In the project Transforming Undergraduate Anatomy and Physiology Education Through the Use of Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), a group of 8 educators at 2- and 4-year colleges and universities throughout the upper Midwest have formed a collaboration to revise a course common to all their programs, Human Anatomy and Physiology. They are preparing activities in which students encounter concepts for the first time through examples, case studies, and thought problems. In working through a carefully developed set of questions designed to elicit critical thinking, groups of students develop a common understanding, vocabulary to express that understanding, and the conceptual mastery to apply their understanding to unfamiliar situations. The POGIL strategy was initially developed in chemistry courses. By applying it to Human Anatomy and Physiology, the team influences the learning in a key gateway course to the health professions. Not only do the eight institutions directly involved in the project benefit, the tested activities will be submitted to the central POGIL site and disseminated through the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society to be freely adopted by faculty at other institutions. The requirement that each activity be shown to be effective in a variety of educational settings before it is considered ready to disseminate increases the value to the community of biology educators.

Project Report

Transforming Undergraduate Anatomy and Physiology Education Through the Use of Process Oriented Guided Inquiry. Human Anatomy and Physiology (A & P) is a one- or two-semester undergraduate course taught to over 500,000 students annually at two- and four-year colleges and universities. The course has the deserved reputation of requiring students to learn large quantities of factual information pertaining to the structure and function of the human body. Instructional methods used in A & P are highly traditional; instructors are most often in the front of the classroom being the "sage on the stage," and delivering lectures supplemented with PowerPoint slides, while students sit passively and in large auditoriums recording notes. The intent of this grant effort was to design and implement Process Oriented Guided Inquiry (POGIL) based activities for entry-level A & P courses in order to give educators a viable alternative to traditional lecture. The project included the implementation of several POGIL workshops where educators learned both how to develop POGIL curriculum, and how to implement POGIL activities with their students. The Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) is the largest organization dedicated to the teaching and learning of human anatomy and physiology and served as the target audience for this project. Several workshops and keynote presentations were given at HAPS conferences during the duration of the grant to familiarize members with POGIL and this NSF sponsored project. There were two main components to the project: curriculum development and research on educator professional development. Curriculum development focused on activities for entry-level anatomy and physiology and was completed primarily by eight anatomy and physiology educators from two- and four- year colleges and universities. The initial ideas for the activities were derived in workshops attended by the core group of eight and several other anatomy and physiology educators. The core group of eight worked in teams to develop a final set of fifteen activities with titles such as Glucose Metabolism and Parameters of Vascular Function. The collection was reviewed and published by POGIL Press and several activities have been made available to members of HAPS. Research related to this project examined the effects of extended professional development opportunities for anatomy and physiology educators, specifically, our core group of eight participants. A progressive scale informed the teacher beliefs inventory (Luft and Roehrig, 2007) was developed and used to classify the teaching methods of each instructor. The scale used the following categories: traditional, instructive, transitional, responsive, and reformed-based. Initially, all eight instructors were in the traditional to transitional categories (i.e., more teacher-centered instruction), but after two years of professional development, such as attending POGIL workshops, the instructors progressed to the responsive and reformed-based categories (i.e., more student centered instruction). Key to these resulted is that our data shows that professional development must be on-going in order to induce real change in instructional methods.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Terry S. Woodin
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
United States
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