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Printing Hearts to Enhance Student Learning

Professor Samantha Davis showing student heart model | Photo by Allison Corona
Samantha Davis with a 3D-printed neonatal heart. | Photo by Allison Corona

Samantha Davis, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Respiratory Care, received the 2018 National Board for Respiratory Care Gary A. Smith Educational Award for Innovation in Education Achievement, presented by the American Respiratory Care Foundation.

The foundation honored Davis for her work in Boise State’s MakerLab to fabricate three-dimensional (3D) neonatal hearts. These hearts demonstrate defects to her neonatal/pediatric respiratory care class – a visionary, tactile way to improve student learning in an area usually studied in a textbook. Students had the opportunity to print a heart with an assigned defect and cut it into three or four slices to see the defect throughout the heart. Davis received positive feedback from her students who said the 3D printing helped them learn the topic thoroughly.

“Countless studies have shown us that engagement, application and critical thinking are all significantly higher when active-learning strategies are used,” said Davis. “Making [the hearts] allows you to take the great ideas you have and bring them to life where you can touch them, test them and make them even better.”