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  • Four college students sitting together in a library and having a friendly conversation.

    How to write and teach with diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in mind

    By Judi Nath

    As a publishing company, Pearson has made a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). In fact, these values are so important that the opening pages of their digital and print texts make it clear by stating, “Pearson is dedicated to creating bias-free content that reflects the diversity, depth, and breadth of all learners’ lived experiences.” As you read that statement, what thoughts or images come to mind? As an intellectual exercise, what do you think this means for authors who produce content and for professors who teach the content?

    Let me share my lived experience as a textbook author and teaching professor. Although diversity, equity, and inclusion are hot-button topics across the social/political/educational landscape, as a science writer and teacher, the collective subject has always been at the fore of anatomy and physiology education. Accessibility has also been front-and-center not only in writing, but also in the classroom. Before getting too far along in this blog, let’s begin by defining some terms to be sure we’re approaching the topic from the same framework. Then, I’ll provide specific examples of each within the context of textbook writing.

    Diversity

    As biologists, we know that biodiversity is the variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity is measured at the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels. In terms of our every-day lives, diversity is measured in many of the same ways; however, without an underlying understanding of biology, its meaning gets lost in the so-called culture wars. When we look at a group of people, our genetics make us different and yet the same because we all belong to the same human species. Along with our genetic traits, where we reside, environmental factors, and who is represented within individual and group populations contributes to our range of differing biological, sexual, social, ethnic, cultural, physical, and personal states of being.

    To illustrate diversity in textbooks, it’s easy to use our own students as guides. This means that when drawing figures or inserting photos, we make concerted efforts to represent people across the human spectrum. That spectrum is rich with various physical characteristics, chronological ages, and representations of people on the planet. This is markedly obvious by reading the 1000+ pages of text; plus, students are repeatedly reminded with each chapter opener page, enticing them to also read the Learning Outcomes.

    Equity

    Equity is the quality of being fair, just, and impartial. It means respecting others as humans and making a commitment toward righting wrongs and allowing all to share in the available resources.

    Showing equity in textbooks is a little more nuanced because it is not a “pointable” touchstone on a page. Rather, it occurs in such areas as textbook pricing and availability. With textbook subscription services and textbook rental options, more students can attain important learning resources. And, students are able to contact the author directly through social media.

    Inclusion

    Inclusion means that everyone has a “seat at the table,” individuals feel represented, and each person can participate fully, which includes having a role in decision-making processes. In textbooks we can achieve this when writing by making sure that our language and imagery consider all humans. We do this by ensuring that we are sensitive to the history and daily lived experiences of our readership and students. For example, give thought to these two sentences:

    When you cross your leg, you are using the sartorius muscle.

    When you look through a microscope, you will see muscle striations.

    If we really are committed to DEI and accessibility, we must think about people who are unable to cross their legs due to paralysis or who cannot see because of blindness. To that end, such sentences were revised to the following:

    The sartorius muscle enables a person to cross their legs.

    When viewing skeletal muscle slides through a microscope, the stripes are known as striations.

    Accessibility

    Accessibility involves giving everyone equal access to educational materials and academic spaces without compromising their learning. Educators have been fully aware of course accommodations, which are in place for students who require individualized learning plans. We provide alternative ways to achieve course requirements. Many of these reasonable accommodations are mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. In writing the latest edition of Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology, particular attention was given to color palettes, leader lines, fonts, and text flow on the page and on the screen. Moreover, we were constantly cognizant of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to ensure that our digital content was accessible to individuals with various disabilities.

    To make figures easier to understand for visually-impaired individuals and to provide greater clarity on the page, background colors have been removed in many figures, such as Figures 2-23, 19-11, 23-20, and 24-11. Moreover, shapes, such as triangles or squares, and letters were also added to colorized circles in process figures. This makes it easier to identify processes by something other than round, colorized objects. Figure 24-14 is a good example in which active transport is represented by a black triangle within a blue circle, and countertransport is represented by a black square within a pink circle. Within Figure 26-9, water arrows are marked with the letter “W.” The letter “A” within a yellow circle represents aldosterone-regulated pumps in Figure 26-13. Figure 26-12 maintains the transport key from Figure 24-14 and adds a black circle within a green circle to represent cotransport. These keys are consistent throughout the text.

    As I write, more than 30 anti-DEI bills were introduced across the United States. Such legislation is aimed at limiting, eliminating, or prohibiting DEI programs and resources on college campuses. Yet, as a professor and textbook author, I know that being aware of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility leads to better teaching, informed writing, and an enhanced educational experience. While biology is the study of life, the study of anatomy and physiology places our shared humanity into the context of science. And, that includes topics of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

  • Illustration of human torso showing musculature and internal organs with a focus on the heart, lungs, and major vessels.

    PAL 4.0: Your virtual accomplice in enhanced A&P learning

    By Ruth Heisler

    Practice Anatomy Lab, or PAL 4.0, is a virtual anatomy lab study and practice tool created by faculty (like me) who teach Anatomy and A&P courses to undergraduates at 2-year & 4-year institutions. It is included within Mastering A&P at no extra cost. Conveniently located in the Study Area, it provides students with 24/7 lab access to the most widely used lab specimens and is inclusive of the most common materials used to teach gross anatomy: human cadavers, anatomical models, histology, cat, and fetal pig. What makes PAL 4.0 a secret weapon in your students’ learning journey is the intentional and helpful extras that promote active learning and encourage students to practice using tools such as:

    • Built-in audio pronunciations. For students and faculty alike! Latin and Greek-based anatomical terms aren’t easy. Make sure you are saying them correctly.
    • Muscle Origin, Insertion, Action animations. These focused animations make it easier to visualize where muscles are attached to the bone, and what the action looks like.
    • Flashcards. Customizable and a student favorite!
    • Practice quizzes. Multiple-choice format. The instructor bank has hundreds of different questions if you want to create a practice or for-credit quiz.
    • Practice lab practicals. Fill-in-the-blank format. The instructor bank has hundreds of different questions if you want to create a practice or for-credit practical.
    • 3D Interactive Models. Students can rotate 360°, remove structures, select to see names, and view side-by-side model/cadaver images for comparison. Each of the 30 models is a tour through a system (or part of a system) and allows students to explore and manipulate.
    • Instructor resources. Looking for an image from PAL that is fully labeled? Want to be able to edit those labels and move the leader lines? Show one of the animations in your lecture? Or maybe you just want an image of a single structure highlighted? Downloadable instructor resource files have all of this and more in editable PowerPoints, making it easy to incorporate into a lecture presentation, create a worksheet, or add to one of your LMS assignments.

    PAL 4.0 nudges students to take control of their own learning by implementing more effective learning strategies that activate different areas of the brain. And we know that utilizing different parts of the brain is an important part of the learning process.
    Intrigued by what it has to offer but overwhelmed by trying to figure out how to incorporate it into your course? Here are some suggestions. (Pro tip: pick just one to start with to see how it works for your class and your style of teaching.)

    Integrate images into your lectures and assignments. Screen shots and editable labeled images are available for every image and highlighted structure by downloading the PAL 4.0 instructor resource files. You can use these images in a multitude of ways: add to your lecture presentation, create a worksheet, or include as part of a quiz or assignment in your course LMS.

    Create and assign pre- or post-lab quizzes in Mastering A&P. Mastering A&P has an extensive test bank that includes hundreds of multiple-choice quiz questions, all of which feature an image from PAL. These questions can easily be selected to create a quiz within Mastering A&P. Assigning the quiz and syncing the grade is easy to do through your LMS.

    Create and assign lab practicals in Mastering A&P, for practice or credit. Students love the opportunity to practice. Mastering A&P has an extensive test bank that includes hundreds of fill-in-the-blank questions, all of which feature an image from PAL. These questions can easily be selected to create a practical within Mastering A&P. This can be created as a practice assignment or assigned for a grade. Syncing graded assignments with your LMS gradebook is easy to do!

    The jigsaw method: encourage students to teach each other. This is a favorite of mine. Students are broken into two or three groups, and each group is assigned a portion of the structures from the weekly lesson to learn before they come to lab. They do this using PAL 4.0. Using the test bank that already exists in Mastering, a short pre-lab quiz can be created to hold them accountable. Once they are in lab, they are paired with someone from the other group and must teach each other the material. As we all know, having to teach someone else is a powerful way to learn!

    Use the interactive 3D models in class. Why show static, 2D images in lecture when you can use a 3D model? I love the way these models can be easily rotated, structures can be removed, and relationships of structures can be better demonstrated. Students can access these 3D models in PAL to review and study. Each model is a series of 3D images that can be manipulated and take you on a tour through a body system or portion of a body system. You really should check these out.

    Use Muscle Origin, Insertion, and Action animations in your lecture or recitation. I will confess to occasionally accessing these animations when I have a hard time explaining an action to a student. Whether you use plastic models, human cadavers, or cats in your lab, it can be extremely hard to see where exactly the muscle originates from and/or where it inserts. These animations isolate a single muscle so all of this is easy to visualize, and then shows and narrates the movement. There are also a series of videos specific to the major synovial joints that demonstrate the muscles involved in movement at that specific joint.

    Impromptu “how to pronounce” breaks during lecture or lab. I frequently use this feature to settle arguments as to the “right way” to pronounce a specific structure. Whether it is a colleague or a student that isn’t quite sure, it is easy to click on the name of a structure in PAL and hear the pronunciation. These pronunciations were all carefully vetted by my eloquent co-author Dr. Nora Hebert.

    Make up assignments or provide extra credit. The last few years have taught us to expect the unexpected. PAL 4.0 can help. If a student has an excused absence or if a weather closure (or pandemic) cancels lab, assigning students to review structures in PAL combined with a quiz or lab practical created in Mastering A&P can replace the missed work.

    Beef up your online course. Prior to COVID, I would have told you it wasn’t possible to successfully teach an anatomy course in an online format. Well, I proved myself wrong. We are fortunate to have resources that make it possible for students to have virtual access to resources that support their learning in an online environment. PAL 4.0 is a perfect tool for helping students learn anatomy and, paired with the assessment tools available in Mastering A&P, provides the perfect partner to your online course.

    Independent & supplemental learning. A favorite feature of students is the ability to create their own flashcards. Additionally, faculty can create a customized list of structures for students to review in PAL 4.0, and then create questions in Mastering around this list.

    There are so many ways PAL 4.0 can be incorporated into your course to better support students’ learning. Have you thought of other ways to use PAL 4.0? We would love to hear about it!

  • Student waving at a laptop while wearing headphones.

    Support every learner, with Pearson’s accessible learning solutions

    By Pearson

    Our mission is simple: to help people make progress in their lives through learning. Because wherever learning flourishes, so do people. We'll only be successful when our educational materials are accessible to all users, and we’ve long been committed to providing access to learners with disabilities. That commitment is woven into the fabric of our learning materials, development processes, innovation efforts, employee culture, and partnerships.

    We’re proud to have been recognized as a Benetech Global Certified Accessible™ (GCA) publisher. The first third-party EPUB certification program to verify eBook accessibility. (Learn more about this achievement, and our new partnership with Benetech.)

    Accessibility in MyLab and Mastering  

    Pearson’s Faculty Advisors recently led best practice webinars for our two leading learning platforms, exploring accessibility features designed to help more learners succeed. (We invite you to watch the recorded webinars: MyLab or Mastering.)  

  • Man with dark hair and glasses using a laptop while sitting on a couch

    The top 7 Mastering features you should be using

    By Pearson

    Upon mastering a course, it’s etched in our minds along with much satisfaction and pride. That’s what happens for faculty and students alike using Pearson’s Mastering® platform. It supports active, engaging, and immersive experiences while lightening the teacher’s workload.

    You will see its interactive tutorials, real-time analytics, and tailored feedback become indispensable tools as you help prepare students for their academic journeys.

    We’ve rounded up seven of Mastering’s best features that are sure to help the way you teach, engage, and ensure your students success.

    7 Mastering features you can start leveraging today —

    Dynamic Study Modules pose a series of question sets about a course topic that adapt to each student’s performance and offer personalized, targeted feedback to help them master key concepts. They can use their computer or the MyLab and Mastering app to access Dynamic Study Modules. Available for select titles.

    Early Alerts help identify struggling students as early as possible — even if their assignment scores are not a cause for concern. With this insight, you can provide informed feedback and support at the very moment students need it, so they can stay — and succeed — in your course.

    Gradebook records all scores for automatically graded assignments. Struggling students and challenging assignments are highlighted in red, giving you an at-a-glance view of potential hurdles students may face throughout your course.

    Performance Analytics track student performance against specified learning outcomes at both the individual student and class level. Mastering problems are tagged to publisher-provided learning outcomes or added to course-specific, department-wide, or institution-wide learning outcomes.

    Learning Catalytics allows you to pose a variety of questions to help students recall ideas, apply concepts, and develop critical-thinking skills. Students can respond using their smartphones, tablets, or laptops.

    Pearson+ Channels feature an interactive hub of expert-curated short videos and practice materials providing best-in-class content for any student seeking more knowledge in a specific topic or subtopic. In addition to testing their knowledge with practice questions created by Pearson experts, users can visit the social community and discuss certain topics in message threads, ask for help with practice problems, and rank the videos and practice materials.

    Scheduled Reading assigns a chapter or specific section to hold students accountable for their reading and help them prep for lectures, homework, and quizzes. Scheduled Readings populate to each student’s assignment page, and you can now link readings directly to Mastering assignments.

    With real-time insights from Mastering’s analytics dashboard, you can personalize your lectures and labs, keeping pace with student life today while helping to boost student performance.

    By putting more Mastering tools to work, you can help develop more confident, competent learners eager to embrace complex scientific challenges through mindful, meaningful ways and help them improve results.

    See for yourself just how purpose-built Mastering truly is.