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Episode 36 | SCRIPT

by Kevin Patton


Big Year in Anatomy & Physiology Teaching with The A&P Professor

The A&P Professor podcast (TAPP radio) episodes are made for listening, not reading. This transcript is provided for your convenience, but hey, it’s just not possible to capture the emphasis and dramatic delivery of the audio version. Or the cool theme music.  Or laughs and snorts. And because it’s generated by a combo of machine and human transcription, it may not be exactly right. So I strongly recommend listening by clicking the LISTEN button provided.

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one year

Episode 36 Transcript

Big Year in Anatomy & Physiology Teaching with The A&P Professor


Kevin Patton: US President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Aileen: Welcome to The A&P Professor, a few minutes to focus on teaching human anatomy and physiology with host, Kevin Patton.

Kevin Patton: In this episode, listener, Adam Rich, calls in with some questions, we’ll see if a new kind of blood vessel may have been discovered, and I’ll have a brief review of some of the big ideas of this podcast’s first year.

Adam Rich Asks About Student Feedback

Kevin Patton: Hey, I think we have a call coming in on the podcast hotline.

Adam Rich: Hi. This is Adam Rich from The College at Brockport. I really enjoy your podcast, and I have a question. I listened to test frequency in A&P recently, and I was really interested in that because I’m changing my test frequency in my course. Well, in that podcast, you reference a really early podcast that may have been your first or second podcast that is where you talk about spaced retrieval practice.

Adam Rich: So here’s my question. Students get to practice these tests online. Then do you let them save the test so that they can … and then do you give them the answers, or do you have them look it up? Second question, when they take on online test, do they get the answer to each question immediately or only after they’ve gone through the entire, let’s say, 30 questions? So there’s my question. Thanks a lot for listening. This is Adam Rich from Brockport. Bye-bye.

Kevin Patton: Why, Adam, thanks a lot for calling in. I always appreciate voicemail feedback, and I’m glad you enjoy the podcast. I know I enjoy doing it, and you’re right. There have been a number of episodes over the last year where I’ve discussed some of the things that I’ve found successful in testing in my students. How that works really well is a form of retrieval practice, even spaced retrieval practice, that can really jumpstart student learning and really embed it in their long-term memory.

Kevin Patton: Because I’ve covered it in little bits and pieces here and there, you probably all have a lot of questions about what exactly I do. Before I answer these specific questions, I just want to point out that I’m giving you this information about the way I’ve found it to be successful, not because I think you should all do it the way I do it. Heavens, no. What kind of world would we live in if everybody did it the way Kevin did it? I’m always changing things up, trying to find better ways to do it myself, and you should be doing that.

Kevin Patton: The recipe I use may not work so well in your course, and the recipe you’re using may not work so well in my course. So that’s where the art of teaching comes in is to try and figure out what’s going to work best in my particular situation. I’d like you all to do what Adam did and give me some feedback, especially if you do it on the podcast hotline. Give me some feedback. What are some things that you’ve found that work well for you? Even if they’re very different from what I do or in opposition to or in place of what I do, I think we’d all like to hear what some of the practices are out there and some of the successes or failures that you’ve had with those.

Kevin Patton: But let’s get down to the specific questions here. One is I have them do these tests online as well as face-to-face tests. In my A&P courses and the lecture course, I typically only have a midterm and a final in class. Everything else is online. They do get some credit for it, though not as much credit as they get on the final and midterm exams, but they do get some credit. They can do up to three attempts. The highest grade of the three attempts is the one that gets scored and kept in the grade book because I want them to experiment and I want them to do it over and over, to reach a level of mastery so that they really are ready for the midterm exam and then later the final exam.

Kevin Patton: The question is, do I let them save the test so they can go back and look at it? Yes, they can. In the learning management system, they’re all saved, and they have access to that for the entire rest of the course. Now, there are ways to set the learning management system so they have limited time, but I don’t do that. I let them access it the whole time so that if they forget to download it or look at it or whatever, they can always do it later. A lot of times, they like to go back and make sure that they have access to all of the different attempts and all of the different tests prior to their midterm exam and then their final exam because they use that as part of their study process, their preparation for the in-class exams.

Kevin Patton: Not only can they go back and access them, but they do have the ability to download them and either save them as a PDF file or something like that or print them out. I tell them, “Please do take those copies of the test with you to your study groups when you study with your study buddy. Compare the different versions,” because they are generated by a randomized test bank, and so every time they take an attempt, it’s going to be a different test. They’re going to have different questions. One or two of the questions might be the same or similar, but they’re not going to be the same test. When you compare yours to your study buddy’s test, they’re going to be different.

Kevin Patton: So the more different versions of the test you can look at, the more you’re going to be able to get an idea of, “What are the big ideas that Kevin is looking for and testing for? What are the kinds of things that are important? What kinds of questions is he going to be asking?” And so, yeah, I want them to do that. I want them to share that, and there’s no way they can actually rebuild my entire test bank. If they did, well, great. Maybe that would be a good study technique too, but I think that would be a waste of time.

Kevin Patton: I think it’s better to just go in, try to get the right answer, maybe share with one or two or three others in class so that you get even more versions of the test so you’re really very well-prepared and you really know the content. You’re not really memorizing a specific test or a specific set of questions because you’ve got so many questions that you’re really drilling down to what’s the important information. “What are the important understandings that I need to have? What are the kinds of problems I need to solve, and how do I solve them?” So yeah, they can look it up anytime. They can keep them.

Kevin Patton: Another question that came in from Adam is, “Do they get the answer to each question immediately or only after they’ve gone through the entire set of questions on the test?” They don’t get any feedback immediately. They have to take the whole test, and they can go back and change questions if they want. They go through the entire test. Then they submit it. Then they find out which ones they got wrong. The way I have mine set, they know which ones they got wrong, but they don’t necessarily know what the correct answer is. For example, if it’s a multiple response question, they might have chosen answer B, and it’s marked wrong. So they know B is not the correct answer, but they don’t know which of the other remaining answers is correct. They don’t know if A is correct or C is correct or D or whatever.

Kevin Patton: They have to find that out on their own, and I want them to work on that and find it out. I want them to collaborate with their study partners if that’s what it takes to figure out what the correct answer is, look and see if there’s some similar question on their buddy’s test and see, “Well, what did you answer? Was that marked correct? Will that help me answer this particular question?” So I want them to do that. Now, what if they can’t find the right answer, or they’re not sure that they’ve found the right answer? Well, what I beg them to do, and most of them do, is come and talk to me about it. They can come to my office. They can catch me in the hall after class. A lot of them use email these days and direct messaging through the learning management system, and then we get one on one.

Kevin Patton: When they come to me and say, “I know B is wrong because it’s marked wrong, but I don’t know what the right answer is.” I’ll ask them, “Well, of the ones there, just give me a guess. What do you think the right answer is? Where have you looked to find the right answer? Have you raided the book? Have you raided your notes, your class notes? Have you discussed it with any of the other students?” I give them some ideas on how you would go about finding the right answer if they haven’t done any of that yet, and then I walk them through it and say, “Well, what is the question asking you?” Then we get on the right page there, and then I ask them, “Well, is there any information that’s given to you in the question that we can use as a basis for finding where we need to get to, what the question is asking?”

Kevin Patton: I go through a whole process with them so they can learn how to deal with a question, how to find the right answer. I rarely let them walk out of the office or let them off the hook until we’ve gotten to the right answer. So they do get the correct answer, but I don’t just say, “Oh, yeah, it’s C. That one is C.” I walk them through it and make it a learning process, use it as a teaching moment to do that, and that’s why I do it that way. That being said, I know a lot of people that set up their learning management system in a different way, and a lot of the third-party quizzing engines do it this way too where they’ll either get immediate feedback on that question where it’ll say, “Nope. It’s not B. It’s C, and here’s why it’s C,” or, “It’s not B. Try again. Oh, good. You chose C as the response, and that’s the correct response.”

Kevin Patton: Those are good learning processes as well, and I don’t know, maybe they’re better. But the way I use has worked well for me, so I’d love to hear feedback on ways that you do it and why you like the way you do it maybe better than the way I’m doing it. I think we’d all like to hear that. So call in, but thanks again, Adam, for calling into the podcast hotline.

New Type of Vessel in Bones

Kevin Patton: I was reading through some articles from New Scientist. I got to tell you, when I see an article that begins with the statement, “It’s time to rewrite the anatomy books,” I’m going to read that article. I’m glad I read this one because there’s a very interesting new discovery about a potential new kind of blood vessel that’s been discovered in bones. Whether it’s really going to require a rewrite of anatomy books is yet to be seen, but this is very interesting early information that you probably ought to take a look at because I think there is something to it.

Kevin Patton: You probably already know that the blood supply of bones usually comes into the bone by way of some arteries at either end of a long bone or maybe near the middle of a long bone, and it penetrates through the cortical layers of bone all the way down to the medullary cavity. Then from there, it radiates back to the outer areas of the bone. What these researchers that wrote a recent article in Nature Metabolism did was they were looking in mice, and they saw that by using some chemicals on some long bones of a mouse, they were able to make the bone transparent. They could see the tiny little capillaries that were present in the bone, and they found a bunch that they did not expect that were crossing the bone shaft perpendicularly. In other words, they were going right across those cortical layers and right down toward the medullary cavity.

Kevin Patton: They weren’t coming in a larger artery and then going through this whole network of capillaries and so on within the bone and then draining back out through a large vein or maybe two or three or whatever large veins out of that long bone. They were actually coming in, sort of seeping in, through the wall of the bone, but, of course, they’re going through these little capillaries, and the same thing for blood escaping back from inside the bone and getting back into the venous circulation back toward the heart. And so they named these newly discovered, very tiny vessels, transcortical vessels or TCV.

Kevin Patton: Then, of course, one of the first things they did, which I would do, is look in human bone and see, and they did find some in human bones. But there’s a lot more yet to be done with not only the mouse model but also in doing human investigation to see whether this is just a fluke or it’s a mistake in how they were applying the technology or a mistake in how they recorded their observations or what. But it’s looking pretty good so far that most of the blood … and by the way, in the journal article, they proposed that over 80% of the arterial blood flow coming into the bone and about 59% of the venous blood flowing out of the bone goes through these TCVs and not through those large arteries and veins that we thought were the only way in and out of a bone. This could really be a boon for medical illustrators who are going to have to draw new pictures of the blood supply of bones, and I think it’s just another one of those interesting stories on our journey to understanding the anatomy of the human body.

Big Ideas: Content Updates & Applications

Kevin Patton: In the previous episode, that is episode 35, I talked about the notion of there being big ideas in the stories that we’re telling about human anatomy and physiology and that we, as storytellers, ought to be aware of these big ideas as we tell our stories, and we ought to train our students to look for those big ideas as they listen to the story and interact with that story. I thought this is the anniversary edition, the anniversary episode, of this podcast, and that might be a good time to go back over the entire year and debrief and look for some of those big ideas, some of the things that really popped out to us over the course of these many episodes over the last 12 months.

Kevin Patton: The first one that comes to my mind is actually a set of different stories that appeared in different episodes about the question of whether adult brains can grow new neurons. There was evidence that said we thought that that could happen after many decades of thinking it couldn’t happen, but no, after all, it can’t happen. And then after that, I reported on even newer research that said, “That’s not right either. We can grow new neurons in the adult brain.” So clearly, in neuroscience it’s not 100% settled issue, but I think we’re getting closer to the point of accepting the idea that adult brains can, at least sometimes, grow new neurons. So that’s something that we want to continue to watch.

Kevin Patton: Another headline was that a new organ in the body was discovered, and that’s always exciting when you hear something like that. The proposed new organ is the interstitium, which I’m not so sure we should call it a new organ. What it is is a set of passageways in the interstitial tissues associated with the skin that maybe are a little bit more organized than previously thought and help us really balance the way water is moving back and forth in tissues. So that’s an area also to keep an eye on and look at.

Kevin Patton: In the very first episode, we talked about the fact that platelets have a role in immunity. I’d never thought of platelets as being much more than instruments of hemostasis and very important instruments at that, but they’re also involved in immunity, apparently. I also touched on the new blood pressure guidelines that came out at the end of 2017 because I think we all discuss blood pressure and blood pressure parameters, so we ought to at least be aware of these new guidelines even if we have differing opinions on whether they ought to be followed, and there is some controversy around those new guidelines.

Kevin Patton: More recently, we talked about the mechanism by which oxytocin is able to get smooth muscle in the uterine wall to contract. We talked about the function of ganglion cells in the retina and what that has to do with our body clock and with our mood even. I also talked about how baby kicking in the mother’s womb can actually help form the somatosensory map that forms in our brains. We talked about mitochondrial inheritance and how, yes, it is possible to have paternal mitochondrial inheritance. We talked about the fact that cardiac stem cells, which everybody was really excited about, probably really don’t exist, and a lot of that data was forged or falsified or made up, and so that’s a shame, isn’t it? I mean, maybe they’ll end up being demonstrated to be there, but it looks like right now we don’t really have any evidence that they exist, and a big area of research has fallen apart.

Kevin Patton: We talked about a new sensory structure in the wall of the intestine. We talked about how myosin and actin, besides their well-known role in muscle contraction, also interact in red blood cells, helping to regulate the shape of red blood cells, which we know is very important. We talked about button junctions and zipper junctions and lymphatic capillaries and what those are and why they’re important. We talked about how the Golgi apparatus gets that unusual shape and, of course, it’s all based on the function of the Golgi apparatus.

Kevin Patton: I don’t know if I’d call this a content update but more maybe of a teaching application, Greg Crowther had called in, and he also did a blog on the HAPS blog about singing in the classroom. I played his song, A Physiologist’s Blessing, and I hope to play more of his songs in future episodes. So thanks, Greg, for that. Getting along on the teaching snippet realm, I talked about some research having to do with the fact that giving copies of our lecture slides to students may not really be very helpful and might in fact be harmful. I talked about why we should be using green pens rather than red pens for grading and feedback for our students. I talked about the value of doing short video walkthroughs, especially in courses that use computer-based platforms, whether it’s quizzing engines or learning management systems or even ebooks, and so if we do a short video walkthrough, that might help our students. Those are some of the highlights of the content updates and teaching applications that we had this year.

Big Ideas: This Podcast

Kevin Patton: Well, continuing our debriefing of the last 12 months of The A&P Professor podcast, TAPP Radio, I wanted to pause for a moment and look at the podcast itself and different elements of the podcast and things associated with the podcast. First of all, in each episode I will occasionally mention that I have links and notes and diagrams and so on in the show notes and the episode page.

Big Ideas: Featured Ideas of the Year

Kevin Patton:
And so what exactly are those? Well, show notes is podcasting lingo that refers to the notes that come along with the podcast feed in whatever platform you’re listening to the podcast in. You might be listening on my A&P Professor blog, and the show notes will be there, or you might be listening in a podcast app like Apple podcast or Google podcast or Castro or Stitcher or something like that, and most of those podcast apps and even the radio apps will have the notes there as well.

Kevin Patton: But the show notes sometimes are missing elements. I always put images in there, but some platforms don’t read those images, so the images will be missing. So if you’re ever missing the images … Oh, some of them don’t even put in live hyperlinks either. So if there’s something missing that you think is supposed to be there, then you can always go to the episode page. What is that? Well, that’s another place where you can get show notes. But if you go to theAPprofessor.org and click on podcast, then that’ll take you to the main page, and then you click on any one episode title, and that’ll take you to the episode page. The episode page can be gotten to from inside the show notes, but if your hyperlinks aren’t live in the platform you’re using, that’s not going to do you much good. So just go to theAPprofessor.org, click on podcast, click on the episode you want, and then there will be the detailed show notes and there definitely will be all the images, all the live hyperlinks that you need, plus links to other kinds of things.

Kevin Patton: Now, one of the things that is linked to is the episode list. I have a sortable table, and you can go directly do it by going to theAPprofessor.org/podlist. That’s P-O-D-L-I-S-T, and that is a listing of all of the titles of the episode, a list of all the topics that were discussed in that episode, and a link to some of the other resources associated with that episode.

Kevin Patton: Now, speaking of different platforms where you can listen, the one that I think is most convenient for most people and especially if you’re recommending the podcast to a colleague or a friend, then tell them about the TAPP app. That is the app that is dedicated to this podcast. All they have to do is take their device where they run their apps, their iPhone or Android or tablet or whatever it is, and go to their app store, wherever that may be depending on their device, go to the app store and just search for The A&P Professor. The app will come up, and all they have to do is download it. Everybody’s downloaded an app before, and there’s no cost associated with it. They’ll be able to listen right there in the app to all the episodes. There’s also bonus material there. Sometimes I upload a PDF file or an image file or a video or something like that, so that’s extra content beyond just those hyperlinks that I give you, and it’s easy. It’s super easy.

Kevin Patton: It automatically downloads the new episode when it comes out, and so you’ll get a little notification on your device if you’ve allowed for apps to give notifications on your device. That’s the easiest way, but there are multiple channels and listening sources besides that where you can listen. Some of you go to the blog page and listen. Some of you have signed up for the blog newsletter so that every time a new posting on the blog comes out, it gets emailed to you. Some people just listen to it right there in the email. There are many podcast apps out there. Most of the radio apps out there also have podcasts, so wherever you listen to music or other podcasts, just search for The A&P Professor, and you should be able to find it. Now, a few of them have quirky search engines, so if you can’t find it, then put the name of the podcast in quotes. If that doesn’t work, try searching for Kevin Patton, because I’m listed as the author of the podcast, so that might work too.

Kevin Patton: Now, one place that we’re still waiting on to get it into is Pandora. They just released a beta version of having podcasts on there, and they only have, I think, something like 400 of the really, really popular podcasts on there. You know that The A&P Professor may be popular among A&P teachers, but it’s not popular in the general population. There’s something like 900,000 podcasts out there right now, and if only 400 of them are on Pandora already, you can bet mine’s not on there yet. I’ve filled out all the paperwork and asked everybody that needs to be asked to get it on there, so it’s in the queue, but it might be a few months or maybe even a couple of years before you see it on Pandora, so don’t hold your breath, please.

Kevin Patton: Another big thing that happened toward the end of the last 12 months that I want to call your attention to is the fact that I got two sponsorships. There are some actually more significant costs than I first planned associated with this podcast, but I’m not asking you folks for money. I’m just pulling this out of my own teaching and writing income, but I did get a little bit of help from some of my friends. One is AAA, the American Association of Anatomists. I applied to them for an educational outreach grant, which I was able to get recently, that is going to pay for some of the transcripting service that I have done.

Kevin Patton: Every one of the podcasts, including the preview podcast, have a transcript. The reason I do that is so that when you want to go back and pull out the episodes that have to do with testing, you can just go to the little search bar at the bottom of every page at theAPprofessor.org, go in there and put test or testing, and it’ll pull up every page that has something about testing. That’ll include the episode pages but will also include the transcripts because audio files cannot be searched in the major search engines, at least not yet. They can search the transcript. They can search text, so it might not be a keyword that I’ve tagged in the episode, but it’s something that you want out of that episode and so you can search that.

Kevin Patton: Then I also use those transcripts that are funded by American Association of Anatomists, which, by the way, you can find them at anatomy.org. I also use those transcripts for captioned audiograms. Now, an audiogram is when you take an audio file and then add those little waves that jump up and down as the person talks, so that’s fun to watch. But more importantly, it’s a captioned video, so you can read along with the audio as it’s happening.

Kevin Patton: Even if you’re not hearing impaired, a lot of people find that to be a very useful way. Sometimes the comprehension is a little bit better when you do it that way, and that you would find links to from the show notes and from the episode page and from the podlist, the episode list that I just mentioned a moment ago, or if you just click on the YouTube icon at any of those places, it’ll take you to my YouTube channel where I have those audiograms posted.

Kevin Patton: Another sponsor is HAPS, and that was actually an in-kind trade where they allowed me to put some ads for the podcast in the HAPS Educator, which I hope you’re all reading anyway. Then I mention HAPS in every episode of my podcast, which those of you that listened to my podcast before I got the HAPS sponsorship, you know that I was mentioning HAPS all the time anyway. This formalizes it a little bit more, and it really keeps me on the ball to make sure that I mention HAPS in every episode. And you can find them at theAPprofessor.org/haps.

Kevin Patton: Then, of course, I most recently started doing preview episodes. Right now, you’re listening to a full episode, but before every full episode comes out, a few days ahead of time, I release a preview episode where I preview the topics that are going to be discussed so you know what’s coming and can get all excited about it and tell your friends and neighbors. But also, I do go through some word dissections and sometimes I put some of the feedback I get in there and address that feedback, and I usually have a recommendation or two from The A&P Professor book club if you’re interested in reading books of interest to anatomy and physiology teachers.

Big Ideas: Wrapping Up the Year

Kevin Patton: Regular listeners to this podcast know that in each full episode, most of my time is spent on some big idea of teaching anatomy and physiology. Sometimes it has something to do with content, and sometimes it has more to do with the practice of teaching, teaching strategies, practical advice in teaching and so on. So what were some of the big areas that we covered this year?

Kevin Patton: I think one of the big ideas I’ve already alluded to in this episode already is the idea of storytelling, that really the essence of good teaching is storytelling. I don’t necessarily mean storytelling in the lecture, although that’s certainly part of it, but storytelling in how the course is put together. If we think of it as a story to be told and a story to be learned and passed on to the next generation, like oral history in a way, then I think that informs our teaching in a way differently than if we don’t do that, and I think it’s a very useful way.

Kevin Patton: I’ve also brought up the idea that the storytelling can be, and probably ought to be, both playful and serious, that the playfulness gives us a good rapport with students. It establishes a positive culture in the course. It really makes learning fun, but, of course, the serious part is that it’s not all jokes and playing around. There’s a serious story to be told here, and we’re doing serious learning here. So that combination of being playful and serious at the same time I think works very well, and in doing that, I mentioned this idea of developing a teaching persona. There’s a character that we play when we enter the classroom, whether it’s a digital online classroom or it’s a face-to-face classroom or it’s a lab situation or whatever. We’re playing a part. We’re playing a role, and we want to develop that.

Kevin Patton: My suggestion all through has been that we want it to be an empathetic and compassionate character, a supportive character, an advisor, a facilitator. Look back and see what some of the advice and some of the feedback on that has been. One of the things in terms of playfulness and telling a story was an episode I did on using the analogy of a love story for explaining how actin and myosin interact in terms of producing a muscle contraction. That’s been one of the most downloaded episodes of the whole year, so if you haven’t listened to that one yet, go back and do that.

Kevin Patton: Talking about the big ideas of this whole year, I talked about big ideas. I mean, that was the whole topic of the last episode, that is, core concepts. Linked to that, I brought up, once again, as I have before, this idea of running concept lists. That’s where students look for the big ideas, they look for the core concepts, and then they keep a running list of that throughout the semester so they can start to see big ideas recurring again and again, and that helps them form connections in their mind and build a good interlinked conceptual framework as they learn A&P.

Kevin Patton: We talked a lot about testing as a form of teaching, really emphasizing the formative aspect of testing. The very first episode talked about retrieval practice, specifically spaced retrieval practice, and that came up again and again. We added layers to that and talked about the value of cumulative testing and the value of pre-testing, and we put that in the context of a whole set of strategies for long-term learning. We talked about the frequency of testing and what’s ideal for that. We talked about how students debriefing after a test and analyzing their performance test by test by test helps them not only with their test-taking skills but is a learning process in and of itself.

Kevin Patton: There were some A&P topics that came up in terms of how to teach specific topics within our A&P courses. For example, I gave nine strategies. Actually, I called them nine super strategies for teaching the skeleton, and then there was that infamous elephant episode where I talked about how using the extreme nature of elephant skin can help us better understand the more moderate nature of the structure and function of human skin and particularly the keratinization part of it but also the homeostasis of temperature. We talked a lot about learning science and learning strategies. We had some specific applications, like strategies we can use in making dissection activities more beneficial for students.

Kevin Patton: We discussed the question of whether learning styles, which is a very popular topic in education, has been for a long time … Are learning styles real or not real? We talked about application of concept maps and using them in not only the usual ways but some unusual ways. We talked about how pronouncing terms correctly or addressing the correct pronunciation of terms is an important element in teaching human anatomy and physiology or any science for that matter and even how saying terms out loud can really help students with their reading comprehension.

Kevin Patton: We had a few bonus episodes. Of course, a bonus episode is just a really long episode. I might have to call this a bonus episode because it’s getting really, really long here. One of them was test anxiety. That’s a very important topic that all of our students deal with and even we, as test givers, sometimes have a form of test anxiety, don’t we? Then there was the syllabus episode where I went through some principles of tweaking or even building a syllabus for the first time. Then I had Kevin’s Unofficial Guide to the HAPS Annual Conference, and I plan on doing an updated version of that as we get a little bit closer to the annual conference again. So if you have any advice on things you’d like to see in that HAPS Annual Conference Guide, questions you have about the HAPS Annual Conference that I can address in that guide, please get those to me sooner rather than later.

Kevin Patton: We had a few guests. It’s mostly a solo podcast, but I do have the occasional guest. If you know of any guests that you would like me to interview, or if you would like to be a guest on the podcast, please let me know that and let me know something about the kinds of things you want to talk about. But looking back, we had The Learning Scientists. I mean, that’s the name they go by, Yana Weinstein and Megan Sumeracki, who had just come out with a book on how we learn. My first guest of the year was Paul Krieger, my friend from up at Grand Rapids Community College, and he explained to us how he uses contour drawing to help his students learn anatomy. Then another good friend of mine, Barbara Waxer, who is an author of books on media, and she’s a media consultant. She answered some questions having to do with how we find media and what the proper use of media in our teaching is.

Kevin Patton: Another friend, Aaron Fried, came and did a couple of different episodes with us. The first one was a discussion of the silent teacher, that is human body donation in anatomy teaching. Then the second interview had to do with his study of Nazi anatomists and why that’s important for us A&P teachers today to know about those Nazi anatomists and the material that they produced. We had a bunch of lucky numbers throughout the year. There were a few episodes where I actually started out with saying, “Your lucky number today is 42,” and then went on to explain what that is. Those numbers had to do with the ever-changing number of genes estimated to be in the human genome, so we’re going to stay up to date on that. There was a study that came out proposing what the temperature difference is between the mitochondria and the rest of the cell, because we know that they run hotter than the rest of the cell, but how much hotter? Well, maybe we’re getting close to an answer on that. How many proteins are there in a cell? We had a proposed number for that as well.

Kevin Patton: We did some reflecting, just like we’re doing right now. I’m really big into reflecting. I didn’t used to be. I always thought that was a waste of time, but man, once I started doing it, I realized that debriefing after anything really makes that learning experience that much more effective. I talked about how our students can debrief after every test and how that can be helpful in learning. I talked about how we as instructors would benefit from debriefing at the end of every semester or at the end of every academic year. Look back and see what happened and what went well and what didn’t go so well and maybe use that to inform what our goals for the next year are. That’s what I’m doing in this episode right now is podcast debriefing.

Kevin Patton: Probably the biggest of the big ideas that was a thread throughout most of the episodes is the idea that we work better, we work at our best as teachers if we’re expressing empathy to our students, not just being empathetic people, but expressing the empathy and learning ways that we can express the empathy in ways that are helpful to students. And not just the empathy, which is understanding the emotional context of students and so on, but compassion, which is taking a step further than understanding to actually be helpful to students when we’re being compassionate. That came up in a variety of different discussions.

Kevin Patton: For example, when I was talking about improving retention and student success in online courses, it came up, just the whole idea of caring and when students feel like someone cares for them that that in itself increases student success and the quality of learning in a course. It also extended into several discussions we had on promoting academic integrity and promoting a culture of academic integrity in our class. So empathy and compassion, that was probably our theme for the first year, and I have a feeling it’s going to be a continuing theme throughout the remaining years of this podcast.

Kevin Patton: Well, that wraps up the last episode of our first year of The A&P Professor podcast, otherwise known as TAPP Radio, T-A-P-P, for The A&P Professor. So what’s the plan for next year? Well, I’m thinking I might paint the place. You won’t see that, but I’m sure it’ll come through as being more peaceful or more productive or more energized, depending on which color paint I choose. But as far as topics and format and features, you tell me what you want. I mean, I have some ideas, but I want your help too. So pick up the phone and call 1-833-546-6336. That’s 1-833-LION-DEN, or email me at podcast@theAPprofessor.org.

Kevin Patton: Oh, and this would be really helpful to spread the news, and that is leave a rating and a review wherever you listen. Most places where you listen have the option to leave a rating and a review, and the more you do that, the higher it gets in search engines and the more people will be able to find it. And, of course, I always appreciate when you individually tell your colleagues about the podcast. You can always reach out to me and to other listeners on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. Just go to @theAPprofessor in each of those social platforms, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, @theAPprofessor. I’ll see you down the road.

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

Kevin Patton: Please test this podcast in an inconspicuous area before applying it everywhere.

This podcast is sponsored by the
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Preview of Episode 37

coming soon


Kevin Patton: Hi there and this is Kevin Patton with a brief audio introduction to episode number 37 of The A&P Professor podcast. Also known as TAPP Radio. An audio hootenanny for teachers of human anatomy and physiology.


Kevin Patton: Coming up in the full version of episode 37, we’ll continue the conversation regarding giving students feedback on their tests. I also discuss the use of the anatomical compass to help students learn anatomy and I have an update in how we understand the fundamental function of hematopoiesis in bone marrow. And lastly, I have a brief discussion of the idea of the last, best story. Using a couple of concepts that scientists are currently debating as examples of what I mean by the last, best story.

Word Dissections

Kevin Patton: I have a whole bunch of word dissections to do this time, so let’s get started. The first term is one that I’ve used frequently in previous episodes of this podcast and that is neurogenesis. And of course the first part, neuro, refers to nerves in general or in this case the neuron, which is a nerve cell. But, literally, that word originally meant cord or tendon. Which makes sense because in the very olden days before we knew much about how the human body was put together, when we looked inside human or animal bodies, many of the nerves would have looked like little cords or tendons. So no wonder it got that name. So neuro here, refers to a neuron.

Kevin Patton: And then genesis is actually made up of two word parts. Gen, which means produce and the esis or esis part means a process. So genesis is a process that produces something or a process that creates something. So neurogenesis is the creation of a new neuron. The production of a new neuron.

Kevin Patton: Our next term is craniosacral. Which is a term we often apply to one of the two main anatomical divisions of the autonomic pathways in the body. So the first part of that term cranio of course means skull. And the second part, sacra refers to the sacrum of the vertebral column. Literally that means sacred or holy. And that’s because the sacrum in the way olden days was often called the holy bone in Greek originally and then it was translated into Latin. Why it was considered a holy bone? There’s all kinds of stories. So we don’t really know really for certain. But, that’s how it got its name.

Kevin Patton: So craniosacral, skull and sacrum refer to the two sets of segments of the spinal cord where these nerve pathways are originating in the central part of the nervous system and transitioning to the peripheral part of the nervous system. In the cranial segments and in the sacral segments. So that ties it to how we use that term today. And of course the al ending just means relating to. So it’s relating to the cranial sacral area of the spinal cord.

Kevin Patton: And then another term that is associated with craniosacral is that other division of the autonomic pathways and that is thoracolumbar. And for some reason I always want to say thorasolumbar and I don’t know why that is. Probably I had a teacher at some point or a colleague at some point that pronounced it that way and my brain just kind of picked it up and it pops out sometimes without me even realizing it. So thoracolumbar has for the first part, the word part, thoraco which is a combining form of the word thorax which of course means chest, literally. And then the lumba part refers to loin that literally means loin or that sort of lower back region of the body. And then we have the ar ending which means relating to. So thoracolumbar means relating to the thoracic and lumbar or loin areas of the spinal cord. So it’s similar to craniosacral in that regard. This is where those pathways originate from the central nervous system in transition to the peripheral nervous system. Thoracolumbar and craniosacral.

Kevin Patton: Then our next term that is going to be used in the upcoming full episode is hematopoietic stem cell or HSC for short. So I love that term, hematopoietic for several reasons. One is, it just has kind of a rhythm to it and has lots of syllables so that’s kind of fun to let that rhythmically flow out of your mouth right? And so the first part, hem, means blood. Then we have poi, which means make. And then esis which means a process. So poiesis means making. It’s the process you do when you make something.

Kevin Patton: And one of the things I like about that word part, it always pops into my head when I’m examining words that have that word part, it’s also where we get our word for poem or poetry. Where we’re making something out of words. We’re making something beautiful, I hope, out of words.

Kevin Patton: So now we’re looking at the poetry of the body. So we’re making something in the body. And what are we making? We’re making blood. So this is where the stem cell part comes into it. Stem, which literally refers to a tree or a trunk, also refers to growth. Out of which something grows and so that stem here, when we refer to a stem cell is talking about that ancestor cell from which one or more different kinds of more mature or final forms of a cell are going to be produced. And then of course, cell itself just means cell. Literally goes back to a word that means storeroom, because I guess under the microscope, they sort of resemble little storerooms and so there we go. Hematopoietic stem cell is a blood making stem cell.

Kevin Patton: Our last term is rosette. And you might think what? Where did that come from? What does that have to do with A&P? We’ll you’ll see in the full episode. Where it refers to that little rose like symbol that’s found on maps. You and I probably more often call it a little compass or compass points or something. But for many people, that resembles a flower or a rose. And so it has that name and so those are sometimes called compass roses, but they’re usually pretty small so a lot of times, we use the term rosette that ette ending meaning small. So a small rose and we’re going to be talking about those compass rosettes in the full episode. And how and why we’re doing that and how it relates to anatomy or physiology, you’re just gonna have to tune in and see.

Sponsored by HAPS

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

Kevin Patton: Hey, I just registered for both the annual conference in Portland, near the end of May and at the South Regional meeting in Louisville at Bellarmine University at the end of March. And I put in a proposal to do a workshop at each one of those. Hey, the deadlines are coming up soon. So go visit HAPS at theAPprofessor.org/HAPS. So you can go too.

Book Club

Kevin Patton: I’ve just started reading a book that I’m really excited about called “Nonsense on Stilts. How to Tell Science From Bunk.” It’s written by Massimo Pigliucci and I’m really excited about it and so I thought I’d add it to our AP Professor book club. So, what’s going on with this book? Well, you know as more and more parents are refusing to vaccinate their children for fear it causes autism, although this link has been consistently disproved, and about 40% of Americans believe that the threat of global warming is exaggerated, despite almost universal consensus in the scientific community that manmade climate change is real.

Kevin Patton: So why do people believe in all that bunk? And what causes them to embrace such pseudo-scientific beliefs and practices? Well, the noted skeptic, Massimo Pigliucci separates the fact from the fantasy in a really entertaining exploration of the nature of science. The border lands of fringe science and borrowing a famous phrase from Philosopher Jeremy Bentham, “The nonsense on stilts.” Presenting case studies on a number of controversial topics, Pigliucci cuts through the ambiguities surrounding this science to look more closely at how science is conducted. How it’s disseminated. How it’s interpreted. And what it all means to our society. The result is in many ways, a taxonomy of bunk that explores how science and culture intersect.

Kevin Patton: As I’ve mentioned in previous episodes, such intersections of science and culture are brought up in my own teaching of human anatomy and physiology. So this book is especially helpful for clarifying how that can be done effectively. No one, not the public intellectuals and the culture wars between defenders and detractors of science, nor the believers of pseudo-science themselves is spared in Pigliucci’s cutting and thorough analysis in this book. In a nutshell, nonsense on stilts is a timely reminder of the need to maintain the line between expertise and assumption. And yeah, it’s timely. Even though it was first published almost a decade ago. So check out the link in the show notes or the episode page at the theAPprofessor.org. Or go directly to the A&P Professor book club at theAPprofessor.org/bookclub.

Sponsored by AAA

Kevin Patton: A searchable transcript and a captioned audiogram of this preview episode are funded by AAA. The American Association of Anatomists. Their big conference is coming up as part of the Experimental Biology meeting in April in Orlando, Florida. Find out more at anatomy.org.

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

Last updated: September 20, 2021 at 19:35 pm

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