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The future of anatomy education: investigating the impact of student partner approaches for evidence-based evaluation of teaching and learning techniques

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jo Matthan, Dr Iain KeenanORCiD


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Taught students of anatomy (TSAs) are exposed to a variety oflearning methods. We propose an evidence-based approach foridentifying methods that are effective in enhancing learningand skill development of TSAs. A major theme of our research isthe investigation of artistic learning methods in anatomyeducation. There is limited empirical evidence to support theuse of artistic techniques including drawing, modelling,performing arts and creative writing in medical education, butprevious research suggests that such approaches could bebeneficial. We aim to develop studies to generate quantitativeevidence of their value and to also consider evidence-basedevaluation of more established methods.The basis for design of novel interventions and evaluation ofexisting techniques will be derived from empirical evidence fromquantitative research and cognitive neuroscience to complementeducational theories and qualitative methodologies. Undergraduatestudent partners (USPs) will be closely involved in theresearch as part of student selected components, summervacation scholarships and other undergraduate projects. InitiallyUSPs will review educational research and theory, and constructresearch projects based on their critical appraisal of the existingevidence. USPs will design and conduct evaluation sessions,analyse data and form student reference groups to oversee theresearch, while developing their knowledge and transferableskills. Future USPs will conduct evaluation studies and analysedata. The success of this approach will be determined from USPoutputs and feedback.Mixed-method approaches will generate quantitative evidencefrom randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and cohort studies withpre, post and delayed testing of TSAs, to evaluate the effects onknowledge acquisition and retention when interventions areemployed. Qualitative data will be obtained through questionnairesand focus groups. In addition to investigating TSAlearning of anatomical structures and mechanisms, we intend toinvestigate the skill development of students in their interpretationof clinical case studies, surface and cross-sectionalanatomy and clinical imaging.If shown to significantly improve knowledge and skills of TSAs,such methods can be introduced to the medical curriculum atNewcastle. The value of successful medical education researchapproaches utilising student partners, evidence-based approachesand proven educational techniques will be advocated throughdissemination.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Backhouse M, Pergolizzi C, Fitzpatrick M, Allen R, Holmes E, Jackson S, Matthan J, Keenan ID

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Anatomical Society Winter Meeting 2013

Year of Conference: 2014

Pages: 755-755

Print publication date: 11/05/2014

ISSN: 1469-7580

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/joa.12175

PubMed id: 25139745

Series Title: Journal of Anatomy