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Intensive mode delivery of a neuroanatomy unit: Lower final grades but higher student satisfaction


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


In 2011, Macquarie University moved to a three-session academic year which included two 13-week sessions (traditional mode) and one seven-week session (intensive mode). This study was designed to compare the intensive and traditional modes of delivery in a unit of undergraduate neuroanatomy. The new intensive mode neuroanatomy unit provided the same quantity and quality of material to the same standard, delivered by the same teachers and over the same total hours, but in a shorter timeframe. All students enrolled in session 2 (traditional mode) and session 3 (intensive mode) were invited to participate in this study. The main outcome measures were the final course grades and level of satisfaction with the course. Although there was no significant difference between the two cohorts in self-rated level of knowledge (P = 0.148), the traditional mode cohort achieved significantly higher final grades compared to the intensive mode cohort (P = 0.001). Similarly, the distribution of final grades was also different between the two cohorts. The two cohorts were equally satisfied with the unit overall, and with the lectures and tutorials. However, the intensive mode cohort was more satisfied with the laboratory practical classes compared to the traditional mode cohort (P < 0.001). Thus this study demonstrates that in the case of neuroanatomy, which is high in content, when the course is taught to the same standards as exist in the traditional mode of delivery, the students do not do as well even though they enjoy the course equally. Anat Sci Educ 6: 286–293. © 2013 American Association of Anatomists.