As an anatomy and physiology instructor, you already know that students have an innate fascination with the body. I think everybody does, to some extent. But A&P students more so, because they have a demonstrated interest in health care, athletics, or ...


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Pathology Photos Spark Student Interest

As an anatomy and physiology instructor, you already know that students have an innate fascination with the body. I think everybody does, to some extent. But A&P students more so, because they have a demonstrated interest in health care, athletics, or some field related to the human body.

That's one reason that we've always included a lot of dramatic pathology photos in our textbooks. They spark a curiosity in readers that motivates them to read more and find out about that dramatic condition they see in front of them.

Another benefit of pathology photos is that it "brings home" the reality of conditions described in the text narrative. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. And dramatic pictures are perhaps worth even more. Such images may also help the brain reinforce memories by acting as a mnemonic device.

But why have any pathology at all in a "basic science" textbook focused on normal structure and function? Because pathology is a great way to clarify "normal" by revealing what can happen when specific mechanisms or structures "break." It helps prepare students for the clinical concepts they'll be learning in their next courses.

Many users forget, however, that there are lot more of these dramatic pathology images than are seen in the pages of the textbook itself. There are many more among the A&P Connect articles available in the Student Resources online at Evolve.

The online A&P Connect articles feature many images that use various medical imaging techniques, giving students a great introduction to the kinds of medical image that they may see in later courses and in their clinical experiences.

Medical images not only enhance student motivation, they also provide great opportunities to practice visualizing the body in many different planes and from different perspectives.

A&P professors may want to "spice up" their course materials with pathology images from the book (available at Evolve Instructor Resources) and from the A&P Connect articles (Evolve Student Resources).

CT scan: Yale Rosen (not from textbook)

2016 Textbook Excellence Award for A&P 9e!

I'm happy to announce that today, the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA) announced that our textbook—Anatomy & Physiology 9th edition—is a winner of the 2016 Textbook Excellence Award.

This award "recognizes excellence in current textbooks and learning materials."

TAA is a group of textbook and scholarly authors who work together as peers in striving to improve our effectiveness.  The honor of receiving this award is enhanced by the fact that it was thoroughly examined by accomplished textbook authors in our discipline—a very humbling experience.

I think the judges have recognized that our book has a unique combination of strong text narrative, illustrations, and learning features that sets it apart as an effective learning tool.

I think the award also recognizes the excellent work of the many members of our team responsible for the continuing success of this textbook. Besides Gary and I as authors, there are many contributors, reviewers, editors, other publishing professionals, illustrators and designers, learning consultants, and many other colleagues, who have critical roles in producing our textbook.

If you haven't had a chance to check out what sets this A&P textbook apart, click here and see for yourself.

Update in the Periodic Table of Elements

In the ninth edition of Anatomy & Physiology, you may notice some missing spaces in the 7th period (row) of the periodic table of elements pictured at the bottom of p. 39. Those "missing" elements can now be filled in, according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

IUPAC is the "official namer" of elements, and so it's up to them, using a very careful and deliberate process of verifying experimental results from labs around the globe, to keep the periodic table of elements up to date. Last week, while we were all getting ready to celebrate the new year, IUPAC formally announced that elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 had all be officially verified, thus "completing" the seventh period (7th row) of the table.

When discussing the periodic table of elements in my A&P course, I use it to point out its usefulness in identifying the known elements and their chief characteristics. I then point out the handful of elements in the top corners of the table that are frequently encountered in the human body and, therefore, frequently encountered in the A&P course.

I bring this new information to your attention so that you can write in the new elements in your copy of Anatomy & Physiology. This news will not only keep you up to date; it will be there as a reference if any of your students asks about the missing elements on p. 39, or brings up a headline they recently saw regarding the newly verified elements. And it's a little bit of a preview to the next edition of A&P!

Want to know more?

Discovery and Assignment of Elements with Atomic Numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118

Newly updated version Periodic Table (image)


Chunking Content Provides Flexibility

In some of my previous posts, I explained some of the advantages of chunking a large volume of complex content into smaller bits:

Chunking breaks content into smaller bits
Those previous discussions described chunking material into smaller chapters, smaller sections, smaller subsections, smaller paragraphs, and smaller sentences. I also described chunking material in Anatomy & Physiology in the form of summary tables that also help students discover conceptual patterns.

This post builds on these ideas by introducing the value of breaking textbook content into smaller chunks when adapting the textbook content to the specific needs of your A&P course.

In an article I wrote last year at The A&P Professor titled Your Textbook is a Mitten, Not a Glove, I called attention to the fact that each of us tailors the depth and range of topics, the style of presentation, and sometimes the sequence of concepts, to fit the specific objectives of a course—or even a particular section of the A&P course. I believe that a thoughtfully chunked textbook assists both instructors and students in making the textbook "fit" the course.

Flexibility in selecting and organizing content for your course is enhanced by having the Anatomy & Physiology textbook broken down into smaller units. For example, by having the entire course broken down into 48 chapters—instead of the usual 20-something chapters—the instructor can "move around" content into a different sequence from the Anatomy & Physiology textbook's sequence with very little disruption to the students. Reducing disruption by being able to move whole chapters—rather than a half or third of a chapter here and there--can greatly enhance the student experience. It also makes it easier for the instructor, who is thus relieved from unraveling the confusion in syllabi, course schedules, and student inquiries.

Smaller, more discrete chapter topics also makes it easier to skip a topic. For example, in some programs, most topics in immunity are not covered in the A&P course, but are instead covered in microbiology or another course. Most A&P books combine lymphatic and immunity topics into a single chapter, so an A&P professor may find themselves wrestling with the student confusion caused by assigning only a partial chapter.

And "good luck" if your students are using a published workbook or online adaptive learning tool that is organized by chapter.

In Anatomy & Physiology, however, separate chapters on lymphatics, innate immunity, and adaptive immunity make it very easy to reorganize—or even skip—topics to suit the needs of a particular A&P course.

Students benefit from clear organization
Likewise, carefully subdivided sections and subsections assist instructors in skipping or rearranging the sequence of topics within a particular chapter. Even if the instructor does not call attention to a rearrangement of certain elements of the A&P story in class (vs. the sequence in the textbook), the clear labeling of discrete sections and subsections helps the student figure out where the concepts are covered in the textbook.

Chunking has many benefits—and we can now see that enhancing the instructor's flexibility in organizing course content is one of them. And that can result in less student confusion—and greater student success.

Images: Robert Michie (top)
KPatton (middle)


Embedded Hints Improve Reading Comprehension

Can we assume that our students come to us already knowing how to read a book? Probably. 

Can we assume that they know how to effectively read and use an A&P textbook? Probably not.

Really? you may wonder. What's special about reading a textbook?

Technically detailed textbooks such as A&P textbooks are not much like books of popular literature. One cannot just sit down and read a chapter of an A&P textbook from start to finish—like you would with a novel—and expect to have learned much. And whatever you did comprehend would probably disappear from your brain by day's end.

No, college reading experts tell us that students must use reading strategies to comprehend what they read in a textbook. But I see that my students come to me without any such strategies or skills. They've gotten by without them until they hit their A&P textbook, then wonder why the textbook doesn't seem to be helping them much. Then they limp along on class notes only—missing out on the deeper learning possible with the complementary material in the textbook.

I was an excellent reader when I was an undergraduate. Looking back, however, I realize that I didn't use any special strategies—and I didn't really get a whole lot out of my hours of textbook reading. Not compared to what happens now when I do technical reading employing some of the proven strategies to increase my reading comprehension of technical scientific works.

So what to do? Spend a week teaching our students how to read their textbooks? After getting some training ourselves in college reading strategies?

I've provided a better option in Anatomy & Physiology.

To guide students step by step through an effective reading strategy, I've embedded a series of hints that tell students exactly what to do to learn from their textbooks more effectively—and by spending less total study time.

Some of these strategies I've discussed here in previous posts. For example, I've already walked you through the word-study approach to reading vocabulary and The Big Picture summary of interrelationships of concepts.

Take a look at any chapter in Anatomy & Physiology to see the embedded hints clearly marked with the Hint icon. If you don't have a copy, just go to this link and request a free review copy now!

Then let's help our students by advising them follow the directions in the hints to get the most out of their A&P textbooks—and reduce their total study time!

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