All courses are active learning environments with a laboratory and research component. Emphasis is placed on knowledge application and scientific communication. 

Edible nephron loop!?! Why not? Learn about kidney microanatomy and function AND end up with a yummy snack. 

“Doctor, why am I so tired and dizzy?” A Case Study for teaching neuroantomy. 

Alexis Grosofsky and Jennifer A. Stokes, Beloit College

The human brain is a remarkable organ and human behavior would not be possible without it. When there are problems with the brain a variety of symptoms such as headaches, nausea, personality change, trouble with movement, and changes in hearing or vision (among others) can present. While students can learn about human anatomy and physiology, they typically do not get the opportunity to apply their knowledge, especially in a real-life medical scenario. This case allows students to apply their learning to an actual case involving the disruption of the central and peripheral nervous systems.

This interrupted case study allows students to follow the real-life diagnosis and recovery of a college professor (Alexis) who had a large brain tumor impacting her behavior. Her primary symptoms that led to the initial visit to her internist were extreme fatigue and dizziness. Students receive details about the symptoms experienced chronologically and work in pairs to determine what the symptoms mean and what central and peripheral nervous system components may be involved. The case is designed to be delivered during one 2-hour class period. It could be divided to occur over multiple days if desired, as it is split up into 6 different steps.

Teaching objectives:

  • Enhance student understanding of cranial nerve structure and function

  • Give students practice applying knowledge of cranial nerves to behavior

  • Help students appreciate that what they learn in the classroom has application to real-life

Experimental Biology Poster; Chicago; April 2017

If you are interested in using this case study and associated activity please contact me

All materials for this activity can be found here:

Beloit College (2016-2017)
BIOL 110: Human Biology
BIOL 256: Anatomy
BIOL 357: Human Physiology
Centenary College
BIOL 301: Human Anatomy and Physiology I
BIOL 302: Human Anatomy and Physiology II
BIOL 306: Nutritional Physiology
BIOL 319: Psychopharmacology
BIOL 395: Exercise Physiology
BIOL 251: Medical Terminology

Collaborative Exams in an Undergraduate Anatomy and Physiology Classroom Enhance Students’ Perceived Learning and Knowledge Retention 

Jennifer A. Stokes, Centenary College of Louisiana

Experimental Biology Poster; Orlando; April 2019

If you are interested in learning more about this study please contact me


Abstract: Collaborative learning activities in the classroom encourage student interactions, promote peer-to-peer teaching, and increase learning and knowledge retention. Summative assessments, such as individual course exams, are necessary to evaluate student knowledge and level of understanding of course content, but they can also be used as a valuable teaching tool. Human anatomy and physiology courses, even at the undergraduate level, require that students retain information throughout the course in order to grasp the integrative nature of human anatomy and physiology in health and disease and its core concepts. This initial report examines the use of collaborative testing in an undergraduate-level anatomy and physiology course at a primarily undergraduate institution. Nineteen students enrolled in Human Anatomy and Physiology I took part in the initial study. The students first completed the regularly scheduled course exams individually and on the following day the students completed the same exam in pre-assigned groups of three to four students. Following the final collaborative exam the students completed a survey which asked questions aimed at assessing their perceived learning, knowledge retention, peer-to-peer teaching experience, and feelings towards group work. This survey asked the student to evaluate the collaborative exams using a standard Likert scale where 1 indicated “strongly disagree” and 5 indicated “strongly agree”. Mean student performance on the collaborative exams was significantly better when compared to the individual exams (Exam I: 75.9 ± 13.0% vs. 90.4 ± 2.8%, p<0.001; Exam II: 80.3 ± 15.5% vs. 93.3 ± 4.3%, p=0.003). Survey results indicate that the collaborative exams were an overall positive experience that improved perceived student learning and retention. Specifically, 90% or more of the students responded with a score of a 4 (somewhat agree) or 5 (strongly agree) in regards to the following statements: 1) After the collaborative exam, I often better understood the exam material; 2) The collaborative exams reinforced the course material and/or major learning objectives; and, 3) The collaborative exams helped me retain information throughout the course. Additionally, 68% or more of the students responded with a score of a 4 or 5 in regards to the following statements: 1) I enjoyed learning from my peers during the collaborative exams; and, 2) The collaborative exams support the practice of group study and collaborative thinking. Finally, 90% of the students responded with a score of a 4 or 5 to the following statement: I think that the collaborative exams are a valuable learning activity. Based on these results, this student cohort supports the use of collaborative exams as a teaching tool and rates them highly in terms of peer-to-peer teaching, learning, and knowledge retention. Future studies will assess student learning and knowledge retention by repeating selected questions, which focus on the core concepts in physiology, on subsequent exams.

The science and scholarship of teaching and learning drives my course design and helps me create an active, engaging, and effective learning environment for my students. At SU I am continuing my pedagogical research on the following topics:

1) Assessing student engagement, learning, and retention in Human Anatomy and Physiology courses 

2) Collaborative exams and peer-to-peer teaching methods. 

Southwestern University
KIN48-253/251:  Integrated Human Anatomy and Physiology I + Lab
KIN48-263/261: Integrated Human Anatomy and Physiology II + Lab
KIN48-406: Nutritional Physiology

© 2021 by Jennifer Ann Stokes

Images on this site are property of Jennifer Ann Stokes and Keenan Photography.