Evaluating dissection in the gross anatomy course: Correlation between quality of laboratory dissection and students outcomes



Anatomy learned by active exploration through dissection has many proven benefits including improvement of anatomic knowledge. Decreased laboratory time may affect the quality of dissection and ultimately lower student performance in anatomy translating to lower knowledge acquisition. The aim of this study was to determine whether the quality of students' dissection in teams correlates with their performance in the gross anatomy course. Quality of dissections for each team enrolled in a gross anatomy course at Mayo Medical School was evaluated biweekly using a five-point rubric based on course learning objectives. Assessment of anatomic knowledge was based on sequential laboratory practice practical examination scores, achievements on daily audience response system (ARS) quizzes, and final practical, written, and National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®) Gross Anatomy and Embryology Subject Examinations. Twelve teams comprising 48 students were included in the study. There was a positive correlation between dissection quality and practice practical examination score (R = 0.83) and a negative correlation between dissection quality and ARS quizzes (R = −0.985). Dissection teams with a passing score on their dissection evaluations (>70%) performed better on their final examinations. Based on an end of course survey, students agreed that dissection evaluations should continue to be a part of the course. This study showed that better quality of dissection was associated with higher scores on practice practical examinations, final practical, written, and NBME examinations. The study demonstrated a positive correlation between dissection evaluations, accompanied by formative feedback during the course, and higher scores on final course assessments. Anat Sci Educ 8: 45–52. © 2014 American Association of Anatomists.