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Ronald J. Gerrits, Ph.D. - Milwaukee School of Engineering. Milwaukee, WI, US

Ronald J. Gerrits, Ph.D.

Professor, Program Director | Milwaukee School of Engineering


Dr. Ron Gerrits focuses his professional efforts on science education.

Education, Licensure and Certification (2)

Ph.D.: Physiology, Medical College of Wisconsin 1999

B.S.: Biomedical Engineering, Milwaukee School of Engineering 1994


Dr. Ron Gerrits professional interests are centered around best practices and resource development in science education, mainly in the domain of physiology. As an active member of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, he contributed to the creation of a broad set of undergraduate A&P learning outcomes that are now commonly used by textbook publishers. He has contributed to multiple resources for physiology education including the Open Learning Initiative anatomy and physiology course, National Academy Foundation high school physiology project and the TopHat digital anatomy and physiology textbook. In addition, he has authored a set of guided inquiry activities of which selected ones are available in the Jensen et. al. POGIL Activities for Introductory Anatomy and Physiology Courses and through membership at the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society webpage. Service activities include leadership in the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, where he served as President-Elect, President and Past-President.

Areas of Expertise (3)

Science Education

Guided Inquiry


Accomplishments (5)

Ronald Nichols Award for the Support of the Perfusion Profession, Wisconsin Perfusion Society


Biology Scholars Assessment Residency and Program


Biology Scholars Research Residency and Program


Bioscience Education Net Scholar


Oscar Werwath Distinguished Teacher Award, MSOE


Affiliations (4)

  • American Society of Microbiology (ASM) : Member
  • American Physiological Society (APS) : Member
  • Society for Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER) : Member
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS): President Emeritus


Event and Speaking Appearances (5)

Using Guided Inquiry to Teach Anatomy and Physiology Core Concepts

HAPS Central Regional Meeting, Columbus Ohio  October 2019

The NSF and HAPS CAPER Project: Research in Community College A&P Classrooms

HAPS Annual Conference  May, 2019

Community College Anatomy and Physiology Research

HAPS Annual Conference  May 2019

Does Cooperativity in Groups Enhance Metacognition and Self-Efficacy Among Students in Anatomy and Physiology Class that Lead to Less Anxiety and Better Performance on Tests?

HAPS Annual Conference  May 2019

Observations from a 20 Year Involvement in Perfusion Education

Wisconsin Perfusion Society Annual Meeting  Madison, WI. April 2019

Research Grants (2)

Refinement and Expansion of the Community College Anatomy and Physiology Education Research Program

National Science Foundation $1.5 million


Effective implementation of evidence-based instructional practices (EBIPs), such as group work and peer instruction, can improve student success in STEM education. Despite long-standing calls for widespread EBIP adoption, change has been slow. One of the identified barriers to EBIP use is the need for scaffolded support and adequate professional development resources. These are especially relevant to encouraging change in the CC context.To address these challenges, the Refinement and Expansion of the Community College Anatomy and Physiology Education Research (RE-CAPER) program engages CC instructors in structured professional development to promote EBIP use. This project builds on the success of the NSF-funded level 1 CAPER project (NSF award 1829157) in which 12 CC instructors designed, executed, and disseminated the results of a 1-year educational research project evaluating the use of EBIPs in their classrooms. Based on findings that this original intervention promoted instructors’ capacity to use EBIPs.

Improving Technology Used in Health Science Courses

Alvin and Marion Beirnschein Foundation $56,300


Selected Publications (4)

Community College Anatomy and Physiology Education Research (CAPER) Program: Promoting Change in Classroom Pedagogy to Benefit Students

The HAPS Blog

Gerrits, R.

2019 Active learning is not a new concept within HAPS. Annual conference poster and workshop sessions are chock-full of ideas on how to incorporate more student-centered techniques and personal storiesof faculty experiences with various methods. Nearly all of us likely have active learning terms in our lexicon and the majority of HAPS members would agree we should use such techniques (if not, please see the meta-study by Freeman et al. [1]). Yet an awareness of active learning and its benefit by itself does not necessarily drive change in our classroom practice. The more change is required, especially when that change is associated with significant effort, possibly even a seismic shift from our past teaching routines, the less likely we are to rush out and try it. And if an instructor is really motivated to find out what most benefits their specific population of students, the thought of developing an actual pedagogical study can seem utterly overwhelming. This is where peer-mentoring and a set timeline can really help. The Community College Anatomy and Physiology Education Research (CAPER) Program is designed to provide the needed support for participating community college instructors.

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Short-Term Cardiovascular Control

HAPS Educator

Gerrits R.


Core Concepts in Anatomy and Physiology: A Paradigm Shift in Course and Curriculum Design

HAPS Educator

Hull, K., Jensen, M., Gerrits, R., Ross, K.T.

2017 This book offers physiology teachers a new approach to teaching their subject that will lead to increased student understanding and retention of the most important ideas. By integrating the core concepts of physiology into individual courses and across the entire curriculum, it provides students with tools that will help them learn more easily and fully understand the physiology content they are asked to learn. The authors present examples of how the core concepts can be used to teach individual topics, design learning resources, assess student understanding, and structure a physiology curriculum.

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Using AI to Understand Key Success Features in Evolving CTSAs

Clinical and Translational Science

Kusch, J.D., Nelson, D.A., Simpson, D., Gerrits, R., Glass, L.

2013 A vital role for Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) evaluators is to first identify and then articulate the necessary change processes that support the research infrastructures and achieve synergies needed to improve health through research. The use of qualitative evaluation strategies to compliment quantitative tracking measures (e.g., number of grants/publications) is an essential but under‐utilized approach in CTSA evaluations. The Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin implemented a qualitative evaluation approach using appreciative inquiry (AI) that has revealed three critical features associated with CTSA infrastructure transformation success: developing open communication, creating opportunities for proactive collaboration, and ongoing attainment of milestones at the key function group level. These findings are consistent with Bolman & Deal's four interacting hallmarks of successful organizations: structural (infrastructure), political (power distribution; organizational politics), human resource (facilitating change among humans necessary for continued success), and symbolic (visions and aspirations). Data gathered through this longitudinal AI approach illuminates how these change features progress over time as CTSA funded organizations successfully create the multiinstitutional infrastructures to connect laboratory discoveries with the diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

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