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Focused Multisensory Anatomy Observation and Drawing for Enhancing Social Learning and Three‐Dimensional Spatial Understanding

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Iain KeenanORCiD


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© 2019 American Association of Anatomists. The concept that multisensory observation and drawing can be effective for enhancing anatomy learning is supported by pedagogic research and theory, and theories of drawing. A haptico-visual observation and drawing (HVOD) process has been previously introduced to support understanding of the three-dimensional (3D) spatial form of anatomical structures. The HVOD process involves exploration of 3D anatomy with the combined use of touch and sight, and the simultaneous act of making graphite marks on paper which correspond to the anatomy under observation. Findings from a previous study suggest that HVOD can increase perceptual understanding of anatomy through memorization and recall of the 3D form of observed structures. Here, additional pedagogic and cognitive underpinnings are presented to further demonstrate how and why HVOD can be effective for anatomy learning. Delivery of a HVOD workshop is described as a detailed guide for instructors, and themes arising from a phenomenological study of educator experiences of the HVOD process are presented. Findings indicate that HVOD can provide an engaging approach for the spatial exploration of anatomy within a supportive social learning environment, but also requires modification for effective curricular integration. Consequently, based on the most effective research-informed, theoretical, and logistical elements of art-based approaches in anatomy learning, including the framework provided by the observe–reflect–draw–edit–repeat (ORDER) method, an optimized “ORDER Touch” observation and drawing process has been developed. This is with the aim of providing a widely accessible resource for supporting social learning and 3D spatial understanding of anatomy, in addition to improving specific anatomical knowledge.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Shapiro L, Bell K, Dhas K, Branson T, Louw G, Keenan ID

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Anatomical Sciences Education

Year: 2019

Volume: 13

Issue: 4

Pages: 488-503

Print publication date: 01/07/2020

Online publication date: 09/11/2019

Acceptance date: 09/11/2019

ISSN (print): 1935-9772

ISSN (electronic): 1935-9780

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/ase.1929


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