Just like the absorption and re-deposition of calcium re-shapes a bone even after it is done getting larger, your students’ ideas and knowledge are constantly re-modeled. It is easier for them to utilize their new knowledge within a framework of what they already know, aligned with their current interests than it is to utilize new knowledge which has been randomly ‘learned’ or ‘placed’ without connection to prior knowledge. Perhaps many students ‘cram’ their knowledge into a Wormian bone that, un-needed and neglected, is re-absorbed not long after the final exam?
Whatever the details of storage and usage are, connections with prior knowledge and experience will help student performance. But how to convince them of this and help them apply it?
Providing students with a framework in which they have an interest on which to organize their newfound knowledge might be just the ticket. In other words, the student can relate what they learn to a topic of interest that will force them to make creative connections that they find interesting. You can discuss this with them, offer the following suggestions for frameworks (along with any you or they think of), and even offer extra credit for those who present their framework at the end of the semester in writing, graphics, or some other form of presentation.
I suggest the following frameworks:
Suggest that your students relate everything they learn about in A&P to sexual activity. What is the importance of this knowledge for sexual activity? How does the organ, process, tissue, system or pathway affect sex? Does it give ideas for enhancing sexual activity, can it hinder it? Is there a gender difference? Why? Is this related to sex or pregnancy or something else? (This framework may not be suitable for sharing at the end of the semester!!)
Are there lyrics or songs that you can relate to this topic? Is there a theme song you would assign for this chapter? for this organ? for this process? What kind of singer or instrumentalist would the pituitary gland, a blood vessel, a white blood cell, the molecule ATP be? What style of music would a particular A&P topic play? How does this organ, tissue, process, system or pathway affect the ability to play or to listen to, music? What is the physiology of attending a concert?
What is the best dressed organ in the human body? What is the color palette of a particular system? Are the layers of a particular tissue or organ functional? Are the layers protective like a coat, and what kind of coat are they like, or do the layers function in some other way that can be related to fashion? How does this body process affect movement of a model on a runway, or the ability to ‘work’ a piece of clothing? How does this organ, tissue, process, system or pathway affect body shape and therefore clothing? What would a tee-shirt worn by the adrenal gland say?
Is there a disease that is plaguing you or a loved one that you would like to know everything about? Consider everything you learn from the viewpoint of that disease (either as an exercise in acting like the disease agent or process, or as an exercise in understanding how this particular organ or process affects, or is affected by, the disease in question.
Like sex – how does any organ, process, tissue or system affect the performance of any or one particular sport? What kind of this organ, process, tissue or system would the ideal athlete want? Can he/she get or enhance it? Which sport is this most important to? Which athletic activity would be most enhanced by optimal functioning of this organ, tissue, system, process or pathway?
SURVIVING PARENTING AN ADOLESCENT:
How does the organ, tissue, process, system or pathway being studied affect one’s: ability to listen; ability to bite one’s tongue; ability to decrease stress level; ability to help teenager take on more responsibility; ability for teenager to survive the lack of sleep and poor nutrition that often accompanies adolescence; ability for both to survive the stress and immunity challenges.
Any topic is okay because thinking about A&P, even in relation to another topic, is thinking about A&P. And that’s a good thing.