Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Help with learning the skeleton


My students are now struggling with learning all those darn bone markings in lab.  Last week, I shared one of their suggestions . . . the bone dance from the Hannah Montana TV series.

They also have found it useful to learn the naming system for bone markings first, before trying to even find the specific markings on the skeleton.  This method for understanding the conceptual framework before you begin learning a list of structures is more fully explained in my Survival Guide For Anatomy And Physiology: Tips, Techniques And Shortcuts.

In the Survival Guide, I explain how learning bone markings is like learning geography.  Before you can find specific calderas on a map, you have to know what a caldera is.  Should you be looking for a stream?  A mountain?  A valley?  Once you know a caldera is a volcanic mountain that has collapsed for form a big crater, it's easy to find any caldera assigned to you on a map.  You won't waste your time and effort looking at every feature . . . just the big craters.  And knowing what a caldera is, you'll remember what it looks like as you learn the name.

Thus, if you learn that a condyle is a rounded bump where a bone articulates (joins) with another bone, it's easy to find and remember all the condyles in the skeleton.  If you know that a foramen is hole, then finding them (and remembering them) is now that much easier.

When we compare learning anatomy to learning geography, we are using an analogy.  Such analogies are comparisons that help us learn. 



Something my students have found to be really, really helpful in finding good analogies for learning the bone markings is the Visual Analogy Guide series.  This series has been used by my students for a couple of years now and my students love them.

Created by my friend Paul Krieger at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), the Visual Analogy Guides really meet the students where they are at to help them master some of those little tricks for learning the core concepts of an A&P course.

Using his considerable skills as an illustrator and his great talent as a teacher, Paul has put together some great tools that help students focus their study time by using visual and kinesthetic processes to help them learn "the hard parts" of A&P.

Check out his video
, in which he explains how the Visual Analogy Guides work.

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