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Keywords:

  • gross anatomy education;
  • anatomy and physiology courses;
  • A&P courses;
  • teaching innovations;
  • clay modeling;
  • undergraduate curriculum;
  • laboratory examination;
  • students assessment;
  • community college;
  • animal dissection;
  • curriculum changes

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. METHODS
  5. RESULTS
  6. DISCUSSION
  7. CONCLUSIONS
  8. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
  9. LITERATURE CITED
  10. Appendix: A: CLAY MODELING OF THE HEART
  11. Appendix: B: SCULPTING THE HEART OUT OF CLAY

After a considerable amount of research and experimentation, cat dissection was replaced with rat dissection and clay modeling in the human anatomy and physiology laboratory curricula at La Guardia Community College (LAGCC), a large urban community college of the City University of New York (CUNY). This article describes the challenges faculty overcame and the techniques used to solve them. Methods involved were: developing a laboratory manual in conjunction with the publisher, holding training sessions for faculty and staff, the development of instructional outlines for students and lesson plans for faculty, the installation of storage facilities to hold mannequins instead of cat specimens, and designing mannequin clean-up techniques that could be used by more than one thousand students each semester. The effectiveness of these curricular changes was assessed by examining student muscle practical examination grades and the responses of faculty and students to questionnaires. The results demonstrated that the majority of faculty felt prepared to teach using clay modeling and believed the activity was effective in presenting lesson content. Students undertaking clay modeling had significantly higher muscle practical examination grades than students undertaking cat dissection, and the majority of students believed that clay modeling was an effective technique to learn human skeletal, respiratory, and cardiovascular anatomy, which included the names and locations of blood vessels. Furthermore, the majority of students felt that rat dissection helped them learn nervous, digestive, urinary, and reproductive system anatomy. Faculty experience at LAGCC may serve as a resource to other academic institutions developing new curricula for large, on-going courses. Anat Sci Educ. 7: 38–46. © 2013 American Association of Anatomists.


INTRODUCTION

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. METHODS
  5. RESULTS
  6. DISCUSSION
  7. CONCLUSIONS
  8. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
  9. LITERATURE CITED
  10. Appendix: A: CLAY MODELING OF THE HEART
  11. Appendix: B: SCULPTING THE HEART OUT OF CLAY

The teaching format and curriculum for anatomy and physiology courses have undergone many significant changes over time (Timmerman et al., 2008; Drake et al., 2009). Recently, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have highlighted the importance of faculty development programs and undergraduate education for pre-medical students (AAMC-HHMI, 2009). These views are even more critical as millennial-generation students may belong to a more heterogeneous group in terms of fundamental learning strategies than previously thought (DiLullo et al., 2011). To improve undergraduate education, it is necessary to identify strategies that improve student learning.

All pedagogical programs should periodically reflect upon whether changes could be made to address the needs of all students, including millennial-generation students (Wilson et al., 2004; DiLullo et al., 2011). However, incorporating new procedures into the curriculum of a large on-going program can lead to many programmatic difficulties (Kiguli-Malwadde et al., 2006; Wood, 2009; Darda, 2010; Spallek, et al., 2010).

Anatomy classes have traditionally used group activities with a kinesthetic approach to enhance student learning through dissection. While some object to animal dissection (Nobis, 2002; Akbarsha, 2007; Shetty, 2011), others still feel this is an essential part of student training (Elizondo-Omaña et al., 2005; Rizzolo and Stewart, 2006; Sugand et al., 2010; HAPS, 2012). However, many institutions are exploring and finding that a variety of activities are effective teaching modalities (Franklin et al., 2001; Myers et al., 2001; Lujan and DiCarlo, 2006; Ernst and Colthorpe, 2007; Oh et al., 2009; Skinder-Meredith, 2010; Chan et al., 2011; DeHoff et al., 2011; Herur et al., 2011; Naug et al., 2011; Bareither et al., 2012). Such was the case at LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC) of the City University of New York (CUNY).

More than 50 sections of human anatomy and physiology courses are offered at LAGCC each semester. These courses are traditionally two semesters in duration. The semesters are 12 weeks in length and include three hours each of lecture and laboratory per week. The laboratory portion utilizes both written and practical examinations. The original laboratory curriculum used cat dissection and human models. The changes proposed for the new curriculum involved the incorporation of modeling human body systems (i.e., muscular, circulatory, and respiratory) out of clay on mannequins in lieu of cat dissection in the Anatomy and Physiology 1 course, and then used rats for dissection in the Anatomy and Physiology 2 course to examine the nervous (i.e., brachial plexus), digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems. The faculty decided to replace cat dissection when it was determined that modeling in clay was a successful alternative to teach human muscle anatomy that retained the benefits of group learning and a kinesthetic approach (Herring, 1904; Wilson and Marcus, 1992; Myers et al., 2001; Krontiris-Litowitz, 2003; Waters et al., 2005; Motoike et al., 2009). Cat dissection had always been a contentious issue at LAGCC, since many students found the dissection of cats upsetting. Cats were used primarily due to their large musculature. New changes that incorporated modeling muscles out of clay allowed faculty to incorporate a smaller mammalian dissection specimen, such as the rat. Rats were less expensive, easier to store, less likely to be a student pet, and sufficiently displayed the organ systems learned in the Anatomy and Physiology 2 course. In addition, rats were also used at other CUNY campuses. De Villiers et al. 2005 suggested avoiding the use of animals normally considered as pets for dissection specimens, an idea that was consistent with the LAGCC experience.

This article describes the incorporated laboratory changes and subsequent revisions necessary to make the transition from cat dissection to clay modeling and rat dissection on a large scale.

METHODS

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. METHODS
  5. RESULTS
  6. DISCUSSION
  7. CONCLUSIONS
  8. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
  9. LITERATURE CITED
  10. Appendix: A: CLAY MODELING OF THE HEART
  11. Appendix: B: SCULPTING THE HEART OUT OF CLAY

One of the most important aspects of any strategy to create curriculum changes is to provide adequate time for planning and to incrementally address issues pertinent to such course developments. Below is a list of the problems that the LAGCC teaching faculty faced and how they were resolved.

Laboratory Manuals

Prior to any changes to the course curriculum, laboratory manuals that would meet the needs of LAGCC classes and students had to be identified and adopted. The new laboratory manuals would need to complement three aspects of the curriculum. First, the new manual had to display each muscle separately and clearly show its insertion and origin on the skeleton. These illustrations would be critical guides for the students in order to build anatomically correct human muscle mannequins. There were very few published guides that satisfied these criteria, as most only provided composite muscle illustrations of the human musculature. Secondly, a manual was needed that included high quality rat dissection illustrations. Although a number of publishers have strong anatomy and physiology laboratory manuals, only a few had used rats as a dissection specimen. Unfortunately, the rat images and accompanied artwork in these manuals were of lesser quality, since publishers typically invested their efforts in manuals displaying more popular dissection specimens, such as cats and fetal pigs. Thirdly, the faculty needed a basic manual that would adequately cover all of the other anatomy and physiology topics in the curriculum while meeting the first two criteria. Initially, this was a difficult problem, but Morton Publishing House (Englewood, CO) was eventually identified, which produced all three products as separate manuals. Morton Publishing agreed to create a three-hole punched, loose-leaf composite manual which would include their general laboratory manual (Amerman, 2010), human muscle guide (Bowden and Bowden, 2010), and rat dissection guide (Smith and Schenk, 2001) at a cost that would be less expensive for students than the cat version of the laboratory manual that students were using at that time (Marieb and Mitchell, 2009). In addition, the publisher created and included an ancillary package of illustrations specifically designed for LAGCC students at no extra cost. With this problem solved, the faculty was ready to embark on the transformation of the anatomy and physiology curriculum.

Scheduling the Implementation

The transformation was implemented over two semesters. The new curriculum was inaugurated in the Anatomy and Physiology 1 course while students in the Anatomy and Physiology 2 course continued with the previous cat dissection curriculum (i.e., the syllabus and manuals with which they had started the course was not changed). This allowed faculty to weave the changes into the program gradually without disrupting existing students' study or the sequence of their instruction. In the second semester, the students in the original cohort would move into the new Anatomy and Physiology 2 course, while the Anatomy and Physiology 1 course with the new curriculum would be firmly in place for the second cohort of students. The implementation was scheduled for the Spring I 2011 semester, whereas the prior Fall I 2010 semester was used for faculty training and construction of the storage facilities that would house the two hundred skeletal mannequins. This number of mannequins would be sufficient as students built their models in groups of four on half-mannequins (see Fig. 1).

image

Figure 1. Clay mannequins at different stages of completion. Reproduced by permission from Zahourek Systems Inc., Loveland, CO.

Download figure to PowerPoint

Training Sessions

A two-day training workshop for faculty was provided by instructors from the Zahourek Company (Zahourek Systems Inc, Loveland, CO), that manufactures the skeletal mannequins used for the clay modeling activities. The purpose of the training sessions was to provide faculty with (1) the experience of building clay anatomical models under similar conditions as their students, (2) the tips and techniques they would need to convey to their students to successfully complete the activity, and (3) lessons on time management to effectively complete the exercises in the time allocated for their classes. The days and times were selected by surveying the availability of the faculty. The two full day training sessions were held at LAGCC on 8 to 9 January, 2011. All attendees were required to complete these sessions to be qualified to teach the Anatomy and Physiology 1 course. Attendees were comprised of faculty (both full time and adjuncts) and biology laboratory technicians. Thirty people attended the first day session, which was devoted to learning how to work with clay (i.e. tips and suggestions) and building the human musculature out of clay, while 31 attended the second day session that was devoted to building the human circulatory system from clay. In addition, the final session also included the sculpting of a schematic version of the respiratory system on a flat board and a discussion on clean-up and organizational techniques. No additional training for rat dissection was required since the faculty all had previous experience in dissecting rats.

Faculty and Student Guides

LAGCC faculty required more than mere familiarity with clay modeling for the new laboratory curriculum to be pedagogically successful. A substantial amount of ancillary instructional material was needed if students were to complete their projects within the constraints of the limited class time. To that end, carefully crafted lesson plans were developed for the faculty that outlined the specific order with which to proceed through the lessons and how much time to allocate for each part (see Appendix A for the faculty heart lesson plan). In addition, detailed stepwise clay modeling instructions were designed for the students (see Appendix B for students' sculpting instructions).

Mannequin Storage and Cleaning

La Guardia Community College purchased the mannequins and clay (Model Zsa-MA-6105, Zahourek Systems, Loveland, CO) needed for modeling, as the majority of students were unable to afford the $399.00 cost of a mannequin. The next issue was storage and cleaning of the mannequins. The mannequins for each laboratory section had to be stored and at the end of the semester cleaned to be reused by the next cohort. The logical place for the storage of the mannequins was the area which was formally dedicated for cat specimens. However, cat specimens were stored in drawers of large cabinets that lined two walls of a laboratory preparation room and could not be used for the tall and thin mannequins. The problem was solved by replacing the cat storage cabinets with rolling shelves in which each class could have a separate shelf to store their mannequins. Due to the limited size of the department's laboratory, staff needed to find an alternative method to clean the large number of mannequins. Student groups were requested to scrub their own mannequin prior to their laboratory final. Laboratory final examinations were given during a separate finals week and so no instructional time would be forfeited, and students would be eager to complete the task to begin their final examination. This required each group to remove all the clay from their mannequin and store it by color in designated bags to be reused in subsequent semesters. Thereafter, the mannequins were disassembled and each group member scrubbed the upper limb, lower limb, or torso with a brush and soapy water. Finally, the mannequin was dried, reassembled, and stored on the shelf for the next semester. The entire procedure could be completed in approximately thirty minutes. The clean up was included as part of the students' clay modeling grade. The maximum clay modeling grade was ten additional laboratory points that covered all clay modeling activities and the clean up.

RESULTS

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. METHODS
  5. RESULTS
  6. DISCUSSION
  7. CONCLUSIONS
  8. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
  9. LITERATURE CITED
  10. Appendix: A: CLAY MODELING OF THE HEART
  11. Appendix: B: SCULPTING THE HEART OUT OF CLAY

Training Sessions

Attendees completed anonymous questionnaires at the close of each session to assess the effectiveness of each of the training sessions. Twenty-six attendees (87%) completed the survey for the first session, and 24 attendees (77%) completed the survey for the second session. Respondents had the opportunity to express “I prefer not to answer” as their reply. The vast majority found the clay sculpting to be an effective learning experience and believed it would be effective for their students (Table 1). When asked “How would you rate the human muscle clay modeling training session,” 27, 38, and 35% said good, great, and excellent, respectively. There were no fair or unsatisfactory ratings. When asked if they now felt prepared to teach the clay modeling, 79% said yes, while 13% said no, and 8% preferred not to answer. When asked what more they would need to be ready to teach this technique, their comments reflected their understanding that they would need to practice more on their own (i.e., “need more time”). Finally, 96% believed that students would benefit from the experience.

Table 1. Faculty Training Session Questionnaire Results
QuestionsYes (%)No (%)I Prefer Not to Answer (%)
Day 1: Modeling Tips and Building the Human Musculature (N = 26)
Did you find this to be an effective learning experience?25 (96.2)01 (3.8)
Did you enjoy the clay modeling?26 (100)00
Did you learn something new?22 (84.6)2 (7.7)2 (7.7)
Day 2: Building the Heart, Blood Vessels and Respiratory System (N = 24)
Did you find modeling the blood vessels to be an effective learning experience?23 (95.8)01 (4.2)
Did you find modeling the respiratory system to be an effective learning experience?23 (95.8)01 (4.2)
Did you enjoy working in clay?23 (95.8)1 (4.2)0
Did you learn anything new?21 (87.4)2 (8.4)1 (4.2)
Do you feel prepared to teach clay modeling?19 (79.0)3 (12.6)2 (8.4)
Do you think the students will benefit from modeling in clay?23 (95.8)1 (4.2)0

Instructors' Experiences

Although faculty found the training sessions beneficial, some were concerned about the implementation of clay modeling in lieu of cat dissection. Nevertheless, the results of faculty surveys in the two semesters since the switch was made indicated that most of the faculty found it to be an effective technique. More than 71% of the faculty from the Fall I 2011 quarter reported that modeling the human muscles was very successful to good, while 29% felt it was fair. In Spring I, 2011, 71.4 % felt modeling human blood vessels was very successful to good, 14.3% felt it was satisfactory, and 14.3% found it confusing.

Additionally, an electronic blog was established for faculty at CUNY Academic Commons (Clay Modeling Implementation), so that instructors could communicate with each other during the semester about their concerns and successes as well as any other comments. Postings varied with regard to techniques, but some also expressed their enthusiasm for the methodology. For example, instructor A wrote “I have personally had a great time with the clay mannequins and so have my students…”, while instructor B wrote, “I also agree that the students have a much better depth of understanding in terms of the relationship of the muscles and their attachment sites on the bones…

Students' Experiences

The student surveys were approved by the LAGCC Institutional Review Board (IRB application 383640-1). The surveys were designed for the students to provide their reactions to questions regarding either the clay or rat activities. The surveys required students to answer yes or no to various questions regarding the course curriculum in order to obtain the students' opinions. Students also had the option to select “prefer not to answer.” Likert scales were not chosen, because even though the response categories have a rank order, the intervals cannot be presumed equally (Jamieson, 2004). Other authors have described student opinions using similar questionnaires (Kotzé et al., 2012).

Students were surveyed in Fall I 2010 (the last semester cat dissection was used) and in Spring I 2011 (the first semester clay modeling was used) to determine if they thought their particular modality helped them to learn human anatomy. The statistical results from these scores demonstrated no significant difference between the two semesters, given that 62 and 60% of the cat and clay students found the technique helped them learn human anatomy.

Additional anonymous student surveys conducted in Fall I 2011 explored the Anatomy and Physiology 1 student experiences with clay modeling (Table 2) and Anatomy and Physiology 2 student experiences with rat dissection (Table 3). In Table 2, the majority of the students felt that the clay modeling helped them to understand the human musculature (60%), respiratory (80%), and cardiovascular systems (67%). Only about half the students (51% versus 49%) found clay modeling a positive experience, although only 32% stated that they would have preferred alternative methods. In Table 3, the majority of the students responded that the rat dissections helped them to learn human anatomy.

Table 2. Student Clay Modeling Survey
QuestionsYes (%)No (%)I Prefer not to answer (%)N
Clay modeling helped me to learn the human musculature.147 (60.0)89 (36.3)9 (3.7)245
Clay modeling helped me to understand the respiratory system.179 (80.3)44 (19.7)0223
Clay modeling helped me to learn the cardiovascular system.150 (66.7)75 (33.3)0225
Clay modeling was a positive experience.116 (50.9)112 (49.1)0228
Did you complete all the required blood vessels on your clay model?185 (81.5)26 (11.5)16 (7.0)227
Do you have objections for modeling clay blood vessels?53 (23.8)149 (66.8)21 (9.4)223
Would you have preferred alternative methods other than modeling in clay to learn blood vessels?71 (31.8)130 (58.3)22 (9.9)223
Table 3. Student Rat Dissection Survey
QuestionsYes (%)No (%)I Prefer not to answer (%)N
Did you have prior experience with animal dissections?48 (65.8)25 (34.2)073
Dissection of the rat brachial plexus helped me to learn the human anatomy.37 (52.9)26 (37.1)7 (10.0)70
Dissection of the rat digestive system helped me to learn the human anatomy.51 (69.9)19 (26.0)3 (4.1)73
Dissection of the rat urinary system helped me to learn the human anatomy.50 (68.5)21 (28.8)2 (2.7)73
Dissection of the rat reproductive system helped me to learn the human anatomy.48 (65.8)22 (30.1)3 (4.1)73
Would you have preferred alternative methods other than dissecting the rat to learn human anatomy?34 (47.9)27 (38.0)10 (14.1)71

Student Outcomes

In the authors' original communication (Motoike et al., 2009), faculty at LAGCC reported the results of a pilot project that compared the results of muscle practical grades for five classes doing cat dissection and five classes doing clay modeling, and it was found that students that performed the clay modeling had significantly higher grades on the human muscle component of the laboratory practical examination. The same grades were examined this time but with much larger cohorts using independent-sample t-test for differences between the groups. The proper assumptions were tested to administer the tests, and a common type-I error rate of 5% was used to examine the significance of the results (P < 0.05). Students' grade comparison for the muscle practical examination is reported in Table 4. Students in the clay modeling group (n = 304) received a mean grade (±Standard Deviation) of 82.5 (SD ±19.8) versus a mean grade of 78.0 (SD ±23.1) for students in the cat dissection group (n = 443). The results demonstrated a significant improvement in students' grades between the semesters (P 0.005). This improvement in grade was equivalent to an increase of a C+ to a B grade.

Table 4. Muscle Practical Examination Results
Practical examinationSample sizePractical grade Mean % (±SD)95% Confidence interval (CI)Significance
Dissection44378.0 (±23.1)76.9–79.1P < 0.005
Clay30482.5 (±19.8)81.4–83.6 

DISCUSSION

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. METHODS
  5. RESULTS
  6. DISCUSSION
  7. CONCLUSIONS
  8. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
  9. LITERATURE CITED
  10. Appendix: A: CLAY MODELING OF THE HEART
  11. Appendix: B: SCULPTING THE HEART OUT OF CLAY

The Spring 2012 semester marked the 1-year anniversary since LAGCC transitioned into new laboratory curriculum which included clay modeling and rat dissection. It has been a smooth transition despite the major changes involved. Most of the faculty positively responded to the new curriculum, and students appeared to be learning anatomy and physiology at least as well, if not better, than prior to the changes were implemented. In addition to the financial benefits, working with clay is cleaner and reduces exposure to potentially harmful materials.

Nevertheless, some faculty regretted the change, which is an unfortunate but not uncommon occurrence (Handelman et al., 2004; Kiguli-Malwadde et al., 2006, Spallek et al., 2010). In order to deal with this issue, LAGCC provided training sessions and instructional materials. Surveys of faculty have also been continued to ascertain how to improve the program. The results from these surveys demonstrated that the faculty has become more comfortable as they gained confidence with the new approach.

Despite the best efforts to have a fully trained staff, new faculty is periodically recruited, which creates the challenge of how to train new faculty who were not part of the original training sessions. All anatomy and physiology instructors have previously dissected, but very few have ever created anatomical clay models. Finding ways to train faculty in new teaching modalities has always been an enormous challenge that must be met when changing syllabi (Handelman et al., 2004; Wood, 2009; Spallek et al., 2010). To overcome this problem, new faculty are required to sit in and observe the clay modeling laboratories, in addition to taking home a mannequin to construct their own clay musculature and blood vessels. This is the first semester that new teaching faculty have “self-taught” themselves in this manner.

The general laboratory manual, which is in its first edition and part of the composite package, has several shortcomings (Amerman, 2010). Some key illustrations were not clear (e.g., muscles) and others omitted (e.g., white blood cell photomicrographs). Also, the author's descriptions often left out important details (e.g., composition of plasma). As Darda points out that when constructing a new course, it may be hard to find instructional materials that meet all the criteria and that “selecting basic materials and supplanting from other sources” might be necessary (Darda, 2010). As with any textbook, until one starts using it, one does not really know its strengths and weaknesses. However, faculty will continue to use the composite package, since the human muscle and rat manuals have been essential to the success of this program, while continuing to search for a more satisfactory general laboratory manual.

An interesting observation from the surveys was that even though the majority of the students expressed that clay modeling helped them to learn human anatomy, only half (51%) of the students found it to be a positive experience. Anecdotally, the authors have observed those students with an artistic background seemed more confident and enthusiastic about the clay modeling project. Thus, the lack of enthusiasm of some has been attributed to be a reflection of their apprehension with regard to having to sculpt a model. The less artistic students may have found the activity a distraction from the basic goal of learning human anatomy. Nevertheless, the majority of the students found that clay modeling helped them to learn human anatomy despite this unease with such an artistic modality.

Even though most students felt that the learning modality they used (i.e., clay modeling or rat dissection) helped them to learn human body systems, some students (32% in clay modeling and 48% in rat dissection) expressed that they would have preferred an alternative method of study. The faculty believed that this dichotomy might be due to two factors: the nature of their practical examinations and their awareness that prior classes dissected cats. During practical examinations, students were tested on plastic and wire models, as well as representative clay or rat specimens. Thus, in the Anatomy and Physiology 1 course, one half of the practical examination questions were based on the student-built clay mannequins, and in the Anatomy and Physiology 2 course, one half of the practical examination questions were based on the student-dissected rat specimens. Inevitably, complaints were received that the clay mannequins/dissected rats on the laboratory practical examinations were not representative examples, in such that they had been poorly built or dissected. Nevertheless, the muscle practical examinations scores indicated that students were more successful learning human muscles with clay modeling than cat dissection even with the handicap of having to identify muscles on the clay mannequins. Additionally, in prior semesters similar complaints were received when students were tested on dissected cats. Another possibility for this dichotomy is that the cat dissection days are still very recent and students tended to “romanticize” the activity that they were no longer allowed to use. Some students were repeaters that experienced both cat dissections and the new clay technique. Thus, there is a small percentage that were influenced and possibly biased by having experienced both activities.

Waters et al. suggested that students value whatever instructional technique that they have learned on (Waters et al., 2011). It is likely that when the last remaining students that participated in cat dissections finally graduate, so will the remnant interest in an alternative to clay modeling diminish.

Finally, with regards to faculty opinion, the rat specimens were adequate but small relative to feline specimens. Students dissected the brachial plexus, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems in the rats and continued to complete the traditional sheep heart and brain and bovine eye dissections. Rats provided the students with the opportunity to explore a mammalian specimen, albeit a small one, without evoking resistance to dissection which had been formerly experienced from a persistent percentage each semester. Thus far, there was little to any student refusal with regards to rat dissection. Based on students' survey results, the majority of students found that the rat dissection helped them learn human anatomy.

CONCLUSIONS

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. METHODS
  5. RESULTS
  6. DISCUSSION
  7. CONCLUSIONS
  8. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
  9. LITERATURE CITED
  10. Appendix: A: CLAY MODELING OF THE HEART
  11. Appendix: B: SCULPTING THE HEART OUT OF CLAY

The faculty in LAGCC implemented clay modeling and rat dissection into the curriculum of a two semester human anatomy and physiology course of a large urban community college. These changes required careful planning and training of both full and part time faculty members so that up to 50 sections of human anatomy and physiology could run effectively each semester. The implementation also benefited from the recommendations of both faculty and students. This experience might serve as an example that other academic institutions can utilize as a resource for major curriculum changes which might also be applicable to disciplines outside of the natural sciences. Although this article summarizes all of the physical aspects that went into the reorganization of the anatomy and physiology laboratory curriculum, the successful implementation of these changes was ultimately dependent on the support and goodwill of the administration and the cooperation and hard work of faculty and staff. Without them, none of it would have been possible.

NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. METHODS
  5. RESULTS
  6. DISCUSSION
  7. CONCLUSIONS
  8. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
  9. LITERATURE CITED
  10. Appendix: A: CLAY MODELING OF THE HEART
  11. Appendix: B: SCULPTING THE HEART OUT OF CLAY

CAROL HASPEL, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Natural Sciences at LaGuardia Community College, Long Island City, New York. She serves as the science coordinator for her department as well as the course coordinator of Human Anatomy and Physiology.

HOWARD K. MOTOIKE, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Natural Sciences at LaGuardia Community College, Long Island City, New York and an adjunct associate research scientist in the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology at Columbia University, New York, New York.

EREZ LENCHNER, M.A, M.S., is a senior institutional researcher in the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment at LaGuardia Community College, Long Island City, New York.

LITERATURE CITED

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. METHODS
  5. RESULTS
  6. DISCUSSION
  7. CONCLUSIONS
  8. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
  9. LITERATURE CITED
  10. Appendix: A: CLAY MODELING OF THE HEART
  11. Appendix: B: SCULPTING THE HEART OUT OF CLAY
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Appendix: A: CLAY MODELING OF THE HEART

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. METHODS
  5. RESULTS
  6. DISCUSSION
  7. CONCLUSIONS
  8. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
  9. LITERATURE CITED
  10. Appendix: A: CLAY MODELING OF THE HEART
  11. Appendix: B: SCULPTING THE HEART OUT OF CLAY

Laboratory Instructors Lesson Plan

  1. Heart Anatomy.

    1. Discuss the general structure and function of the heart using models, manuals, PowerPoint presentations and/or the white board. (∼35 min).

    2. Students review models of the human heart. (∼30 min)
    3. Dissection of a sheep heart - student work in groups of four (∼70 min).
  2. BREAK. (∼10 min)
  3. Heart Physiology

    1. Watching movie Work of the Heart (Alexovich et al., 1988), (∼20 min).

  4. Building a Clay Heart (∼40 min)

    1. As a review of the external features of the heart and to get a head start on next weeks' laboratory (blood vessels) students should create a heart out of clay. They make the heart on their own using the Sculpting the Heart Out of Clay instruction sheet and the heart model on their desks. Students should work in pairs while you circulate around the room and help them. Alternatively, you can teach this as a group project by making a clay heart with the students; you demonstrate what they are to do as they read the instructions.

    2. Students should use terracotta clay for the heart and it should not be more than 1 inch by 1 inch since it will have to fit into the chest of the mannequin. However, they can use blue clay for the right side of the heart and pink for the left side, if they prefer. The clay is molded into a heart shape, wide at the base and narrow at the apex. The exterior is divided into 4 chambers by creating a transverse groove about a third of the way from the top around the perimeter and a asymmetrical sagittal groove around the vertical axis to create a left ventricle that is larger than the right ventricle. Have them name the chambers.
    3. Using blue clay for the venous system and pink clay for the arterial system to simulate the blood vessels (except for the pulmonary vessels) students attach thick “spaghetti” strands of clay to the heart (which they make by rolling the clay into tube-like strands). See the students' handout, Sculpting the Heart Out of Clay, for the dimensions of each vessel. The branches off the Aortic Arch can be simulated by just placing 3 short pieces of pink clay to the top. Next week they will extend the appropriate vessels depending on whether or not they have a right-sided or left-sided manikin.
    4. Store the hearts carefully next to the students' manikins in the storage room. Remind them to be careful since they will need them for the next laboratory.

Appendix: B: SCULPTING THE HEART OUT OF CLAY

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. INTRODUCTION
  4. METHODS
  5. RESULTS
  6. DISCUSSION
  7. CONCLUSIONS
  8. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
  9. LITERATURE CITED
  10. Appendix: A: CLAY MODELING OF THE HEART
  11. Appendix: B: SCULPTING THE HEART OUT OF CLAY

Students' Instructions

  1. Working with your partner, roll a 1×1 inch (2.5 × 2.5 cm) piece of terracotta clay into a ball.
  2. Mold the ball into the shape of a heart by making it wider at the base and narrower at the apex.
  3. Create the four chambers of the heart using one of the clay molding tools. Carve a groove around the perimeter of the heart about a third of the way from the top, to separate the atria from the ventricles. Next score a groove vertically around the long axis of the heart passing just left of the apex to separate the right and left sides of the heart. Review the chambers, by naming them on your heart.
  4. Roll out long strands of blue and pink clay to form the great vessels of the heart.
  5. To make the pulmonary trunk and pulmonary arteries, take a small strand of blue clay and form it into a “T” shape. The stem (pulmonary trunk) of the “T” should be ¼ to ½ inch (0.6–1.2 cm) in height and the crossbar of the “T”(pulmonary arteries) should about ½ to 1” inch (1.2–2.5 cm).
  6. Place the pulmonary trunk with the pulmonary arteries on the top front of the right atrium near the interventricular groove (remember internally it originates in the right ventricle).
  7. To make the aorta use a thick 4 inch (10 cm) strand of pink clay. Attach it to the top of the left atrium and loop it over the pulmonary trunk (remember internally it originates in the left ventricle). Next arch the aorta backward over the heart and continue it down the back of the heart.
  8. Attach three small stubs of pink clay to the arch of the aorta to designate the three arteries that arise from the aortic arch, next week we'll expand them and name them.
  9. To make the superior vena cava use a 6 inch (15 cm) strand of blue clay and attach it to the top of the right atrium.
  10. To make the inferior vena cava use a 3 inch (7.6 cm) strand of blue clay and attach it to the rear and bottom of the right atrium.
  11. To indicate the pulmonary veins place 4 small stubs of pink clay on the left atrium.
  12. Terrific, you've done a great job! Compare your heart to the model. Review the vessels by naming them on your heart and the model. Next week we'll place the heart in the thoracic cavity of our mannequin and build the vascular system from it.