Cadavers or Computers? Comparing Means for Teaching Anatomy

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Cadavers or Computers? Comparing Means for Teaching Anatomy
Cadavers or Computers? Comparing Means for Teaching Anatomy

(HealthDay News) — Cadavers are better than a computer simulation of the human body for teaching anatomy to college students, according to research published in the September/October issue of Anatomical Sciences Education.

Most anatomy courses in the United States still rely on cadavers. But many also use computers to supplement the instruction, according to the researchers. However, there is ongoing debate over whether cadavers are needed at all, and some medical schools in Australia and the United Kingdom have stopped using cadavers to teach anatomy, according to the study authors.

The new study included 233 students in a semester-long undergraduate anatomy course. One group of students learned on a cadaver and were tested on a cadaver. Other students learned on a computer simulation of the human body and were tested on a cadaver. The students were tested on being able to identify the parts of the body and to explain how they worked. On average, the students who learned on a cadaver scored 16% higher on identifying body parts and 11% higher on explaining what the body parts do, compared with those who learned on the computer simulation.

The difference in average scores was the difference between one grade, study coauthor Cary Roseth, an associate professor of educational psychology at Michigan State University, said in a university news release. "Our findings indicate that educational technology can enhance anatomy instruction but is unlikely to fully replace cadavers."

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