Kristy Nabhan-Warren's chapter, "The Place of Las Casas in Religious Studies" was just published in the book, Approaches to Teaching the Writings of Bartolomé de Las Casas, ed. Santa Arias and Eyda M. Merediz. (The Modern Language Association of America, 2008). The volume is part of the MLA's Approaches to Teaching World Literature series. Writing this piece was enjoyable as well as challenging for Kristy as it drew on her experiences incorporating Las Casas' writings into her first-year Gen Ed Course, "Christianity, Colonization and Reform" that she taught two years ago here at Augustana and details a time period that is not her main specialization. Kristy's main argument is that "Teaching Bartolomé de Las Casas' writings in the religious studies classroom reveals contestations of religion, self, and society that not only were real in medieval and Renaissance Spain but are still real in the modern world...In the undergraduate course in whichI teach Las Casas, I use him as a springboard into understanding the modern Christian. I want students to learn that American religious history does not start with the Puritans but goes back even further. A major thrust of the course is that we need to know early modern Spain and its missionary and evangelizing impulses in order to understand the modern Christian, as well as themes in modern Christianity. I want students to comprehend that Christianity is transcontinental and socially and historically situated and that what they think of as distinctly, uniquely "American" is deeply rooted in the past."
Bob Tallitsch and Allison Beck of the Biology Department have been awarded $150,000 over the next three years by the National Science Foundation through a Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) grant. The project is entitled "The effects of computer-assisted instruction in teaching human anatomy: An experimental study." NSF typically funds less than 10% of the approximately 100 CCLI grant applications that are submitted each year.
The following is a summary of the grant proposal: Learning the required information in a college-level human anatomy or a combined anatomy and physiology (A & P) course requires students to utilize at least two different techniques: (1) the acquisition of a large and complex technical vocabulary, and (2) the development of an ability to interpret and understand three-dimensional (3D) structural relationships within the human body. This is typicaly accomplished using available textbooks with well-defined atlases and cadaver dissection experiences. This grant proposes the comparison and evaluation of this typical teaching pedagogical method against learning and retention through computer-assisted (CAI) instruction.
We aim to accomplish this by following these specific objectives: Objective 1: Develop laboratory modules, utilizing the Cyber-Anatomy™ program, which will be utilized in college-level anatomy and A & P courses to enhance and augment "typical" human anatomy laboratory exercises. Objective 2: Test students' ability to understand and interpret 3D structural relationships upon entering a college-level human anatomy or A & P course. Objective 3: Determine the improvement, if any, in the students' understanding and interpretation of 3D structural relationships following the completion of a standard college-level anatomy or A & P course with or without CAI. Objective 4: Determine how much, if at all, the utilization of laboratory modules involving Cyber-Anatomy™ enhances the students' interest in the course overall. Objective 5: Determine how much, if at all, the utilization of laboratory modules involving Cyber-Anatomy™ enhances the students' ability to retain anatomical information.
Anatomy and A & P students, regardless of level, must learn how to mentally translate two-dimensional (2D) anatomical illustrations into 3D structures and structural relationships. The inclusion of more MRI, CT and other cross-sectional imaging techniques in undergraduate anatomy and A & P texts is increasing the need for students to be able to make this 2D to 3D translation.
If the utilization of Cyber-Anatomy™, and its associated laboratory modules, is demonstrated to have a positive impact upon a student's ability to interpret 3D structural relationships, retain essential anatomical information, and increase student interest in the course, additional work will be undertaken to further develop Cyber-Anatomy™. This computer program could then provide an excellent tool for computer-assisted instruction that could result in a significant enhancement of student learning in human anatomy courses and combined anatomy and physiology courses at community colleges and four-year undergraduate institutions nation wide.