Extra credit opportunity!

I mentioned in class that I’d love to see how you summarize our lectures, if that is something that you do when you study. Everyone studies differently, of course, and you have to just find what works with your brain.

Here are some examples of study methods I’ve seen students use.

  • Condensing the material and then putting it into a form that makes sense to you (this is what worked best for me)
  • Making traditional paper flashcards
  • Using Anki
  • Studying in groups, asking each other questions
  • Doing multiple choice questions (like our Kahoots, or maybe just searching online for question banks)
  • Writing your own multiple choice questions.
  • Making or solving crosswords
  • Making a jeopardy game
  • Making an infographic (Canva works really well for this)
  • Mind/concept mapping
  • Drawing your own pictures/cartoons and labeling them with key concepts

Here’s one method that does NOT work well.

Reading and rereading the PowerPoint slides, trying to memorize each one. I’ve seen students try this unsuccessfully, and there’s also good research showing that this doesn’t work. Part of the reason this method doesn’t work is because it’s so passive. You think you understand the material, but it’s really just superficial, rote memorization.

Here’s the extra credit opportunity.

After class one day, one of you was kind enough to share your gorgeous summary diagram of hematopoiesis with me. As we were talking, the idea came up: wouldn’t it be cool to see how other students put together information?

So, after that long introduction, here’s the extra credit opportunity. You send me a study guide/drawing/summary that you’ve created for one organ system (say, the GI tract, or the respiratory tract), and I’ll give you two extra credit points. I’ll also (with your permission, and without your name) post your study guide/drawings/summary on our website so others can benefit!

Obviously, some of the methods I listed above won’t work for this (group studying and answering multiple choice questions, for example). But otherwise, anything goes – it just needs to be something you have created and find useful.

I’m really excited to see what you guys do! YAY!!!

Exam question breakdown

Here’s the number of questions per lecture for Exam 2:

  • Skin: 10 questions
  • Blood: 5 questions
  • Hematopoietic system: 10 questions
  • Lymphoid system: 10 questions
  • Endocrine system: 10 questions
  • Cardiovascular system: 10 questions

You can expect the same type of questions that we had on our first exam – multiple choice, one correct answer, no trickery, no pictures, hopefully very clearly stated questions.

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Results for Exam 1 are in!

Exam 1 is now closed! Everyone completed the exam, and you guys did really well!! Before making adjustments (see below), the mean was 91%. Nice job!!

When I went through the question metrics, I found a couple questions that didn’t perform too well – so I’d like to show you those questions, explain what went wrong, and tell you what I’m going to do to adjust the scores.

The first one is question 25:

Which of the following best describes the morphology of cardiac muscle cells?
A. Long, unbranched cells with multiple peripheral nuclei
B. Short, branched, striated cells
C. Spindle-shaped, branched, striated cells
D. Long, branched, striated cells
E. Spindle-shaped, unbranched, non-striated cells

The correct answer is B. 60% of the class answered the question correctly, but over 30% chose D. This was a new question that I just wrote this year, and new questions sometimes don’t perform well. Although I check and double check the stem and distractors, I don’t always see the question the way you guys do. That seems to be the case this time; enough of you chose D to make me think that this was not a very good question.

I don’t want to throw the question out (that would punish the people that got it right), and I also don’t want to accept D as correct (because it’s not correct). So in these cases, I feel the fairest thing is to give everyone one extra point. That way, the people who answered incorrectly get that point back, and the people who answered correctly get an extra point (so they get recognized for answering the question correctly). There are so many different ways to handle this type of question – but to me, this way seems the most fair, so that’s what I tend to do most of the time.

The second one is question 37:

Proteoglycans are composed of a ___ core with a bunch of attached ___.
A. Carbohydrate/proteins
B. Glycosaminoglycans/carbohydrates
C. Glycosaminoglycans/proteins
D. Protein/carbohydrates
E. Protein/glycosaminoglycans

The correct answer is E. Only 50% of the class answered correctly (which right there is enough to make me think I didn’t explain this concept well enough in class/on the powerpoint). Most of the rest of the class answered D. So while E is still the correct answer, something about the way I explained this concept didn’t land for many of you, and as a result, you answered incorrectly. So I’m going to do the same thing for this question: add an extra point to everyone’s score.

I’ve released everyone’s results to your Examsoft student portals. That way you can see the questions you got wrong, which is an important thing to check because that way you can correct your knowledge. Also, if you chose an incorrect answer, but you feel you have a good reason for why you made that choice, email me and we can talk about it. Sometimes there is something that I didn’t think of, and in those cases, I’ll add a point to your score. Usually, though, the questions students get wrong are pretty self-explanatory; often it was something that the student didn’t cover when they were studying, or something they just forgot on exam day.

What I DON’T want is for people to be getting questions wrong because the question was confusing in some way. So if you felt that a question was confusing, I’d appreciate it if you let me know! I want to test your knowledge, not try to trick you or make you guess what I’m getting at. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to write straightforward, good questions – but it is!

Finally, please note that the score you see from Examsoft in your student portal is the score you got before I added in the extra points. I’ve entered the corrected scores on Canvas, and that’s the place you should check for your actual, accurate score.

Sorry for the length of this post! I just want to explain these things at the beginning of our time together so that you know how I handle exam questions for all of our courses that we’ll have together.

As always, if you have any questions, please drop me an email.

An apology and an explanation

I intended to post the exam question breakdown, the sample exam questions, and the other information about the exam over the weekend, but that didn’t happen – and I want to apologize and explain why I didn’t get those things done earlier. A very close friend of mine, who had been sick for quite a while, and suffering a lot the past few weeks, finally passed away – and although we knew it was coming, that didn’t seem to make it any easier when it finally happened.

I have a handful of student emails from the past few days in my inbox, and I am sorry I haven’t gotten to them yet. I have two meetings in the morning that I can’t miss – but I will answer those emails, and any others that come in, as soon as I’m free.

Thank you for your patience.

Sample exam questions

I’d like to give you a heads up on the way I write exam questions, so you’re better prepared for this first exam.

Exam questions should test your knowledge (obviously). You shouldn’t get a question wrong because it was confusing, or because it intentionally led you down the wrong path. When I write questions, I try to be as straightforward and clear as possible, so you understand what the question is asking you. And I don’t try to trick you into picking the wrong answer.

So if you look at a question and you know the answer right away, that’s okay! Don’t worry that you missed some sort of trick, or that the question can’t possibly be that simple.

Here are some examples of typical exam questions:

1. In general, what happens during the second phase of the embryonic period?
A. Cells proliferate and migrate
B. Internal and external structures begin to differentiate
C. Organs grow and mature
D. Organs reach their maximum size

2. Which type of intercellular junction attaches epithelial cells to the basal lamina?
A. Zonula occludens (tight junction)
B. Zonula adherens (belt desmosome)
C. Macula adherens (spot desmosome)
D. Gap junction
E. Hemidesmosome

3. What would you call epithelium composed of one layer of cells that are much taller than they are wide?
A. Simple squamous
B. Simple columnar
C. Stratified squamous
D. Stratified cuboidal
E. Pseudostratified columnar


Question 4 refers to the electron micrograph above, which shows a sarcomere in its relaxed state.

4. Which letter (and corresponding line) marks a region that contains ONLY myosin filaments?
A. A
B. B
C. C
D. D

5. On H & E staining, which type of connective tissue proper is composed of abundant ground substance, scattered cells, and some thin fibers?
A. Dense irregular connective tissue
B. Dense regular connective tissue
C. Loose areolar connective tissue
D. Loose reticular connective tissue

6. Which glial cell myelinates axons in the central nervous system?
A. Astrocyte
B. Ependymal cell
C. Microglial cell
D. Oligodendrocyte
E. Schwann cell


Scroll down for the answers!










1. B
2. E
3. B
4. B
5. C
6. D

Updated version of lecture slides posted

It was so fun to meet you guys today! Thank you for your patience with the computer issues. It will NOT take that long to start class every day; apparently no one had been in the room so everything had been unplugged and needed to be rebooted.

I posted an updated version of today’s lectures slides on our lectures page. The main difference is that that this new updated version has some lecture objectives at the beginning. There are a couple other minor differences: I added a slide on what this class will be like, and I deleted the slide on toluidine blue slide (because it wasn’t super important).

I try very hard not to do this (go back after class and upload new slides), because I know it is annoying. But I really wanted you to have lecture objectives so you can see what I consider to be the most important take-aways from the lecture.

I’m so glad you liked the cookies! In case you didn’t get a chance to look at the diagram of your cookie(s), here are the drawings:

Our first lecture is tomorrow!

I’m so excited to meet all of you and start our General Histology course. Tomorrow is our first class session together (yay!) and I just wanted to tell you a few things so you know what to expect.

Obviously, you’ve made it to our website, GeneralHistology.com. This is where all of our course stuff will reside. Here’s a quick summary of what this website contains:

  • Our Home page (the page you’re on right now) is where I’ll post anything related to the course (student questions, schedule changes, stuff I run across that’s related to what we’re talking about in class, etc.).
  • The About page has the basic information you’ll want to know about our course. You can also download our course syllabus here, which is very long and boring but has all the official school policies in it.
  • Our class schedule is listed on the Lectures page. You’ll also find the PowerPoint slides for each lecture here, as well as the lecture recordings (I’ll post these as soon as they’re available – usually they’re ready a few hours after lecture).
  • There are a bunch of optional resources that you might find useful, including Summary Videos of each lecture, Crosswords, Kahoots (little quizzes you can take to test yourself), and Other Resources like helpful YouTube videos, etc.

The only thing not on this website is grades; these will be posted on Canvas.

So that’s about it for the website. Tomorrow, we’ll have class at 1:00 – and although the schedule says we have class until 2:55 we’ll probably end earlier than that. I’ll spend a little time at the beginning just talking about the course, so you know what to expect. Then we’ll have a short lecture to introduce you to some basic principles of histology.

Also, we’ll have a yummy AND educational surprise tomorrow in class. I’ve been working hard on it this weekend (actually, it’s not work, it’s really fun)…here’s a sneak peek:

See you at 1:00 tomorrow in Moos 2-690!

Class starts soon!

Hello! If you’ve found your way here, you must be an incoming first year student – welcome! I’m SO excited to start our course and meet you!

I’m in the process of updating this website to fit what we’ll be doing this year – so there will be some changes here and there over the next few days. But feel free to poke around and see what’s here. And if you have any questions, please email me at kkrafts@umn.edu.

Class starts in just 11 days – so I hope you’re enjoying these last sunny days of freedom! I look forward to meeting you and talking about some really interesting and beautiful stuff in our histology course.