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Investigating creative writing as an anatomy learning tool

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Eleanor Holmes, Dr Iain KeenanORCiD


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In our previous work, we investigated drawing as asupplementary tool for anatomy education within theframework of our novel cyclical Observe-Reflect-Draw-Edit-Repeat (ORDER) artistic learning process, from which weobtained positive findings in terms of improvements in anatomyknowledge and student perceptions. ORDER was designed withthe intention that the process would be transferable to multipleartistic learning techniques. As such we have now identifiedcreative writing as a potentially valuable anatomy learningmethod. A review of the relevant literature has identified thevalue of microthemes as concise writing prompts to facilitatecreative writing exercises. Here we present a pilot study of theevaluation of creative microtheme writing exercises within theORDER (Observe-Reflect-Draft-Edit-Repeat) framework, utilisingpre-/post-testing and questionnaires. Medical students (n = 7)completed two microtheme writing exercises. The first exercisewas based on respiratory anatomy (control) and the second onpelvic anatomy (intervention). Students followed the ORDERprocess in the second task to provide a structural framework fortheir writing. Data were analysed to identify any significantimprovements in learning performance between pre- and posttestscores. A 5-point Likert-type scale questionnaire was utilisedto identify student perceptions and analysed statistically,whereas free text items were analysed using semi-quantitativethematic content analysis. Based on the findings of our pilot,we show that a microtheme-based creative writing exerciseutilising the ORDER framework can be effective for medicalstudent learning anatomy, with a view to carrying out a largescalestudy further to investigate the value of our approach.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Woodward R, O'Sullivan J, Holmes E, Keenan ID

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Anatomical Society Summer Meeting at Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Year of Conference: 2017

Pages: 362-362

Print publication date: 31/01/2017

Online publication date: 31/01/2017

Acceptance date: 27/05/2016

Publisher: Journal of Anatomy


DOI: 10.1111/joa.12558