Teaching Anatomy Though Dynamic Activities

I find that getting out of my seat is sometimes the best way to learn. Even as teachers conspire to keep us looking up to them, sometimes the best learning moments come as we watch them struggle just as we students do.

The Carvalho article describes a set of activities that can be deployed to help students understand cardiac function and anatomy. I have asked those who would be most effected by this activity to post their responses to it in the comments section. Read on if you would like to hear what they have to say. I know I do.

52 thoughts on “Teaching Anatomy Though Dynamic Activities

  1. Jacqueline Rubin
    Anatomy Through Dynamic Activities Response
    Anat & Phys I Lecture

    Anatomy & Physiology can often be difficult subjects to learn and commit to memory due mainly to the fact that there is so much information to be taken in. For this reason, conventional teaching methods fail to provide enough student engagement. This wide breadth of information then becomes something that students cannot relate to and contributes to overwhelming them.
    The idea of making the students get up and move around during class is an excellent one. This puts the issue of overpopulation in classrooms to good use. By using the large amount of students in a way that is advantageous to the visual effect of creating a cell or enacting the heart cycle, everyone gets involved. It was interesting how even the mistakes of the students during the exercise were incorporated into the learning process.
    This exercise brought to mind the cycle that we simulated in class. At the end of a long day, it is easy to zone out in a large lecture class, but getting up out of our seats and literally becoming a part of a transport mechanism, cell cycle, or organ system, helps to get our brains going. We were all wide awake, laughing, and learning together. I feel that it was also a great way to get the class united together toward a common learning goal. It is important to gain an understanding in a more physical and three dimensional sense. Through this, the processes occurring in our bodies are not just things we read in textbooks but develop into things that are more realistic and relatable.
    This type of teaching would definitely aid in learning the heart cycle because it is one of the most difficult topics to understand. The cardiac system involves so many integral parts and it functions in such a way that is difficult to understand through words on paper or words that a professor uses to try to explain it.
    What would make this dynamic teaching activity even better is to view a video (there are many on http://www.youtube.com) on the heart cycle first to gain a basic understanding and overview of what the cycle would look like in a real heart. By doing this, students can comprehend what they are participating in and relate it to the cycle they previously viewed. It would also help if students exchanged “jobs” in the simulation so that they could get experience participating in each part.
    After doing these exercises, while studying for tests, Anatomy & Physiology students can relate what they are reading to something tangible that they experienced and participated in. This alleviates a lot of the overwhelming feeling that the wealth of information in these courses provides students. More teachers should apply these tactics to their classrooms to make for a better learning experience for their students.

  2. Personally I feel that it would not only be a benefit for me, but for the entire class to be involved in an activity like this. As we all know Anatomy can become slightly uninteresting at times as well as overwhelming because of all of the new terminology ‘thrown’ at us all at once. This activity is a great idea because students are involved. I know that it is a lot easier for me to remember something when I am physically involved rather than just staring at a picture. When we did the muscle activity in class I understood it better than anything we had learned all semester because I was required to remember the ‘job’ I was assigned. Like the muscle activity, the cardiac cycle activity discussed by the article gets students involved requiring them to pay strict attention to every detail taking place, producing not only a positive response from students, but also providing a better way for them to remember things. The thing I liked most about this activity is that it made everything life size. For example, using balloons to show ion movement is a lot easier to visualize when it is standing in front of you than looking at static dots in a diagram from a textbook. This activity also offers a sense of ‘fun’, and brings an almost game-like quality to the classroom which would probably alleviate the familiar stress most anatomy students feel when being presented with a new and detailed topic like the cardiac cycle. Although I loved the idea of the class being involved in an activity like this, the only thing I would do to improve it is instead of choosing certain students to get up in front of the class and act out the activity, I think it would be more beneficial if the class were split into groups and each group member got a chance to act out each ‘job’, this way each student gets a full understanding of every movement taking place in the topic being taught.

  3. Sometimes, when I’m reading the textbook for anatomy I get very confused and overwhelmed with all the terms and reactions. I think this activity can me visualize and understand the cardiac cycle much better than only reading the texting and looking at the related pictures. Just like the group activity we did in class for the muscle cycle, it helped me to understand more by being part of the activity. Even after the activity, I can always think back and remember the process in the cycle. In action potential activity, the use of colored balloons to represent ions is very clever and students who are not participating in the activity can see the reaction very clearly. In the Cardiac cycle activity, I really like the effects of lifting hands to represent the movement of electrical wave and stepping toward the center of the circle to represent contraction. These two actions can help me to visualize and “see” how to reaction and the process step by step. However, I feel that if there are too many “roles” for students to act in this activity, it will be very confusing to remember which one they are representing and thus it will affect the learning. It is also beneficial for students if they can participate in the activity and then observe other students’ participation or vice versa. Students can get two different views of the action potential and cardiac cycle activity to help understanding. One thing would improve this activity is that students should not only understand the action potential and cardiac cycle in advance by reading the related information but I think it will be a great help if the teacher can also go through the whole process and each steps during the activity so that the students can understand and reinforce all the materials they’ve read. Overall, actual act out of the reaction can greatly help a student as they are participating in the group work and it will very exciting for students in the class, rather than sitting in the class getting lost on the materials.

  4. Ive always been more of a visual learner myself. Sitting and reading through a textbook or even in a lecture never becomes effective until I make a model in my mind or put it in a real life situation. I think this method of learning is just as or if not , even more, effective. I really liked the fact that when the students moved in unison or in the wrong fashion it wasn’t just a marker that they had done it wrong and they should try again. That could become very frustrating. But instead every mistake was taken as an opportunity to demonstrate something new and learn something else. I feel however that engaging the entire class would be a bit chaotic and disorganized because of the large number of people. Maybe instead using smaller groups would be more effective and also having the different roles wear different colored shirts may help to eliminate much confusion. Also in order to teach them how to actually begin this exercise, which is set in place to avoid lectures, there should not be a lecture. Rather I would suggest a video. I find that these are a great new tool I have myself discovered and found to be very helpful. I also like the idea of applying this method of teaching physiology to other systems of the body.

  5. This method of educating people about the anatomy and physiology of humans is innovative. It makes the learners to be interactive and learn the material through being part of it. This group activity actually makes me learn faster than just by being lectured during classtime. If I accidentally or maybe even purposely make a mistake during the activity, the teacher will explain what the consequences are due to my mistakes. This gives a first-hand experience and education on how certain diseases are caused in the human being. By learning from this, I already has a basic understanding of some of the origins of certain illnesses. The point of learning is to perform the learnt material. So this group activity is very useful. Some minor additions to the group activity that I would susggest is watching a computer simulation video after the group activity. This way, the material learnt will be even more understandable and the cause and effects of each part’s function in the heart would be even more clear.

  6. It is a great illustration attempted in demonstrating the synchronization of electrical conduction and mechanical actions of the cardiac cycle, particularly the depiction of the refractory period. As the ventricles contract, the atrial cells (students) move sequentially away from the circle and not all at once. One suggestion: I would have each students wear letters representing letters, “P” and “U” and so on for Purkinje fibers. Like others, I am a visual learner too, and so I think it is best if professors incorporate this tool during lectures.

  7. Big whoops. It’s always best to proof-read before posting. Edit: Have students wear T-shirts with letters for Purkinje Fibers.

  8. As I learned biology in high school, I knew that this subject was one that I would want to further my knowledge in college. In agreement with the article, I was most interested in biology, or living environment as the course was called, and in turn did my best in that class. An interest sparks a desire to learn in any student. Unfortunately, much learning requires hours of reading, reviewing, and listening. Those exercises are not too active, at least on the students part. Without the activity, focus is easily lost. The experiment in the article provides an environment where the teachers and the students join together and actively learn the knowledge as a group. This method would most definitely help me learn the cardiac cycle, amongst many other topics in anatomy and physiology. The help would come from me being able to take a certain part in my own educative experience, and not just listening to a lecture. The visuals are easier to understand than just the words, at least in my opinion they are. Also, when it comes to test-taking, power points are much harder to remember than class activities such as these. I agree that either a reading be required or a short lecture be done prior to the exercise because the activity would be very difficult with students who do not have some sense of what is going on. However, the one problem I see is that not all students learn at the same pace. While some students may be grasping the material, others may lag behind and delay the pace at which the learning experience occurs. However, it does provide a good environment to learn from mistakes. To enhance the activity, perhaps a short video of the exercise already done prior to performing it in class can be shown in order to better prepare the students.

    -Dominick Tolomeo

  9. This type of activity has a large impact on my abililty to remember information. As a visual learner it is easier to grasp concepts and cycles by being able to visualize it. When there are videos available on youtube or another website I tend to watch them a few times, to understand the basic ideas of how something works. To improve an activity like this, we should have the whole class involved in creating the heart, this will enable a larger visual image as to what happens when the blood circulates in the heart. As the article suggests it would also be helpful to have read about the circulation of the heart before performing this activity inorder to bring concepts together, instead of just forming ideas. Also we could watch a video about blood circulation in the heart before and after performing this exercise which would contribute to the overall learning process.

  10. Would this help you learn how the heart works?
    Absolutely not, but that’s because physical activity never works well for me. I am a very old fashion student. I like reading the textbook and using diagrams or flow charts. Last time when we did the muscle activity, I didn’t completely understand the concept of muscle contraction until the very last minute when a flow chart was drawn on the board, indicating every step. I find it difficult and troublesome to memorize the roles of students who participate in the activity, unless they hold signs that indicate what they represent. It is true that doing physical activities is fun, but they can also get distracting. When I participated the activity, I couldn’t see what everyone else was doing since everything was too close-up. I prefer to be the audience so that I can see the entire scenario.
    How would you improve this activity?
    No physical activity. Use videos, diagrams, flow charts, or analogies instead. They are much more effective and take up less time.

  11. Abdul Shahin
    Anatomy Through Dynamic Activities Response
    Anatomy & Physiology

    The article brings up a very unique point of view: using dynamic activities to better learn complex anatomical processes.
    The action potential and cardiac activity depicted in the article seems really interesting. I believe it’ll definitely help us grasp the material and relate it to what we’ve done.
    When our class participated in the regulation of muscle contraction group exercise, it helped me learn the cycle much quicker and I often found myself referring back to that exercise as I was reading through the material myself.
    Anatomy and Physiology can really be an overwhelming class, especially when you’re taking 3 sciences and 3 labs at a time along with other core classes.
    Activities like this can not only make the class more interesting, but it can make the material stick. I often find that the professors who take their time explaining the material and tie it with their own experience in the field not only make the class more interesting, but make the material more understandable. It’s easier for students to tie what they’re learning in class to stories and activities like the ones described in the article rather than looking at 500+ pages of text and trying to memorize everything.
    As for how this activity itself can be improved, there’s nothing much to say; utilizing any mistakes a student makes to further explain the cycle seems like a great idea, as long as the professor/teacher takes the time to explain what’s going on in each exercise. Videos can also tie into the class and draw in their attention even further.

  12. I found the idea of this exercise very different, but at the same time very beneficial. Not all students learn in the same fashion, especially when it comes to absorbing massive amounts of knowledge in a short time. The cardiac system is so complex with a plethora of small components that sometimes the details can get lost on the page when it comes to reading pages in the chapter. However, if that small component was visualized by the means of an actual person acting out the process, it would be much more difficult to forget the job of that piece. I feel like this activity would greatly help me learn because I find that processes are more easily learned through hands on activities. It would keep us all awake, while engaging us. The example we did in class with the muscle tissue, I feel, made it much easier to understand the process because there was not just one thing going on, and we got to see each part happening whilst correlating with the other parts.
    To improve this activity, I would have to say to make it volunteer based due to the fact that not all people grasp concepts as well while moving around. Some people are better at watching, and on the same token, some people are better and prefer doing. I also think that this activity should be done after going through the notes of the chapter so that way the class has the fundamentals in order to more fully understand the activity.

  13. Human Anatomy and Physiology is a great course that has always intrigued me. I feel that this class is a great support for my goal going to medical school. Yes, there are many terms and overall information to know, but that is because the body itself is so complex. Textbooks like the one we are using this semester are great resources to learn many interesting facts about the human body, but when it comes down to actually learning the different processes that occur in the human body it becomes difficult because without seeing a video or it being enacted in some other form it is difficult to visualize. Do not get me wrong, I like all the diagrams and tables in the textbook, it is just that sometimes they themselves are not enough.
    As I began to read the article, I could completely relate to what she was referring to when she talks about having a genuine interest in order to truly comprehend something so that a person can not only absorb the knowledge, but have it stay with them for a long period of time. I, for example, never gave Physics a chance in high school mainly because I did not like the subject and was not particularly good at it. However, now that I am currently taking Physics, I enjoy it because I became open to it and I spent much of my time on practicing problems to the point where I am comfortable with the material. I also agree with the degree of difficulty that comes with both teaching and learning cardiovascular physiology because in a typical lecture, many students are so concentrated with writing down notes on the board or from a slide that they do not really learn the concepts or ideas that the professor is trying to get across.
    I know that an activity such as the one described in the article would definitely benefit my comprehension of cardiovascular physiology because it is an interactive way of learning what is being written down in a textbook. I feel that I learned the muscular contraction process in class better when we actually performed it out in class. Then, when I started studying for the test, I just had to read the summary to remember what we learned in class. Nevertheless, before this activity can be done, the section pertaining to the material would have to be read. It would not make any sense doing this activity without knowing what or why it is being done. This would be similar to going to a lab class without knowing what experiment is being performed. I believe that this activity could be improved by also showing a video in class, and then proceeding to perform the activity. I think that this would be more helpful than reading the book because I think it would be easier to perform a job based on something I saw than what I read.

  14. After reading the article, it reminded me of what we did similar in class when we were learning about the action potential and sliding filament theory. Seeing the students act out the “theory” and actually visualizing the concept of actin and myosin working together made even more clearer sense than just simply reading the text. I agree that anatomy and physiology is a tough subject to study but there is a lot of information out there that is very interesting. The human body is amazing in so many aspects and if there are ways that can help students undertand the mechanisms, that is just great! Reading the article about the cardiac cycle was interesting. I’m sure that the students who actually “acted out” the cardiac cycle obtained a greater grasp on the mechanism because they are a part of the cycle and them interacting and portraying the roles of the valves in the heart and other such parts would allow them to understand more than what is written in the textbook.
    If we did something similar to this in class, I know I would definately benefit from it. I benefitted from the muscle action potential “act out” we did in class and the acting out of the cardiac cycle would help me understand as well. Looking back at the text and re-reading about the muscle action potential and then rememebering what we did in class connected the dots clearer and made much more sense. So I think that doing a group dynamic activity would help a lot- the students will actually be involved in the cycle of the heart and will actaully be enacting it allowing them to think about what has to happen and what cannot happen, rather than just sitting in a seat and listening to the professor lecture…
    But overall, I think that the way the article described the cardia cycle was good. A way I would improve it is that each student who is part of the activity should know what they are doing so not everything looks unorganized. If every part is organized and well acted out, it will make much more sense than just seeing a group of students act out the cycle the first time, not knowing what they are doing. So those students who really understand the cardiac cycle and know how and what exactly each part of the heart does should particiapte so they can be able to explain it to the rest of the class easier and while also being organized.

  15. Sara Mohamed
    Anatomy & Physiology Lecture

    This method of learning will have a great impact on my ability to remember and understand information. I am a very visual learner it’s much easier to understand how the cycles work and the concepts by seeing it. Usually when I can’t understand the information from the textbook I try to look up videos or have someone explain it to me using diagrams. An activity like this helps motivate students into taking interest and wanting to learn more. Sometimes just reading from the textbook can get a little boring. As to improving this activity I feel that if video was played or a short lecture was done before the activity it would allow students to get a basic understanding of what this exercise is going to help us completely understand the material. Also this method of teaching should be used to teach other functions of the body. It’s a great new way of learning.

  16. Upon reading this article, it was not so agreeing. The point is not to just become more involved in the exercises for understanding the functions or breadth of knowledge in a lab activity. My view is to simply have more tests. Make the content not seem so overwhelming. It is nearly impossible to exceed in a class where only two exams are given on not just a number of chapters but the information contained within them. That’s truly the only way we will learn and pass on with retaining information for the future classes. The smaller more detailed and structured exams or tests will also improve the class’ average overall and thus prove that the amount of information if broken up wisely can be retained without overloading the student. What’s also helpful is when working with Lab experiments is photo, diagrams, label charts, and plenty of hands-on experience to supplement the class, of course.

    • Yes, the material can seem overwhelming. Over the course of teaching the class I find that the effect of two or three exams during the semester is negligible. I think your point of breaking up the material into manageable segments is really important. Students who break up their studying like this always do better, and retain more.

  17. Anatomy and Physiology is an interesting course overall. However, trying to understand the functions of structures (physiology) may be more difficult than identifying the parts of the structure (anatomy) due to lack of 3D visualization. For instance, in Anatomy and Physiology lab I tend to remember the visual aspects instead of the conceptual aspects. For instance, I may remember where the preputial glands are located in the rats; however I may not know the functions of these glands. I guess I happen to learn more through visualizations. In addition, I am able to remember more if I am able to visualize what I am learning.
    The visual activities performed by the volunteers from School of Medicine at UNIGRANIRO are great interactive ways to learn about difficult concepts. By visually seeing representations of the processes that occur within the body I am sure that I would be able to grasp difficult concepts more quickly than if I were to just read the concepts in the textbook. The pictures in the textbook are very helpful, but I believe that 3D visualizations provide better understanding of difficult processes, like action potentials, that occur within the body.
    I am a strong believer in the idea that “learning should be fun.” By performing activities like the ones mentioned in the article, students will learn to appreciate what they are learning by having fun. For instance, I tend to remember the fun experiences I had throughout my teenage life more than the boring ones. I honestly don’t know how I would improve these activities until I experience performing these activities in groups. After I have experience performing these activities in groups, I may not want to add anything or take away anything because I may just like the way these activities help me learn. But, if I were to change something about these activities after having experience with these activities, then I would do so for the benefit of the whole group.

  18. This method would definately help me learn and remember information. Anatomy and Physiology is an intensive course with a lot of readings and lot of materials thrown at you. As a student, sometime I found it hard to understand difficult concept without some source of visuals. Also it is much easier to retain difficult concept when there’s a story or a concept that can be applied rather then just read a chapter in the textbook with difficult texts. I too benefitted from the muscle action potential we acted out in class. When it was time to review the material, all I had to do was to go back and remember the day we covered action potential and the different role the students played in front of the classroom. Activities like this make the classroom more interactive. The students learned more because they are participating in a activity instead of seating for an hour and twenty five minutes lecture.

  19. Yes i believe this activity would help me learn the heart. The activity seems fun and engaging. People learn differently,and I have a hard time learning from the text book. The text book has alot of terms and it does not simplify how the heart functions in the body. I can learn things more easily with visual stimulations. This activity stimulates how a heart works by having everyone get involved and having the students visually learn and understand the functions of the heart. this activity would also keep me focused because it is not boring. Many students tend to pay less attention in the classroom when a teacher just writes notes and only talks about the topic. I liked how the activity used ballons and students arms to represent different functions. This activity represents a new way to not only learn the heart but to also learn other parts of the body.

    I would improve this activity by having actual slides of heart on the projector so the students could see which function they are representing. The activity is great but to truely learn how the heart functions you have to also see the actual heart performing the function. To do this, I would use a 3D video of the heart so the students can see the function and understand the simulation of the function.

  20. This method of learning could be helpful for some people but not for the others. Involving in the activity like this does make student awake in class and keep it interesting but it becomes hard to keep tract of which student is playing which part of the heart. Also, the class doesn’t have that much space to make it work smoothly. In my opinion, this activity does help student to understand the cardiac cycle and action potential to some degree but it wouldn’t be that clear. For me as a student, watching videos help me a lot. Watching video about the step by step process of cardiac cycle and the action potential would be more helpful for me to better understand it. That way i would have a better picture of the cycle and better learning experience.

  21. Although Anatomy and Physiology is an interesting course, the content can be quite overwhelming. It’s not enough to know the main idea of a cycle, the details are essential. The first thing that came to mind while reading this article is our lecture on the role of enzymes in the thick and thin filaments located in muscle fibers. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better way to engage the whole class to take part and understand every aspect of a complex cycle like the Cardiac Cycle. Before performing a visual presentation, it is essential that the professor summarizes that which the students will shortly preform so that the students are well prepared to understand the ideas. As the professor leads the class in performing the cycle, it is very easy to determine which students are not grasping the different roles. This allows the professor to focus on the specific movement and better clarify the concept for perfection. Incorporating some color differentiation, such as the balloons used in the Cardiac Cycle, better represents each person’s role and avoids confusion. I can definitely agree that such a performance alleviates the stress of the course and is an effective form of teaching.
    In order to improve the method, I would recommend initially watching a video illustrating the cycle. It is likely that students will forget some aspects of the cycle after a couple of lectures so the professor should once again go over the main steps after the performance so that the students can write them in their notes.

  22. Yes this exercise would greatly help me learn about the heart. I am a very visual learner and it helps me immensely interacting with something in order to learn. I would also better understand how everything in the heart flows together in unison, even if someone which would be a part in the muscle has a mistake or reaction, and then be able to see what would happen to the heart and its rhythm. An improvement could be by videotaping this and the verbal explanation of what is happening. That way, students could keep going over it and memorize how the heart works. Some students may easily forget what had just happened during that exercise so the use of narration along with the colors would help immensely. And we would more easily be able to picture what is going on when we are tested on it.

  23. Anatomy and physiology is a very difficult subject since there is a lot of material thrown at you. It can be overwhelming since there is many different things going on and it can be hard to absorb all the information. I am a type of person when I read the textbook, I tend to get confused or I forget what I read because there is so much going on. The method explained in this article can definitely help me learn about the heart. I am a visual person. I need to see what is going on instead of reading the material since it can be confusing. If we all do an activity, it is easier to remember and can be a helpful way to learn. For example, in class one day we acted out the muscle action potential and this activity helped me remember what was going on in the muscle action potential. I actually remembered all the things the professor said as we acted out. So, if we do the same thing with the heart, students will actually remember and know what is actually going on instead of zoning out in class.
    One way to improve this activity is to record the exercise so students have access to look back at it and remember some things, if they forgot it.

  24. As the beginning of the article state, anatomy and physiology is a difficult concept to understand. It requires a lot of memorization and conceptual understanding. However, after reading this article i believe this activity would be helpful in learning how the heart works. For me, visual aid is the best way for the information to actually be absorbed into my head. Therefore, people actually being part of this activity would help me remember the names and the function of each part of the heart. This is similar to the activity we did in class with the mitochondria which helped me remember what the function of each part was. A way to improve this activity is if someone video taped what the students were doing. This way, it would be easier to look back and remember what was taught, because some people need to see things more than once to remember.

  25. Anatomy and physiology can be quite a confusing and nerve-wrecking topic to understand. The activities stated in the articles serves as a different approach to learning the different aspects of details. I feel that classroom engagement would help me understand the topic better and easier than if it were to be taught as a lecture. I believe that involvement of students into the topic gives students a role in understanding the material. Mistakes in these physical demonstrations would actually help the students identify the errors in the system and help figure out what is right. It would be great if there was a tag that was attached to each student so that it would be easy to identify their role in the heart. Things would get extremely confusing if we have 50 students running around seeming like their doing what they are supposed to but, instead, looking nothing more like a subway commute. As long as everyone knows what they are doing and what everyone else is doing, students would automatically know what role specific parts of the hearts play. Often we find that when we visualize something or do something hands-on, the topic becomes more interactive and live. Understanding the information would just be a step away.
    I would improve this activity by providing some sort of identification for each person who everyone else knows what specific part of the heart the person is supposed to be. Sometimes enacting body parts and function may be hard. Instead, we can use 3D animations or slow and fast motion videos so students can understand what’s happening at the molecular level and also when we zoom out to see the organ as a whole. Flow charts and diagrams would be helpful so there are specific directions. Students would be able to tell the activity that takes place sequentially and not get mixed up with directions. These additional activities provide a good source of reinforcement for the students so that in case they do not understand a part of the play in one activity, they would understand it in another diagram or visual.

  26. This learning exercise is a great example of an alternative teaching method, which allows students to learn about complex physiological functions in a kinesthetic way. Personally I am more of visuals learner and would benefit from this activity. An introduction to the material before hand either with reading material or pre lecture is a great part to the exercise; students may become confused with the activity otherwise. It also allows student to internalize and retain information. I would like to see these activities in other science courses and more often in Anatomy and Physiology lecture.

  27. Being able to see a demonstration of heart function would help with visualizing the process, but I don’t see there being an overall difference in my attentiveness and overall performance in the lecture. Perhaps its because although I am a visual learner, I’m more hands on if its not the actual heart doing the process. I’d remember that there were a bunch of students joining hands, but if I’m to remember complex functions and their names, I’m better off writing the names and information into my notes from a slide and moving onto the next subject so as not to waste 30 minutes.
    I don’t like group projects and “out-of-the-box” activities, but if I were going to improve the activity I’d have the student’s labelled and the process written and done step-by-step a couple times before moving on.
    Balloons are nice, but they’re all balloons. Three different colors aren’t going to help me remember since I can easily mistake the red balloon for any of the three ions. Its like that rhyme “Stalactites, stalagmites, only caves have got ’em. ‘Tites are always on the top and ‘mites are on the bottom.” It can easily be switched to “… ‘Mites are always on the top and ‘tites are on the bottom.” That doesn’t help any. Just show me a diagram that’s properly labelled, let me draw it into my notes, and move on.

  28. Personally, i am a very visual learner. However, not all people are. there are people who are very visual like myself and there are people that need to hear words in order to grasp meanings. Therefore, i think, in order to teach and help students obtain lecture information as best as possible the lecture needs to include both visual and audial aspects.
    As i was reading the description of the activity, it seemed slightly complicated to complete effectively in a class period, especially as the article mentioned, if there are students that are inexperienced, which for a new class activity, there would be. However, i do think it would be impossible and i do think this would give students a better understanding of the subject. Many times, as a student myself, i notice that i don’t retain concepts well because they aren’t interesting, or most importantly, because i don’t relate them to something and soon after the lecture forget all about them. i think this activity would help students retain and remember a complex process such as the circulatory physiology.
    One suggestion i would have for the activity is to find a way to have every student rotate into each different “cell.” Meaning each student should get a chance to do every single job in the system. i think this would help students attain the system as a whole. For me, during activities like this, i notice that i only remember the job i did. i tend not to remember all the other jobs in the system, so when i get tested on the system i remember the job my cell did but don’t remember as clearly what all the other cells did. Therefore i think if we were to do an activity like this each student should get a chance to do and understand each cell function.

  29. While reading this activity, I personally felt that I understand the Cardiac Cycle as to the extent this paper described it through demonstration. Though there was no visualization I was able to picture the balloons going in and out if the cell and the cycle. However, while It helps me now I don’t think it would be as beneficial in a classroom environment (surprisingly). If I was in class and was performing such a large demonstration while trying to learn It I would get a little overwhelmed. First of all I wouldn’t be able to see anything because I would be part of the activity and won’t be able to view and understand it as a whole. It would help me to learn the basic idea’s but I don’t think It would help me anymore than reading and seeing pictures of it in the textbook.

    I think a way to make this activity better would be to actually video-record a class doing this with commentary. A recording can then be shown to any other class that would want to learn this on a tv screen. I think In this way it would still be interesting to the students because they are viewing other students perform the activity on a video which is definitively something different that could gain the students attention (and hopefully comprehension).

  30. Personally, Anatomy & Physiology is a hard subject not only because of its terminology but also the explanation and description from the text book. I often confused with some explanation and description when reading the text book and still not able to understand. However, this article talks about the Group Dynamic Activity which make the students get up and move around during class and get involved in pretending as themselves as cells. I think this is a great method and the best way to learn and help students to learn Anatomy & Physiology. For example, when I was reading the muscle tissue, I could not really understand the interaction between actin and myosin when the muscle contracts. However, when I went to the class on the next day, Dr. Gillespie picked up a group of students who then divided into groups of actin and myosin. After listening and watching the interaction between groups of students and the description, I definitely had better understanding about the muscle works. Therefore, I would say the Group Dynamic Activity is really helpful to learn the heart work. The only thing that I might want to improve may be instead of the whole class involved in the activity, I would recommend just picking a small numbers of people to perform, so it would not be disorganized.

  31. Even by reading this article, I feel I understand the cardiac system even better. Learning by interactive experience is definitely an easier way to understand as well to remember a concept. The fact that students themselves are working together to create visual experience might enhance students way of learning. Especially when most of the courses in college are presented in a non-interactive manner, doing an interactive task is different and therefore most likely stimulate you to learn. Yet, because this is new to most student, it could be confusing and certain students might understand the bigger picture because they are part of only one part of the function.

    The activity could possibly improve by providing the students with a video of how the heart works before completing the interactive task. A video could be more accurate in displaying how the heart functions in detail. In addition, a video could provide an actual picture of the structure for students to recognize rather than to have people pretend to be certain structures.

  32. Being a visual learner myself, I find this activity very interesting and helpful. Since the activity of muscle contraction we did in class helped me understand the mechanism, I am certain this will help me understand more about how the heart works. Moreover, I find that reading from the book and just trying to learn from it doesn’t help sometimes. I tend to forget about it after a while compared to the materials we learned in the lab. Since we used a lot of models, and activities during the lab, I find myself remembering the materials better even if it is after a while. And if the students actually have to participate and move around, I am sure everyone will put effort and learn from this. To improve this activity, we can start by familiarizing ourselves with the terminology so that it will be easier when we do the activity. We can familiarize ourselves through books, research, or even from animated videos. Animated videos are great tools for learning. They are as useful as models as we can see how everything works. I believe this group dynamic activity can be used not just for cardiac cycle, but also for functions of other body systems.

  33. Although I do think the group dynamic activity is an pretty interesting an innovative method to learn in class, especially in an Anatomy & Physiology class, I am not sure if it would help me learn how the heart works. I feel like it does help me to memorize the contents by doing the dynamic activity in class, for instance, we did the one with the thin filament and the thick filament in class, and it showed up on the midterm so I memorized it. However, I still need to go back to my textbook in order to understand the concepts more precisely. After all, Anatomy & Physiology is a very challenging course that requires not only memorzation, reading, but also understanding, which is the most crucial one among the three. In my opinion, not everybody has that ability to understand a complex subject, such as cardiac cycle and action potential in this case, just by doing a dynamic activity, at least I am not. So I have to admit I might be able to memorize the cardiac cycle but I wouldn’t understand the funtion of it during class time. As a result, I still need to stick with my textbook so that I can feel confident about the “heart”. Therefore, I would suggest that keeping this kind of group dynamic activity in class, but still reading the textbook about the related content afterwards. Honestly, that’s what we ought to do.

  34. I believe this group dynamic activity will be very helpful just like how the sliding filament theory activity was…I definitely wouldn’t mind learning how the heart works this way..

  35. An Anatomy and Physiology class would highly benefit from this method of teaching and learning because I think that when students can physically and visually see how the heart works and its functions, the students can better understand what goes on in the inside as opposed to just reading it in a book. Although I do believe that a class should also incorporate both dynamic activity and also a regular class activity that uses the textbooks and requires assignments. Both dynamic learning and regular class activities would be the perfect solution to getting the students to not only learn the heart functions for an exam, but to actually remember them in the future and really use what they have learned in their future careers. This activity could be improved by actually trying to incorporate a heart condition or a disease of the heart to better understand how the heart reacts to these stimuli. By introducing these conditions through a dynamic activity and also turning to the textbooks to inform the students, they can begin to critically think about different solutions to fix or improve the conditions of the heart. I would also try and find a way to change the way the nodes are represented, just to make it a little bit clearer how the cycle takes place inside the heart. Other than that I think that learning through dynamic activity is a great way for students to learn.

  36. 1) Would this help you learn how the heart works?
    I personally believe this would be an excellent approach to learning heart’s properties. In lab we discussed an overview of the blood circulation in the heart, however certain details of the heart’s function weren’t emphasized for instance the action potential and depolarization of cardiac muscle. Subsequently a bit of confusion arose when topics like diastole and systole were brought up and. That being said I’m enthusiastic about an exercise that will help solidify things we went over in lab as well as explain the heart to a greater degree in a interactive manner.

    2) How would you improve this activity?
    The activity sounds great. Hopefully we can see a brief video illustrating the heart’s action potential and blood flow prior to performing the group activity. That may give a brief moment for clarification prior to role assignments.

  37. Reading a textbook helps me to learn about the heart, but actually mimicking the cycle would also help. It was like when we mimicked muscle contraction in class. It helps you to remember the steps better, besides just reading about them in the textbook. This would definitely help me in learning how the heart works. I don’t have any improvements except for maybe representing certain parts of the cycle are done to create less confusion. Other than that the idea was great.

  38. I think that this would help me Learn how the heart works because I’m a visual learner. when it comes to textbooks things can get lost. When you do the mini demonstrations in class they help a lot with helping understand the points your trying to make. I also feel that most people would say they are visual learners.
    I feel like the over all activity doesn’t need much change. I would most likely make small alterations. For example I would label the ballons because I could see how colors could get confused. I would also explain the activity more then just having a lesson on the subject. I would assign roles to the students and then they could focus more on what they are doing so that they could better execute the demonstration.

    (i apologize for emailing the response and i tried uploading and thought it went through when it did not)

  39. 1) This exercise performed would help me in learning how the heart works because when things are shown visually, I tend to remember them better. Each part of the cycle being demonstrated, allows me to understand exactly what is occurring. Also, this visual causes less confusion because it is not in words but rather in pictures.

    2) To improve this activity the only thing I would change is, I would make every student play every role. That way when remembering what each part of the cycle does, the student will have had a chance to experience it and hopefully have a better memory and understanding.

  40. In a class like Anatomy & Physiology which requires the students to have details memorized, it is always beneficial when there are outside sources that can help them visualize the things that need to be memorized. When it comes to matters of the heart, anything that is visually appealing would help for the student to understand each and every function the heart does. Personally, after reading a paragraph about what the heart does and its functions I have to slow down and break each aspect of it down so that I can imagine it happening, I would make a visual in my head but if this is used it would make it more interactive and effective.
    Overall, the activity was engaging and effective in teaching students about the heart, but if I were to improve one thing about this activity it would be to keep the interactive groups small. It is better for 5-10 students to learn together and interact instead of a whole class. The smaller the group size the more effective the activity.

  41. I believe this would help me understand how the heart works. I, myself, am a visual learner, so seeing this visually and being a part of the process will pay a keen role in me not only memorizing the material but also in understanding it entirely. The only way I would improve this activity is by showing a video before doing this activity so the student will be more familiar with what we’re doing. Just like when we were learning about muscle contraction, we went over it entirely first then did the hands on approach which made this way more clear to me and other people in the class.

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