Enhancing Learning is Manual Labor


ST. LOUIS — Maryville University faculty members routinely go the extra mile when it comes to enhancing student learning. Kristen Bruzzini, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, is no exception. Bruzzini has fulfilled a dream that she had since coming to Maryville four years ago. In order to motivate her Anatomy and Physiology class, and reinforce their lab experience, she created her own Lab Manual to accompany her lectures.

“I really care about the students and their learning at Maryville,” Bruzzini said. “I try to go above and beyond the call to get students to be curious about themselves and the people around them.” Bruzzini worked diligently on the manual over the last two years. The manual consists of weekly components including charts, directions, pictures and slides to make each lab session more understandable and accessible to the students. Bruzzini realizes that Anatomy and Physiology is a crucial course that provides necessary information which students will use in their professions after graduation. “In addition,” she states, “it provides them with some fundamental knowledge about their bodies.”

Bruzzini found her students were becoming frustrated because some material covered in class was not found in their textbook. She concluded that by creating a manual which included exactly what she expected the students to know in exactly the way she intended to teach, a little weight could be lifted off everyone’s shoulders. Though the school year has just begun, Bruzzini said the response from students has been promising. “I want to make the book even better, so I have welcomed their opinions,” she stated.

Bruzzini created the entire manual. She admits that the most time-consuming part of the creation was the photography and artwork, and how she could relate it to the anatomical illustrations. Currently, only Maryville students have access to the manual, which is published through McGraw Hill. However, Bruzzini has high hopes of getting the manual published nationally in the near future.

Bruzzini applied for, and received, a $2,000 grant from Maryville University’s Center for Teaching and Learning to fund the cost of producing the manual. She added, however, that she would have created the manual even if her grant proposal had been denied. Bruzzini said she was fortunate in that her manual was accepted for publication on her first try.

Bruzzini has used the changes she made to her A&P classes as an action research topic regarding the use of cooperative learning to enhance information retention and student motivation. For her intense research, she received a Young Faculty Award earlier this year from the American Association of Anatomists. She also presented her findings at the AAA’s national conference in Washington, D.C.

Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a private, coeducational institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,300 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Midwest, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers by offering programs that integrate liberal arts with professional studies.

Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.

By Emily Mullen, student writer, Marketing and Public Relations