Experiments in Physiology

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Prentice Hall, 2001 - Science - 274 pages
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A laboratory manual is never the work of one author alone; it represents a blend of ideas from other lab manuals, other teachers, and personal experience in the laboratory. We have selected the experiments in this manual because they fulfill two key criteria:

  • They produce consistently successful results—students need not be trained scientists to get meaningful data.
  • They teach significant physiological concepts.
  • The manual is written in a "generic" format so that it can be used with any text and with a variety of laboratory equipment. Detailed directions for operating specialized equipment are not included, so the manual is more versatile and less cluttered with excessive directions that are seldom read by students.

    The major change in the 8th Edition is the addition of a companion website with links to pages that will enhance a student's ability to understand the physiological principles behind the experiments. An ever increasing number of excellent web-based tutorials and animations are now available, each designed to illustrate a particular physiological process. We have attempted to collect the best of these and link them to the companion website. Our goal is to update the website on a regular basis to remove dead links, and to add new links. The companion website is atwww.prenhall.com/tharpwoodman.

    The following features of the manual have made it an effective tool for student learning and efficient teaching by instructors.

  • Experiments are grouped into 23 "teaching units".Each teaching unit consists of a group of related experiments suitable for a 3-hour laboratory period. By eliminating some of these experiments, an instructor can also provide an effective 2-hour lab. The teaching units presented are those that we have found can be successfully performed and discussed by students during a typical 3-hour lab. This grouping of experiments was initiated in the fourth edition and has been well received by instructors and students because it helps them better organize the learning that takes place each week. It also helps students focus on related concepts in physiology, thus maximizing their learning.

  • A lab report for each teaching unit is provided after each exercise. Lab reports consist of data tables, graphs, and questions designed to stimulate students' thinking on what they have seen and done in lab. These reports can be removed from the manual and turned in for grading. The questions posed are not meant to be comprehensive but are to accent the major concepts explored experimentally in each unit. Most of the questions can be answered by short statements that can be easily graded by the lab instructor. Comments by instructors indicate that these lab reports are a major feature of the manual. Students have commented that the reports help them understand what they are doing in lab and make it easier to relate their findings to the theoretical concepts studied in lecture.

    Some questions are more complex than others; they require an application of knowledge of new situations. In the elementary physiology course, the Laboratory Report questions are used as a basis for discussion at the end of the lab period, and the answers to complex questions are provided after discussion. In upper-level courses, students are expected to think through these questions on their own.

  • The Instructor's Guide provides sample data, graphs, and answers to questions in the lab reports. These experimental results represent average values obtained in our teaching labs; they provide guidelines the instructor may use to compare with his or her own results. Instructors are encouraged to devise additional questions for lab quizzes that probe students' knowledge of other facets of the lab experience. The Instructor's Guide also provides lists of materials and equipment needed for each teaching unit and the quantities needed for a lab of 20 to 24 students. This simplifies the ordering of supplies and preparation of solutions.

  • An adequate number of experiments is includedso that the manual can be used for one-semester introductory courses in physiology or for upper-level courses one or two semesters in length. Instructors teaching upper-level courses may wish to use this manual for the foundation core of experiments and to add a few extra experiments that use additional equipment or techniques available in their laboratory.

    The study of physiology is only half accomplished if you never enter the laboratory. It is one thing to hear a concept explained in lecture, but quite another to see the concept unfold before your eyes in a laboratory experiment. The study of physiology is both fascinating and practical—fascinating for its examination of the awesome complexity of both processes, and practical for its future usefulness in our lives.

    The experiments presented in this manual are designed to illustrate the basic principles of physiology. They are also meant to develop your ability to carry out measurements, make observations, and formulate reasonable deductions—characteristics of the scientific process.

    Physiology might appear at first to be an easy science to master, especially to students whose prior schooling has included some study of the heart, brain, eye, and ear. As the complexity of the subject becomes apparent, however, some students may become discouraged. We urge you to accept the difficulties as a challenge; you will find that the more effort you expend, the more interesting physiology will become.

    The following suggestions will make the laboratory experience more valuable to you.

  • Study the lab experiment and the lab reportbeforecoming to the lab. Usually the instructor will give a short introduction to the lab, but this introduction is to help you organize your work and not to give all the details for conducting the experiments.

  • Arrive promptly for lab and become acquainted with the location of equipment and supplies. Use the instructor's introductory comments to help you plan how your team can accomplish the lab work most effectively.

  • Participate actively in the lab. Don't expect to listen passively and let others do the work. Research has shown that true learning occurs best when a person learns actively, and that active learning is stored longer in the memory systems of the brain than is passive learning.

  • Be prepared to work closely with others. Physiology lab work is a team effort that requires an exchange of information and interaction with your classmates and with your instructor. Working closely with others is an important feature of the lab experience, one that will provide benefits to you beyond the mere acquisition of knowledge.

  • As you conduct the experiments, try to relate the theoretical information presented in lecture and textbook with your lab observations. Don't just perform the work mechanically. There is always the danger that, as you struggle with technical difficulties, you will lose sight of the purpose of the experiment. You should continually ask yourself, "What is this experiment trying to show us?"

  • Get in the habit of promptly recording all data as soon as they become available. Much information is lost because a person is too lazy to write things down immediately. If a recording is made of some parameter, write on the record the date, experiment, experimental conditions, and results so that you have complete data when you examine the record later.

  • Use the lab report as a guide for recording the data from the experiments and studying the major concepts explored in each lab. If used properly (that is, to engage your mind in active, critical thought about what you have seen in lab), the lab report can be a useful learning device. Don't expect to gain much if your copy someone else's answers so that you can turn in the report and hurry off to do something "more important." If you don't do your own reports, you will be the loser because you will have missed a valuable opportunity to put your mind to work and learn something.

  • Ask for help when you don't understand how something works. The instructor will gladly help you get your experiment working, but you should also attempt to solve the minor problems yourself. Don't be too discouraged when an experiment fails or you obtain data that do not agree with the expected results. Because of "biological variation" there will be times when things don't work out exactly right (this also happens in real life), but try not to get discouraged, and keep doing your best.

  • When the lab is completed, clean your lab table and discard any waste in the wastebasket. Return all equipment and supplies to their appropriate places.

  • Caution!Some experiments in human physiology in this manual, such as the step tests and the exercises to be done in Experiments 22 and 23, induce some degree of cardiovascular stress.Students who have cardiovascular difficulties, such as cardiovascular insufficiency or hypertension, should not take part in any experiment that causes cardiovascular stress unless they have permission from their physician.If you feel that you should not participate in any experiment for personal health reasons, be sure to tell your instructor. If you suffer any ill effects while in an experiment, stop and inform your instructor.
  • If you keep these suggestions in mind and approach the physiology lab with a positive attitude, you will be richly rewarded with a positive learning experience.

    Good luck. We hope your study of physiology is as exciting as ours has been.

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    Fundamental Physiological Principles
    Movement Through Membranes

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    About the author (2001)

    Dr. Gerald D. Tharp is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). He received his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from UNL in 1958, his Master of Science in Physiology from UNL in 1961, and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1965. He has been presented with two Distinguished Teaching awards from UNL and has done extensive research in Exercise Physiology with numerous papers. Dr. Tharp is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. David A. Woodman is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He received his Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Botany and his Master of Science in Marine Zoology from Bombay University and his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska. He has taught General Biology, Ichthyology, Zoology, and Vertebrate Zoology at UNL but since 1990 has been teaching Anatomy and Physiology lectures and supervising the laboratories for these large courses. He is the recipient of a Distinguished Teaching Service Award from the College of Arts and Sciences, and several Outstanding Contributions to Students awards from the UNL Parents Association.

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