Teaching Electrocardiogram Basics Using Dance and Movement

By Schultz, Karen K.; Brackbill, Marcia L. | American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, August 2009 | Go to article overview

Teaching Electrocardiogram Basics Using Dance and Movement


Schultz, Karen K., Brackbill, Marcia L., American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education


INTRODUCTION

As educators, we should constantly strive to create a high-quality learning environment that is stimulating and creative for students and faculty members alike. Faculty members who have been teaching for 20+ years, may actually have taught only the first year and then repeated it 19 times. Asking faculty members to change and pursue different approaches to teaching and learning can be time consuming and difficult and require an outside perspective as they strive to address a variety of learning styles, many of which are different from their own.

Collaborative inquiry can be a useful tool for stimulating such change. Utilizing an interdisciplinary faculty approach for designing educational experiences can provide a rich learning environment that leads to a diversity of ideas. Such collaboration can also give perspective as well as insight as to how interdisciplinary teams can function. Good learning experiences can stimulate personal and professional growth. (1)

In our pursuit to enhance student learning and embrace varying learning styles, as well as increasing our knowledge of teaching methodologies, faculty members at Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy pursued an interprofessional collaborative alliance (2) with School of Arts and Sciences dance faculty members at Shenandoah University. The School of Pharmacy already had a successful model for teaching electrocardiogram (ECG) recognition. The curriculum involved students sitting passively for many hours in a darkened room watching PowerPoint presentations. Pharmacy faculty members wanted to invigorate and vary teaching styles, increase test scores, and offer students the opportunity to literally move out of their seats.

The instruction design faculty member hypothesized that utilizing dance could be fun, creative, and strengthen ties to the University's internationally recognized dance faculty. No such collaboration had taken place on campus between disciplines prior to this time, nor could we find any previous documented study in the literature of utilizing dance and movement to increase knowledge retention among pharmacy students. Pursuing collaborative innovative teaching and instruction design was a concept supported by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education's (ACPE's) competencies, (3) Shenandoah's University-wide mission statement, (4) and the Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy's basic tenets, (5) as well as faculty members' individual teaching philosophies. Specifically, the creation and assessment of this teaching and learning process was supported by ACPE Standard No. 12, which states that "Attention should be given to teaching efficiencies and effectiveness as well as innovative ways and means of curricular delivery...to meet the needs of diverse learners." (3) Standard 14, Guideline 14.1 supports experimental and innovative approaches taking place continuously being "adequately planned and coupled with an appropriate evaluation system."

The use of dance as an innovative teaching methodology for enhancing retention of knowledge is documented in the literature. Thinking is a motor act that uses motor neurons in the motor cortex of the brain which are directly connected to the muscles of the body. (6) When the body experiences movement there is remembrance in our muscles. As Catterall explains: "Experiences reorganize neural pathways, neural receptors, and functioning of specific brain regions such that subsequent experiences are received differently, at levels ranging from trivial or behaviorally undetectable to profound and exceedingly apparent." (7) Using movement to learn information activates neurons in our bodies and through repetition the neurons remember the movement due to a phenomenon called muscle memory. Thus, movement can be correlated with visual and auditory learning methods to enhance retention of material. Triggered neural impulses travel paths through specific regions of the brain--those involved with cognition, memory, feeling, value, and autonomous response. …

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