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7 Ideas for A&P Instructors to Get First-Year Students Engaged in Anatomy and Physiology Courses

Ginelle Testa
Higher Education
Anatomy & Physiology

Anatomy and physiology are fascinating and so crucial for many career paths, but it’s a challenge to consistently get students to pay attention, engage, and be interested. Here are 7 ideas to get your first-year college students engaged in anatomy and physiology courses.

1. Focus on the connection to a health or science career

Students are seriously considering their career paths, especially in their first few semesters of college. Get them interested in Anatomy and Physiology by reminding them of the classroom connections to these careers. What labs connect to what paths? CTE Pathway students are especially interested in the connection between hands-on classroom activities and the job they’ll pursue.

If they’re interested in a career in research, Labster has an anatomy and physiology virtual lab called “Signal Transduction: How cells communicate” where students investigate breast cancer growth. Connecting this to being a future researcher or analyst can be interesting to students. Get them thinking about how they can produce real change!

transduction of cells

2. Use storytelling to explain anatomy and physiology concepts

Students naturally learn about the world through narratives. It’s helpful to do the same in the classroom! Introducing a lesson in conjunction with a story can boost students’ interest in the topic. It’s more relatable and can capture their attention.

Labster has a virtual lab called “Absorption In the Small and Large Intestines: Journey from the stomach to the bloodstream” where students don’t just learn about absorption from a textbook. Instead, they follow a piece of food on its journey throughout the small intestine.

absorbtion small intestine

3. Teach using different methods

If you’ve been teaching for a long time, it can be challenging to break away from the tried and true methods. Students have different learning styles and varying the teaching meth

ods can help them learn better. Perhaps you can integrate more 3D videos, digital quizzes, and interactive tools like virtual labs into your classroom.

Maybe you’re going to teach about reproductive systems. Before getting into the lab, you could use Labster’s virtual labs to better prepare students. There’s a lab called “Introduction to the Female Reproductive System” that learns about the structure, function, and physiology of the female reproductive system.

female reproduction

4. Try team-based learning

Try a method that goes beyond lecturing! With team-based learning (TBL), students can be introduced to concepts at home and then can be actively engaged in learning those concepts in class. Labster virtual labs are used in conjunction with TBL to help students grasp the material and have fun. 

For example, they could do the Exercise Physiology virtual lab at home, where they find out how only three times ten minutes of supramaximal sprint interval training per week can increase your exercise capacity and fitness level. Then can come to class prepared for the in-person lab!

Exercise Physiology


5. Monitor student progress and challenges

Assessing how students are doing via quiz questions and observing labs is important so that you know how to tailor your lectures and instruction to best guide students. With their included Teacher Dashboard, Labster virtual labs allow for teachers to assess student progress in real-time with automatic grading, showing where more coaching is needed. 

6. Explore available teaching resources

It can be overwhelming to search for resources. You’re already short on time, and there are tons of resources available. One option is virtual labs. We have a variety of anatomy and physiology labs and our lab simulation catalog continues to grow. You can search by keyword, topic, or by Labster's Anatomy & Physiology Course Package, where you can easily browse every available A&P simulation.

7. Partner with other teachers for ideas

Lesson planning takes a long time. What if you had a community where you could reach out to other A&P and science instructors to share ideas, experiences, and advice? Labster offers just that in our Community Campus to any science educator, no subscription is needed. 

Questions to consider:

  • How do you get students interested in A&P?

  • Which A&P virtual labs do you wish you'd had in college?

Try a 30-day free trial of Labster and find out what simulations you can use to teach A&P!

The Complete Guide to Anatomy & Physiology Virtual Labs

Curious to learn more about how science simulations can support Anatomy & Physiology? Read our comprehensive overview of Virtual Labs for Anatomy & Physiology.