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“I Don’t Like Computers” – Evaluation of Virtual Learning in Anatomy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Justin DurhamORCiD, Professor Stephen McHanwell


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Objective: To design and evaluate a virtual clinical anatomy course delivered to final year undergraduate dental students as part of a program of vertical integration within the dental undergraduate curriculum in Newcastle. Methods: Final year undergraduates were exposed to a six week program of virtual textographical tutorials mounted and run on Blackboard ™. Six tutorials were designed by an anatomist and surgeon with special emphasis on providing clinical relevance to the anatomy. Students' learning was monitored by pre and post-tutorial tests. The pre-test was of a pure anatomical nature to focus the students' minds on the subject matter ahead. The post-tutorial test was a clinically relevant anatomy test where the links created in the tutorial were examined. A three-dimensional anatomy program, Primal Pictures Interactive Anatomy ™, supplemented the tutorials. Four virtual classrooms were provided as question and answer sessions once a fortnight. At the cessation of the course a purposive sample (n=13) of the year-group was taken and in-depth qualitative interviews performed until data saturation occurred. They formed the first part of a priority-sequence model and the themes emerging formed the basis of an electronic questionnaire distributed to the whole year-group. Results: Our results provide information on the learning approaches and habits of our students. Common themes include; the wish for more comprehensive testing, earlier re-introduction of anatomy in the clinical years, dislike of computers and the lack of appreciation of learning outcomes. Conclusions: This project has provided valuable data in an area, which is generally poorly studied. The dissemination of this information to the profession should aid successful design of this sort of module in light of the proposed increase in student numbers vs the shortage of clinical academics and help us to understand our undergraduates' learning styles.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Durham J, McHanwell S, Brettell S

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: British Society for Dental Research (BSDR) Annual Scientific Meeting

Year of Conference: 2005

Pages: 0203

Publisher: International Association for Dental Research