le cahier de kev

le cahier de kev

adventures fresh off the press

Inquisitive Minds Open New Doors

This winter has been pretty crazy.  When you see people's faces on the train or walking to where they need to go, everyone looks exhausted.  Hopefully the spring weather will come soon!


I've been working on continuing education so I've been immersed in biochemistry and pharmacology readings for the past few weeks.  Going through my reading list took quite some time, but they have been so interesting.  Things should calm down by the beginning of March after I submit everything to the Board.  However, It was a nice review from my undergrad years, and it also brought back memories of the experiments I had to work on during lab.  I was lucky to have a great lab partner in my chemistry lab.  I think she was premed or predental, but she was so nice and funny.  We laughed when we were so careful bringing the hydrochloric acid because we were so scared to have it spill on our skins.  Fun times, fun times.  As crazy as it was, I enjoyed lab.  Now the lab reports...those were something else! haha


Who doesn't love organic chemistry and pharmacology? haha

I always hated drawing cycloheptane (the seven sided one bordered in red).  The seven sides always felt awkward to draw!  It always ended up looking crooked to me.




Here are a few books from my reading list if all of you are interested on reviewing concepts from the health sciences or if you're planning on furthering your education through graduate school or research:


Basic and Clinical Pharmacology by Bertram G. Katzung, Susan B. Masters, and Anthony J. Trevor

Biochemistry by Reginald H. Garrett and Charles M. Grisham

Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning by the National Strength and Conditioning Association

Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance by William D. McArdle, Frank I. Katch, and Victor L. Katch

How the Immune System Works by Lauren Sompayrac

Human Anatomy and Physiology by Elaine Marieb and Katja Hoehn

Medical Law and Ethics by Bonnie F. Fremgen

Microbiology Principles and Explorations by Jacqueline G. Black

Organic Chemistry: With Biological Applications by John. E. McMurry



I've been feeling like Patrick in this picture for the past few weeks/months!
I'll be happy when I submit my paperwork and application at the end of February!


I'm going to reorganize my clinical statement on my site and put it on a separate page.  There was a little introduction on my Portfolio page, but I'm going to expand it to make it clearer.  I'm also thinking of what new study guide I can post on my website.


The NYC/NJ area was pretty busy during Superbowl weekend.  There were a lot of out-of-towners and security was pretty tight especially in the train stations.  I did enjoy their enthusiasm.  People were wearing the passes around the necks and holding their free goodies.  I wanted to check out Super Bowl Boulevard, but I was busy.  I did see a little bit as I walked to the train station, but the games and autographs looked tempting!  It was also fairly warm that day so it was a refreshing break from the usual cold.


It was also Chinese New Year on January 31st.  I baked some Red Velvet cupcakes to ring in the new year.  I have a lot of friends who are Chinese so it was a lot of texting back and forth that night.  I tweaked it so that they wouldn't be too sweet, and they ended up coming out perfectly.  Baking is also like chemistry which is why it ties in with the latter part of my entry haha




I'm also interviewing a model/artist who has a really interesting background.  I'm excited to learn about how she integrates fashion and art.  I saw a lot of her artwork that she posted on Facebook and it was nice to see her passion through different forms of media.  When I have the interview and the article completed, I'll show it to all of you.


Speaking of fashion and models, Kate and I went to Lincoln Center last Friday for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.  It's running from February 6-13 for Fall 2014.  It was really nice (albeit cold) and we both were able to photograph models and get magazines and other PR stuff.  Kate looked at me and asked, "Now that you're doing things in fashion, are you tired of it yet?"  I already knew that it's a lot of work, but I find it rewarding doing tailoring and designing menswear.  It's also very mathematical with measurements and ensuring that the shirt or pants will fit the person.  I laughed and told her that it was still pretty fun.


I was going to integrate it into this post, but since this entry is pretty long enough (with the points that I want to cover), I'll save the fashion photos and writing for the next entry.


I remembered reading an article where the Texas Board of Education was dropping Algebra II from the curriculum.  It made me think a lot about how science and math are perceived to be difficult GPA destroyers.  There's a lot that I want to see reformed when it comes to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. These classes teach problem solving and analytical skills that can be applicable to a variety of fields be it a vocational trade (such as plumbing or mechanical work) or act as a foundation for further education.  Rather than using them as "weeding classes," the subjects should be structured differently based on the background of the students.


For example, when I taught statistics to undergraduate students, I had to teach three different audiences: one for liberal arts students, one for math and science students, and one for social science students.  The material was similar, but there were different things covered.  The math and science students required more equations and things that you would encounter in calculus.  The liberal arts students had to learn the basics like hypothesis testing and simple probability.  The social science students were somewhere in between.  I had to tailor the study guide and practice tests based on the background of the student.


I remembered when I had to interview for the job.  The Director of Education asked me questions like, "How can you make an engineering student enjoy poetry?" or "Give me an example of how you would teach a mathematical concept to an English major."  She was really nice, but she really tested how different techniques can work for different students.  This is the direction where I wanted health and scientific literacy to go (which is what I'm currently working on right now).


What I hope to see is that science and math be encouraged in future students.  I didn't really understand why some professors or teachers scare their students by stating that the class average is usually 45% in a subject such as organic chemistry or calculus 2.  Rather than making the students anxious, I would love to see their interest get nurtured in the field.  There's also the problem of teaching non majors with the material you teach majors. I remembered during my undergraduate years when students who started off being interested in biology or physics switched majors because of the fear of the high failure rate.


Everyone has their own interests which is great.  There are people who generally do not connect with math or science.  They would prefer another field such as a discipline in the arts and humanities.  There is certainly no problem with that.  They might be good in international relations, painting, or writing.  As such, it's logical that they wouldn't require multivariate calculus or physical chemistry.  But for those who start off being interested in nursing or computer science, it would be detrimental to sway them from the field as a result of their negative experiences from "weeder" courses.  There's also the factor of unmotivated students, which we can take out of the equation for now because if they started off unmotivated (such as needing to fulfill a requirement), another approach will need to be applied.


STEM courses are generally difficult.  The courses are challenging, but stimulating at the same time.  They shouldn't be used as a tool to make students fearful.  Rather than doing that, it would be more helpful to make the material accessible and understandable.  Sure not everyone will get an "A" but instead, the material can open doors to a student's scientific curiosity.  It shouldn't be framed as "If you fail physics or biology, you'll never get into medical school."  Instead, the material should have applications to the medical field (or whichever field the student will pursue) and encouraged to do their best so that they can become a competitive applicant.  The more interested the students become, the better they'll perform.


Within the context of health literacy, it doesn't benefit anyone to continue of perpetuate this cycle of fear for STEM courses.  It will just push people away from taking science and math courses.  Also, not all science and math courses have to be comprehensively technical.  Courses for non majors such as college algebra or general science (such as the ones they feature on The Magic School Bus) can generate interest and appreciation for these individuals not pursuing a STEM career.  They should present a challenge yet not kill an individual's interest on the subject.


If information is framed so that the individual can relate to it, they will be more successful in integrating it into their lives.  This can also be applied to other fields not just math or science.  There will be students who will be totally lost in a Shakespeare class and they'll question the meaning of a sonnet.  Helping them understand and enjoy this learning process can open up new doors.


From my experience, here is how I approached it:


1. Assess the needs of the audience.  If you're teaching math for the liberal arts, don't teach them like how you teach your engineering students.  They most likely just need to fulfill a requirement.  On the first day of class, provide a sheet where students can describe their background (i.e.  what is their major, why they are taking this class, and if they want to see any topics discussed that is relevant to their field).  If the class is large, you can also try to gauge the types of students who take the class by speaking to other instructors who have previously taught the class.  How can this class help the students professionally?  What information is the most relevant?


2. Make the material accessible.  The material may be complicated, but you don't have to ramble on and confuse the students. For example, "When a patient requires a specific dose of morphine, make sure you assess Cartesian plane Deoxyribonucleic Acid Thermodynamics Quantum Allegory."


The example may be silly, but it does highlight how information can quickly go over the students' heads.  Make sure to cover what is required for the course.  It would be nice to add some information that may be for upper level courses, but make sure that it does not detract from the mandatory lessons.  Check in on students and ask if they have any questions before moving onto the next topic.  If a student really is confused, encourage them to come to office hours so that the class doesn't fall behind.


3. Make the material engaging.  Many times introductory courses are lecture based.  Everyone knows that it's close to impossible to provide one-on-one attention to a 500 student class.  While it is easier to get to know and assess students in a smaller class setting, you can still see students' reactions of engagement in a lecture.  If the material is dry and you just read off of a Powerpoint, chances are the students will zone out.  If they can relate to the material and enjoy the demonstrations, they will most likely do better in retaining the information.  It doesn't have to be a Las Vegas show every day, but as long as you generate interest, they will make an effort.


4. Be fair throughout the course.  Fairness in this case can apply to several facets.  Everyone should be on level ground.  If there are students who have previous experience on the material, don't teach on their level.  It will end up making the beginners feeling lost and neglected.  Let the more experienced ones know that you will cover the basics first and that everyone should be caught up within a few classes.


Focus on the material at hand.  Don't test on material that isn't covered or is irrelevant.  This would make students give up on studying because if what you teach in class is not on the exam, what's the point of reading those notes?  Helping them grow by encouraging their positive performance throughout the course will open doors for sustained and future interest in the material.  As long as each student has the necessary tools to perform well, then each one has a fair chance of learning the material.


So those four highlighted the basic gist of my work with students and audiences.  Work with whichever style you're comfortable with, but as long as the learning needs are met for everyone, then it should provide results.


It's going to be my family friend's wedding soon, and I also have to cover a lot of information for my continuing education and research so it's going to be hectic.  However, I will have the fashion photos and writeup for the next entry soon.  Stay tuned for that.  I try to have frequent updates to have study guides or other information that can help others out.  As I said, I'll look into what can be beneficial and have it up on my site.


Stay warm everyone!  I'll probably go and have a cup of hot chocolate after I type this.

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