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Keywords:

  • gross anatomy education;
  • medical education;
  • self-study;
  • peer-assisted learning;
  • low fidelity simulation;
  • anatomical models;
  • anatomical resources;
  • lifelong learning;
  • integration;
  • innovation

Didactic lessons are only one part of the multimodal teaching strategies used in gross anatomy courses today. Increased emphasis is placed on providing more opportunities for students to develop lifelong learning and critical thinking skills during medical training. In a pilot program designed to promote more engaged and independent learning in anatomy, self-study modules were introduced to supplement human gross anatomy instruction at Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University. Modules use three-dimensional constructs to help students understand complex anatomical regions. Resources are self-contained in portable bins and are accessible at any time. Students use modules individually or in groups in a structured self-study format that augments material presented in lecture and laboratory. Pilot outcome data, measured by feedback surveys and examination performance statistics, suggest that the activity may be improving learning in gross anatomy. Positive feedback on both pre- and post-examination surveys showed that students felt the activity helped to increase their understanding of the topic. In concordance with student perception, average examination scores on module-related laboratory and lecture questions were higher in the two years of the pilot program compared with the year before its initiation. Modules can be fabricated on a modest budget using minimal resources, making implementation practical for smaller institutions. Upper level medical students assist in module design and upkeep, enabling continuous opportunities for vertical integration across the curriculum. This resource offers a feasible mechanism for enhancing independent and lifelong learning competencies, which could be a valuable complement to any gross anatomy curriculum. Anat Sci Educ 7: 406–416. © 2014 American Association of Anatomists.