h1

A&P rant, part 5!

May 20, 2022

In 2019, I gave you the following:

This week the HAPS listserv set me off again. Below is my latest message to that group.

* * * * *

Hello Shobnom — 

Your question seems to be about managing students’ perception that there’s too much material to cover, and many of the responses you have gotten so far are about how to help students get on board. To round out the range of viewpoints expressed, here’s mine. Please note that (A) I am speaking only for myself and (B) I am addressing what I see as general trends in the teaching of A&P, without meaning to throw shade on any particular person or group. 

I claim that when A&P students say that we’re asking them to learn too many things, they often are RIGHT! 

In biology and K-16 science education as a whole, there has been a strong movement toward emphasizing greater depth of understanding and worrying much less about breadth of content coverage. For example:  

Vision & Change

Next-Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

the core concepts of physiology

classifying biology questions with Bloom’s taxonomy

* etc.

Nonetheless, many A&P folks continue to cling to their mile-long lists of terms and learning objectives, stating or implying that the length of the lists indicates the rigor of the course, and/or that this is simply how it has to be because their textbook/course chair/department/HAPS says so.

My own advice would be, if your students consistently tell you that there’s way too much to learn — that, by the time they get to the digestive system, they’ve forgotten the musculoskeletal stuff because there’s no time to review — that, faced with thousands of names to memorize, they have no time or energy for critical thinking or integration — you should consider listening to them!

Think really hard about what you really want your students to be able to do, say 1-2 years after completing the course. What would that long-term retention and success really look like? Is your primary goal that, in 1-2 years, they’ll still be able to name all those bones and muscles and nerves, or do you have other aspirations for them? 

Consider what others have identified as overarching course themes; compile your own list of what you really really really want your students to be able to (still) do in 1-2 years; run it by your local experts/authority figures; and then plan your teaching accordingly. 

Good luck,

Greg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: