What should strike you about the information there is that you must abandon what you think you already know about how to read a textbook! Reading a textbook is WAY different than how one reads a novel or magazine article. For example:
Once is not enough. You have to read the material several times, using different methods each time, to really "get" what you are reading.
You must have the courage to skip parts that don't apply to your goals
You can read faster, with better comprehension, by simply forcing yourself to read faster
You do not have to read every word
It really does matter where you do your reading
If you find that the assigned textbook for your 2-semester A&P course is too difficult to read, try this one that is specifically designed for reading efficiency:
When learning the structure and function of the cardiovascular system, it is wise to develop a thorough knowledge of the pathway of blood flow through the heart and vessels--the general scheme of blood circulation.
I'm not talking about a vague understanding that might permit you to figure out where the blood goes when it leaves the right ventricle after some consideration, and quick look at a diagram or your notes . . . I'm talking about a thorough understanding, so that you can immediately state with confidence, "past the aortic valve, through the pulmonary trunk and arteries toward the lungs."
And not just for the short term . . . long enough to pass your next test . . . but so thoroughly familiar that it will not likely ever be totally lost. And with occasional refreshers, will pretty much always be there for you.
Why such a thorough knowledge of this particular concept? Because you'll find it necessary in order to understand many, many other concepts about human structure and function. Once you learn it, you'll find yourself using it when studying pretty much every other major system of the body. And when you start applying A&P to clinical or athletic applications, you'll find you need it there, too!
So this is one of those things that seem daunting at first (but is really not so bad) and will be well worth a little effort up front.
One this is sure: just staring at the diagram in your book is not enough! That's the place to start, of course, but you have to do something active to fully understand and "own" this concept.
The next step is to make a list of the parts you "need to know" for your course in the order in which blood passes through them. An example of such a list is found at my Cardiovascular Learning Outline in the Lion Den. But we're still just getting started.
One great way to learn is to draw yourself a concept map of the pathway of blood through the pulmonary and systemic pathways, including through the heart chambers and valves. This is especially useful for visual and kinesthetic learners. Draw it the way the makes the best sense to YOU. That may be quite a bit different than
For auditory learners, try this favorite of a whole generation of A&P students . . . learn the song Pump Your Blood. It's just a start, but
Here's the video of the first verse of Pump Your Blood as animated in a St. Joseph's aspirin commercial:
Here's another version that includes all the verses AND the lyrics:
[The video players embedded here may not appear in your news feed or emailed newsletter. Go to The A&P Student blog to access the video viewer.
Click here for a version from the classic TV show Happy Days (episode #142) . . . this is the "original" version of the song (performed here byAnson Williams, who acted in the show as Potsie) . . . the version I first saw (and used) to help me learn the blood flow pathway.
For a printed version of the lyrics click here (includes a link to a Pumps Your Blood
In a recent post, I talked about a shortcut in how to learn the overwhelming terminology of A&P--flashcards.
This is another great tool for learning the terminology of A&P . . .
My friend Jane Zeiser told me about this tool. Jane is a foreign language professor and her students use it to learn their vocabulary words.
It's called Anki and it's a FREE program that creates a database that is something like a virtual deck of flash cards. Students can load in (and share) their A&P terms and learn them by practicing with them.
The program is SMART because it uses a proven algorithm to repeat items that are missed in a pattern that promotes efficient learning. As the student learns, the program alters the pattern to focus on the terms that need more practice . . . without forgetting to review the terms already learned.
Anki can be downloaded and used on a PC or Mac, it can be used on a mobile device (such as an iPod, iPhone, or SmartPhone), or on the web.
Of course, memorizing the meaning of terms is just the first step in thoroughly learning A&P . . . but a very important first step. Success with the first step leads to success during the rest of the journey, eh?
Please "comment" on this article if you've already had experience with Anki . . . we'd love to hear some first-person reports!
Research shows that a short, five- or ten-minute nap after class or after studying can improve learning.
A current theory is that during the process of falling to sleep we sort through our recent memories and possibly filter and organize them. This may "lock in" important memories of what was learned in the classroom or while reading the textbook or studying.
Hmmmm . . . perhaps colleges should offer more napping spaces in classroom buildings to enhance learning. Not a bad idea, eh?
Take learning new terms in your A&P course as seriously as you would learning vocabulary words in a foreign language course.
It sounds silly, but you learn as many new words in an A&P course as you do a beginning foreign language course. Really --there's been research to prove it!
The easiest way to learn new terms is to use the flash card method.
Yes . . . it reminds us all of elementary school, I know. But I also know that it works in college --I still use it myself. In fact, it was a college professor at St. Louis University (Dr. Steve Dina, my ecology professor) who taught me how valuable a tool this can be in a college science course when I went to him asking for help with the overwhelming terminology of his course.
An easy and effective way to use flashcards to learn A&P terms is demonstrated at my study tip on new terms at the Lion Den.
But remember, learning the language is just the first step!
To truly understand the structure and function of the body, you have to know what the concepts really mean and how they relate to one another. And most importantly, you have to be able to apply what you've learned.
This open-source software isn't exactly the same as MS Office (of course) but the general functionality and productivity is equivalent. And the files you produce in one Office suite are able to be used in the other Office suite.
[NOTE: The newer XML default file formats used in MS Office 2007 (such as .docx, .pptx, and so on) can be opened in Open Office 3.0 but cannot be saved in those formats.]
OpenOffice.org has just released their latest version Open Office 3.0 . . . so's now is the perfect time to get on board. (or update your previous version of Open Office).