Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

The A&P Professor Podcast
TAPP Radio

Content updates and teaching advice for teachers of human anatomy & physiology (A&P) from professor, author, and mentor Kevin Patton. 

Have a question, comment, or an idea for an episode you'd like to hear—or in which you would like to participate or help plan? Contact host Kevin Patton. Or call the podcast hotline at 1-833-LION-DEN (1-833-546-6336).

For more details on each episode—including transcripts—please visit The A&P Professor website.

May 16, 2024

In Episode 148, Justin Shaffer joins host Kevin Patton to discuss high structure course design. Justin shares his success in building a scaffold for learning by using a variety of course structures to improve student engagement and success, such as pre-class and post-class activities, micro-case studies and clicker questions, brief active learning practices, and much more.

00:00 | Introduction
00:46 | Introducing Justin Shaffer
02:49 | High Structure and Low Structure
20:47 | Badge Break
21:43 | Transparency, Expectations, & Flexibility
34:06 | Secret Code: TAA Conference in Nashville
36:04 | Baby Steps or Go All In?
50:16 | Staying Connected

โ˜… If you cannot see or activate the audio player, go to:

๐Ÿ… Apply for your credential (badge/certificate) for listening to this episode:

โญโญโญโญ Please rate & review this podcast so that others can decide whether to give it a try:

โ“ Please take the anonymous survey:

โ˜๏ธ Questions & Feedback: 1-833-LION-DEN (1-833-546-6336)

โœ”๏ธ Follow The A&P Professor on Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Substack, Tumblr, or Instagram! @theAPprofessor

๐Ÿ“ฐ Get the once-or-twice-weekly TAPP Science & Education Updates

To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time. (Leonard Bernstein)


Introducing Justin Shaffer

2 minutes

Host Kevin Patton briefly introduced our guest, Dr. Justin Shaffer. Justin is an experienced educator who provides professional development and advice on pedagogy for educators in anatomy and physiology and other disciplines. He is particularly well known for his advice on how to implement high structure course design.

โ˜… Recombinant Education (Justin's website)

โ˜… Justin Shaffer (Justin's LinkedIn profile)

โ˜… How to Use High Structure Course Design to Heighten Learning (Justin's conversation with host Bonni Stachowiak on the Teaching in Higher Education podcast)

โ˜… High Structure STEM Classes (Justin's interview on the podcast, Tea for Teaching)

Blueprints for Learning: Justin Shaffer on Structured A&P Course Design Epjisode 148 

High Structure and Low Structure

18 minutes

Kevin Patton discusses with Justin Shaffer the concept of high-structure course design, which revolutionizes traditional teaching by providing a scaffolded learning process involving pre-class content acquisition, active in-class engagement, and post-class assessments. This method, inspired by the educational research of Scott Freeman and Mary Pat Wenderoth, has been successfully applied across multiple disciplines, demonstrating its versatility and effectiveness in improving student learning outcomes and engagement.

โ˜… Increased structure and active learning reduce the achievement gap in introductory biology (report in Science mentioned in this segment)

โ˜… Getting Under the Hood: How and for Whom Does Increasing Course Structure Work? (paper in CBE-Life Sciences Education by Kelly Hogan and Sarah Eddy mentioned in this segment)

โ˜… Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom (book by Kelley Hogan and Viji Sathy mentioned in this segment)

โ˜… True Grit: Passion and persistence make an innovative course design work (paper in PLOS Biology by Casper, Eddy, and Freeman mentioned in this segment)

โ˜… Student performance in and perceptions of a high structure undergraduate human anatomy course (Justin's paper on high structure anatomy in ASE)

โ˜… High Structure Course Design for Chemical Engineering (Justin's paper on high structure chemical engineering in CEE)

โ˜… Do I Really Have to Teach Reading? (source of the quote used in this segment, "My wish for you is that each year you look back at your career and laugh with embarrassment about the way used to teach. If you do this, you will continue to learn and grow.")


Badge Break

1 minute

Kevin reminds listeners that listening to this episode and reviewing the notes at this episode page can be documented with a professional development credential that can be shared in the form of a digital badge or certificate. It helps you keep track of your independent professional development activities and it provides evidence for your records or reports. Scroll down to the the link below to claim your digital credential. Or go to one of the links listed:

โ˜…  Education | Professional Development (all about TAPP digital credentials)

โ˜… TAPP Education | Credentials | P Group (list of all the credentials related to this podcast)


Transparency, Expectations, & Flexibility

12.5 minutes

In this insightful exchange, Kevin Patton and Justin Shaffer explore the transformation of teaching strategies from low to high structure. Patton discusses the shift in student expectations due to more structured courses, and Shaffer explains how transparency and flexibility within this framework can significantly enhance student engagement and success. They discuss the importance of being adaptable while maintaining rigorous academic standards to mirror real-world responsibilities.

โ˜… Some related resources from The A&P Professor

โ˜… โ˜… The Case for Transparency | Episode 51

โ˜… โ˜… Student Evaluations of Teaching II: Proactive, Active, and Reactive Strategies | TAPP 85 (discusses course debriefing sessions with feedback)

โ˜… โ˜… Should We Extend Deadlines? | Models & Color Codes | TAPP 112

โ˜… โ˜… The Inclusive Anatomy & Physiology Course | Part 2 | 8 More Tips to Include All | TAPP 109

โ˜… โ˜… More Quizzing About Kevin's Wacky Testing Scheme | Book Club | TAPP 100

โ˜… โ˜… 49 Tricks for Retention & Success in Online Courses | Episode 21

โ˜… โ˜… 49 MORE Tricks for Retention & Success in Online Courses | Episode 22

โ˜… โ˜… EVEN MORE Tricks for Retention & Success in Online Courses | Episode 23

โ˜… โ˜… Ungrading With Standards-Based Grading | A Chat With Staci Johnson | TAPP 106

โ˜… โ˜… Taking Bold Steps in Teaching | Notetaking | Science Updates | TAPP 90

โ˜…  State of Student Success and Engagement in Higher Education (recent report from Instructure)


Secret Code: TAA Conference in Nashville

2 minutes

We take a brief pause to talk about the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA) in which many A&P professors find helpful support and benefits. TAA meets the needs of those interested in creating textbooks, lab manuals, workbooks, and other learning resources, as well as those who focus on academic writing, such as journal articles, dissertations/theses, monographs, and scholarly or other nonfiction works.

Kevin explains that he has a secret code for a significant discount on the upcoming TAA Annual Conference. Contact him at or the podcast hotline at 1.833.546.6336

โ˜… TAA Annual Conference (Nashville TN, June 21-22โ€”contact Kevin for the secret discount code)


Baby Steps or Go All In?

14 minutes

In this segment, we discuss the dilemma of adopting high-structure teaching methods with Justin Shaffer, focusing on the balance between workload and effectiveness. Shaffer recommends a phased approach to implementing new strategies in an established course, starting small and evaluating the impact before adding more elements. This method allows educators to manage their workload while still experimenting with innovative teaching practices that can significantly enhance student learning experiences and outcomes. For new courses, Justin suggests going all-in from the start, noting that while the initial setup may be labor-intensive, the long-term gains in student performance and instructional efficiency can justify the effort.

โ˜… Recombinant Education (Justin's website with a lot of resources related to high structure teaching)

โ˜… Improving Exam Performance in Introductory Biology through the Use of Preclass Reading Guides (Justin's paper on Reading Guides in CBE-Life Sciences)

โ˜… Teaching and Learning STEM: A Practical Guide (book by Rich Felder and Rebecca Brent, both mentioned in this segment)



Production: Aileen Park (announcer),  Andrรฉs Rodriguez (theme composer,  recording artist),  Karen Turner (Executive Editor), Kevin Patton (writer, editor, producer, host).

Not People

Robotic (AI) audio leveling/processing and transcription is done by and the content, spelling, grammar, style, etc., of these episode notes are assisted by various bots, such as ChatGPT, Grammarly, and QuillBot.


If the hyperlinks here are not active, go to to find the episode page.

โ˜… More details at the episode page:

โ˜… Transcript available in the transcript box:

โ˜… Need help accessing resources locked behind a paywall? Check out this advice from Episode 32 to get what you need!

Take The A&P Professor experience to the next level!


Earn cash by referring other A&P faculty to this podcast:


Tools & Resources

โ˜… TAPP Science & Education Updates:

Follow The A&P Professor on  Twitter, Facebook, Mastodon, Reddit, TikTok,LinkedIn, Blogger, Substack, Tumblr, or Instagram @theAPprofessor

The A&P Professorยฎ and Lion Denยฎ are registered trademarks of Lion Den Inc. (Kevin Patton)