How Do I Help Students Learn Better?

by: Dr. Tricia Turner, Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology

This month’s Story From the Frontline is from Dr. Tricia Turner, a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology, who received one of Alternative Textbook Mini- Grant Awards from Atkins Library in Spring 2018. These mini-grants enabled faculty members in various disciplines to change their course textbook (and revise their syllabus) to a no-cost option such as an open textbook or library- owned content that students could download during the Fall 2018 or Spring 2019 semester.

One of my biggest struggles as an instructor is trying to find ways to help students learn, practice, and study the material I teach them in class, outside of class. One of the courses I teach is Anatomy and Physiology. This course is difficult primarily because of the large amount of material covered in a relatively short period of time. I find that most students do not read or use the required textbook. This is an issue because to truly learn the material students need to spend time outside of class, going over the material, reading the required information, and looking at and identifying anatomy in figures, or else they cannot be successful. I personally think this lack of utilization of the text outside of the course drives the high D,F,W rate in this course.

Introducing Primal Pictures. I was informed the library has a subscription to Primal Pictures, which is an online site, with a 3D atlas of the different body parts (head, shoulder, etc.), a tab for just anatomy and physiology, as well as a functional anatomy tab and quizzes and activities. This is great for visual and even tactile learners. They can see multiple views of an organ, see how layers of tissue are organized, and quiz themselves on the pictures. The students can use it on their phone or tablet, so no need to carry a “heavy” textbook. They can look over the site before a class begins or while they wait for lunch.

The students really enjoyed it with most commenting they used it throughout the semester and felt it helped them be successful in the course. Grades in the Fall 2018 semester improved over previous semesters, and based on student feedback, I believe Primal Pictures played a role in that improvement. I enjoyed it so much in the Spring 2019, I taught a Musculoskeletal Anatomy course, and in that course, I got rid of the textbook requirement and relied exclusively on Primal Pictures. I had specific activities for the students to look at and use throughout the semester. Students also commented how much they enjoyed Primal Pictures, and didn’t miss the textbook. I also saw scores overall go up in that course as well.

I have really enjoyed incorporating Primal Pictures in two of my courses. Students have enjoyed it, scores have gone up, and in one course students saved money by not having a required textbook.

If you are interested in changing your course textbook and using library resources or other open educational resources in your courses, please contact your subject librarian.

This story first appeared in the Research and Instruction Roundup Newsletter published by Atkins Library