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Promoting metacognition in first year anatomy laboratories using plasticine modeling and drawing activities: A pilot study of the “Blank Page” technique



Many first year students of anatomy and physiology courses demonstrate an inability to self-regulate their learning. To help students increase their awareness of their own learning in a first year undergraduate anatomy course, we piloted an exercise that incorporated the processes of (1) active learning: drawing and plasticine modeling and (2) metacognition: planning, monitoring, reaction, and reflection. The activity was termed “blank page” because all learning cues were removed and students had to create models and diagrams from reflection and recall. Two hundred and eighty-two students responded to a questionnaire reporting qualitative feedback on the exercise. Based on student responses, the “blank page” activity was a positive learning experience and confirmed a need to teach metacognitive skills. From this pilot study, we established that drawing or plasticine modeling is an excellent vehicle for demonstration of the metacognitive processes that enable self-regulation: a known predictor of academic success. Anat Sci Educ. © 2011 American Association of Anatomists.

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