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The future of anatomy: a student partner approach to theevaluation and implementation of evidence based artisticlearning techniques

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Iain KeenanORCiD


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As a medical student, under the supervision of IK during aNewcastle University Vacation Scholarship project, my role wasto develop the basis, methodology and intervention of aresearch project investigating the use of artistic techniques inmedical education. We aim to identify if drawing is effectivein enhancing anatomy learning. A cross-over randomisedcontrolled trial involving 250 Stage 1 medical students is plannedfor 2014 in which students will participate in both a drawing andtraditional teaching session.I carried out a comprehensive review of the literature to informthe basis and methodology of the study. In collaboration withprofessional artist Rachael Allen, we developed the ORDER‘observe–reflect–draw–edit–repeat’ drawing process based on theexperiential model of learning. ORDER requires students to ‘buildup’ a picture by drawing their own anatomical image during thesession. Research suggests that ‘critical looking’ and visualisationmay enhance learning. These factors, in combination with activeparticipation and opportunities for reflection and repetition, wehypothesise that ORDER will enhance learning.Two key themes underpin this research project. Firstly, studentsas partners. As one of the first students to work on the project Ihave developed many transferable skills and an insight inmedical education research. As a result I have established andco-chair with Rachael Allen, with support from Ayat Bashir, areference group to oversee the project consisting of both artand medical students. We have had success in piloting theORDER session and have gained valuable feedback on the studydesign. Furthermore, art student volunteers will facilitateORDER sessions and thereby encourage peer-peer learning.Secondly, as the quantitative evidence supporting anatomydrawing is limited, we propose a mixed-method research model.I have designed anatomy sessions for both the ORDERevaluation and the ‘control’ session consisting of traditionallearning methods, produced multiple-choice questions for pre andpost-testing of ORDER participants and designed feedbackquestionnaires to consider student perceptions. Thisquantitative and qualitative data will be analysed by a futurestudent partner and if ORDER is found to improve learning itcan be integrated into the medical curriculum.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Backhouse M, Bashir A, Allen R, Jackson S, Keenan ID

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Anatomical Society Winter Meeting 2013

Year of Conference: 2014

Pages: 739-759

Print publication date: 01/05/2014

ISSN: 1469-7580

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/joa.12175

Series Title: Journal of Anatomy