It might seem like organization is anathema to creativity, however, the kind of connections that creative thinkers make often have a basis in the fact that information is organized in their heads. They see patterns, cross barriers and extrapolate because they can see a big picture in which ideas and facts are related and inter-related. Helping students become organized in thought, not necessarily in locker, notebook or bedroom, will help them make creative and thoughtful connections.
Many struggling students do not organize information on their own.
PLEASE USE OUTLINES AS A TEACHING TOOL
As a student, I received many outlines that were not actual hierarchical outlines, ie, the same level in the outline did not signify the same level in the organization of information. This is very confusing to students. In other words, if you state an organ at a level and then use levels below it to tick off the functions of that organ, do not then include a description of that organ, or a new organ at the same level as the functions of the organ. Then when you return to the organ level, present another organ, not an entire system at that level. Help students use outlines to guide their studying and their understanding of relationships. Flash cards laid out on the floor in an ‘outline’ format of relationship help build a picture of understanding as opposed to merely providing vocabulary study.
You can help students learn to organize information by encouraging them to use graphic organizers. Graphic organizers are simply blank organizing formats that can be filled in or copied while relating information. There are examples of graphic organizers and examples of using them at our website. Students can read about, download and print graphic organizers in the study skills section of this website.
This almost sounds too simple, but really think about the difference between a student who automatically places information within a hierarchy and automatically makes connections and a student who does not. How many test questions involve giving examples of something? This is much easier when there is a heading for ‘something’ in your brain with entries below it.
As your students progress in A&P, suggest that they find principles across systems. See who can find the most instances of osmosis or active transport in all that you’ve studied. Can anyone find similarities between the path that food takes toward excretion and the path that filtrate takes toward excretion? Have any hormones reared their heads in your studies more than once? In what instances is pressure an important factor in physiology?
Encourage students to take a quick peek back in their text or notes when something previously studied is mentioned in a current chapter. Taking that quick moment to remember the old information in a new context and with a new connection will help them better remember and understand both pieces of information. It will help them organize the information into a more complex web.