Six More Textbook Tricks
TAPP Radio Episode 97
Episode | Quick Take
We faculty rarely talk about how to use textbooks effectively. Not with each other, not with students, not with anybody. And we’ve probably not ever had any training in how to use what is a key tool in teaching and learning the typical A&P course. This episode solves that problem!
- 00:00 | Introduction
- 00:46 | More Textbook Tricks
- 03:20 | Transparency
- 06:46 | Sponsored by AAA
- 08:04 | Read and Raid
- 12:46 | Sponsored by HAPI
- 14:17 | Honor The Textbook
- 32:44 | Sponsored by HAPS
- 34:28 | (You) Read The Textbook
- 39:44 | Teach Your Students How to Read Textbooks
- 49:26 | Loving & Learning About Textbooks
- 51:16 | Staying Connected
Episode | Listen Now
Episode | Show Notes
“While you can’t hold on to everything forever, you’re a fool if you sell back your college books at semester’s end: have you learned nothing of this life?” (Ander Monson)
More Textbook Tricks
In Episode 94, I discussed the reasons why our A&P textbooks often seem to be too large. In this episode, I return to the scene of the crime to discuss some other aspects of how we look at our textbooks and how we use them.
- Do A&P Textbooks Have Too Much Content? | TAPP 94
- Your Textbook is a Mitten, Not a Glove (Kevin’s brief article mentioned in this segment) https://my-ap.us/2E0sZP1
READ and RAID your textbook (Kevin’s brief article for students on a useful approach to using their A&P textbook) my-ap.us/2P3KuBZ
- Selling your textbook? (Kevin’s brief article for students on why they need to keep their A&P textbook—to access that “extra content” in their later courses & career) my-ap.us/3g8Q9Fm
In Episode 51, I discussed why we should be transparent with students about how and why we do things in our course. In this episode, I apply that principle to the A&P textbook.
Sponsored by AAA
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.
Don’t forget—HAPS members get a deep discount on AAA membership!
Read and Raid
In Episode 75, I briefly explained the “read and raid” principle of using textbooks briefly, when discussing how it can be applied to the course syllabus. Here, I discuss the original notion of read and raid by discussion how it works in the A&P textbook.
- The Syllabus Special | TAPP 75
- READ and RAID your textbook (a link for students; explains the “read & raid principle” as applied to textbooks) my-ap.us/2P3KuBZ
Sponsored by HAPI Online Graduate Program
The Master of Science in Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction—the MS-HAPI—is a graduate program for A&P teachers, especially for those who already have a graduate/professional degree. A combination of science courses (enough to qualify you to teach at the college level) and courses in contemporary instructional practice, this program helps you be your best in both on-campus and remote teaching. Kevin Patton is a faculty member in this program at Northeast College of Health Sciences. Check it out!
Honor The Textbook
If we want to model professional behavior, we can voice any disagreements we have with our course textbook without resorting to disagreeable “hating” on the textbook. And we should remember to give feedback to the authors when we find mistakes or other issues. That’s the kind of professional we want to be, right?
Sponsored by HAPS
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!
(You) Read The Textbook
We should read the textbook every time we teach. It’s a habit that pays big dividends for teaching and learning.
- Stiff! The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (book mentioned here as being an upcoming selection of the HAPS Book Club has also been listed in The A&P Professor Book Club) theapprofessor.org/bookclub.html#badge-B019
Teach Your Students How to Read Textbooks
Reading a textbook requires a strategy. We are in a position to help our students find their strategy by using metacognition and available published textbook strategies.
- Reading Strategies: Reading the Textbook (Kevin’s page for A&P students that you can link to from your course) lionden.com/reading.htm
- The A&P Student Reading Strategies (collection of posts from Kevin’s blog for A&P students) theAPstudent.blogspot.com/search/label/reading
Loving & Learning About Textbooks
There’s a lot more to a textbook than most of us think. What I mean is that we ought to think more about how to best use our course textbook and how to best coach our students in learning from their A&P textbook.
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.
This searchable transcript is supported by the
American Association for Anatomy.
I'm a member—maybe you should be one, too!
Kevin Patton (00:01):
The writer Andrew Monson once wrote, “While you can’t hold on to everything forever you’re a fool if you sell back your college books at semesters and have you learned nothing of this life?”
Welcome to The A&P Professor. A few minutes to focus on teaching Human Anatomy & Physiology with a veteran educator and teaching mentor, your host, Kevin Patton.
Kevin Patton (00:32):
In this episode, I’ll give you six amazing tricks that you can perform your A&P talks.
More Textbook Tricks
Kevin Patton (00:50):
Back in Episode 94, I asked do A&P textbooks have too much content. Now, if you haven’t listened to that one, you might want to consider it. I talked about some ideas that might surprise you. Or make you angry or make you want to throw up, I don’t know. Okay, just have a receptacle handy just in case. The answer to that question, do A&P textbooks have too much content was a resounding and emphatic, maybe. Sometimes, yes, sometimes no.
Kevin Patton (01:30):
But probably it’s just the right amount to give your students extra background and to give you and your colleagues some wiggle room to do things a bit differently from each other among different instructors. And to allow you to change things up from one year to the next as your course evolves. But there’s never going to be a time when the textbook fits just right. Just like off the rack clothing that doesn’t come in half or quarter sizes in between the standard sizes.
Kevin Patton (02:04):
Well, in this episode, I pick up that discussion again, but take it in a different direction as both a long time A&P instructor who has thoughtfully considered how to use textbooks effectively. And as a long time textbook author, who is thoughtfully considered in study the ins and outs of effective textbook design and experimented with things that work and yes, things that didn’t work. Well, I have six ideas that could help you and your students get more out of that too big or too small or just tried are probably a bit too big and gives us a little wiggle room sized textbook that you’re using.
Kevin Patton (02:56):
The textbook that is so ingrained into the customs of higher education. It’s long been such a central and expected tool for teaching and learning that, well it’s become almost invisible to us. So yeah, let’s take a few minutes and try to change that.
Kevin Patton (03:20):
Speaking of invisible, let’s start with our first strategy. And that is transparency. But by using the term transparency here, I’m talking about being transparent about our use of the textbook, not by making it more invisible, but by bringing it into the light of day and making it more visible. By being transparent about it with students…
Kevin Patton (03:50):
Now, you may remember back in Episode 51, which was titled The Case for Transparency I talked about how important transparency in general is. That is telling students why we have the course policies or the course procedures that we have, why that’s good for them and good for learning. I talk about being transparent about how you’re doing things or what you intend to cover or not cover in your class. Or what you want your students to do, what your expectations of your students are. The more transparent about all of that we are, the better it works for everybody. And well in the long run, the better it works for overall learning in your course.
Kevin Patton (04:39):
So yeah, transparency, I think is important. So let’s apply that to the textbook too. Why not tell our students how we’re going to use the textbook. Why not be upfront and transparent about that? And say, “Look, here’s the textbook. Here’s what I expect you to do with the textbook. Here are some things you can do. Here’s some things you’re required to do with the textbook. Here’s how I’m looking at the textbook. Here’s how I see the textbook fitting into the overall scheme of learning in this course. It’s a central tool. Yes. And then here’s this other tool and this other tool. And here’s this strategy, and that strategy.” And make it clear how the textbook is going to fit into that overall learning, but especially advising students on how they should be using the textbook, or at least how they could be using the textbook.
Kevin Patton (05:37):
Sometimes I think we just forget to talk about it. Because remember, it’s invisible to us. It’s so ubiquitous in college education, the textbook that we just forget to talk about it, it’s just there. They just walk in with it. Because the bookstore told him it was required for the course. And so we just leave it sit there.
Kevin Patton (06:00):
Okay, it does come up. Sometimes a lot of times on the first day, there’s that student holding up an unopened, shrink wrapped textbook and asks, “Are we going to actually use the textbook? Or can I take it back to the bookstore? I only have five days left to get a full refund. And I need to know.” So well okay then the textbook becomes visible for a moment. And we usually just answer, “Yes, we’re going to use it.” And then you might be a little annoyed that the tone inside of that question, but we need to bring it a little bit more visible, we need to talk about it a little bit more, and be very upfront with students.
Sponsored by AAA
Kevin Patton (06:46):
A searchable transcript and a captioned audiogram of this episode are funded by AAA, the American Association for anatomy at anatomy.org. Now, as I mentioned before, one of the things I tried to do is keep up to date with Anatomy Now, which is the regular newsletter of AAA. There’s always at least one thing in there that piques my interest. And usually, there’s more than one thing. Well, last week, I went to the email@example.com, clicked on the news and journals tab, and then the newsletter link, and then the recent articles button over to the right under the Anatomy Now banner. And guess what? Here’s an article about me.
Kevin Patton (07:36):
Okay, it wasn’t too surprising, I guess, because I’d been interviewed by writer Sheryll Poe a while back, and I knew it was coming. But I’m kind of overwhelmed with tasks lately. And I kind of forgot about that. So there was an initial element of surprise when I saw it, check it out for yourself anatomy.org.
Read and Raid
Kevin Patton (08:04):
My second trick, or tip or strategy, or whatever you want to call it goes back to something I first brought up quite a while ago in Episode 75, which was a special episode. It was a really long episode, an unusually long episode. Sometimes they’re long anyway. But this was a super long episode, called the syllabus special. That was Episode 75.
Kevin Patton (08:28):
And in it, I talked about a whole bunch of different strategies about the syllabus and things we do on the first day and all that. And I did bring up the textbook a little bit there. And I talked about this approach to using textbooks that if you’ve been around me at all, you’ve heard me say this a bunch of times, and it’s not just me, it didn’t originate with me. But it’s something that I think is a really useful way of expressing it.
Kevin Patton (08:50):
And that is that students typically use textbooks in one or both of two ways. They either read the textbook, or they raid the textbook. So that read and raid strategy is something I always have in the back of my mind as an instructor, and also as a textbook author. And speaking of being a textbook author, I’m always trying to think of, okay, if a student is actually reading this chapter, like we would normally think of reading a chapter that is read this paragraph, the next one, the next one and try to get all the way through the chapter. Then I’m thinking about ways to make that work better for the reader. How can I make the reading go better? How can I make it more clear, more understandable, easier to read, perhaps, more logical? How can I tell the story in an engaging and effective way?
Kevin Patton (09:44):
But I’m also thinking in the back of my mind, as I construct that chapter, or I revise that chapter is how can I make this better for raiding by a student and what I mean by rating is when a student isn’t reading the chapter, they’re trying to find some specific information. They might be trying to solve a case study, they might be trying to answer a question on the test in an open book or an open resource online test, for example, or a take home test. Or maybe they have a homework assignment. Or maybe they’re working on a lab report or something like that. And they need some information for that reason.
Kevin Patton (10:23):
Or maybe they’re studying and they’re puzzled by something, and they don’t really remember what’s going on with that particular part of the story. So they need to go back in the textbook and see if they can find it in the textbook, and see what the textbook says about it. So what are they going to do? They’re going to go to that chapter. Well, first of all, they need to find the right chapter. So they find the right chapter, they go to that chapter, they find the right section. And then they read just that little snippet, just that little section or subsection, or I don’t know, maybe once they get going, they realize maybe I should read this whole chapter because I don’t really remember any of this stuff, maybe I’d better go back over it again.
Kevin Patton (11:02):
But when they go in looking for that specific bit of information, they’re raiding the book, and I found it to be helpful. Or I should say, some of my students have found to be helpful when I’m being transparent with them, and telling them about using the textbook, I tell them, “Look, there are a couple of different ways you’re going to want to use this textbook, you’re probably going to want to do both at one time or another, depending on the circumstance. You’re going to want to read the chapters. No, you’re not required to learn everything in each chapter. And no, we’re not going to talk about everything in each chapter, when we’re in class, or we’re in the lab, or we’re doing a learning activity or having a discussion. No.”
Kevin Patton (11:47):
“But to have read that chapter is important. It’s important background, it’s part of what I expect you to do, as part of your learning in this course, even though you’re not responsible for being tested on 100% of it, you should still read it. That puts things together, it gives us a certain perspective, that might be a little bit different than the perspective they get in other parts of the course. So yeah, I want you to read the chapter. But then remember the chapters there to raid, when you’re working on your test, you’re working on your lab work, you’re studying, you’re doing whatever, then go in and raid it.” And so go ahead and put that out there for students and see if it doesn’t help. Now if it’s not helping your students talk about it. But I’m giving you some tips here that have worked for me and the read and raid tip is one that has worked.
Sponsored by HAPI
Kevin Patton (12:46):
The free distribution of this podcast is sponsored by the Master of Science and Human Anatomy & Physiology instruction, the HAPI degree. Many of us have very little formal training in the teaching part of being a faculty member in higher education. Things like curriculum, course design, developing learning strategies and specific learning activities. And, yes, understanding college textbooks and how they can be used effectively. But that’s okay. This podcast will help you, well, a little bit.
Kevin Patton (13:28):
And those occasional workshops or seminars while a little bit. But if you want to put it all together, in doing it, working side by side with a group of peers that you’ll know and you’ll grow to love in a more formal setting and mentored by experienced experts. Then well, maybe you should 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. I think there might be a couple of places left in the fall cohort. So yep, I’d do it now.
Honor The Textbook
Kevin Patton (14:17):
Okay, I got to be honest with the third trick I want to tell you about. I’m a little bit hesitant, just a little bit. I’ll tell you why. This trick I have written down in my notes says, honor the textbook, that is respect to the textbook. And I know that some of you are going to think yourself, “Oh, well, how self serving can he be? He’s a textbook author. He wants to promote textbooks. So he’s going to really try and emphasize that we should give textbooks a special place.” And well I do think textbooks should have a special place and yeah, I’ll be transparent I’m biased. I think textbooks are a great thing. They’re a great resource when used properly and when constructed and designed properly, yeah, they are.
Kevin Patton (15:02):
Just like you probably think taking a college class in A&P is a good thing. And you probably promote that. And just like I make some money to support my family by writing and revising textbooks, you might be making some money in teaching your college course. And you have a vested interest in making sure that college A&P courses keep going. So yeah, okay, we both have our biases. But even though we have our biases, that doesn’t mean that what we’re promoting doesn’t have some value.
Kevin Patton (15:34):
And so when I say honor the textbook, what I mean by that is, when you don’t agree with what the textbook that you’re using in your course has in it, you don’t agree with the content, you don’t agree with the organization of it, you don’t agree with the writing style of it, anything in it that you don’t agree with, don’t trash it in front of students. I really strongly advise you to model professional behavior. Is that really the kind of professional you want to be is that really the kind of person you want to be, is trashing the work of teams of other people appears in your same field? No, don’t trash it.
Kevin Patton (16:21):
I think we should demonstrate empathy and compassion and kindness, and respect, even when we disagree with things. Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t mention our point of disagreement. I think that we should do that. Especially when it affects the course. If you don’t agree with the organization of your textbook, and you decide to maybe cover topics in a different order than it is in your textbook, you need to tell students about that, or they’re going to be confused. And I think it’s best to be totally transparent about that and say, “Look, here’s one way of telling the story in your textbook, I have a different way. And here’s why I think this works better.”
Kevin Patton (17:04):
And you don’t have to go into all the details, but just explain that you’re not just trying to confuse them, that you’re not being disorganized, you’re not forgetting chapter four, you’re going to come back to it at a different time. And the reason is, because you’re going to tell the story a little bit different way. That’s all you have to say really. But it alerts students to the difference between the textbook and what you’re doing and the rest of the course. But it’s also clarifying that, here’s what’s going on, here’s why I’m doing it, I’m doing it thoughtfully.
Kevin Patton (17:35):
Another thing that kind of helps us honor the textbook, and regard it in a professional way, even when we disagree, is to keep in mind that there is a limit to what textbooks are and what they can do for you and for your students. I mean, textbooks are general, they’re not specialized. So if you get to the endocrine system in the textbook, and you happen to have endocrinology as your specialized research area, and you get in there and you see that, “Oh, man, this is so oversimplified. This could be interpreted as being inaccurate or incorrect, or there’s some essential information that’s missing here.”
Kevin Patton (18:23):
Well, keep in mind that the textbook is not written for endocrinology experts. It’s a generalized book. It’s General A&P. And there’s a lot of information that just isn’t in there, and it shouldn’t be in there. Because it would be too overwhelming. Nobody can learn everything they need to learn about the human body in one course, or even in the two courses of the typical two semester A&P course. So no, it’s generalized. So keep that in mind.
Kevin Patton (18:53):
And it’s okay to say, “Hey, look, endocrinology is my favorite thing. And when I talk about the pancreas, man, it is…” And you can go into other things that aren’t in the textbook. That’s okay. Students get engaged when you do that occasionally, as long as the whole course isn’t like that, and that works great. So okay, fine, but don’t say, “Oh, man, this textbook it’s missing a bunch of information.” Explain it in a more professional way, a kinder, more empathetic way and say, “Look, this is a generalized textbook. Of course, it doesn’t cover this stuff about the pancreas. But let me tell you a couple of stories that are really fascinating about the pancreas.”
Kevin Patton (19:31):
Another thing to keep in mind is the timeframe. And this is another reason why textbooks don’t cover everything there is to know about the human body, it’s because if you’re teaching from a two semester book, that is a book that was designed for two semester course, it’s designed for two semesters. Actually got a little bit more in it than would be for a two semester course. If you’re teaching from a book that’s designed for one semester, A&P course, then it’s going to be even shorter. And so it’s going to have even less information in it. So textbooks are designed for the timeframe that they’re intended for.
Kevin Patton (20:11):
Another thing that you want to be aware of in textbooks is that when we’re putting together textbooks, we’re kind of cautious. Not kind of cautious. We’re very cautious. I will tell you, I’ve been doing this for a long, long time. And I have been really excited about emerging ideas in science. And I might put that in the textbook. And then as soon as it’s published and never fails, as soon as the book is in print, and you can’t take it back until the next edition, there’s new information that has come out that is totally debunked to that new emerging idea.
Kevin Patton (20:48):
And now it’s stuck in your textbook. So I and other textbook authors have learned to become cautious. I think a lot of times we have this expectation, that new information or new ways of talking about things, new terminology, that they’re going to immediately show up in the textbook. Well, no, they’re not going to immediately show up in the textbook, because we’re going to wait a little while we’re going to make sure it’s well established before we put it in a textbook. Because we take the power of the textbook seriously. And it’s not daily newspaper journalism, a textbook has a longer timeframe.
Kevin Patton (21:30):
And that kind of gets back to this idea of timeframe, but from a different angle. And that is that we need to give things a little time so that they really are well established in science before they end up in the textbook. And another aspect of that timeframe thing, since I’m talking about it, is that it takes time for things to get into a textbook. It usually takes a couple of years of working on a new edition before that edition comes out.
Kevin Patton (21:59):
And so, for example, new edition of our two semester textbook is out November, we’re still working on it. But we’re doing the last minute things. We’re doing the proofreading and things like that, because it’s going to take time to hand off to the printers and get it all printed, and then get all the pages cut and then get it bound and then get it packaged. And shipped to the warehouses and stuff. It takes time. And so you have to back off of that publication date. And you wouldn’t believe the amount of time it takes to go through every section of every chapter and make sure things are the way you want them.
Kevin Patton (22:39):
And then go back again and rethink it again. And it just… If you’ve ever had the experience of writing a dissertation or something like that, you’re always second guessing yourself. You’ll think a chapter of your dissertation is done, you go back and read it and think “Oh, no, I should change this. And I should change that.”
Kevin Patton (22:56):
Well, that’s what it’s like to write a textbook. And so yeah, it’s going to take a couple of years to do a revision, and there’s a lot more that changes in there than you might imagine. As I mentioned, a couple of episodes ago yeah that happens. So it takes a while for something to actually get into the textbook. And then of course, we have to back up in building this consciousness part. So that takes even longer for things to get into a textbook. And that’s good, I think.
Kevin Patton (23:24):
I think there are a lot of benefits to that, even though sometimes we’re impatient. But that’s where we as instructors come in, where we can say, look, there’s this emerging idea about this nerve, or for that process, or the pancreas. That’s our favorite thing, the pancreas. There’s new information about the pancreas, just came out last week. This is so exciting. Well that’s not going to be in the textbook. There’s not time for it to have gotten in there. And even if there was technically, the author’s had it in their hands and they were doing revisions when this information came out. Well but we’re not necessarily going to put it in the book yet. Because we want to wait and see how this plays out. We want to see how well accepted by the scientific community, it eventually becomes. We want to wait for some replication to happen. That’s how science works.
Kevin Patton (24:13):
Another thing about textbooks that we tend to not always be respectful of is that it has mistakes in it. I’ve never met a textbook at any level, even some of the classic textbooks that have been around forever, have mistakes in them. Now, there are different kinds of mistakes, all different kinds of mistakes, and they’re all going to be in there somewhere or other. There’s going to be mistakes in formatting the terminology or the symbology or whatever that’s used in there. There’s going to be typos. There’s going to be things that get a little mixed up here in there.
Kevin Patton (24:50):
This happens a lot with labels on illustrations. You can keep… I’ve had this experience where you put the label back where supposed to be and then at the next round, and there are many rounds of checking things. Next round of proofreading, it’s bounced back to the wrong spot, and you put it back and next time around and it’s bounced back again. And I don’t know how it happens, there’s probably a bunch of different ways it can happen. Because there’s lots of people working on these projects. And sometimes it gets all the way through, even though you’ve corrected it three or four times or maybe more, and it still gets through.
Kevin Patton (25:26):
And I’ve also had situations where somebody has pointed out a typo. And I go back and look and think was that in the prior edition? Did I introduce that typo or what? And I’ll go back and look, and that type has been in there for three editions. How could that happen? With professional copy editors and professional proofreaders and multiple authors and contributors and reviewers looking at that. And students, countless students, why didn’t they say anything? Sometimes they do. Sometimes they’ll catch them and let us know.
Kevin Patton (25:59):
And by the way, when you catch a typo, or some other kind of error, please, please, please get in touch with the publisher and ask them to pass that along. And they will. We get those every once a while. And it’s either an opportunity to fix something in the textbook that’s going to help everyone or it’s an opportunity to learn, we were the ones that are wrong. That happens sometimes and I usually reach out if I know who it is, I reach out to them and say, “Look, here’s why we did it this way. And we think that this reflects the current understanding. And here’s why.”
Kevin Patton (26:34):
And we all have those things. I mean, none of us can know everything about A&P. And so we all have our own misconceptions, and gaps in knowledge and things like that. And speaking of that gets to this other kind of mistake. It’s not just typos, there are content errors. And there are misconceptions in there. Because it’s made by humans. And we all have that. And again, reach out to the publisher who will get the information to the author. If you happen to know the author, like you know me, you know how to get ahold of me directly. Tell me about it.
Kevin Patton (27:08):
I mean, tell me exactly. Don’t say, “Hey, that one part where you talk about the heart.” That’s not going to help me much. But tell me this page, tell me the book too. Because I have more than one text. So contact that author, or talk to that author. Now, don’t do it while you’re in a group of 15 people having a glass of iced tea at the HAPS conference, or the AAA conference or something like that, that’s an appropriate place to say, “Hey, they’re making your mark on page 42.”
Kevin Patton (27:39):
That’s not kind, that’s not empathetic, that’s not professional, that’s not modeling professional behavior. Don’t be that person. But directly get a hold of them off to the side, get a hold of them, and say, “Look, I think this might be wrong, I think that might be wrong.” And again, it’s an opportunity for either the author to clarify things, or for them to help you see things in a different way and maybe a more correct way.
Kevin Patton (28:07):
So yeah, there are content errors and misconceptions. And it’s okay to point that out to students and say, “Look on page 42, there’s a mistake they got left and right ventricles mixed up here.” And so that happens, students sometimes we make mistakes, and can you see what happens when we’re not careful enough and these mistakes get through that can really have a big impact on people. And so those of you going into health careers, for example, you want to be careful about making mistakes, because they can have a big impact.
Kevin Patton (28:40):
And so you can use it as a teaching moment. But also let people know that yeah, mistakes do happen. That’s part of real life. Well just to kind of wrap up that whole idea. Just keep in mind the limits of the textbook authors, and the editors, and the publishers that nobody can know everything about all things. If we keep that in mind, I think it’ll be easier to be kind and to honor the textbook.
Kevin Patton (29:11):
Another thing about honoring the textbook is, if your students are required to purchase the textbook, if it is required for your course, maybe you voted against that. Maybe you’d rather not have a textbook, but your department out voted you. And so you have a textbook, and maybe it’s not even the one that you really preferred. Well, just use it. Because if the students have to buy it, then is that really fair to them to say, “Hey, there’s this thing here that we could use, but I don’t like it, so we’re not going to use it.” And now they’ve paid all that money.
Kevin Patton (29:43):
And not only that they’ve not gotten the benefit out of it. They haven’t even gotten the opportunity. Because if you tell them to ignore it, they will ignore it. They’re happy to ignore it, because they don’t realize that there are things in there that are useful to them. So even if it’s not your favorite textbook. Even if you feel you are smarter than that textbook, even if that textbook has mistakes in it, and it will have some mistakes in it, whether you can find them or not, it will have some mistakes in it. If the students had to buy it, even if it was over your strong objections, then by golly, find ways for them to use it.
Kevin Patton (30:23):
Suppose you like the required textbook okay. Well, then don’t assume that they’ll just know how and when to use it. Give them some specific tasks in the textbook. Reading assignments, don’t just say, “Oh yeah keep up with the reading.” Tell them what they need to read, you need to read this chapter for this learning module or by this date. Or read this part of the chapter, give them page numbers, if you have to do that, or subheadings, or something like that. Actually assign of the reading. Now you think well, wait a minute, if I give an assignment and there’s no points for it, then why even bother?
Kevin Patton (31:02):
Well, bother with it. It does help a lot of students, if they’re told to do it, they will do it. Some students won’t, I know. And some students will ask, “Well, how many points do we get?” Or whatever. Okay, well the way you’re going to evaluate that, is by whatever assessments you normally do. And you’ve probably been teaching A&P long enough to know this, that you’re going to know who’s reading the book, and who’s not. You’re going to know who’s doing the things that you’ve assigned, and who’s not. Even if there is no point value for them. So do that. It’s going to help your students by telling them to do it.
Kevin Patton (31:40):
And maybe assign some of the quizzes, maybe have reading quizzes, where it’s quiz items that you’ve made up based on the reading. So now you can get points. Or maybe it’s the questions that are built into the book itself. And you can assign those as a quiz or as homework or something like that. Maybe assign it as homework and then have a quiz where you’ll take a couple of those questions and put them on the quiz. And if they’ve done the homework the quiz will be easy.
Kevin Patton (32:08):
And another thing that I recommend is like everything that we do for our students, keep reminding them. Don’t tell them at the beginning, “Yep, here’s our book, get in the bookstore. Here’s the syllabus that has the reading assignments in it, chapter one for module one, chapter two, for module two of our course. And do all that, yeah do that.” But then keep reminding them. Don’t forget to be reading your textbook. At the end of class, “Hey, don’t forget to do your reading before the next class.” If we keep reminding them it’ll work much, much better.
Sponsored by HAPS
Kevin Patton (32:44):
Marketing support for this podcast is provided by HAPS. The Human Anatomy & Physiology Society, promoting excellence in the teaching of Human Anatomy & Physiology for over 30 years. I’ve been in HAPS since it was first incorporated. Now, I wasn’t at those couple of pre-HAPS workshops, hosted by Bob Anthony up in Chicago. But I wanted to go to those. I did finally go to an event coincidentally one when the meeting was held to vote HAPS into existence.
Kevin Patton (33:20):
And I’ve been back every single year, even those two times when the annual conference went virtual. And I go to as many regional meetings as I’m able to. Why? Because I learn so much. I meet such interesting people and get to interact with them and form relationships with them. And well, it’s always such an amazing experience. There are a couple of regional meetings coming up this fall to learn about them and to register go visit HAPS at theAPprofessor.org/HAPS. That’s H-A-P-S. And tell them I say you really think there’s a box in the registration form where you can make comments, put that there. Kevin sent me. Just put it there, they’ll know who it is. Or just tell them when you sign in the day of. Again, that’s theAPprofessor.org/HAPS.
(You) Read the Textbook
Kevin Patton (34:28):
Okay, so trick number four is going to sound really weird I know and that is read the textbook. You. You read the textbook, no really read it every time you teach a topic covered in the textbook. I know you’ve read it before. 10 years ago when you first adopted that textbook you read it. But maybe you haven’t read it since then. Read it. Read it every time. So every year or every semester when that topic comes up take the book off the shelf and reread that section to get.
Kevin Patton (35:03):
Now it’s like a lot of books. I mean, have you ever read a novel again, or I’m getting ready for the HAPS book club. And so I’m getting ready to start rereading StiffS by Mary Roach. That’s the next book we’re reading in the HAPS book club. And I read that, oh, I think it was over 15 years ago when it first came out. And that’s when I read it. I haven’t read it since. So I’m going to be reading it again. And her books especially but a lot of nonfiction books like that. But even fiction books like novels, and that, you read them again, a year, two years later, 15 years later. You’re going to get something else out of it the next time. So there’s that advantage.
Kevin Patton (35:45):
But another advantage is you’re going to catch the updates since the last edition. If you’re not reading every new edition, it’s not really the same book anymore. I know, it looks like it when you flip through it. But there’s lots… I mentioned this a couple of episodes ago, there’s lots more changes in there than you realize, they’re just not immediately visible, they don’t just pop out at you and grab you and shake you. They are subtle, more subtle than that. So that’s why you have to read it. And if you read it each time you teach it, then it’s more likely that you’re going to catch all the updates, or at least more and more of the updates every time you read it again.
Kevin Patton (36:28):
But the other advantage of doing that is that if you reread that section of the book, around the time when you’re hoping your students are reading it, then when you walk into class, and you do your lecture or your discussion or your active learning project, or whatever it is that you’re doing. Then you’re going to have that fresh in your head. And you’re going to know what that version of the story is. That version of the story that’s laid out in the textbook. That’s going to be fresh in your mind when you’re telling your version of the story. And so you’re going to be able to connect to them, you’re going to help students connect the two different versions of the story.
Kevin Patton (37:09):
Because they are going to be a little bit different no matter why even if you’re trying to stick with the version in the textbook, you’re going to put your own spin on it. So you might say to students, “Well, our textbook compares the cell to a water balloon. But I think we can understand a lot more about cells, if we think of it as a glob of jello covered in a film of butter.” Well, okay, that’s a more… I don’t know, gross and therefore engaging image, then the water balloon that a lot of textbooks use as an analogy for a cell.
Kevin Patton (37:49):
And in some ways, it does work better in terms of thinking about the characteristics of a cell. And so there, you’ve just said, “Yes, I recognize that there’s this one way of telling the story. I’m going to tell the story a different way. And hopefully, this is going to work better for us to know both versions of the story.” Or you might simply like give examples of what’s in the textbook or expand on what’s in the textbook. You might say something like, “Well remember in your reading and the textbook, how they mentioned that some of the common variations that there are in the bones of the skeleton? Well, look at this skeletal specimen from our lab that I brought into class today. Let’s look at some of those variations. Do we see any of those variations here?”
Kevin Patton (38:38):
So now you’re connecting it… And you know what was in the textbook. You know which examples the textbook gave, so that you can emphasize those with your class, and maybe show them some additional examples. Or maybe some different examples, or you could clarify it a little bit. So those are all reasons for you to be reading the textbook. And I’ll tell you what, I do that too. I wrote the darn textbook that I use. And I still reread it every time I teach a course that uses that textbook. Because I want that version that we put down in the textbook in the last edition of the textbook to be fresh, so that I know exactly what’s there.
Kevin Patton (39:20):
I mean, I don’t memorize it. But I have a pretty good idea of what’s there because I’ve just read it. And the more I read it, the more ingrained that story becomes, and the more easily I can retrieve that. So yep, I’m doing retrieval a lot when I’m teaching and reviewing those chapters.
Teach Your Students How to Read Textbooks
Kevin Patton (39:44):
Textbook trick number five is teach your students how to read the textbook. And I know we’ve touched upon aspects of this already, both in this episode and in previous episodes. For example, the read and raid thing. That’s an exam at least in a broad global sense how a student can use a textbook. But I think as part of our goal of being transparent, especially with textbooks, we should come right out and emphasize to students that reading a textbook is not like reading a novel.
Kevin Patton (40:19):
I mean, it’s kind of like reading a novel, they both involve reading sentences, paragraphs, and so on. But that’s about where it stops. And it’s certainly not like reading a blog post or social media post, which are much shorter. So I mean, emphasize that and say, “Look, this is going to be a different experience of reading, then maybe you’re used to, or maybe that you’d like to do. This is maybe going to take a little while for this kind of reading to be comfortable.”
Kevin Patton (40:46):
And emphasize that the best way to read a textbook is you don’t just pick it up, start at the beginning, and start reading. I mean, that’s what you do with a novel is you pick it up, you start with chapter one, and you go to chapter two, and three, and four, you just go all the way through, and you’re not even thinking about the fact that you’re in another chapter sometimes, you just keep going, you’re looking for that next paragraph.
Kevin Patton (41:09):
But that’s not the way it’s going to be reading a textbook. Don’t just start at the beginning and start reading. And that’s what I often did as a student. For two reasons. One is, I didn’t know any better. It’s a book. That’s how it’s done. You start at the beginning and start reading. Another reason I did that as a student is back in the olden days, textbooks didn’t often have much in the way of the built-in embedded learning aids and helpful organizational methods like we have in all the major A&P textbooks nowadays.
Kevin Patton (41:48):
I mean, there were some, but not a lot. And I pretty much ignored them. Your students probably ignore all of those extra little things that are in the textbook. And that’s too bad, because those have been designed thinking about cognitive science. Learning science has informed us of some very effective things that we can embed into textbooks that really will help students, the trick is they have to look at them, and then get engaged with them and start to do it.
Kevin Patton (42:18):
And they’re not likely to do it on their own, because they’re so used to just reading paragraph after paragraph, that they end up skipping all that other stuff. And what we need to do is tell them, “Look, don’t skip it, and maybe even call attention to one or the other of these learning aids that are built into a textbook that you think might be most helpful to them. And say, “Look, see those little built in questions that you have at the end of every section that kind of stop you and make you think about what you just read? And see if you really understood it, or if you were just zoning out. Do that, stop and do that, because that’s going to help you understand things, it’s going to help you put it together before you move on to the next section.”
Kevin Patton (43:02):
And so explain to them, those tools built in the textbook, that are beyond the simple reading, what they are, where they’re at, and how to use them, and why they would be important to the student. Then they’re going to start to use them. But if you just assume that, hey, they’re there if the student wants to use them, they’re not going to use them. Most of the students are not going to use them.
Kevin Patton (43:27):
So I think probably if we’re going to get good at teaching students how to use a textbook, the first thing we need to do is learn how to use a textbook ourselves. That’s not something I went into teaching with, at least at first. Because I hadn’t really learned how to use a textbook effectively. I’d learned a little bit, because I did do some educational psychology and some teaching practicum and lots of teaching courses and some before I started teaching. So I did have some formal learning, but we didn’t spend a lot of time on textbooks per se. We just kind of mentioned them and left it at that.
Kevin Patton (44:10):
But there are actual techniques for reading textbooks. And there are different reading strategies that have been spelled out and you can Google it and find a bunch of them. I mean, they’re all over the place. If you go to your institutions Learning Center, they’ll hand you probably a long list of different techniques, a lot of them have little acronyms and so on to help students remember the various elements and the various steps of how to read a textbook using that particular technique.
Kevin Patton (44:39):
And I’ve looked at a lot of them and really kind of dove into quite a few of them. And I find that they’re usually pretty similar to one another. It’s just sort of different versions of the same thing. Not exactly, but there’s a lot of overlap. And that’s good because not all strategies fit all students. So that’s another thing that we need to keep in mind that just learning one textbook strategy is not where it ends. You want to look at a lot of different kinds of strategies and see which one fits you the best. And in doing that process, you can be in a better position to advise students to do the same thing, and help them find the one that fits them as an individual best.
Kevin Patton (45:24):
And sometimes a textbook will actually provide one or more strategies to students, either with hints embedded within the chapter, or maybe a separate section for students that kind of give them a little run through of how to read the textbook, or maybe some combination of them both. But there might be something in the textbook or in the ancillary materials that come with the textbook, in a study guide, or the online resources, or whatever they come with the textbook might have some help for the students. So therefore, you want to explore all those things so you can point to them and say, “Look, if you want to reading strategy, look in the online resources, here’s how you find it.”
Kevin Patton (46:05):
Or look in the prof hints for students, here’s where you find it. Or check out this little hint icon that’s in that chapter, that where you find it. So lots of different ways that can be approached, but it requires us actually doing it, not just thinking it’s going to happen on its own. I mean, we know that from teaching. That things don’t just happen on their own when it comes to student learning. We have to facilitate it, we have to spark it, we have to remind the students about it. So let’s do that with the textbook stuff too.
Kevin Patton (46:40):
So maybe have some resources handy. I mean, you can put that into your class materials, if you want. Give links to places where they can go and learn more about reading. If your institution has workshops or other resources, or has tutors that can help them with that sort of thing, then point them in that direction too. Give them a way to do that. Don’t just say, “Oh, find these ways.” give them ways to do it. Give them a specific route to get to where you want them to go.
Kevin Patton (47:13):
And while you’re doing that, that’s a really good opportunity to bring in this idea of metacognition, which has come up in a lot of previous episodes. And of course, metacognition, well, in its simplest version is thinking about thinking, but when we’re applying that to teaching and learning in the A&P course, what we mean by that is having students really think about their learning. Think about what works for them, and what doesn’t work for them in their learning in general.
Kevin Patton (47:39):
And then when things aren’t working, then try something different. But we can also apply to the reading, the textbook reading and think about what is the best way for me to read using this technique or that technique, reading half a chapter at a time, or focusing on the whole chapter. I mean, there’s lots of different ways to do it, but that metacognition is a way… It’s a habit, really, that we want our students to develop to think about what’s working for them, and what isn’t. And maybe they can make adjustments in how they read the textbook.
Kevin Patton (48:13):
Maybe they can make adjustments and how they use the textbook alongside other resources or other learning activities. For example, it always surprises me that students don’t, on their own think about bringing their textbook to the lab class. “Well, all I need is my lab manual. All I need is the lab handouts or the lab module on the software, whatever. When I go to a lab, what do I need the textbook for. That’s for the lecture class?” Well, no, it’s not.
Kevin Patton (48:41):
There’s all kinds of information in that textbook, that can be very helpful in the lab when they’re trying to identify tissues on slides, or they’re trying to identify bones and bone markings. So they’re trying to find this muscle or that muscle or build a little model of muscles out of clay or whatever. Having that textbook handy is going to be very, very helpful. And it might even help them in doing this metacognition, might help them make adjustments in not only they read the textbook, but how they raid the textbook. Because there are different ways you can do that. And so thinking about what’s working for them and what’s not, going to be helpful.
Loving & Learning About Textbooks
Kevin Patton (49:26):
The thing is, we love to hate textbooks, including me. I mean, there are some things that I don’t like about textbooks. There are some daunting things about getting students to use textbooks. But I think we’ve just never been trained in how to use them as students and many of us have not been trained in how to use them effectively as teachers. And this is kind of one of those things that we don’t really want to learn.
Kevin Patton (50:01):
If I said, “Hey, there’s a class in how to use textbooks effectively.” You’re going to yawn and stretch and roll your eyes and say, “Yeah, I think I’m busy. I got something else to do that day.” “Well, I haven’t told you what day it is.” Now, that’s okay. I’m busy that day.”
Kevin Patton (50:19):
We don’t want to do that. I mean, who wants to learn about textbooks? It’s just kind of cool and hip to just hate them and dis them and who wants to learn to use them? Well, that’s hard. It’s easy to hate him. So maybe we should do some metacognition ourselves. And think about our thoughts about textbooks. And maybe go ahead and jump in the sandbox and play around. And maybe look around at some of the information that’s out there about using textbooks for both students and faculty.
Kevin Patton (51:02):
And I have lots of links in the resources for this episode for you to get you started. But there’s lots more than that available too. But it’s going to take some effort.
Kevin Patton (51:16):
Yeah, textbooks, huh? Yeah, you probably have some thoughts rolling around in the back of your mind right now that you want to talk about with somebody who teaches A&P.
Kevin Patton (51:29):
Well, then go ahead, have that conversation. It’s probably best if they listen to this episode first though, and there’s an easy way to share this episode with a friend and also earn yourself a bit of cash. Simply go to theAPprofessor.org/refer to get a personalized share link that will not only get your friend all set up with this episode, it will also get you on your way to earning a cash reward.
Kevin Patton (51:59):
And remember, I always have links for you. If you don’t see links in your podcast player then simply go to the show notes at the episode page at theAPprofessor.org/97. And while you’re there, you can claim your digital credential for listening to this episode. And of course, 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. You want to extend the conversation even further? You’re invited to join my private A&P teaching community way off the social platforms at theAPprofessor.org/community. I’ll see you down the road.
The A&P Professor is hosted by Dr. Kevin Patton, an award winning professor and textbook author in human anatomy and physiology.
Kevin Patton (53:13):
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