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The effect of face-to-face teaching on student knowledge and satisfaction in an undergraduate neuroanatomy course


Correspondence to: Dr. Stephney Whillier, Department of Chiropractic, Faculty of Science, Suite 222, Building E7A, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia. E-mail:


The total number of anatomy teaching hours has declined in medical courses worldwide. Conversely, face-to-face teaching in undergraduate neuroanatomy at Macquarie University increased by 50% in 2011. Our aim was to investigate whether this influenced student performance and overall satisfaction with the course. One hundred eighty-one students consented to participate in this study. A questionnaire was administered to rate the course, and final grades from the old and new unit cohorts were compared. The old and new unit cohorts did not differ in their final grades (P = 0.249). However, the new unit cohort rated their knowledge of the material higher compared to the old unit cohort (P = 0.013), and reported higher levels of satisfaction with the course (P < 0.001). In an era in which teaching time for anatomy has been reduced at tertiary institutions, and there is much lamenting of the effect this will have, there is a paucity of literature on whether the decrease really influences neuroanatomical knowledge. This is the first study, to the best of our knowledge, to show that an increase in total face-to-face teaching hours does not improve student grades, but does increase student satisfaction with the course. Anat Sci Educ 6: 239–245. © 2012 American Association of Anatomists.