Human Biology – Fifteenth Edition

Recently, the latest edition of Dr. Sylvia Mader’s Human Biology text was published by McGraw-Hill Education. As the lead author on this text, and the managing author for the series, I wanted to let you know of some of the changes that you may see in this text.

While this text is one of the longest-running textbooks in the industry (it was the first text dedicated to human biology for non-science majors),
it is not just another textbook revision. Instead, in many ways this text represents the first step in the next-generation of content development. For me, as a science author, the evolution of content to meet the needs of our students is my most important mission.

 Using Student Data In the Revision Process

One of the biggest differences between this text and most others in the market is the fact that the revision of this text is not typical of what most textbooks experience.  Typically, a revision process involves sending reviews out to faculty, compiling these reviews, and then making edits based upon the recommendations of the faculty. Unfortunately, that process does not include the actual users of the texts – the students. However, students don’t know what they don’t know, and usually trying to figure that out occupies a significant amount of time as an instructor.

I am one of the pioneers in the use of data from the SmartBook platform in the revision process. It is now possible to overlay student interactions with SmartBook questions (sometimes called probes) over the actual text. This creates what are  called “heat maps”. An example of one is shown below:


What this is showing is the areas of the text that the students are struggling with, on a national level. What this data allows us to do is:

  • revise the actual content of the text with specific student knowledge deficiencies in mind
  • build digital learning resources that target specific knowledge deficiencies (see below)
  • revise SmartBook questions so that they better probe what the students know and don’t know

To understand more about this process – here is a link to a presentation I made at Learning Solutions 2016 that explored how data is changing content development.


RicochetScience Videos on YouTube

I have launched a new series of YouTube videos that can act as learning resources in your classes. These videos are free to embed and use in your classes.


Relevancy Articles

In addition, I have been working on a series of articles that have been focused on the intersection of science and society. I have been posting these to my website, under the heading of PopScience.

Upcoming in this series are articles about GMOs and infectious diseases. Each article will include a handout of discussion questions that you may use to engage your students.

About the Cover

While the human body is an amazing biological machine, it is adapted to a life on land. However, we are an intelligent species, and one that has been able to innovate and develop technologies that allow us to explore the world we live in.

Despite the environment we are in, the systems of our bodies must work to maintain internal homeostasis, which is a relatively narrow range of operating conditions. Whether a scuba diver or snorkeler, when diving on a coral reef, the respiratory system must exchange gases so that the brain and muscles have an adequate supply of oxygen, and that carbon dioxide is removed from the blood. The endocrine system ensures that the level of glucose in the blood is adequate to meet demand, while the urinary system maintains the water-salt balance of the body and prepares waste materials for elimination.

Our nervous system is capable of simultaneously processing thousands of signals from our external and internal environments. In the case of a diver, this includes information on the carbon dioxide concentration of the blood, external and internal temperatures, pressure of the water, as well as a constant reminder as to the positions of our arms and legs. All of this information is processed rapidly at a subconscious level. If our blood carbon dioxide levels rise, the brain increases the rate of respiration. If our body temperature drops, the brain tells the muscular system to shiver to generate heat. This integration is critical to our survival in any environment.

Throughout this text, you will learn more about the complex interactions that occur within the human body. From a genetic, to cellular, and onto a physiological level, the same processes that make exploring a coral reef possible also control our bodies during our daily activities. By understanding how our bodies function, we can gain a greater understanding of how to prevent disease and lead a healthier life.

Additional Resources

Are you interested in learning more, have questions, or want to make a comment about these projects? Then send me a quick note from the contact page.