The Anatomical Student Experience

Student thesis: Phd


Anatomy teaching and learning has changed over the past decade for a multitude of reasons. Changed student demographics and advancement of pedagogies and technologies have led to different methods of teaching and assessing this subject. As teaching quality in higher education is government assessed in the UK, most recently by the Teaching Excellence Framework, it is important for anatomy departments to optimise the learner’s anatomical experience. The published works presented demonstrate the impact of educational interventions on students’ learning and assessment. The aim of this thesis was to bring together a body of educational interventions carried out between 2010-2015 and explore their original contribution to theories of learning in the context of anatomy. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected using questionnaires and by analysing exam results. Data collection was for different student cohorts (vocational and non-vocational) studying anatomy on different courses. It was found that the different interventions lessened the burden on students’ cognitive load through different means. Interactive sessions, spaced assessment, group-based tasks using electronic media, computer-assisted learning of anatomy (through an iBook and 3D model of the forearm) and redesigning an anatomy spotter examination to assess the higher taxonomies of learning, positively impacted student learning as explained by theories of andragogy, experiential learning, dual code theory, social constructivist theory and cognitive load theory. The totality of students’ interactions with anatomical teaching, learning and assessment methods (i.e. their anatomical student experience) has been enhanced as shown by the published works. There is further research to be done in advancing metacognitive theories.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester


  • pedagogy
  • medical education
  • anatomy

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