Monday, February 23, 2015

Easter Eggs, Cheats, and the ESRB

I'm not up on the latest video game lingo.  I never got past Pong, which became popular when there weren't enough video games around to generate a whole new language.  But by listening carefully and asking a few questions, I've figured out these terms:

  • Easter egg - An extra little undocumentsed feature hidden away unobstrusively in a game
  • Cheat - This is a trick used to gain extra points or unlock extra powers or otherwise gain an advantage beyond just playing a game "straight"
  • ESRB - This is an organization that rates games for content (age-appropriateness, violence, etc.)

Two of my children are really into video games and when they talk to each other, I don't understand half of what they are saying because they're using all of this video-game lingo that I never picked up.

What does this have to do with your A&P course?  Terminology.  The language of A&P.

You are feeling overwhelmed with all the new terminology you have to learn, right?  And yet you've already mastered the specialized terminology of sports or video games or hobbies or SOMETHING in your life without too much pain—and without your head exploding.

So do the same things you always do to pick up the terminology of A&P:

  • Actively listen for new terms
  • Look at (and learn) new terms before you need them
  • If you run across a term that's unfamiliar, look it up—or Google it
  • Ask for help (your teacher, your classmates, your librarian)
  • Realize that it's going to take a few tries to pick up each new term
  • Don't ignore new terms—you might need it again, and soon

For specific tips on learning the terminology of A&P, check out

If you want some more specifics on the terminology of human science and medicine, check out my other blog o-log-y.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Why You Should Write Out Your Notes

You have that great, expensive laptop to use for school.  You see other students taking notes in class, making concept lists, taking reading notes, and other learning tasks on their laptops—so why not do the same?

Here's the reason it's a good idea to skip the laptop and write out your notes:

You learn better when you write it out.  

Our brains just work that way.  If we slow down to write things out, it's easier for all that information to be fully processed by our brains—and makes it more likely that we'll remember it.

Besides that, by using the part of our brains that functions in the act of writing words and drawing sketches, we not only process the information in another way—we have another place in our brain to reinforce and remember the information for the long term.

Sure, if things are going too fast for you to keep up, it's a struggle.  But your brain works to sort out the essential information and how to condense it.  That helps you learn it even better!  If you do write out your notes, you'll struggle less in the long run.

This a great strategy for learning the overwhelming amount of new information you encounter in your A&P course, eh?

Want to know more?

Strategy: Here's Why Writing Things Out By Hand Makes You Smarter

  • D. Baer  Business Insider  DEC. 16, 2014, 10:56 AM
  • A brief article summarizing why this technique works.

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking

  • P. Mueller & D. Oppenheimer Psychological Science January 16, 2014
  • Abstract of a recent research report summarizing experimental results.

Here are some related posts from The A&P Student

Image: Wellcome Trust - William Harvey's lecture notes

Monday, February 9, 2015

How Much of This Is Going to Be on The Test?

You are not the first A&P student to run into this issue!

That’s always a problem—especially near the beginning of A&P 1—figuring out what’s important to study for the test and what’s not.  Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer.

First, every teacher is different.  So I could give you some precise guidance if I was teaching your class, but not so much for another teacher’s class. So really, your only option for really focused help in figuring out what'll be on your test is to go have a chat with your professor.

I'll never forget the first time I went to chat with a professor about this back in the olden days when I was a student.  It was after our first test, when it became clear to me that I'd missed the mark in my studying. Our professor was very serious in class—not the sort I would think wanting students bothering him outside of class. But after class, my buddy said "let's go" and led me down the hall.  I thought we were meeting up with another friend or something. But my buddy just walked right into our professor's open office door and asked, "can you help us figure out how to study for your tests?" I don't think I'd ever have visited a professor's office on my own.

You know what happened?  He gave us a huge smile, offered us each a chair, and chatted with us for almost an hour.  And wow, did we learn a lot about what to expect on his tests—as well as some general study tips that I still use to this day.  I think most students hesitate to take this step.

Your professor is the one making up the test, after all.  So bring your notes and your other course materials with you and ask for some pointers.

Before doing that, I would look carefully at the course syllabus.  Often, there are hints (or outright guidance) on what’s important.  One hint would be any course objectives or learning outcomes.  If the instructor put them there, then this is what they want you to know.  The problem is that often they are very general, but at least it gives you a start.  If the syllabus tells you to do specific things to prepare, like answer questions in the book at the end of the chapter, then the teacher expects you to know that particular information.

Then, think about what the professor presents in class, online, and in discussions. Most instructors often say something like, “when you get this on the test, be sure you know it” or some other hint like that.  I tell my students to put a star in their notes EVERY TIME I say something like that.  Because we teachers don’t say that unless we KNOW it’s going to be an item on the test.

If it's too late for that in studying for your upcoming test, you can still go back over your notes and perhaps jog your memory about whether they said anything like that.

I always tell students to ask if there are copies of old tests you can look at.  Sometimes instructors will let you see them, sometimes they won’t.  But you won’t have a chance if you don’t ask.  Looking at old tests helps you figure out an instructor’s approach to testing—a huge step toward preparing for their tests.  The good news is that the more of that professor's tests that you take, the better you will get at taking them.  The bad news is that you may not have really had that chance yet.

Another tip is to form a study group.  Talking things out among several students often helps each of you focus your learning.  Be sure to meet with your study group just AFTER the test, too.  Then, y’all can talk out what happened on the test and look for things that will help you in future tests.  For example, “wow, she tested only on what was on the slides” or “wow, she tested on some things that were not on the slides” or whatever.  That’ll help you prepare for the next test.  Study groups have been shown to be the BEST way to prepare for a test.

Lastly, I’ll tell you that my experience talking to students in A&P classes that come to me wanting to know how to focus their study for a test is that I often give them some specific advice that I didn’t have time to talk about in class.  Sometimes even saying things like, “no, that topic won’t even be on the test” or “there will definitely be a matching section on that concept” or “I’ll ask you to identify the functions of ALL the organelles.”   Make sure you write all that down while you chat.  Or at least do that out in the hall just after leaving your professor's office, so you don’t forget.

So, in a nutshell, talking to your teacher about your next test is the best strategy.

Click here for more tips on taking A&P tests.

Top photo: Creative Ignition
Bottom photo: Tbuckley89

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cells of the Immune System

Cells of the Immune System interactive

Confused by T cells and B cells?

Need help from "helper" cells?

Having bad dreams about natural killer cells?

Do you have an innate fear of immunology?

Then use this FREE interactive overview to help you sort out the "big ideas" of human immunity.

Get your B's and T's straightened out!

Learn how to properly serve up an antigen for supper!

Click here to start! And don't forget to click on the embedded videos—they are very helpful!

To get the maximum benefit from this "click and learn" activity, then fill out this worksheet to solidify your learning.