Human Physiology II: This course is an upper division juniors and seniors course intended for Integrative Physiology majors and typically includes 150-180 students per semester. This course teaches students the basic life processes associated with the following body systems: digestive, metabolic, respiratory, cardiovascular, renal, and reproductive.
Target for improvement: I would like to improve the students’ ability to think critically, moving from a novice to an expert way of thinking about physiology. I would like to use in-class activities to improve this skill. I hope to show through pre/post surveys that the students been able to acquire this skill, that gaining this skill has improved their understanding of the subject matter, and that their confidence and attitudes toward this type of thinking have improved.
Plans: **A rating of 2 would indicate that all students strongly agreed on a topic/prompt. A rating of -2 would indicate that all students strongly disagreed on a topic/prompt.
1. I would like to begin the semester with a pre-survey that addresses the following:
a. General student information and background
Was able to obtain this data from the pre-survey
o Major is predominately IPHY with some MCDB, EBIO,
and others as a second major.
b. Student attitudes about physiology.
1. What do they think is important for learning/doing physiology?
The majority of students felt as though being able to solve problems and think critically are important in learning physiology
o At the start of the semester students either strongly agreed or agreed that solving problems and thinking critically were important in learning physiology (average rating of 1.24 and 1.2 out of 2 respectively)
“Problem solving in physiology allows you is being able to determine how and why the body is not functioning as it should and suggest a solution. This is a practical skill to have, especially for those who want a career in medicine.”
“Science and healthcare are constantly changing with new technology and information. A critical view of new situations will help stay ahead of your field”
o At the end the of the semester the student attitudes had shifted to a higher average rating indicating that more
students “strongly agreed” that solving problems and and thinking critically were important in learning physiology (average rating of 1.45 and 1.7 out of 2 respectively).
i. When do they feel like they have really understood a concept?
This question was also asked as a pre/post survey question. Students were asked to rank several different prompts regarding the understanding of a physiological concept.
o Being able to define terms
o Being able to explain concepts
o Applying their knowledge
o Predicting outcomes
o Analyzing data
I will focus my discussion here on only C-E as they are most pertinent to critical thinking skills.
o At the beginning of the semester students either strongly agreed or agreed that applying knowledge, predicting outcomes, and analyzing data meant that they understood a physiological concept (1.56, 1.5, 1.15 out of 2 respectively).
o At the end of the semester this attitude shifted with more students strongly agreeing vs. agreeing (1.6, 1.64, 1.42 out of 2 respectively)
c. Student attitudes on critical thinking
i. What do they perceive as critical thinking?
1. The following questions were all lumped together to get student attitudes on critical thinking. Students were asked for each prompt whether they strongly agreed, agreed, were neutral, disagreed, or strongly disagreed.
a. Critical thinking skills are something you are born with
b. Critical thinking skills are something that you have to learn
c. Critical thinking is something that only experts in a field need
i. The consensus among students was that they felt as though critical thinking skills had to be learned (average rating 1.28 out of 2)
ii. Most students did not feel as though critical thinking skills were something you are born with nor something that only experts need (average rating - 0.63 and -0.8 out of 2 respectively)
iii. Do they think that critical thinking is an important skill to have?
iv. Do they feel like it is a skill that they will use in their professional careers?
d. Brief summary of student study skills i. I want to briefly know what they do to study and how the use their notes,homework assignments, and clicker questions.
1. This was completed by a different faculty member in the FTEP(Janet Casagrand)
e. Assess where their critical thinking skills currently are
i. This will be done by asking a few content independent questions followed by student reflection on confidence and approach in answering the questions.
1. Did not assess this question.
2. During the semester I would like to do the following:
a. Model what a critical thinking question is and how to properly approach it.
i. I gave the students several worksheets on threshold concepts and follow it
up with clicker questions.
b. I will then design activities that have them practice with the process needed to answer a critical thinking question
i. See comment above
c. I plan to assess their ability to approach and work though critical thinking questions in various ways which I already have implemented in the classroom
i. Clicker questions
ii. Homework assignments
1. All of these different tools were used to assess the students’ ability to think critically. The questions increased in level of difficulty not only as the semester went on but between assessments.
a. Students were able to demonstrate through their assessment outcomes that they were able to think more critically as the semester went on.