Constructive Inclusion of Developmental Anatomy in an Undergraduate Course Teaches Mental Imaging Skills

Sue Ann Miller
Department of Biology, Hamilton College, Clinton, New York


FASEB Journal 16(5): A731-A732 #528.5 (2002)

Creative use of serial sections of frog, chick and pig embryos on glass microscope slides helps undergraduates learn mental imaging skills that cannot be acquired viewing animations. Encouraging reasoning about developmental processes and form instead of memorization of parts develops an ability to integrate and manage information. All aspects of the course, including practical exams, support thoughtful interpretation of information. Practicals require students to use their skills to demonstrate understanding in responding to questions about a process or function by indicating items in serial sections. Questions also assess ability to interpret serial events in sections. This is a low-tech, productive way to encourage undergraduates to develop imaging skills while they also learn to make connections with information and forms they need to understand. As I require of my students, specific examples of course materials will be presented to support these assertions. Individual attention is part of this approach and is, of course, easier in classes or lab sections of 20 or less. This approach serves pre-medical students, but it is equally valuable for those who will not study medicine, but who may be parents some day. Students return after medical or graduate school, or from other lives, to confirm that the approach was useful and appreciated.

This paper was presented in a platform session at Experimental Biology 02 in New Orleans, LA.

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Last Modified: 2 May 2002