|Historically, physiology undergraduate students across the world have undertaken a laboratory-based, fieldwork or critical review research project, their educational purpose for students to gain research experience. However, decreasing numbers of physiology graduates are going onto careers in research, many are leaving science altogether. It is therefore imperative that we, as educators, better prepare the majority of our students, through their projects, for the diverse range of careers they go onto.
Over the last twenty years, physiology and the broader global bioscience educator community, recognizing this diversity of graduate career destinations, have been expanding the range of projects available to their students, introducing for example, public engagement, educational development or enterprise projects. However, the focus and purpose of these projects remained for students to gain research experience. They were traditional research projects but outside of the laboratory. The literature and Accrediting Bodies project criterion still talked about students undertaking “hypothesis-driven research” and “project/research-based assignments”.
Whilst these traditional research projects may have been relevant fifty years ago, they do not enable the majority of current Bioscience graduates to be “work-place ready”. The world is currently going through its fourth industrial revolution (4IR), a world and workplace governed by robotics, artificial intelligence, digitization and automation. Graduate recruiters require graduates with different skillsets, the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) skills1.
I recognized that radical change was required, not only in my School of Biomedical Sciences, but across bioscience Higher Education globally. Collectively, bioscience educators needed to rethink the purpose, practices and outcomes of undergraduate research projects in order to better prepare our students for an increasingly challenging 21st Century global workplace.
My solution was to introduce project-based capstone experiences into my program. their purpose to provide students with opportunities for personal and professional development, and to gain real life work experience.
A highly experienced science communicator, I facilitated ethical debates in High Schools. I realized that this would make an ideal opportunity for my undergraduates – something different as their research project. Starting small, I collaborated with one of my project mentees to co-create and co-deliver an ethics-focused workshop for High School students at the 2005 Leeds Festival of Science2. The capstone experience, as an alternative to traditional research projects, was born.
Over the last sixteen years, I have progressively expanded the range of capstone opportunities in my course. Colleagues within my School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Leeds (UK), recognizing the benefits of capstones to students, joined me. In partnership with our students, we have created a sector-leading portfolio of traditional research projects offered alongside science or industry-focused capstones, and those with a civic or societal focus in the same course (Figure 1)3. Students select the project that best addresses their individual developmental needs and/or future career intentions. By offering this broad portfolio of sixteen opportunities, it is inclusive, there is something for each and every student to realize their full academic potential and personal goals.
Figure 1: Research and capstone project opportunities available to students
My students have wholeheartedly grasped this opportunity, excelling academically. Their course marks are significantly higher than students undertaking traditional research projects (2020: mean ± SD = 71.4±4.4% vs 68.4±5.8%, p<0.05). In 2020-21, 27% selected capstones as their first choice of project, a massive cultural shift given we are a research-intensive (R1) Institution where laboratory projects have traditionally been viewed by both students and Faculty as the “gold-standard”.
Our work as a team has resulted in the award of a prestigious national (UK) higher education prize, an Advance HE Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence.
My work came to the attention of other Bioscience educators. I was invited to run workshops at Institutions across the UK seeking to introduce capstones into their program. I re-wrote one of the two UK Bioscience Accrediting Bodies project accreditation criteria, incorporating my capstone ideas.
And then Covid struck!
With restricted or no access to research facilities, Bioscience educators globally struggled to provide alternatives to traditional research projects. To support colleagues across the world, in partnership with Sue Jones (York St John University, UK) and Michelle Payne (University of Sunderland, UK), I ran virtual workshops, sharing my capstone ideas and resources. I created and shared globally, guides for students4 and educators5, and resource repositories6,7. The workshops were attended by over 1000 educators from as far afield as Australia, Africa and America. The resources viewed 12,000 times from over 50 countries.
A year on, we surveyed both students and Faculty globally. All responding institutions had introduced capstone projects into their programs in 2020-21. More importantly, they are here to stay. Recognizing the benefits to their future employability and careers, a massive 94% of students wanted capstones to be provided alongside traditional research projects. Faculty thought the same. All are not only keeping capstones, but more importantly, are broadening their portfolios going forward. Each new format developing different skill sets and attributes, and therefore preparing students for additional career destinations. We have inspired sector-wide curriculum change!
Going forward, we cannot return to our old ways!
As the world opens up and returns to a new “normal”, we cannot go back to our old ways of just offering traditional research projects. We would be massively letting our students and wider Society down. We need to take the best from what we have learnt and achieved, both before and during the pandemic, and continue to develop and evolve our collective capstone provision going forward.
We are at the start of an exciting Global journey. Capstones across the world are predominantly conservative in nature, for example taught courses, senior seminar series or extended essays. Educators globally have yet to fully realize the transformative (massive uplift in skills and attributes) and translational (preparation for the workplace) potential of capstones.
We need to create capstones that are more representative of the work place for example, multi-disciplinary teams and sub-teams working on the same capstone, and capstones that run over multiple years, with current students taking the previous year’s project outputs and outcomes to the next stage. The events of the past two years have made Universities realize they need to better address their local and global civic and societal responsibilities and missions, so capstones that facilitate societal engagement. We need to move away from traditional dissertations or reports to more authentic real-world assessments.
Within my School of Biomedical Sciences and the broader University of Leeds, we have started down this journey. Ninety percent of the capstones in my course are now team-based. Students choose their primary assessment method (e.g. academic paper, commercial report, e-portfolio) – the one most suited to their particular capstone format and which best showcases their knowledge, skills and attributes. I have introduced Grand Challenges capstones where students work as to teams to create evidence-driven solutions to global Grand Challenges or UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The intention to develop these into trans-national educational opportunities, where students from the Global North and South work collaboratively on the same SDG or Grand Challenge capstone. We have an Institutional requirement that all undergraduate students, regardless of discipline, must undertake a major research-based assignment in their final year of study. I have been awarded a Leeds Institute of Teaching Excellence to work with Faculty across the University to introduce capstones into their programs and to create pan-university multi-disciplinary capstone opportunities for our students.
I do not do things by halves. My vision is not just limited to Leeds, the UK or the Biosciences, but Global!
I have created a global Community of Practice for stakeholders across the world to work collaboratively together, sharing ideas, expertise and resources, to co-create and introduce inspirational multi-disciplinary, multi-national team-based capstone projects that address globally relevant issues into undergraduate and taught postgraduate degree programs across the world. I want to make it a truly global and inclusive community, to include all stakeholders- students, alumni, educators, employers, NGOs, social enterprise, Global North or South, all disciplines or sectors….The list is endless.
If you would like to join this Community of Practice and be part of this exciting journey, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please share this opportunity amongst your colleagues, networks and across your Institution. The broader the membership, the greater the collective benefits for all.
If we pull this off, the benefits for students, other stakeholders and Society will be phenomenal. Our graduates would be truly global graduates, equipped with the skills and attributes to become leaders in whatever field they enter. As Faculty, we would be providing an exceptional educational experience for our students, properly preparing them for the workplace. Universities, through student capstones, would be better able to address their civic and societal responsibilities and missions. Employers would have graduates able to take their businesses forward and to thrive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. We would be creating solutions to some of the complex problems facing mankind.
Figure 1: Research and capstone project opportunities available to students
1. Gray, A. (2016). The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. World Economic Forum. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-10-skills-you-need-to-thrive-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/
2. Lewis DI (2011) Enhancing student employability through ethics-based outreach activities and OERs. Bioscience Education 18, 7SE https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3108/beej.18.7SE
3. Lewis DI (2020a). Final year or Honours projects: Time for a total re-think? Physiology News 119: 10-11.
4. Lewis DI (2020b). Choosing the right final year research, honours or capstone project for you. Skills career pathways & what’s involved. https://bit.ly/ChoosingBioCapstone
5. Lewis DI (2020c). Final year research, honours or capstone projects in the Biosciences. How to Do it Guides. https://bit.ly/BiosciCapstones
6. Lewis DI (2020d) E-Biopracticals (Collection of simulations & e-learning resources for use in Bioscience practical education. Available at: https://bit.ly/e-BioPracticals
7. Lewis DI (2020e) Open access data repositories (Collection of large datasets, data analysis & visualization tools). Available at: https://bit.ly/OADataRep.
What do you get when you follow a recipe? We suppose it depends on how carefully you follow the instructions, but assuming you stay true to the steps and have the requisite skills, you get something that approximates the taste described on the food blog (it never looks as good). While following a recipe can get you an expected result in the kitchen, it does not make you a chef—you probably will not learn to create new dishes, improve tired ones, or reverse-engineer your favorite take-out order. What do you do if you run out of vanilla!? We think the same is true in a science laboratory: You don’t develop the skills of a scientist by just following instructions. Sure, scientists follow instructions, but they also need to choose, create, and improve instructions. How do scientists become nimble with their craft? They experiment, make mistakes, troubleshoot, and iterate (or “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy” for those who grew up with Miss Frizzle). If we asked you where undergraduate students learn to become scientists, we expect “laboratories” would be the most common answer, but unless laboratory activities are intentionally designed to develop the curiosity, creativity, and skills to pose and answer questions, they won’t produce adept scientists. In contrast to traditional laboratory activities, inquiry-based laboratory activities allow learners to develop important scientific skills.
Two years ago, we began a project aimed at improving student learning by replacing recipes with authentic science in exercise physiology laboratories. With one year remaining in our project, this blog post will explore our rationale, progress, and future plans.
Section 1: Put the scientist cookie-cutter back in the drawer
In undergraduate exercise physiology courses, laboratory-based learning is common, but it focuses more on students learning techniques than experimenting (9). In our experience, a typical undergraduate laboratory activity requires students to follow step-by-step procedures to measure one or more variables in a limited number of participants, most commonly their lab mates. Students administer exercise protocols on bikes, treadmills, and dynamometers to collect a variety of data, including oxygen uptake, heart rate, and muscle strength. These labs are largely descriptive. For example, a quintessential undergraduate exercise physiology laboratory involves performing a graded exercise test to measure the maximal rate of oxygen uptake (V̇O2max). Students assume the role of physiologist, repeatedly increasing the speed of a treadmill (or power output of a cycle ergometer) while sampling expired gases until the participant is unable to continue due to exhaustion. Students are discouraged (actually, prohibited) from altering the protocol and rarely given the chance to fix mistakes in a future laboratory (don’t forget the nose clips!). While the specific results may not be known in advance—they depend on characteristics of the participant—this activity is not an experiment. This traditional approach to laboratory teaching is standard (8, 11, 13). In contrast, an inquiry-based approach allows students to act like scientists and experiment.
There is a terrific description of levels of student inquiry in science for interested readers outlined in Bell et al. (4) and summarized in Table 1 below. The authors describe four levels of inquiry, and in our early stages of reforming labs, we found these levels very helpful for grappling with and revising laboratory learning activities and assessments. In our experience, only level 1 inquiry-based activities are regularly included in undergraduate laboratories: For example, our students compare post-exercise blood lactate concentration responses to passive and active recovery. Even though the results are known in advance and students are following the instructor’s procedures for level 1 inquiry, learners are frequently assessed on their ability to create laboratory reports where they find themselves toiling over uninspired post hoc hypotheses and rewriting a common set of methods in their own words. This process is disingenuous. Furthermore, knowing that they are attempting to verify a known result may lead some students to engage in questionable research practices to obtain that result (14).
Table 1. The four levels of inquiry, as described by Bell et al. (4).
|Level||Type||Description of student activities|
|1||Confirmation||Students verify or confirm known results|
|2||Structured inquiry||Students investigate instructor-determined question using instructor-determined procedures (results not known in advance)|
|3||Guided inquiry||Students investigate instructor-determined question using student-determined procedures|
|4||Open inquiry||Students develop questions and procedures for rigorously answering them|
We think traditional laboratory teaching goes against the spirit of what science actually is: The application of rigorous methods in the pursuit of answers to questions. Although students may develop technical skills by completing descriptive activities and low-level inquiry activities (e.g., data acquisition, data analysis, technical writing), there is a missed opportunity to develop the habits of mind and skills of a scientist in traditional laboratories. More than that, there is a misrepresentation, or at least obfuscation, of science. If we pretend these laboratories represent the scientific process, how do we expect students to become curious about, inspired by, and ultimately capable of doing science on their own? Students need to progress to higher levels of inquiry-based learning, but implementing these types of laboratories can be challenging in exercise physiology.
It is understandable that exercise physiology laboratories tend to exclude inquiry-based learning, as all tests are performed on human participants. First, there are legitimate safety concerns in exercise physiology laboratories, as participants are asked to exert themselves, often maximally; manipulations have physiological consequences; and some techniques are invasive. It would be irresponsible to let students change data collection protocols on the fly and jeopardize the health and safety of their peers. Second, as multiple testing sessions may be required to collect experimental data, manipulating independent variables may also be impractical for an undergraduate course aiming to cover a broad curriculum. For example, with sessions spread over multiple weeks, standardizing for diet is difficult. Third, the types of interventions that would have large enough effect sizes to be observable with small sample sizes (with a reasonable amount of “noise”) may be impractical or inappropriate in an undergraduate laboratory. For example, learners may not want to exercise for prolonged durations in the heat or deplete their muscle glycogen in advance of an exercise test. And finally, laboratory instructors may be uncomfortable or inexperienced with facilitating inquiry-based laboratories that go beyond level 1 (to say nothing of the confidence and ability of the learners themselves).
In addition to the practical concerns of adding more inquiry to undergraduate labs, we know students must learn the technical skills associated with fitness assessment, as exercise physiology is a health profession. If students pursue exercise physiology as a career path, they will apply advanced technical skills to accurately measure variables that impact exercise prescription, health assessments, and disease prognosis. Technical rigor is paramount in this profession, and imparting these skills is a major reason to offer exercise physiology laboratories. Unless specializing in research, exercise physiologists may not perform scientific experiments in their occupation. It is also challenging to collect most physiological data, and certainly learners cannot become scientists without acquiring data collection skills. Students need to practice and develop confidence using laboratory equipment before they can answer their own questions.
We understand that performing true experiments (especially student-led experiments) is difficult in undergraduate exercise physiology laboratories and we also appreciate why technical skills are essential. Yet, we do not believe that an exclusive focus on technical skills is the best strategy for students to learn scientific reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Regardless of a students’ career path, these are transferrable skills, and a laboratory is the ideal venue to nurture scientific thinking.
Section 2: Can we move beyond cookbook style laboratories?
What makes a good scientist? This answer probably varies across disciplines: Some scientists may be skilled in animal surgery, some may interrogate enormous data sets, and others may focus on theoretical concepts and proofs. There is probably no single skill set that is common among all scientists. But, if we put the specific technical skills aside, students need to ask questions, create hypotheses, solve problems, and think critically in order to conduct experiments. The mechanism for developing any skill is practice: Learners need opportunities to develop and refine their skills, whether they are technical or cognitive. Some students may be able to walk into a first-year laboratory and create an experiment, but many more will need additional support to reach this level of competency. In short, students need to practice being scientists. To be effective, this practice must be authentic: As scientists do not just follow instructions, a recipe-based approach to laboratory learning will not develop a good scientist. The higher levels of inquiry, (see Table 1), are where students get to practice being scientists.
Including higher level inquiry-based learning in exercise physiology isn’t entirely novel. For example, Kolkhorst et al. (11) described the implementation of an inquiry-based learning model in an undergraduate exercise physiology course. The structure of this course was (i) an introductory laboratory session; (ii) five laboratory sessions focused on key concepts in exercise physiology; and (iii) nine laboratory sessions to complete two separate research projects (4-5 sessions each). In the latter portion of the course–an example of level 4 inquiry (Table 1)–students proposed research questions and hypotheses and worked with instructors to devise an experiment, collected and analyzed data, and presented their results to the class. After addressing one research question, students repeated this process with a new research question focused on a different physiological system. Following the initial iteration—from which Kolkhorst et al. (11) noted students were not sufficiently prepared for undertaking the research projects—the authors devised a more structured transition, providing students with more opportunities to practice answering research questions and developing technical skills (i.e., level 2-3 inquiry). The results of this shift in laboratory learning were largely positive: The authors reported that students were more enthusiastic about the inquiry-based labs and better able to describe and discuss physiological principles. A separate study (8) indicated that students reported preferring high-level as opposed to low-level inquiry in exercise physiology laboratories, crediting the independence, responsibility, freedom, and personal relevance as key influences on their satisfaction. These qualitative results are further supported by quantitative data from Nybo and May (13), which demonstrated greater test scores for students who completed an inquiry-based laboratory session related to cardiopulmonary exercise physiology compared to a traditional laboratory on the same topic. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that enabling students to experiment in undergraduate exercise physiology is possible and beneficial.
Although writing specifically about physics education, Drs. Emily Smith and Natasha Holmes (14) advise us to eliminate confirmation (level 1) work and attempts at learning theory in laboratories. Based on extensive research, they suggest increasing the amount of laboratory time students spend (i) making predictions about what they think might happen; (ii) doing activities that involve trial-and-error; (iii) practicing decision making; and (iv) processing how things went. By allowing students to devise questions, design experiments, and collect data (with the opportunity to fix mistakes), students are practicing being scientists. By design, inquiry-based laboratory activities facilitate the first three suggestions; however, whether Smith and Holmes’ fourth recommendation occurs in inquiry-based laboratory activities is hard to determine, but this recommendation is important. This processing phase of laboratory learning improves students’ capacities to make good decisions over time. Including this reflective step in laboratories is something we have taken to heart and into all of our reformed labs.
Section 3: Adding inquiry and mixing reflection into exercise physiology laboratories
In our project, we are focused on two specific exercise physiology courses, an introductory undergraduate course (n = 80-200 students, depending on the semester) and an advanced graduate course (n = 10), both of which have a weekly 3-hour laboratory session. Prior to intervening, we surveyed the nature of laboratory teaching in each course, finding that students indeed followed step-by-step instructions without the opportunity to make decisions or investigate new questions. The only form of inquiry-based learning was level 1 (Table 1). We planned to make two broad types of changes: (i) provide students with more autonomy in the laboratory, and (ii) encourage students to reflect on the activities they were completing. As the graduate course was much smaller, this was deemed the easier place to start, and because of its size, this course was also allowed to remain in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, most of our progress to date has been in revising this graduate exercise physiology course.
Initially, our changes to the graduate course’s laboratory focused on asking students to make and validate predictions while using a standard set of protocols (i.e., level 1 inquiry). In our first iteration, we modified four laboratory sessions to focus on the “unexpected” breakdown in the linear relationship between oxygen uptake and cycling power output that occurs during exercise with constant-load efforts and the difficulty in identifying the boundary between the heavy and severe exercise intensity domains (10). We (and students in the course) felt these activities were successful, so we modified the laboratory again the following year to allow students to focus on answering novel questions rather than verifying results. Using a gradual implementation approach similar to Kolkhorst et al. (11), students were first asked to create and test unique hypotheses for a set of data they collected over four laboratory sessions, combining aspects of level 2 and 4 inquiry (i.e., instructor-led procedures and student-led questions). Next, based on an article read earlier in the course (1), students worked as a group to determine whether fatiguing one limb influenced measures of exercise performance and fatigue in the contralateral limb when contractions were isometric (level 2). Finally, with a focus on inquiry-based learning and professional development, students were challenged to develop their own laboratory activity for a hypothetical course, which required devising an experiment to teach an important concept in exercise physiology and collecting pilot data to demonstrate feasibility (nearing level 4). To fully understand the impacts of these changes, we have collected survey and semi-structured interview data from students in reformed laboratories, which we hope to formally report at the end of the project.
Despite teaching our undergraduate exercise physiology course online this year, we attempted to create a virtual exercise physiology laboratory that focused on developing the skills needed to answer research questions. Learning activities focused on hypothesis creation, research design, data analysis, and statistical analysis. For one activity, we asked students to design a hypothetical study comparing mechanical aspects of sprinting for two groups of athletes (e.g., bobsleigh vs. fencing). Although new to research design, students were given the freedom to choose the sample size, the variable of interest, and the two types of athletes (selected from normative data published by Haugen et al. (7)). Martin used the students’ choices to simulate datasets, and students performed statistical analysis to test their hypotheses. While students couldn’t collect their own data, this activity allowed them to pose and answer a question, while learning about sprinting and research design. When this lab returns to in-person learning, plans are being formulated to include inquiry-based learning, similar to the structure that Kolkhorst et al. (11) and Henige (8) reported.
After two years of tinkering with our graduate course and beginning to reform our undergraduate course (despite its online format), we have realized that we simply need to give students more time in the laboratory to work on their own questions. Note that Kolkhorst et al. (11) and Henige (8) each provided 4-5 sessions for their level 4 inquiry laboratory activities. This can be a tough sell for instructors (ourselves included): It means we need to cover fewer topics. But, sometimes the best addition to a recipe is a subtraction (e.g., prohibiting pineapple on pizza). The battle over which absolutely essential topic has to be removed has already begun!
While we think increasing autonomy and inquiry in the lab is an important part of enhancing student learning, we also think students need to be able to debrief learning activities and process their experiences to enrich their learning. For both courses described above, students were asked to engage in reflective activities each week. We know reflection can move learning from surface to deep and even transformative levels (12). Reflection is a form of cognitive housekeeping and processing that enables students to develop their understanding of complex or unstructured ideas (12). When students actively engage in a constructive sense-making process, they understand complex systems and concepts better (6). Metacognitive practices are shown to improve self-regulation and commitment to lifelong learning; however, instructional strategies often neglect or assume students are engaging in metacognition (2). Evidence suggests metacognition at the end of STEM learning activities enriches learning (17). Based on this evidence and our experiences with reflection as a catalyst for curiosity and connection-making, we integrated a small amount of reflection with learning activities and added a low-stakes assessment in both courses. Students were asked to thoughtfully reflect on and respond to a specific prompt in approximately 100 words at the end of each lab. Questions like those listed below acted as a call to metacognition:
What did you find most challenging (or surprising, or interesting) in this lab and why?
What did you learn in this lab? What would you still like to know?
What do you think is the major obstacle to performing high-intensity interval training?
How would you explain the importance of fat oxidation to a lay person interested in exercise?
By asking students to connect their experience, knowledge, ideas, and sometimes uncertainty to their lab learning activities, we hoped to support them in deepening, extending, and amplifying their learning.
As we reformed student learning activities and move away from recipe-only laboratories, our teaching practices needed to change too. Recognizing that the laboratory instructors had mostly been trained through traditional style laboratories, we identified a need for some targeted professional development for our group of educators. To meet this need, Cari developed an asynchronous learning module called “Teaching to Enable Learning in Exercise Physiology,” for the instructional team to complete prior to the start of term, and we debriefed this 6-8 hour module together at our first meeting. This meeting set the tone and expectation in many ways for the teaching practices we were expecting teaching assistants to try in labs. We took a community of practice (CoP) approach to supporting laboratory teaching and learning throughout the semester. A CoP is a group of practitioners who meet regularly, reflect and problem solve collaboratively to learn to do their practice (for us, teaching) better (16). CoPs have been used to facilitate teaching and learning change in many higher education projects (5, 15). Each week, we (Martin and Cari) invited the lab technician, the teaching assistants (i.e., laboratory instructors), and a graduate student researcher (Joy Camarao) to reflect on and share both positive and negative teaching experiences from the week that was.
Years after completing an undergraduate degree in biology, the laboratory activities that stuck with me (Martin) the most are those that let me experiment. My favorite laboratory activity involved transplanting barnacles from the exposed side of a breakwater to the inner harbor on the coast of Nova Scotia to examine phenotypic plasticity in leg morphology. My lab mates and I chose the topic and designed the experiment, basing our question on a relationship observed in a related species of barnacle (3). We drove to the coast to find and transplant the barnacles, and we returned weeks later to collect the barnacles for analysis, hypothesizing that they would increase their leg length to optimize feeding in the calmer waters. Unlike most of my other laboratory experiences, we were performing a real experiment with real hypothesis and a (somewhat) novel question. Our study had flaws, and our results weren’t perfect, but the laboratory report was authentic, and so was my excitement. This type of lab is a challenge in exercise physiology, but it’s possible and worthwhile. As we enter the final year of our project, we hope to give students more opportunities to experiment.
Image Credits: Image 1- Nicole Michalou, Image 2- Maarten VanDenHeuvel, Image 3 William Choquette, Image 4- Frans VanHeerden.
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Spring 2020 is often denoted with an asterisk. The asterisk means different things to different people. For many people it means, “Things will never be the same.” COVID-19 has changed the venues from which we teach, but not our commitment to continually improve our teaching. We have adapted our lectures, labs, and office hours to online platforms to keep students and ourselves safe. I am no seer, but once classes moved online in mid-March I knew this would be a long haul from which I must learn and never forget. After submitting final grades, I asked myself, “What have you learned? Which practices will you continue to implement to create a better learning environment for students irrespective of world health status or platform?” My asterisk on Spring 2020 is community.
For Spring 2020 I was assigned three sections of an upper level exercise nutrition course and one section of basic exercise physiology. Each was a critical course. Kinesiology majors must pass exercise physiology before any other upper level kinesiology course; this was a new course for me. The exercise nutrition course, which I taught the prior semester, includes an in-class presentation with a hefty point value; it also is the departmental assessment tool for communication skills. Over the last several years the level of stress and anxiety among undergraduate students in my physiology courses has been progressively increasing, nearly choking their joy of learning. Colleagues in other fields observe similar trends. The majority of students taking physiology courses seek careers in health professions. Given the competitive nature of the respective training programs, students are driven to earn that A. Add to that the worry of paying for tuition, rent, food, books, computers, and transportation and complicated academic and social transitions from high school to college. Their family expectations loom over them. Some students are full-time students, but also full-time parents. For first-generation college students these circumstances may bear even greater weight. Thus, while preparing for Spring 2020 I decided to approach that semester with greater compassion for students. This led to my forming a community of learners in each class a priority. Ultimately, this helped me better meet the needs of my students during that first phase of the pandemic.
Webster defines compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” In preparing for Spring 2020, I identified aspects of each course that presented major challenges for students and represented sources of stress, anxiety, frustration, and discouragement. I hoped to address those challenges and thereby, alleviate a source of stress. Most exercise physiology students had not taken biology or basic physiology; thus, I had to teach them basic cell biology and basic physiology so they could better understand the significance of acute responses to exercise. Based on my past experience teaching the exercise nutrition course, students needed more confidence speaking in public. Furthermore, any given student might have known just two or three other students by name and were hesitant to speak in general. I had to help them feel more at ease so they could talk and think out loud among their peer group. We each want to belong to a community. We value our individuality, but we are social beings. Students must feel accepted and comfortable in class, so they can ask and answer questions within a small group or entire class. A critical component of learning is not answering a question, but verbally defending that answer and exchanging ideas with others. Many are afraid to answer incorrectly in front of others. The classroom must be a safe place. As the teacher, I am responsible for creating a sense of community. While I did a great job getting to know my students’ names, faces and fun facts, I wasn’t helping students know each other. For both courses I decided to include more activities that required students to talk directly to each other and become accustomed to speaking out loud. With 20-25 students per class, it was feasible. I would sacrifice class time and not be able to cover as much material. So be it. Students would master the fundamentals, learn to apply the knowledge, and have a shot at enjoying learning and becoming life-long learners. Coming to class and learning might even become a reprieve from other stressors.
How could I create community among unacquainted 20+ students? Provide opportunity to interact as a class or in pairs or groups as often as possible. I had to be persistent, kind, and patient. The first day of classes I explained my intention was that students become familiar with each other, so that they were comfortable asking and answering questions and contributing to discussions. This would facilitate learning and help me better gauge their understanding. This also might help them find a study partner or even make a new friend. I told them I made it a point to learn everyone’s name as soon as possible and would call on each student numerous times. I made it clear that I know when people are shy; I promised to be kind and not call on them until they were ready. Each day I arrived as early as possible and cheerfully greeted each student by their preferred name and asked open ended questions, e.g., ‘How are your other classes going?” At least once a week, students worked in pairs to complete worksheets or quizzes; we would reconvene as a class and I would call on different pairs to answer. I called on different pairs each time, so every group had chance to speak. I encouraged them to work with different classmates for different in-class activities. Initially, there was resistance, but I consistently commended them for their efforts. Gradually, more students would proactively raise their hands to be called on, and it could get pretty loud.
On the first day of the nutrition classes I also announced the presentation assignment and that we’d get started on it the 1st week of classes by forming pairs and by becoming accustomed to talking in front of the class. To let them know that dread of public speaking is shared by all, I confessed to feeling nervous before every lecture; however, I love teaching and channel that nervous energy to keep the lectures upbeat. I explained they might never get over the nervousness of public speaking, but they can learn nothing is wrong, being nervous is expected; it will become easier. The trick is to start small. So, at the start of every class period, one or two students would be asked to stand up, introduce themselves, and tell the class what they found most interesting from the last lecture. The other students would give the presenter their undivided attention. For shy students, I spoke directly but quietly to them before class and suggested that they could focus on me while they spoke. After each introduction I cheerfully thanked students as positive re-enforcement. These introductions also served to highlight what was covered in the last class. Because each nutrition course class met 3 times a week for 50-minute sessions, students interacted frequently. For the exercise physiology course, students worked in pairs to complete a ‘1-2-3 plus 1’ worksheet with questions on three key concepts from the previous lecture and one question on new material in the upcoming lecture. They worked on questions for 5 minutes, and then I would call on different pairs to answer questions and explain sticking points for about 10 minutes. It also was the transition into that day’s new material. This class met twice per week for 80 minutes each session; thus, plenty of time remained even after the 15-minute Q&A. They were grasping the integration of cellular mechanisms at the cellular and systems levels. The time and effort to plan and execute these activities was well worth it. Students were learning and enjoying class, as well as getting to know each other. By late February communities had formed. Each class had a friendly and inclusive feeling, and attendance was nearly perfect. Even shy students began echoing my greetings or waving and smiling at classmates arriving to class. Individual classes had their own running jokes.
The week before Spring Break universities were discussing whether or not students would return to campuses after the break. COVID-19 was here. The Thursday and Friday before Spring Break were the last days I met with students in person. I confirmed the rumors. Students would not return to campus after the break, and all courses would be entirely online. I clarified that I would present lectures ‘live’ at the regularly scheduled class times. I opened the floor to discussion. If I knew their concerns, I’d have a better chance at maintaining the sense of community. Students were completely honest. Seniors were sad, because graduation would be cancelled. Students were hoping they could keep their jobs here in town to pay rent. Athletes on scholarships worried that if the season were canceled they’d lose funding. Others would be learning from their parents’ homes, which had no Internet access. The most common concern was whether they would be as successful learning online. They were worried about the lack of accountability. One student feared he’d stop attending lectures and miss assignments; one reason he came to class was that I called him by name and talked to him every day. Another student doubted I’d have any personality when giving online lectures; I took this as a challenge. Students in the nutrition classes were worried about presentations, which were taking shape and now had to be presented somehow. They were scared. Now, I was scared for them – but had the wherewithal to not say that out loud. One student outright asked, ‘Is this even gonna’ work?!” I admitted it would be a challenge, in part because I had never taught an online class, and this was my first pandemic! They laughed nervously. What a relief to hear them laugh! Then, I remembered my goal to practice compassion and let that guide me. I calmly stated the following, “This is not an ideal situation, but we will make it work, and I mean WE. I will do my best to not make this situation any more difficult than it has to be. I will communicate with you regularly, so read my emails. If you have any problems or questions you must let me know immediately, so to give me a better chance to help you. It will be ok.” That this was the last time I would see my students in person. It was a sad day.
I took my students’ concerns into account and still made my priority community. If I could maintain that sense of community, they would be more likely to login to lecture and learn. I kept it as simple, direct, and familiar as possible. I already had been posting all lecture notes and materials on the university’s learning management system (LMS) and using the drop box for homework submissions. Thus, I opted to use the real-time video conferencing tool in the LMS to deliver, record and save lectures and hold office hours. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I established the practice of sending each individual class a weekly email on Sunday afternoon that listed the week’s lecture topics, specific links to each lecture and office hours, due dates for quizzes, upcoming exams, announcements, and miscellaneous reminders. The very first email included step by step instruction for logging into the LMS video conferencing tool (which had been proofread and tested by a colleague), and I attached the revised syllabus. I kept these emails as upbeat as possible. On the class website, I also posted important announcements, along with links to the live and recorded lectures. I kept the class website uncluttered and organized to make it easy for students to find what they needed. In the middle of a pandemic, it was absolutely essential to keep my promise to my students and myself and not to make learning or teaching online any more difficult than necessary.
I continued teaching the fundamentals and worked to maintain that sense of community. I opened and logged into the virtual lecture room 10-15 minutes before lecture started and would allow students to do the same. I would still greet them as they entered, asked them to turn on the video at least once, so I could see their faces and make sure they were doing ok. They would also greet each other. I encouraged them to ask questions or comment directly using their mics or in the chat message feature. As I lectured, I kept track of questions and answers to my questions; I would address students by name just as I had in person. They learned quickly that they could use the chat feature to communicate with each other, sometimes not about physiology or nutrition. I didn’t mind. I also knew they missed being on campus and seeing classmates and friends, and they were isolated. For the exercise physiology course, we continued the practice of starting each lecture period with the 1-2-3 plus 1 worksheet and still spend about 15 minutes on that activity; the students really valued this activity. Because the practice proved to facilitate learning, I posted these questions on the class website, but also emailed the class a copy the day before to be sure they had a copy – a 5-minute task to keep them engaged and coming to class. For the nutrition class, I offered an extra credit assignment, ‘Who is this?’ For one class, I had a list of 10 walk-up songs from different students; students had to name the artist and tell me the full name of the student who claimed that as their ‘walk-up’ song. Another class had to name the student learning online the farthest distance from campus and name the student whose birthplace was farthest from campus; they also had to list the exact city, state or country and distance in miles. The third class had to list the first and last names of all graduating seniors in the class and their career goals. For extra points, they all participated. It was meant to encourage them to stay connected and think about something else.
We had a share of glitches and mishaps, but my students stepped up to the plate. The lack of equal access to the Internet could not be more painfully obvious. One exercise physiology student informed me that his only access to the Internet was his cell phone. He took the initiative to asked whether I would accept images of hand-written 1-2-3 worksheets sent to me by email. He never missed an assignment and made arrangements to borrow a friend’s laptop for exams. A nutrition student, I will call Brett was learning from home in a small town about 2 hours from the nearest ‘real’ town; his family home had no Internet and a poor mobile phone signal. He emailed to explain that once his dad got paid he would buy the equipment and he would be online soon. He was concerned about missed quizzes and the respective points and missed lectures. What do you say to that? When you know you have all the power, you must use that power to do good and not make anyone’s life harder than it has to be. I re-opened quizzes and sent him links to the recorded lectures; he wasted no time catching up. Then there was the matter of the nutrition presentations. Another lifeline. Students continued to work together, sending presentation files to each other and to me. Students taught themselves to use Zoom, Google Slides, and the LMS video conference feature. No one complained. Multiple pairs wanted to present during the same session, so they could be an audience, lend moral support, and ask questions. The presentations were impressive. Students were so enthusiastic. However, my favorite presentation was by Brett and ‘Josh’; they presented via the LMS conference feature. Brett’s Internet cut out completely on second slide; he tried to reconnect to no avail. I remained calm; they remained calm. They decided Brett would call Josh; Josh would hold his cell phone to the mic on his computer so I could hear Brett narrate his part of the talk. Teamwork! Let your students inspire you.
I left time at the end of each lecture to offer encouraging words and reminders to stay safe and take care of themselves. I also would state that I looked forward our next meeting. As the semester was winding down end-of-lecture discussions and questions become more serious. Across all classes the basic questions were similar. “Will I graduate on time? How will this impact my career plans? Do you think this will be over by the Fall? Do you think they’ll have a cure soon?” There was no sugar coating this. I would validate their concerns and offer my honest opinion in a kind-hearted manner. My last virtual lecture was on a Friday in May. I decided to name each graduating senior, so the class could congratulate and applaud for them. A student asked me to give a commencement speech. She was serious. I remembered what my gut told me back in mid-March, and so I began. “I cannot tell you how proud of how hard each of you has worked and how well you worked together. Life is hard. It’s ok to be scared. You have risen to the occasion. Keep rising. Learn all you can from this situation. You are meant to do great things, however subtle or grand. You will fall and make mistakes. You will need help along the way and must help others on their journey. It has been a privilege to work with you. I will think of you often and wish you well.” Spring 2020* *Helping my students form a community, an inclusive safe place to learn, think out loud, be wrong, correct mistakes, and help each other. That is the practice I will continue to implement to create a better learning environment for students irrespective of world health status or platform.
Advances in Physiology Education is one of the family of journals published by the American Physiological Society (https://journals.physiology.org/journal/advances). Submissions of manuscripts to Advances cost nothing and accepted papers are available with free access from their initial posting online. Annually a printed copy of the journal with all 4 issues is available to those who request it. Publications in Advances are contributed from the global community of physiology educators and carefully peer-reviewed by expert colleagues. Of all the APS family of journals, 7 out of the 10 most accessed articles (full-text accesses) during 2019 were published in Advances. The top three accessed Advances articles are briefly described below.
Number 1 Most Accessed 2019:
“Applying learning theories and instructional design models for effective instruction” by Mohammed K. Khalil and Ihsan A. Elkhider from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville, South Carolina, USA published on April 11, 2016 (Adv Physiol Educ 40:147-156, 2016). In this article from the Best Practices series, the major learning theories are discussed and selected examples of instructional design models are explained. The objective of the article is to present the science of learning and instruction as the theoretical evidence for the design and delivery of instructional materials in the classroom and laboratory. As of June 2020, this article has been downloaded 81,467 times!
Number 2 Most Accessed 2019:
“Measuring osmosis and hemolysis of red blood cells” by Lauren K. Goodhead and Frances M. MacMillan from the School of Physiology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience of the University of Bristol, Bristol, UK published on May 19, 2017 (Adv Physiol Educ 41: 298-305, 2017). This article from the Sourcebook of Laboratory Activities in Physiology series, describes classroom laboratory experiments to help students visualize and appreciate osmosis (the movement of water and small molecules across selectively permeable membranes of mammalian cells). Animal blood is bathed in solutions with differing osmolarities and tonicities to explore the concept of water movement by osmosis and the resultant hemolysis. As of June 2020, this article has been downloaded 71,180 times.
Number 4 Most Accessed 2019:
“Attention span during lectures: 8 seconds, 10 minutes, or more?” by Neil A. Bradbury of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics of Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, Illinois, USA published on November 8, 2016 (Adv Physiol Educ 40:509-513, 2016). This article presents a Personal View by reviewing the literature on the “common knowledge” and “consensus” that there is a decline in students’ attention 10-15 min into lectures. The author believes that the most consistent finding from his literature review is that the greatest variability in student attention arises from differences between teachers and not from the teaching format itself. Thus, it is the job of the instructor to enhance their teaching skills to provide not only rich content but also a satisfying lecture experience for the students. As of June 2020, this article has been downloaded 39,910 times.
The other four Advances articles in the top 10 most accessed in 2019 included an APS Refresher Course Report on “Smooth muscle contraction and relaxation” by R. Clinton Webb, a Best Practices series article on “Learning theories 101: application to everyday teaching and scholarship” by Denise Kay and Jonathan Kibble, an editorial on “The ‘African gene’ theory: it is time to stop teaching and promoting slavery hypertension hypothesis” by Heidi L. Lujan and Stephen E. DiCarlo, and a Staying Current review on “Recent advances in thermoregulation” by Etain A. Tansey and Christopher D. Johnson. These articles ranged from >20,000 to almost 30,000 downloads.
This short article shows the variety of offerings in Advances in Physiology Education and documents the global demand for these contributions to the literature.
The American Physiological Society (APS) is pleased to announce a new webinar series focused on our educator community. The monthly series includes live webinars focused on education best practices, synchronous and/or asynchronous teaching, establishing inclusive classrooms and publishing. Educator town halls will also be featured as we strive to support and engage the educator community throughout the year.
Starting this month, take advantage of the educator webinar series by visiting the events webpage on the APS website. Register for each webinar, learn about speakers and their talks today!
What to do on the First Day of Class: Insights From Physiology Educators?
July 23, 2020
12 p.m. EDT
Join in the discussion about how to greet students on the first day of class and set the tone for the rest of the course.
- Barbara E. Goodman, PhD from the Sandford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota (Vermillion)
- Dee Silverthorn, PhD from the University of Texas at Austin
As we head into an uncertain academic year, spend an hour with us to consider strategies which will help you and your students navigate our changing academic, professional, and personal lives. Participants will work through pragmatic and concrete strategies they can transition into their own work to promote student learning and minimize stress.
- Josef Brandauer, PhD from Gettysburg College (Penn.)
- Katie Johnson, PhD from Trail Build, LLC (East Troy, Wisc.)
Writing & Reviewing for Advances
September 17, 2020
12 p.m. EDT
This session will be a chance to encourage all who have adapted their teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic to share their work. This topic also ties in to the Teaching Section featured topic for EB 2021.
- Doug Everett, PhD from National Jewish Health (Denver, Colo.)
A Framework of College Student Buy-in to Evidence-Based Teaching Practices in STEM: The Roles of Trust and Growth Mindset
October 22, 2020
12 p.m. EST
This topic is relevant to building trust, which goes hand-in-hand with inclusion and diversity. Trust is essential for the different modalities of teaching which educators and students will experience in the fall.
Educators Town Hall
November 19, 2020
12 p.m. EST
A chance to talk about what happened during the fall semester and also plan for the upcoming year
Previously in our story…Hurricane Maria had just ravaged the island nation of Dominica
While I waited, my school did what many said could not be done. Our staff and administration arranged for us to be able to complete the fall semester, on the only-lightly damaged island of St. Christopher (usually called St. Kitts), which had been grazed by both Irma and Maria. They arranged for a large passenger ship which normally ferried cars and people from Italy to Spain and back to sail over to the Caribbean and be modified into a floating campus for our thousand-plus student body for the rest of the year. They arranged for temporary accommodations for faculty and staff on St. Kitts, where our other sister school, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (10), is located. They revised the schedule to have us resume our semester in October and finish in early January. And then they set these plans in motion.
In mid-October, I finally got the notice I’d been waiting for, my reporting day to arrive on St. Kitts for my temporary assignment there. I’d lived on St. Kitts before while working at one of my former schools, so I knew that it wasn’t the same as Dominica. It was wealthier, far wealthier, with so many cruise ships coming to call during high season that we were almost an afterthought to them. It had the movie theater and the golf courses and the high-end hotels, and the island infrastructure to handle the mass of tourists who came and went by the planeload and shipload every day. But on the same token, in Dominica we were a part of the community, we were welcomed by the people, and we were careful to try to be good neighbors. In St. Kitts, we were mostly treated like tourists, who were perhaps staying a little longer than usual, and on a ship that wasn’t going to sail away with us. Most of the Kittitians were still the very friendly people you can find everywhere in the Caribbean, of course, but it wasn’t Dominica and I knew it before I arrived. We faculty were to arrive a few days before the students to get situated and find places to live on the island while the student accommodations/our campus continued its journey across the Atlantic to our new home away from home.
When I got to St. Kitts, it was…a pleasant surprise. It wasn’t half as hard to get through customs as I had feared, and the Marriott is a nice hotel. We stayed there a day or two before the students started to arrive. To make room for the students, most of the faculty were moved to an eco-resort on the far side of St. Kitts for about a week, which opened in its off-season just for us. While I appreciated their going above and beyond on our behalf, I only stayed one night before moving into an apartment in town. I just wanted to unpack my suitcases, settle in somewhere, and get back into a routine.
Because I left the eco-resort so early, I was available to help the students come in on their arrival day. And come in they did, one charter flight at a time to the airport, and one to three buses (they call them cruisers) at a time to the Marriott. Tired, bleary-eyed, some clearly still suffering the effects of six or more days on Dominica under indescribable conditions ending in evacuation and weeks of uncertainty, the students came. You couldn’t help but feel for the ordeal they had survived… or admiration for their grit to return anyway, when a small group of others had taken a leave of absence. On that day and night when the students came in charter flight after charter flight, wave after wave, a dozen volunteers and I helped each group one by one. We were the friendly faces from home greeting them after their long ordeal. We smiled and shook their hands and took their bags inside, helped them through check-in, provided them some simple meals, and tried to make each returning student feel special. It started for me in the afternoon, and then into the evening, and then into the night, with each group of students arriving more and more exhausted. By 1 a.m. I was feeling pretty exhausted too, but we kept going until the very last group made it in somewhere close to 2 a.m.
I am told that still more planeloads of students flew in the next morning, but I slept in. That afternoon, students were being transported from the hotel to the port, where our ship had come in. The lines were long and the sun was hot and the students just wanted to get inside and get to their new berths. Many of the faculty who were staying at the eco-resort had come into town that morning to help students move in during the morning/afternoon shift. I showed up for the afternoon/evening shift. As we had done the previous day, we volunteers did our very best to keep everyone comfortable at the port, as students went through the tedious process of being identified, cleared to come onto the ship, given berth assignments, and other things past my station at the port. I made a point to smile and joke and most students appreciated it. By mid-evening the last students had made it past my sorting station at the dock entrance and headed into the ship, so I stumbled home for another exhausted sleep.
There was a lot more involved in starting work at the temporary campus than just showing up, but I and the other faculty made do. The ship had just one large cafeteria so we sometimes had to wait in meal lines during its designated breakfast-lunch-dinner times. Many of the prior amenities on the ship (e.g., a movie theater and a pool deck) had been converted into classroom and study areas before we boarded, and other spaces were modified for student use later. This included the conversion of an entire deck of the ship which is usually a car garage into an air-conditioned suite of temporary study spaces, clinical exam rooms, and simulation labs. Since the ship spent most days at sea, it was rather crowded at first. We faculty didn’t have offices per se but like the students we each found our place to be during the day. My place was at the back of the third semester classroom, in a corner with AC, electric hookups, and a view of the harbor. I usually teach in second semester as do most physiologists, so I absorbed a lot of clinical applications even as I worked on lectures and active learning sessions, module directing, pre-mini-workshop design, and all the other routines of a typical teaching-oriented school. And in so doing I, like so many other faculty who don’t get to know a lot of students normally, did connect with many of them. When we had to get up at 3:30 a.m. to catch the 4:15 a.m. bus to get us to the boat before it sailed at 5:00 a.m. to make room for a set of larger cruise ships throughout the day, we shared in the students’ experience of having to make sure they too were up at the same time, early enough to download their most important materials of the day before we sailed, just in case the harbormaster put us far out at sea. When the days came that other ships left late and we didn’t dock until 7:30 at night, the students shared that with us too.
Along the way, we made time for some activities. Twice I went scuba diving with fellow members of our RUSM (Med School) Scuba Club (11); others went diving even more regularly. People organized groups for exercise on the outside deck every morning and night. There were religious services, club meetings, and other miscellaneous activities on the boat. Off the boat there was at least one school-planned movie outing, an island tour, and a few students even made it to a “beach bash” hosted by the RUSVM (Vet School) Scuba Club. More informally, the port facilities were nice as one would expect at a regular Caribbean cruise ship stop, with everything that entails. It became a shared experience of life in close quarters, dedicated to a common purpose and with a common spirit that we would make it through, together and with no drop in our commitment to teaching and learning despite it all.
Would I have traded it for a nice quiet semester in Dominica with no Hurricane Maria in the first place? Well, sure! But you have to deal with what life gives you and we made the best of it. And the quality of the teaching did not go down. We might have been in close quarters but we delivered virtually the same curriculum in the fall as we had in the previous spring and summer.
By mid-November, air service to Dominica was spotty but running, so I booked a trip there for a few days including Thanksgiving Day. We’d just found out that we were going to be in Knoxville, Tennessee for the January semester but no one knew much more than that. While some people started actively looking for places to live, I planned my return to Dominica and hoped the school would handle the Knoxville move for me and many others (it did). I booked a room at the only hotel open in Portsmouth, Dominica, just in case my cottage was uninhabitable, and then I hoped for the best.
When I flew in, it was afternoon and, well, the island I loved looked different. This was now two months after Hurricane Maria did its damage and still the island was brown, not green. The volcanic ridges were sharp and distinct, and the remains of trees were all over them, standing tall and naked. But if I looked closely, I could see that at the tops of the trees, leaves had started growing again. Not enough to cover the scars on the land, not yet, but enough for some hope. I had the taxi driver take me to my cottage before going to the hotel, and amazingly almost everything had survived. The food and other perishables were gone with a few other items (e.g., my Swiss army knife), but overall I had a lot of things to ship home. When someone had built the place he or she had cemented the window frames into the concrete wall for extra strength, which isn’t standard practice anywhere but it worked there. Whoever it was had also put odd-looking vents under the roof which somehow prevented the roofs from flying. As a result, though my furniture was flooded at floor level, almost everything else was salvageable. It was a miracle compared to the sheer devastation we’d driven through from the airport to town. That night I saw my first sunset on Dominica in many months, and it was beautiful.
I spent the next two days getting almost everything from my cottage packed up and sent to the local shipping agent for transport back to the USA. Since my office had survived intact (another unexpected blessing) I took a couple of textbooks and other important items from there. But I didn’t take everything. I left most things in my office against the day I would return. I also took a few photographs. I chose to avoid taking pictures of the damaged areas. Instead I shot photos of things I’d never seen before, like the caved-in side of a cliff face on the mountain north of town that to me looked just like a monkey’s hand. Along the way I saw the determination of the people to recover even as they all hoped we would be back in May, and I hoped the same thing. But it was not to be. As I flew out with my bicycle sold, my cottage empty, and my most essential items from home and office in two suitcases, I was pretty sure that Dominica wouldn’t be ready for us by then. There were still too many without power, too many living under tarps and in barely-repaired dwellings, too many roofs still off and the insurance companies being slow to pay claims.
The semester ended relatively uneventfully. The students adjusted to where they were going to be in the spring, and so did I. Knoxville, Tennessee is a nice southern city with both friendly people and all the movie theaters one could ever want. I even went once! Most of our students are here with us, though some are still in St. Kitts with some of our faculty. We’ve learned we’re to be here through the September 2018 semester so we have some sense of permanence. Though I would love to return to Dominica as soon as possible, having a safe, happy Dominica with functional buildings, power, water, cell service, and the other non-movie theater basics restored is really important too, so I can’t complain. Here I am, a professor at a medical school in the United States, just like I wanted to be so many years ago. And whether here or Dominica or anywhere else my fate takes me, I’ll get by.
As I told one of my advisees who was having a bad day last December, in the end a school isn’t buildings at all. A medical school is its people, medical faculty training students through increasingly difficult tasks until at the end the students have risen up to a higher level, doctors ready to begin their postgraduate medical education journey. The medical arenas and the classrooms and the simulation labs and the journal collections and the fraternity/sorority homes and even the occasional Italian ship sailing thousands of miles to become a “floating campus” are all just the scaffolding around what is really important. That one student, his or her classmates, his or her basic science and clinical faculty, and everyone else from the Dean to I.T. to the people washing dishes in the back of the cafeteria who make sure everything else runs…these people are the real school. They make it possible for that one student to excel.
And that’s something that no hurricane– however powerful– can stop. Ask LSU if it stopped for either Camille or Katrina. Ask Hofstra if it stopped for Sandy, Baylor if it stopped for either Rita or Harvey, or Nova Southeastern if it stopped for either Andrew or Irma. Like those other disasters, Hurricane Maria is part of history now. And just like those other schools went on after their respective storms, we’ll keep going too, training the next generation of physicians, semester after semester. As we do, I’ll be right there doing my part for my students, my school, and the greater medical education community. Because in the end, that’s not only what I was trained to do, it’s still my passion today.
|Bruce E. Wright graduated with a PhD in Physiology from LSU Health Sciences Center in 1993. He had postdoctoral fellowships/research faculty positions at the University of Florida and East Carolina University. He served several years as faculty at a liberal arts college in Georgia. He worked at three Caribbean medical schools from 2005-2008 before joining the faculty at Ross University School of Medicine in 2008. He worked for two years at a US-based osteopathic medical school in 2013 and 2014 before returning to Ross University in late 2014. Dr. Wright is currently Treasurer/Award & Event Coordinator for the American Physiological Society’s Teaching Section. He has served as a reviewer for Advances in Physiology Education. He is National Faculty for the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Educators (NBOME), for whom he has written and reviewed items for different exams. He regularly attends Experimental Biology and was an attendee and presenter for the first Institute for Teaching and Learning meeting in Bar Harbor, Maine in 2014. He is currently interested in educational research involving teaching methodologies.|
It’s funny, as I begin to write this blog, that I realize that it’s nearly 25 years now since I received my Ph.D. in Physiology in New Orleans. Back then, I was sure that my career track would lead me to becoming a full professor at a medical school in the United States one day, though I didn’t know exactly how I would get there. Not being a world traveler, I certainly never expected to spend a day in the Caribbean, but life is funny sometimes.
Like so many other graduates of my day, the “optimal” career track didn’t pan out for me. My postdoctoral experience didn’t involve receiving any federal grants, so instead of moving straight into medical school, I became involved in undergraduate education. Several years later while advising students, I learned about Caribbean medical schools. When I studied them in more depth, I discovered one program in particular in which I could teach college seniors advanced A&P part-time while I took medical school courses part-time too. I took a leap of faith and applied for it. Shortly after they accepted me, I took my first flight over the turquoise-blue of the Caribbean Sea.
That was the day my life changed
There was and is something different about the Caribbean, its varied islands and its colorful people, so friendly in some places and so unfriendly in others, but always full of life and adorned in bright colors. Along the way I picked up medical-level Gross Anatomy and with that extra qualification, moved into full-time faculty positions at a couple of small medical schools in the British and Dutch Caribbean. On those tiny islands I relearned my discipline as a generalist as few others of my generation have done. There I was THE physiologist with no backup and neither a travel allowance for attending conferences or taking trips home to see my family, nor support for any research. Instead I had to not only teach the entire medical physiology course by myself three times per year, I also had to assist the anatomy faculty in cadaver dissection twice per week and occasionally teach in an undergraduate course. My typical medical school course load was 14-16 hours per week of just contact time in lecture and lab, not counting writing exams every three weeks and having many, many meetings with students. It was hard but it changed me, and made me a better teacher. With this Caribbean-acquired training as a medical physiology generalist, in 2008 I moved up to a first-tier Caribbean medical school in the Commonwealth of Dominica (not the Dominican Republic!), initially to teach digestive physiology.
Dominica will always have a special place in my heart. It is a small volcanic island in the British Caribbean that is shaped like a chrysalis (1). At its widest it’s only about 18 miles and at its longest 29 miles, but it is almost a mile high. It has no five star resorts, no golf courses, and no movie theaters. It’s hard to get to by air, and even cruise ships mostly go past it in favor of better-developed ports on the islands north and south of it. When I first arrived the entire population on-island was only about 73,000, mostly hugging the west (Caribbean) coast. But for several years I lived in a house on a hillside 500 feet above the Caribbean Sea watching the sun set over the ocean every night from my front porch. On Saturday I would sometimes go down to the village of Mero below me where there would be a half mile of pure gray sand beach and only a dozen people on it. On Sunday, I might go down again to where five hundred locals had come to party on the beach, or I might have just sat on my porch and listened to the music from far below, as the stars came out and the Southern Cross hung in the April sky. One time, and only one time, I climbed the 4800 foot mountain in the center of the island where there is no trail up to the cloud-cloaked peak. One time, I swam, dove, and rappelled down a river through a canyon greener than the Emerald City. And along the way, I taught at a very special school, with smart, tough, high quality faculty and students alike, Ross University School of Medicine (2).
Through most of my years there, Dominica was spared the worst that Mother Nature could bring to bear. We liked to say that it was in the perfect place in the Lesser Antilles, too far north for the big Cape Verde hurricanes that would not be turned north as they tracked west through the Central Atlantic to hit, and too far south for those Atlantic storms that did get pulled north as they approached the islands. Sometimes a tropical storm would come and dump a lot of rain but that just turned the tap water brown or white for a day, no big deal. The island stayed its radiant green from the tropical rain forests, only browning out for 1-2 months per year in the dry season from January to April.
In 2015, Tropical Storm Erika formed almost on top of us, and hit the island with the worst rainfall it had experienced in decades. Dozens of people died and whole towns were cut off for months. We thought we’d been hit by the Big One, as the estimated damage from Erika’s island-wide flash flooding was about 500 million dollars, or well over half of Dominica’s gross domestic product (3). For two years the island slowly recovered, rebuilding its water treatment facilities, repairing washed-out bridges, and helping rebuild flooded coastal communities.
By August 2017, Dominica was almost completely back. We too were back. Our school had had its own water supply even before Erika hit, and the electricity never went out in Portsmouth afterwards. Like the rest of Dominica, my school did lose cell phone service and internet for several days after that storm, which was a serious concern. Once we were reconnected with the world, we moved to make sure our school would never be caught like that again. My school installed its own satellite, set up evacuation plans, and built a new student center rated to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. Along the way it continued to matriculate three sets of students per year, semester in and semester out. Collectively, we thought we’d survived the worst and recovered very well.
No one expected the hurricane onslaught of 2017. Three major hurricanes, three major disasters, with consequences felt in several parts of the United States, were always theoretically possible but most people didn’t expect more than one to pan out. In the middle of August, I was on vacation at my wife’s home in Georgia as eventual Major Hurricane Harvey formed in the Atlantic and passed south of Dominica as a tropical storm. Most storms that go that way fizzle out in the eastern Caribbean, but Harvey survived and went on to ravage Houston and the surrounding region of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico like few hurricanes ever had (4). The United States’ people and its government mobilized to help Texas and Louisiana, as it so often does after a major disaster. I breathed a sigh of relief that Dominica was spared again even as I too donated to help the Gulf coast.
I returned to work before the beginning of the September semester. Irma was still far out to sea in the Central Atlantic, but it looked like it was going to be trouble almost as soon as it cleared Africa. I told many first semester students days before Hurricane Irma reached the Lesser Antilles that they should invest in a full set of hurricane supplies as if it would be the worst storm they would ever experience in their lives. Then, when it didn’t hit, they could eat the food, drink the bottled water, and cook with the extra propane all semester long. Some took this advice to heart and others didn’t. As Hurricane Irma came closer and closer, it kept heading straight for Dominica, defying days of forecasts that it would turn northwest, and strengthening all the way to one of the strongest Category Five storms of all time. Only at the last minute seemingly did it turn at last.
Irma was a terrible storm, even by historical standards (5). It destroyed St. Maarten and several other islands but all we got from it was severe rain and tropical-storm force winds, with only minor damage to our fragile infrastructure. We grieved for our comrades including our sister school American University of the Caribbean north of us, and then watched as this storm’s heaviest rain bands hit the Miami area, causing even more flooding damage only weeks after Houston’s deluge. As our University headquarters were there, this had some effect on our operations, but again from Dominica we breathed a sigh of relief. We had been spared the worst again.
Chugging along some distance behind Irma, another tropical wave came off of the African coast, looking suspicious right from the start. Maria, as it was to eventually be named, was absolutely the worst case scenario for the island of Dominica and for our basic science campus there (6). It wasn’t supposed to be a major hurricane when it hit. The forecasts all said if it hit at all, it was likely to be a strong tropical storm, maybe a Category One. Nevertheless, in preparing for a business trip to Chicago for the second week of September, I had a group meeting with my mentees a week early, because sometimes even a simple rainstorm over Puerto Rico could delay my return by a day, and I was to return on Monday, September 18th. I took my work computer with me on the trip on a hunch I might need it before I got back to Dominica. I had no idea how right I was.
As I worked at my business meeting, I kept following the progress of Maria, joking that it might just prevent me from returning on Monday, but hoping that it would turn like so many storms before it. This was not to be. By late Saturday even though it was only tropical storm strength, it was apparent that on Sunday the regional airlines were going to evacuate their small aircraft to havens like Aruba and Curacao to the south and Central America to the west. Since there weren’t going to be any flights, my travel agent arranged for me to go back to my family in Georgia on that Monday to wait out the storm. We expected I probably wouldn’t get back to Dominica until air service was restored to Puerto Rico, probably four to six days after I’d originally been scheduled to return to Dominica.
September 18th, 2017… Imagine being inside a tornado.
Imagine looking up to see your roof flying away and then the wind and rain coming in on top of your inadequate shelter as you brace your feet against the closet door, hoping it will hold. Imagine hanging on for hours and hours of storm, enduring howling winds and painful rain and your stuff blowing away around you, hoping you wouldn’t die. If you have trouble imagining it, so do I, because I wasn’t there. My colleagues who were there said that I was the luckiest person at the school, to be thousands of miles away that fateful day. From my computer screen at home that night I watched the storm give Dominica a direct hit with 160 mile per hour sustained winds, and turning only as the eye was literally over the island such that the entire west coast of the island was struck by the eyewall of Category Five Hurricane Maria. As I flew home over the United States that day, eighty to ninety percent of the buildings in the country were about to be damaged or destroyed, the hospital, power generators and water reservoirs damaged or destroyed, and the roads and bridges so shakily repaired after Erika destroyed again (6). The morning after the storm, people went out and saw that not one tree had escaped unscathed on the entire island, and in many places the trees had lost their bark or been snapped in two (7). Virtually every telephone pole was either in need of repair or down entirely. The airport was knocked out again from both rain and the river beside it washing through the terminal and over the runway. Unlike with Erika, the seaport and its dock and warehouse capacity on the west coast was heavily damaged as well. And of course, dozens of people were dead and dozens more are still missing to this day. The island was brought to its knees.
A few days after the storm, the prime minister declared in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly that “Eden is broken” (8).
At our campus, that brand new hurricane-proof building delivered. All of our people were safe, though many of our older buildings were heavily damaged. The French islands north and south of us weren’t so badly damaged and they were able to get helicopters up to survey the scene of total devastation that Dominica had become. Our campus became a site for them and other rescuers to base, as it was more functional than any other location on the north side of the island. With help from many others including the U.S. military, over a thousand students, faculty, staff, and family members were evacuated off the island through seas crowded with entire forests of dead trees and other debris. Our CEO was there to greet many Ross refugees in Miami as they returned to the US to an uncertain future. And as before, I watched it all from a distance, not personally devastated as they were but a refugee just the same. I found out from a colleague who had been my neighbor that my concrete cottage had held up better than most. Like three of the other cottages in the complex it still had both a roof and windows following the storm, but no one could say if anything inside had survived the flooding, or whether the post-storm looters who sadly went through many other places had broken in after they were evacuated. As soon as I could, I checked in with my school to let them know where I was and that I was safe. I was told to sit tight and wait for instructions, just like everybody else. So that’s what I did, for several weeks.
Stay tuned for next week’s exciting conclusion…
2014 was a notable year for physiology education: APS launched both the Institute on Teaching and Learning (ITL) (1) and the Physiology Educators Community of Practice (PECOP) (2, 3, 4, 5). Since then, the ITL has become a regular, recurring meeting (2016 and 2018), attracting a growing attendance.
Similarly, PECOP has grown in both depth and breadth:
- supporting more than two dozen PECOP Fellows and Thought Leaders to attend the 2014 ITL and develop a strong foundational network;
- holding regular networking sessions at the ITL and Experimental Biology;
- engaging the PECOP community in writing more than 70 blog entries on a range of education topics in the Life Science Teaching Resource Community (LifeSciTRC);
- promoting research collaborations among PECOP participants; and
- engaging physiology educators in leadership roles (6, 7) such as:
- PECOP Blog Coordinator – Barbara Goodman, Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota;
- PhUn Week Blog Coordinator – Patricia Halpin, University of New Hampshire at Manchester;
- LifeSciTRC Community Review Editor – Lynn Diener, Mount Mary University;
- ITL Program Committees led by Barbara Goodman and Thomas Pressley, Texas Tech Univ. Health Sciences Center School of Medicine.
PECOP was supported initially by a one-year planning grant from the National Science Foundation Research Collaboration Network-Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE) Incubator program (Grant No. 1346220). In 2018, APS plans to submit a proposal for a five-year RCN-UBE grant to grow the PECOP network and activities. This growth will be guided and driven by the PECOP network of educators so we need to hear from YOU about what the PECOP community should do in the coming years. We have gathered three major ideas from previous PECOP networking sessions and ITL meeting discussions:
- Help new educators get a good start.
At the 2014 ITL, we pilot tested a new APS Professional Skills Training program, “Becoming an Effective Teacher.” Results were excellent and, using our new Schoology LMS for online professional development, APS staff can adapt these excellent materials for online use. However, this would be a community-driven program that needs experienced educators to share their expertise and guide new educators onto the “evidence-based teaching” path.
2. Help experienced educators use “evidence-based teaching” more effectively.
Many of the ITL sessions and articles in both the PECOP blog and Advances in Physiology Education focus on using teaching methods that have strong evidence of their broad effectiveness. Other articles describe studies that compare methods or assess the effectiveness of methods in new teaching scenarios (diverse students, institutions, and courses). How can the PECOP community help colleagues who seek to increase the “evidence-base” of their teaching? The PECOP Fellows program helped a number of educators start on this path. Should we continue this program?
3. Help educators participate in scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL).
While we are often adept at designing (or helping students design) experiments at the bench, we are often genuinely perplexed when designing an experimental study involving the uber-tricky subject, the classroom student. Students differ widely so what can serve as the “control” group for my class? How many subjects do I need? What IS the unit of study? The student? The class? The course? What should I measure? Is that measure reliable? Is it valid? And what are the appropriate statistical tests to use? A good way to being engaging in SOTL is the same way we learned about bench research…we collaborated with and learned from someone with greater expertise. Our PECOP community has already fostered research collaborations among members. How can we grow the number of research collaborations in our community?
These are just THREE of the many goals we could set for PECOP. Now share YOUR thoughts! How should PECOP support the growth and development of the physiology education community in the coming years?
Reply to the discussion below or send your comments (by December 15) directly to me. Join us as we grow the PECOP community and support physiology educators!
Barbara E. Goodman, Marsha Lakes Matyas, Advances in Physiology Education Jun 2016, 40 (2) 239-242; DOI:10.1152/advan.00045.2016.
Marsha Lakes Matyas, Dee U. Silverthorn, Advances in Physiology Education Dec 2015, 39 (4) 272-277; DOI: 10.1152/advan.00093.2015.
- How do the Institutes on Teaching and Learning (ITLs) nurture the members of the Physiology Educators Community of Practice (PECOP)?
Barbara E. Goodman, Advances in Physiology Education Sep 2017, 41 (3) 354-356; DOI:10.1152/advan.00050.2017.
Jenny McFarland, Pamela Pape-Lindstrom, Advances in Physiology Education Dec 2016, 40 (4) 473-476; DOI:10.1152/advan.00141.2016.
- The Physiology Education Community of Practice (PECOP) wants YOU!
Goodman, B. (2014, November 1). Retrieved from: http://www.lifescitrc.org/resource.cfm?submissionID=11213.
Marsha Lakes Matyas, Advances in Physiology Education Mar 2017, 41 (1) 145-148; DOI:10.1152/advan.00200.2016.
Thomas A. Pressley, Advances in Physiology Education Sep 2017, 41 (3) 454-456; DOI:10.1152/advan.00083.2017.
Generating new ideas and cool learning experiences has always been natural and fun for me. My moments of poignant clarity often came during a swim workout or a walk with my dog as I reflect on my classes. As I visualize this activity, my students are as enthusiastic as I am and are learning. Then, reality returns as I grade the next exam and see that less than half of the class answered the question related to that activity correctly. Accounting for the students who learn despite what I do, I quickly see that I only reached a quarter of my students with this great activity. Why did this happen? What can I do about this?
Well, my life as an instructor changed the day I walked into my first session of University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education (UCITE) Learning Fellows at Case Western Reserve University. This program is a semester long session on how learning works where the focus is on evidence-based learning practices and provides an opportunity to discuss successes and failures in teaching with peers. It was here that I learned about “Backwards Design”1.
What is Backwards Design?
Essentially, it is designing your course with the end in mind. I think of it as “Teaching Backwards” – that is, I visualize my students 5-10 years from now in a conversation with a friend or colleague discussing what they learned from my class. I ask myself these questions:
- How do I want them to describe my class? Hansen refers to this as the “Big Idea” or broad objective. An example from one of my classes is provided in Table 1.
- What do I want them to be able to tell their friend or colleague that they learned from the class in 5 to 10 years? Hansen has termed this as “Enduring Understanding” (see Table 1).
The next phase is to write learning objectives for each of the enduring understandings (see Table 1). We continue the journey backwards into linking learning objectives to assessment methods and developing the details of each class session. During this process, we must always take into account the student’s prior knowledge (refer to How Learning Works2).
Table 1: Example of Backwards Design Concepts for “Exercise Physiology and Macronutrient Metabolism” class.
|Class: Exercise Physiology and Macronutrient Metabolism|
|Big Idea||Enduring Understanding||Learning Objective|
|Exercise-Body Interaction||Substrate utilization during exercise depends on type, intensity, and duration of exercise.||Students will be able to describe substrate utilization during exercise.|
|Fatigue during exercise has been associated with low glycogen levels, but scientists are not in agreement as to the underlying cause of fatigue.||Students will be able to debate the theories of fatigue.|
What did backwards design do for me?
Backwards design provided me focus. It allowed me to step back and ask myself: What are the key take-aways? Does that cool, creative idea I have help to achieve my end game for the course? Is there a better way to do this? Overall, the framework has helped me develop a higher quality course. With that said, I still run into exam questions where I thought I did better at teaching the material than represented by the students’ responses. So, while there is always room for improvement, this has definitely been a step in the right direction for better learning by my students.
- Hansen EJ. Idea Based Learning: A Course Design Process to Promote Conceptual Understanding. Sterling VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC; 2011.
- Ambrose SA, Bridges MW, DiPietro M, Lovett M, Norman MK.How Learning Works: 7 Research Based Points for Teaching. San Francisco CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010.
When I first heard about the Physiology Majors Interest Group at the APS Teaching Section Symposium entitled “What’s Your Major? The Rise of the Undergraduate Physiology Degree” by co-chairs Erica Wehrwein and John Halliwell at Experimental Biology in 2015, I was immediately excited. I’m primarily an undergraduate educator and strongly identify as a ‘physiologist’ and hope some of my students do as well. Yet, I wasn’t entirely sure. As an assistant professor in a department of Health and Sport Science who primarily advises students in the Exercise Physiology major who want to be physician assistants and physical therapists, was I “enough” physiology? After attending the first stand-alone conference for this group in East Lansing earlier this summer, I’m not only confident that I was right to be excited about this APS interest group but also that as Erica Wehrwein, organizer of the conference has previously reported, physiology really is alive and well at the undergraduate level.
What is a Physiology Major?
One of the overarching topics of discussion at the meeting, in formal sessions and during breaks revolved around this central question regarding physiology education at the undergraduate level. From the first introductions onward, it was clear it wasn’t going to be a simple answer. Of the 45 in attendance, a number of different departments and/or majors were represented: physiology, biology, health sciences, human biology, and kinesiology to name a few with 24 to 2274 students in these different majors. When we talked about the students we teach, advise, and mentor, they are future physicians, nurses, physical therapists, researchers, physician assistants, and many other professions. Still more diverse, when we compared curricula as reported in a pre-meeting survey, we saw ranges of required courses in basic sciences, anatomy, physiology, and associated laboratories. Yet, among these differences, there were striking similarities as well. Sessions sparked discussions of the core concepts (a topic discussed previously on this blog) of physiology we emphasize, required skills that we want our graduates to have and how we try to build these, and common employment trends when students leave our programs and the challenges this can pose for advising. In regard to the original query of what is a physiology major, as can often be the case in our discipline, it was less about the answer itself, and more about the discussions we had along the way.
An integrative discipline, an integrated community
One of the most valuable aspects of the meeting was being able to spend two days with other passionate physiology professionals. Just as I see integration of physiology and other scientific disciplines, similar to integrated body systems, I was making connections with others from large, research-intensive universities, to small, liberal arts colleges and still others that like myself, fit somewhere in the middle. Everyone was extremely willing to share their thoughts and ideas on how to best push physiology forward and increase its value in the ever-competitive landscape of higher education. Conversations ranged from curriculum design to specific teaching strategies and there was a free flow of information with both newer and more seasoned participants engaging in the learning process. In a sense, the meeting modeled what we often strive to achieve in our programs and classrooms- critical thinking, grounded in evidence, with a creative application towards future improvements or development of new knowledge.
What does the future hold?
As the meeting ended, we went our separate ways, armed with new tools and ideas we can implement or consider in our own programs. A sampling of the ideas I took home:
- In teaching materials, identify the conceptual model or core principle that is being taught and ask students to do the same when completing assessments.
- Include teaching about T-Shaped professionals in my Introduction to Health Professions course.
- Use Khan academy YouTube videos to demonstrate to students how they can concept map while studying.
- Help students identify transferable skills and knowledge from non-health related job (such as a cashier or server) through ONET.
- Consider departmental membership in the American Kinesiology Association to further connect with similar programs.
- Use and contribute to the resources I already knew about, such as Advances in Physiology Education, this LifeSciTRC, and other APS resources.
The interest group will continue, and future meetings are already being planned. The next meeting will be held in June 2018 at the University of Arizona. To stay in the loop, join the listserv by contacting Erica Wehrwein (email@example.com). To keep physiology education a priority, we will continue to meet, discuss, and inspire the next generation of those who identify with physiology, just as I have and will continue to. I’m grateful to Erica and the work of the planning committee for putting together an event that focused on this important aspect of the work I do as a physiology educator.
|Anne Crecelius is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Sport Science at the University of Dayton. She teaches Human Physiology and a Capstone Research course. She returned to her undergraduate alma mater to join the faculty after completing her M.S. and Ph.D. studying Cardiovascular Physiology at Colorado State University. Her research interest is in the integrative control of muscle blood flow. She is a member of the American Physiological Society (APS), serving on the Teaching Section Steering Committee and the Communications Committee.|