The relationships between learning outcomes and methods of teaching anatomy as perceived by medical students



The best method to teach anatomy continues to be widely debated. Many UK medical schools have recently changed their course structure with the use of cadaveric dissection declining. A recent study by Patel and Moxham ([ 2008] Clin. Anat. 21:182–189) found that professional anatomists viewed dissection to be the most suitable method to fulfil anatomical learning outcomes. The opinion of 580 second year medical students across two UK medical schools was surveyed. A methodology similar to that employed by Patel and Moxham ([ 2008] Clin. Anat. 21:182–189) aimed to explore which teaching methods students considered best to fulfil a prescribed set of anatomical learning outcomes. A total of 302 responses were returned (52%). Difference in students' opinion with regard to the teaching methods was statistically significant (P < 0.0001). A statistically significant agreement was found between the opinions of students from Imperial and Nottingham, and between the anatomists and the students, regarding the effectiveness of all teaching methods at meeting learning outcomes. Dissection was overall most “fit for purpose” in meeting learning outcomes, but no single teaching modality met all aspects of the curriculum. Dissection should remain a leading teaching modality in modern medical school anatomy courses. In addition to its role in the teaching of anatomy, it enables learning in a social context and holds broader learning opportunities to help future doctors best fulfill Good Medical Practice guidelines (General Medical Council, 2006). This, however, should be in the context of a multi-modal approach to the teaching of anatomy. Clin. Anat. 24:489–497, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.