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The role of prelaboratory assignments in the improvement of academic performance and enhancement of intrinsic motivation in human cadaveric anatomy

MOJ Anatomy & Physiology
Joydeep Dutta Chaudhuri,1 Venugopal Rao2

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Cadaveric dissection is a core component of teaching in human anatomy. However, students often attend the cadaver laboratory with limited preparation, which detrimentally impacts their learning. The use of pre-laboratory assignments (PLAs) that require students to prepare for a cadaver dissection session has been reported to improve student performance and encourage higher-order understanding of educational material. In the context of active learning, high levels of intrinsic motivation (IM) in students are associated with greater effort, and consequently better overall academic success. However, the maintenance of the IM of students in anatomy is often challenging for educators. This study aimed to explore the role of PLAs in the improvement of academic performance and enhancement of IM in occupational therapy students enrolled in a human anatomy course. One cohort of students were expected to complete PLAs prior to each cadaveric dissection session. The PLAs required students to write a brief anatomical description of each anatomical structure. The control group consisted of students who were not required to complete similar PLAs. Students who were advised to complete PLAs had a higher score on the practical examinations, and enhanced IM as compared to students in the control group. Further, the qualitative responses of students indicated that students perceived PLAs to be useful in the learning of anatomy. Therefore, PLAs are a valuable teaching tool, and represent a crucial element in revitalizing the anatomy curriculum. 


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