Liz shares her reflections on the challenges and areas of focus A&P professors need to focus on in order to move forward in their teaching. This includes critical thinking and diversity.
Her textbook, which focuses on learning science and metacognition, enables students to become reflective learners.
She stresses the importance of Diversity, Inclusion, and giving students from minority backgrounds a place to discover their identities as scientists.
Learn more about Liz Co, the Cengage 2-semester Anatomy and Physiology author for Anatomy & Physiology, and what drives her passion for teaching and learning.
What is the impact of current events on teaching A&P?
When asked what Anatomy & Physiology instructors are thinking about over the past year, survival is the first answer. We have been trying to reach our students through computer screens, just like all teachers from kindergarten to medical school. This is made even more difficult by cats running across our keyboards, toddlers throwing tantrums in the next area, and children asking for snacks again.
Over the past year, we have reinvented our curriculum many times. It will be a time for incredible renewal as we return to our classrooms this autumn. What components did we create for Zoom teaching? What do we keep? And what do you reclaim that we didn’t use the last year? We have more tools than ever before. We have survived teaching in conditions we never imagined. We can rise like a phoenix out of the ashes and get back in the classroom.
As I have been meeting with instructors at workshops and online conferences, I am beginning to wonder who we will be as instructors when our time comes. While each person’s answer is different, there are three common themes.
1. Teaching Critical Thinking
During the shutdown, we had to move from our usual place of asking simple memorization questions on assessments. Cheating was a temptation for many students, especially when there was no one to help them. Instructors were forced to do something that they had longed to do for a long while: rethink assessment with a focus of critical thinking. It doesn’t matter what discipline you are in, it is a difficult task. But in A&P! It is very challenging.
As I have been talking and writing about designing a textbook, my thoughts turned to this challenge and I began to think about how we can craft a product that gives students the practice they need to develop their critical thinking skills in A&P. It is also important to give instructors as many tools as possible. This text begins with a chapter on science and learning for students. This is their chance to improve their metacognition as well as to recruit them to join the effort to develop critical thinking skills.
2. Diversity and inclusion
As the year progressed, we witnessed the unrest and responses to George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s murders. Many of us started engaging in new conversations about diversity and inclusion on campus. We ask ourselves: What role can I play in education? A 2016 study found that half of white medical students believed falsehoods. These beliefs included the belief that black people have thicker skin or more sensitive nerve endings than whites. A&P instructors are often the first to understand the body and can play an important role in helping future providers understand it.
3. Society’s Impact
Another moment is emerging that impacts us all. There is a growing resistance to vaccination and wearing masks in the United States. Many Americans are now considering health education as a civic contribution. In this time of reinvention, there is a critical question: How can we contribute to the creation of the society we want?
A&P educators have been repeatedly reminded of the importance of their jobs over the past year. Our students leave our classrooms to travel to different destinations. We prepare them to make critical decisions about how to protect themselves and how to comprehend the daily flood of information about the pandemic. Some of our students will be the superhero scientists who create vaccines and test the effectiveness of different mask fabrics. Others will go on to become advocates and healthcare professionals who will be called upon for their help.