Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2018

Thesis Advisor(s)

John Redden

Honors Major

Biological Sciences


Biology | Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Methods


The human digestive system is a diverse network of cells, tissues, and organs that is regulated by intrinsic (e.g. nervous and endocrine systems) and extrinsic factors (e.g. secretions, pH, and the microbiome). Given the volume of content and the dense physiology involved, this system is difficult for instructors to teach and equally challenging for students to understand. This is especially true in our two-semester Human Anatomy and Physiology course for pre-health students at the University of Connecticut. In the Spring 2017 semester, we developed and implemented an active learning based approach when teaching the histology and regulation of gastric secretions - a physiology intensive topic within the digestive system unit. Our lesson included a team-based case study on gastric ulcer formation and Helicobacter pylori, a guided drawing depicting the molecular mechanisms of HCl secretion, a concept map linking the cells with their secretions, a think-pair-share on pharmacological regulators, and a reflective assignment placing the content within a broader societal context. Consistent with the themes of active learning, the lesson is suitable for any physiology instructor seeking to create a more engaging classroom, and provide students with opportunities to problem solve, think critically, and build relationships between course content and real life.