experience and certainly the emotional intelligence and maturity to have that check on your thinking, where I think we can all relate that anyone that’s teaching online or not this semester, even if you’re in person, just the exhaustion with social distancing and how much that’s changed the in-person dynamics of everyone’s classroom. Students, I think, I’m experiencing anyway, are struggling to take themselves to that, “Yes, but I know it’s good for me,” many, many times. I think life experience a lot plays a big role in the ability to have that check.

Krista Rompolski:
But, you raised an interesting [point]… sort of the cognitive overload sort of in … Is it good? This study really got me thinking. Is it good or reasonable for everything in a curriculum to be completely flipped and active? Because then we’re asking students to do work outside of class, like we say they would with homework anyway, but watching videos, which we’re all a little Zoom fatigued, I would say, more so than ever. What I’ve gone through this semester is students already are being asked to spend so much time on video, so much time on their computer. Now I’m asking them to spend even more time watching lectures and them more time with me in live application sessions. Where is that fine line that they’re going to get enough application to get the benefit that we all know? And it’s discussed in the study. But also, it’s just realistic for them to get the work done. Because I was personally finding that only about a quarter of my class was watching the videos.

Krista Rompolski:
No matter how often, how regularly they were posted, how many cartwheels I did in the … I’m just being factitious. But no matter how good of a presenter, it’s still time they have to sit down and invest. I think we’re all learning quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t for our individual students. And I bet that that’s different from school to school, from instructor to instructor this semester.

Kevin Patton:
Oh, yeah. I definitely agree. I think you make a very good point about reaching that level of maturity or maybe it’s a skill of metacognition or something that you develop that many of our students don’t have. Part of that, too, is I think it’s any time you have a shift, a cultural shift … Which is what we’re having in education right now. We’re having a cultural shift where students had a choice. If they wanted to take an online course, they could, and many opted not to and because … Well, for a variety of reasons. But now, many students have no choice. That’s what they have to do.

Kevin Patton:
Now, of course, a lot of teachers have no choice as well, so we also have that discomfort level. But, I think probably teachers have a little bit of an advantage in that because of life experience and maybe some skills we’ve developed in metacognition that we are able to catch ourselves and apply ourselves anyway. And of course it’s our job, so we don’t have much choice but to keep going with it if we want to keep our job.

Kevin Patton:
But with students, I think they just keep leaning back on this idea of, “Well, that’s not how things are done. This is not how things have been done in my life, so therefore that’s not how they’re done, so therefore it’s the wrong way to do it. Of course, it’s the teacher doing it to me, so therefore the teacher is doing it wrong.” So then we’re the ones that hear that pushback. Number one, well, we have no choice as a teacher. We have to do it.

Krista Rompolski:
Many of us. Right.

Kevin Patton:
Right. So within that realm of not having a choice, I’m trying to make it work the best way it’s going to work. So, how do we get that message across?

Krista Rompolski:
And that’s such a good point about … And then they really talk about in the second half of the study, which we’ll get to, is about having that open transparency and discussion with students all about providing rationale. If anyone ever asks me sort of what’s my number one advice for a class, it’s always transparency with why you ask them to do exactly what you ask them to do. Because I’ve had so many experiences where students … Something as simple like, “I don’t understand why this quiz is timed. It’s stressing me out.” It’s like, “Well, your exams are timed. Your NCLEX is timed. You need to get used to timed exams.” They’re like, “Oh, that makes sense.” That was it. That’s all it took.

Krista Rompolski:
So, it’s like, if it was literally that simple, take the time to elicit student feedback besides course evaluation time and thoroughly explain the rationale in your teaching. I know that that’s much more of a millennial generation theory towards teaching that I couldn’t have fathomed asking a professor when I was in college, half my life ago now, which is … I know you think that that’s nothing, but to me that still is hard to hear out loud. Asking them to explain why. Why do I have to do this? I just couldn’t fathom. I just took it as … I didn’t even question it.

Krista Rompolski:
So, it’s both a good thing that we have more transparency in education so it isn’t so we’re just the recipients of anything and that teachers should have to defend their pedagogy. But, it’s also jarring when you realize how much you have to do that sometimes for students to just simply be on board.

Krista Rompolski:
If I may, I wanted to talk about … Because, God, we can chat all day about this. The authors really took it a step further, which I appreciated it. Because so many, I think, would just do the FOL survey and just write the conclusions, but they decided to create three hypotheses, test them in a focus group, and then do a follow-up the next year where they started the semester by doing a 20-minute presentation on the effectiveness and descriptions of active learning and presenting the data from the previous year showing the students in your shoes this year, this is what they learned versus what they felt they learned, and how much that then changed the perceptions in that class and totally shifted the outcomes. I think that that really speaks to the transparency and providing rationale, but that the three hypotheses, I think, are such good points for us to consider.

Krista Rompolski:
I mentioned to you earlier before we got on that I had never heard of the term cognitive fluency of lecturing before and what exactly that was. But, man, did it resonate with me. I spoke to it earlier how it can mislead students into thinking they’re learning more than they actually are when they’re listening to someone that knows a concept or a topic back and forth in their sleep and how much that that can make students prefer passive lecturing because they think they’re somehow learning.

Krista Rompolski:
I’m reminded of a silly poster in grade school with … I think everyone’s had this with Garfield and books attached to his that said, “I’m learning by osmosis.” And of course the A&P joke later is like, “Well, why is that wrong?” Because, you know?

Kevin Patton:
Yeah. Right.

Krista Rompolski:
Or when you’re older. But, that really rang true to me in terms of understanding why students prefer that. Then, what you touched on was that novices in a subject, they’re calling it novices in a subject, we called it maybe emotional maturity or age, have poor metacognition and are ill-equipped to judge how much they learned, both for … Meaning that they both don’t recognize when they do learn well and they certainly often don’t recognize when they haven’t.

Krista Rompolski:
That’s always the most dangerous place to be as a student, isn’t it? Thinking you know a lot when you don’t. If you kind of map out the conference versus actual knowledge, it’s better to have no confidence but have learned than think … That’s sort of really the danger zone, which we certainly probably all experienced a lot from any student that said, “I thought I knew this. I studied like crazy.” Then, you find out their version of studying is rereading notes or retyping their notes 50 times.

Krista Rompolski:
Then, what we also touched on when you talked about attending the HAPS conference … Which I unfortunately missed so much of. Because when I signed up, we didn’t know our moving timeline, and we had to be doing so much of that this weekend. Where that those that were unfamiliar with active learning may not appreciate the increased cognitive struggle, that that struggle is a sign that you’re learning. If you’re not challenged and being frustrated, you’re not going to learn. And that that is such a part of it.

Krista Rompolski:
And they get it when you talk about it in terms of like if you go to the gym, for example, and it’s so easy, and you’re never sore, and nothing hurts, do you really think you’re making progress? It’s obvious to them no. But, they don’t think about learning the same way. Thought that those were really good hypotheses, were really good assumptions. Then, their hypotheses were supported by the focus group that they did. So, really intuitive. Really intuitive in that sense with these authors. That didn’t make sense, but …

Kevin Patton:
I thought that that aspect of it was amazing to me that we got that as the extra bonus in the paper. Because a lot of times, these papers will identify an issue and then leave it at that. And this identified an issue, proposed some ideas on what might be done to rectify it, and then they tested it to see whether it actually would have an impact, and it did. It’s great.

Kevin Patton:
I think it really supports a lot of conversations that I’ve been hearing among A&P educators, and that is these ideas that it’s been for years now that we’ve much more widely as a group recognize the importance of that metacognition part and bringing students on board with that. That’s part of what I think was really gave me warm, fuzzy feelings when I read this because it kind of supports what I’ve been hearing and what I’ve been experiencing in my class as well. I mean, it’s even happening with these Harvard engineering students that they’re experiencing the same thing that my community college students are experiencing.

Kevin Patton:
I have actually tried similar strategies to what’s here. I teach a pre-A&P class at a community college. It’s basically a refresher course. It’s for people who should’ve already had some kind of biology but for whatever reason they don’t meet the prerequisite requirement because it’s been too long since they had that class or for a variety of reasons. Actually, a lot of them, they don’t need it for their prerequisite anyway. They just want to take a refresher because they know that they’ve heard A&P is hard and they want to be prepared. So, I get kind of a mix of challenged students who must take it and really good students who that’s why they’re really good, I think, is because they take these extra opportunities to brush up on things and get prepared.

Kevin Patton:
The course I teach is very flipped. Because it’s a refresher course, I don’t do new learning like, “Here’s what a cell is. Here’s what a tissue is.” It’s basically it’s all formative testing. I mean, I do have audio and videos available. I have book chapters available. I have an outline that outlines what aspects of those things that I’m going to be testing them on. So, they do have that other stuff that we would typically see in a class. But really, I just want them to pass the test to see … to get to a point where they’ve mastered it where they’ve really … Yeah, they’ve forgotten half of it, but this is going to remind them. It’s going to reinforce it and bring it back into the longer term memory.

Kevin Patton:
But, it’s hard because they’ll take a test and then realize, “Well, I should know all this, but I can’t, so the test is too … I didn’t pass it, so the test is too hard.” And it’s my fault because I should’ve given them a lecture on them first. But, I told them, “I’m not going to give you a lecture on it first. If you want a lecture on it, here’s a link to this video and that video.” There’s so many of our colleagues that you and I know that have already produced wonderful materials that they can use. Some of it’s mine, but a lot of it is from outside sources.

Kevin Patton:
They’ll keep coming back to me, and it’s still a struggle because you’ll tell them that and they only half believe you. Just like earlier in my career, I only half believed people that told me that I shouldn’t be lecturing all night, that I should be doing this active stuff. I only half believed them. Well, yeah, you got all kinds of journal articles you can cite and so on. But I know in my heart of hearts that what I’m doing works, so I don’t have to do any of that.

Kevin Patton:
When I can empathize with my students that way and see myself in what they’re saying, hopefully formulating better responses to that and say, “Yes, I know. It is frustrating. It really is. But, that’s what makes it work.” Then, you’re like, “Ugh. This is not satisfactory.”

Kevin Patton:
Luckily, this hasn’t happened so far, but I know someday this is going to go to the dean, or vice president, or president where the president and two of my students are going to be in line together at Starbucks and they’re going to be complaining about my course and how I’m not even teaching them. I’m just making them teach themselves. So, I’m going to-

Krista Rompolski:
like …

Kevin Patton:
have to defend this.

Krista Rompolski:
Welcome to about 10 o’clock in bed every night for me, like … Still working on … We’re all working on things. My biggest struggle is the emotional boundaries between my job and my life. Because I am, just like it sounds like like you, when anything is going wrong, my default is, “What did I do?” or, “What could I have done better? What could I have done differently?” And I at times need to realize that I need to put more of the responsibility on my students and not me. It’s just so not my nature to … I just want to help, and help, and help, and help. But, I also realize that so much of what made me a strong student was figure it out, Krista, you know?

Kevin Patton:
Yeah. Right.

Krista Rompolski:
Whether that was from my parents, because my mother was an elementary school teacher and she knew what it would take, or from my own professors. I recognized that the things I know the best are the stuff I worked like a dog on my own to understand. It’s just I think when you really want … When you love your students and you love what you do, you want them to feel good about the experience.

Kevin Patton:
Right. Exactly. We’ll be right back with more discussion.

Kevin Patton:
This is a Journal Club episode. And now’s a good time to tell you about another one of my favorite journals for A&P teachers. It’s called HAPS Educator, or HAPS Ed for short. This started out in the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society, HAPS, as a newsletter with, well, news. Um, yeah. It was a newsletter, so it had news. But, it also had a lot of teaching tips. Over decades, it has evolved into an actual journal. And yes, it still has teaching tips, but also some awesome scholarship in the teaching and learning of A&P.

Kevin Patton:
When you read the HAPS Educator, you’ll see some of the marketing support for this podcast that’s provided by HAPS. So please, go visit HAPS at theAPprofessor.org/haps, that’s H-A-P-S, to find out more about the HAPS Educator or any of the other great resources and services offered to A&P faculty just like you.

Krista Rompolski:
I wanted to ask you along those lines, and you kind of spoke to it a bit, do you think the turnaround in the second year where the students got this little 20-minute lecture and data presentation and all of a sudden the dynamics were so different, do you think that this class at Harvard is necessarily applicable to all of us? Or do you think there might be a bit of a sample bias here in a physics department at Harvard University? So, sort of what can we … How much benefit can we derive from part two of the study in your opinion or how much … It sounds like you have spent time trying to explain to your students the benefits of active learning. And how much have you ever seen that really make a difference?

Kevin Patton:
Well, I think it has made a difference. I think there is a level of applicability in it. I would be very surprised if I did a similar study with my own students that would come out the way it came out for them, because it came out so nicely for them. I think the sample bias hypothesis is a good one. That is, I mean, you do have expert students who are there. I mean, they have some level of expertise.

Krista Rompolski:
Sure.

Kevin Patton:
Not as much as we would … that the professors wanted them to have-

Krista Rompolski:
Right, in the … Yeah.

Kevin Patton:
Right. But they were open. I mean, clearly they were open to it and they were convinced by the data. Maybe they will do even better in their next course because they will not only have seen the data and responded to it, they now will have experienced the process and trust that strategy of teaching and learning even more as they go into their next course.

Kevin Patton:
My experience with my community college students is … I mean, we have a much bigger variety. We have some Harvard-level people in there, but we also have some people that would struggle to fill out the application to Harvard as well because of various challenges they have. So, that’s part of the fun for me of community college teaching is that you have such a mixed bag of students, and you have some that have some really big challenges. So, that really tests my ability to help them. And just in that selfish aspect of teaching, I feel better when I can help students with big challenges reach their next goal.

Krista Rompolski:
Sure.

Kevin Patton:
I have taught at a big competitive university, and I loved doing that, too, because there’s different kinds of challenges there in teaching, and I enjoy those challenges as well. But in a community college setting, what I find is that a lot of students do … I think the results carry through to the community college, but I think they don’t carry through as cleanly and as quickly as they did in that one. As I mentioned before, I find that I have to keep doing the encouraging.

Krista Rompolski:
Yeah, for sure.

Kevin Patton:
And then eventually it does get through with most students. It does get through. Some of them they’re like, “Oh, yeah. I get that,” and I do … And I find myself, and I think I’m going to have to do it again. I’m always going through my syllabus and my preparatory materials. I always have an introductory talk and so on. And I tell them, “You’re going to find this to be very frustrating, and here’s why it’s going to be frustrating. It’s going to be frustrating for this, this, and this reason, and here’s why that’s okay. In any event, I’m here for you. If you’re frustrated, call me up, send me an email, and I’ll talk you through it. If you want to cry on my shoulder, you can cry on my shoulder, and I’ll help you get to the next step. I’ll help what it takes. But, I’m not going to just pick you up and put you there. You need to get there. I’ll do what I can to get you there.”

Kevin Patton:
I think that for some students they need a lot more of that. I probably see that a lot more in the community college because they’re far less expert in being a student, far less expert in learning when they come to me. But, I think that probably everyone can understand this idea because we experience it in other areas of our life, as you alluded to before.

Krista Rompolski:
Right. Yeah. I found very similar things this semester so far, and of course in other semesters. I think it’s even been harder this semester. I am teaching fully online so students can’t … So many students would line up after class, and they just aren’t as likely to line up and stay in the Zoom or something because maybe they have to get to something else. But the conversations I’ve had post exams where they really see the value in how to approach studying differently, the ones that do it, it pays off. They see it, and they get it, but it’s ultimately … Like you said, it’s ultimately on them to make that choice and do that work.

Krista Rompolski:
What I’m seeing relatively to … And I don’t want to make necessarily assumptions about a Harvard student, but I have so many students that have three jobs, that are taking care of their families, that are struggling to make ends meet, that are undergoing so much stress that I’m wondering if a typical … I don’t want to stereotype a Harvard student, but maybe they don’t have those same financial pressures and concerns and obligations and are maybe able to just totally devote themselves to school. Again, I don’t know for sure other than exposure to movies and, you know what I mean? Things like that. But, it’s not just the aptitude of the student. It’s the entire life that’s playing into just the energy they have to buy into something else. I think we have to consider that as well.

Krista Rompolski:
I think that the way that we deliver this message is just as important as the message itself in terms of active learning and it be so focused on the fact that we care about their learning and we know what it takes. I found something really powerful that’s reached many of my students was sharing my own experiences with really bombing exams. Because they just think that we are just this other entity of knowledge that is going to take …

Krista Rompolski:
I’ll just take for example … I mean, I think any of us … I love your Actin and Myosin: A Love Story Podcast. But, I mean, I could literally kind of several drinks in, half asleep tell you every step from the action potential to relaxation of muscle like the back of my hand, and students were like … I had a student say like, “How do you know that?” I’m like, “I started learning it since I was 17, and I’ve been retrieving it since.” They were like, “Oh, God.” I’m like, “You don’t have to know it at that level. But, realize that that is what it took. I forgot this multiple times.”

Krista Rompolski:
Then, that leads into the power of if you can explain it to someone else, it won’t go away. Because I said, “There were so many things I had to refresh myself. But once I had to teach it, it hasn’t gone away.” Then, I got to tie in … I actually used to talk about the limbic system and the power of the emotional reinforcement to learning and memory. The fear that I’m going to look like an idiot and that your learning depends on me opens up these portholes of potential in the brain.

Krista Rompolski:
Really being vulnerable, I think, with them and sharing that I know where you are. I remember what it was like to be. And I think that that is not always the step that many take. And not because of unwillingness but just they just don’t think to because you just get so down the wormhole in your expertise it is easy to forget what it’s like for … not be able to understand what a muscle fiber is and how that’s a cell in general or how the spinal cord is a bundle of axons. That’s such a hard thing. When you realize it’s so second nature to us, but it’s an incredibly hard thing to visualize if you really think about it.

Krista Rompolski:
I think there’s definitely a lot to learn. We could go on and on from this article. I think everyone should read it and reflect on what small things, like from the book Small Teaching, which I think you talked about before and we all loved, what are these tiny things that could potentially really shift the tone in a classroom? And recognize also that … I don’t know about you, but I find it harder to recognize the impact of those small things in the online environment because you can’t hear them. You can’t see all their faces. You can’t see their body language. So often, this semester it’s just been like, “I hope that resonated.” And just having faith in what you’ve learned and that you’re doing everything that you can.

Kevin Patton:
I think those are all very good points, Krista. This was a really excellent paper. I enjoyed it and got a lot out of it the first time I read it when you brought it to me. I’ve read it a couple of times off and on since then as I go through these sets of papers that you had proposed, and here we are again talking about it. Even as we talk about it, I’m seeing new things in there that I can use in my class or might-

Krista Rompolski:
Oh, great.

Kevin Patton:
… want to try using in my class. So, I really appreciate this. I can hardly wait for the next bombshell journal article that you’re going to come up with.

Krista Rompolski:
Well, couple months off.

Kevin Patton:
Yeah, okay. All right. We’ll do that. Good luck with your move and everything else that’s going on with you.

Krista Rompolski:
Thank you.

Kevin Patton:
Thanks for joining, Krista and I for this Journal Club episode. If you have any recommendations for us with a great paper that you’ve run across, be sure to send that to the podcast hotline or you can email me.

Krista Rompolski:
I have a strong suspicion our next article is going to be about online learning.

Kevin Patton:
You think? I don’t know.

Krista Rompolski:
…online.

Kevin Patton:
You think that’s on people’s minds?

Krista Rompolski:
I’m guessing that the Anatomical Sciences Education, Advances in Physiology Education, and the HAPS journal are going to be quite littered with them over the next year or so. So, we’ll see what comes in in the next couple of journals and pick something. But, yes, if someone does have a strong recommendation, we’re more than willing to highlight your incredible work.

Kevin Patton:
Cool.

Krista Rompolski:
All right.

Kevin Patton:
Well, for Krista and I, thanks again for joining us for the Journal Club. We’ll see you next time.

Kevin Patton:
So after listening to this whole episode, I hope you feel like you learned something. But if you don’t feel like you’ve learned anything, well, that’s okay because now we know that our feeling of how much we learned isn’t always very reliable. I can tell you that I learned a lot more from having a conversation with Krista than I learned from just reading the paper she found. Why not share this episode with a colleague? Then, have a conversation with them. Take it a step further and make it an active engagement with a peer. That’s my serving suggestion for all our episodes.

Kevin Patton:
You can send your friend to the episode page at theAPprofessor.org/83 and listen there. Or even better, sign up at theAPprofessor.org/refer to get a personalized share link that will not only get your friend all set up in a podcast player of their choice, it’ll also get you on your way to earning a cash reward. Refer two friends, and you get $5. Refer 10 friends, and you get $25. Really!

Kevin Patton:
And you’re always encouraged to call in with your questions, comments, and ideas at the podcast hotline. That’s 1-833-LION-DEN or 1-833-546-6336. Or send a recording or written message to podcast@theAPprofessor.org.

Kevin Patton:
We’d love to have you on our private online community well away from the ads, the spam, the tracking, those darn algorithms that hide what and who you want to see, the convoluted email threads, all that stuff in a comfortable, supportive space filled only with A&P faculty just like you. Just go to theAPprofessor.org/community. I’ll see you down the road.

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

Kevin Patton:
With this and all other episodes of this podcast, please avoid contact with skin.

Episode | Captioned Audiogram

This podcast is sponsored by the
Human Anatomy & Physiology Society
HAPS logo

The searchable transcript for this episode is sponsored by
The American Association for Anatomy. 
AAA logo

Stay Connected

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

download on the App Store

Available at Amazon

Google Play button

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

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen-on-Spotify-badge@2x

LIsten on Pandora

LIsten on Amazon Music

Listen on Audible

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

Call in

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

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

Share

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

Kevin's bestselling book!
Available in paperback
Download a digital copy
Please share with your colleagues!

Tools & Resources

TextExpander (paste snippets)
Krisp Free Noise-Cancelling App
Snagit & Camtasia (media tools)
Rev.com ($10 off transcriptions, captions)
The A&P Professor Logo Items
(Compensation may be received)

 

Last updated: December 19, 2020 at 17:05 pm

Don't TAPP alone! Join The A&P Professor Community

 


 

Please wait...

Leave a Comment

I accept the Privacy Policy