Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Concept Maps

Concept maps are a great way to make your study time more efficient . . . that is, they help to learn more in less time. And the learning you do will be deeper learning than simply memorizing facts!

Also known as mind maps, these tools are simply a way to visualize a concept.

Although visual and kinesthetic learners will adapt most easily to this method of learning, anyone can benefit from it.

Concept maps are diagrams that relate different elements of a concept to each other and/or to the main idea. These diagrams can be simple or complex --depending on your own style of learning and what helps you understand the concept best.
For example, you can draw your own diagram of how blood flows through the cardiovascular system that makes sense to you--maybe quite different than something you may see in a book or online. It could be a simple figure 8, labeled with different sections like heart chambers, valves, systemic arteries, systemic arterioles, capillaries, and so on.
Or a flow chart, where a main idea is placed in a box at the center of the page and all the concepts related to the main idea radiate out from the central box. Then you could draw lines between the boxes to connect related concepts (maybe labeling the connecting line with how they relate to each other).

For a more complete explanation of how to make and use concept maps, including examples and links to more resources, visit Concept Maps in the Lion Den now.
You'll also want to download the FREE concept map creation tool called FreeMind . . . and start playing with it.
If you want a nice, short book that lays out how concept maps unlock your mind to organize, understand, and learn just about anything, check out the book How to Mind Map: The Ultimate Thinking Tool That Will Change Your Life.

Penile fractures and pop culture

Of course you want to apply your increasing expertise in human anatomy and physiology to your experience of popular culture, right?

You've already probably caught yourself second-guessing some of the diagnoses of Dr. House's team . . . at least those lame ones offered during the first fifteen minutes of an episode. Or the really off-the-mark versions of human structure and function woven into episodes of Fringe.

Get used to it. Apparently, the big money that goes into TV and movie productions does NOT go to anyone who passed a basic A&P course!

Dr. Patton's Theory of Media Science (Dr. P's TMS) . . .
which I just made up after years of mulling it over . . . and shouting it to my television screen . . . states that

"biological accuracy of a science-based fictional media production is inverse to the total budget for special effects in the production. "

My hope is that producers will eventually recognize the validity of my theory, and the growing population of A&P-educated viewers who can spot a stupid science "fact" that really doesn't have to be there to make the story flow or to keep the special effects within budget or allow for a snappy movie or episode title.

Then these cutting-edge producers will spring for a modest fee for an A&P consultant in each production. Which will spur an increasing demand for graduates of my A&P courses. Which will increase my job security. And then perhaps one day this trend will help me find a part-time job when I retire . . . perhaps an A&P consulting job that also involves brief, well-paid, guest-starring roles and sharing beers and pizza with my favorite TV and movie stars.

However, a recent episode of Grey's Anatomy (season 5, episode 513) brought up an anatomical issue that is rarely discussed in A&P courses . . . and so one might wonder "can this be true?!" Or even, "PLEASE tell me this cannot be true!"

Yes, my friends, one CAN break a penis. In fact, it's a more common injury than most people suspect.

Why don't we hear about it more often?

First, if you or your partner has broken a penis, would you be talking it up everywhere you go . . . as one might with a broken leg? Second, let's face it . . . one would have a cast that's out there asking to be asked about, right? Third, at least in my part of the world . . . we simply don't talk much (out loud, in public) regarding anything having to do with sex. (In fact, some reading this will shudder at my bringing it up in a blog for students . . . if they've even read this far.)

Why didn't your A&P teacher tell you about this? So you could fulfill your role as A&P expert as you watched the episode with friends or family? First, you probably haven't gotten to that part of the course yet. Second, when you do your instructor will likely be behind schedule and won't have time to tell you interesting stories about penis fractures. And third, in my part of the world at least, your professor doesn't want to have to take time to deal with formal complaints from horrified students who don't realize that any part of the body IS an appropriate topic of conversation in an A&P class.

Want to know more?

Try this straightforward . . . and easy to understand . . . article from Scientific American.

You'll learn a lot of useful A&P, you'll be able to contribute to the inevitable classroom discussion on this topic, and you'll be all set for a future career as a TV/movie consultant after you successfully complete your A&P course!

Want to know even more useful (and possibly career-enhancing) facts related to the sex organs? Then check out the book Skin Flutes & Velvet Gloves: A Collection of Facts and Fancies, Legends and Oddities About the Body's Private Parts

By the way . . .
The television show Grey's Anatomy is a word play on the title of a famous medical anatomy text by Henry Gray called Gray's Anatomy. Notice the difference in spelling. Originally published over 150 years ago (1858), the current edition remains a leader among the best available references to the human body (and now comes in many different variations to suit different needs). In case you need more facts to bolster your standing as the local A&P expert among your television-viewing crowd.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Flashcard exchange

A big hurdle . . . the first hurdle . . . to learning A&P is getting a handle on the complex terminology of human science.

I shared in a recent article that flashcards are a good way to go in learning the basic terminology that you need to start learning the core concepts of A&P.

Did you know that there is a FREE online exchange where you can pick up flashcards for A&P, and share your own flashcards with other students.

Check it out at the FlashCard Exchange.

Learning styles revisted

How do you learn best?

In a recent post, I mentioned the concept of learning styles. Some of you wanted to know more about that.

Some folks learn a new concept in A&P best by hearing their instructor explain it. Some favor learning it from the textbook. Others need to play with specimens in the lab to really "get it."

All of these differences in learning among individuals are often called their "learning styles." There are MANY learning styles. So many, they probably can't be counted.

But folks (like me) interested in understand how students learn best often distill the major patterns into four categories of learning style:

  • Visual learners, who learn best by seeing a concept illustrated.

  • Auditory learners, who learn best by hearing explanations.

  • Reading learners, who prefer to read about a concept to understand it.

  • Kinesthetic leaners, who like to use movement or manipulate objects in a "hand on" approach.

[NOTE: The word kinesthesia means "muscle sense," which is your perception of body position and movement.]

But only rarely does a person rely solely on one approach when learning a new concept. Most of us are multimodal, meaning that we operate in more than one of these primary learning styles or "modes."

Even us multimodal folks, have certain preferences within our "mix" of learning styles. For example, I learn best when I can see and put my hands on it. But like other multimodals, I can also learning mainly by reading or hearing. In other words, we are not restricted to our favorite learning styles any more that I'm restricted to my preferred flavor of ice cream (vanilla).

So how does this help me learn?

By knowing what works best for me, I can develop learning strategies for myself that play to my own strengths and preferences.

Perhaps I can draw or label pictures while I'm listening to an explanation. That engages both my visual and kinesthetic senses while I'm listening. Thus adding my preferred modes (visual & kinesthetic) to one that is not my preferred mode (auditory).

You probably already know what your preferred learning styles are. If not, take the FREE online quiz using the link at my Learning Styles page in the Lion Den.

And then use the links on that page to find all kinds of ways to help you understand your learning styles and use them to make your studying of A&P more efficient.

Monday, January 5, 2009

No dummy!

There are many books out there that may help you learn your A&P faster and easier.

Each student has their own unique learning style, lifestyle, and particular likes and dislikes . . . so it's a good thing there are a lot of options to choose from!

I'll be sharing a lot of my favorites on this blog, of course.

The first one out of the chute is not only a good support for many A&P students . . . the authors actually recommend my Lion Den website as one of the best online sources of help. So that tells me these authors must be absolutely brilliant! Or something like that . . .

See their their recommendation of the Lion Den. You may have to scroll to Chapter 18, p. 287 to find it.

So don't be a dummy, check it out!

Besides learning tips, it has a lot of exercises that help you grasp the material. So if you can't think of a good way to practice what you know (and my friends in the circus will tell you . . . practice is the only thing that works) this book may be just what you need.

Anyway, if you click on the link below (go to The A&P Student blog if the link does not appear in your feed or newsletter . . . or use the text link above) and click on "Look inside" to browse the workbook to see if it's for you.

Between terms

Many of you are now relishing your "time off" between last term and the next one.

Some of you are waiting for your A&P 2 course to start and some are getting ready for their A&P 1 course.

Simply taking time to relax and enjoy your friends and family is a good thing. It's one of the key study tips that I give my own students . . . have fun when you can!

If you've survived A&P 1, or heard from someone who has, then you know that it's also not a bad idea to start to get ready for the new semester. While you have the time, you might want to get yourself organized so that you can hit the road running when your new course starts.

One thing you can start with is learning about about your own learning style. Do you learn best by reading . . . or by listening . . . or by doing . . . . or by seeing? Knowing which strategies work best for you will help you get started on the right track when things do crank up.

How do you do that? It's easy! Just visit Learning Styles in the Lion Den section on study tips and tools. There, you'll learn how to figure out what your learning styles are and how to use that knowledge as you begin your new course.