Innovative strategies for teaching anatomy to dental students

Lone, Mutahira (2018) Innovative strategies for teaching anatomy to dental students.


Anatomy education is an integral component of the undergraduate and postgraduate dental curriculum. A detailed understanding of anatomy is a pre-requisite before examination, diagnosis and clinical treatment of patients in all aspects of the healthcare systems. Anatomy teaching is undergoing pioneering changes. Traditional Vesalius’ dissection-based teaching has evolved to include didactic lectures and nowadays incorporates digital teaching, e-learning and a wide range of 3D images and models. Furthermore, the current generation of dental students are using devices like smartphones and laptops for educational purposes. The focus of this PhD was to assess the efficacy of innovative teaching aids for teaching anatomy to dental students. We hypothesized that innovative tools are effective in enhancing students learning experience and improving academic performance. Firstly, a cranial nerve animation was developed and results show an increase in student’s knowledge of the topic after watching the animation (Chapter 2). The teaching of clinical skills was assessed using a soft-preserved cadaver (Chapter 3) which showed promising results. Furthermore, to aid in teaching tooth morphology a 3D quiz application was developed (Chapter 5) and results show that it was effective in teaching tooth morphology to dental students. Additionally, a survey was also undertaken to assess the staff involved in teaching tooth morphology to dental students in the UK and Ireland and the teaching aids employed for teaching and examination of tooth morphology (Chapter 4). Students’ feedback and perceptions were also gathered at the end of each study. The results show that innovative teaching aids can supplement the traditional teaching methods. Furthermore, students benefitted from using the innovative teaching aids and reported it as a positive learning experience. Hence, accepting the above stated alternate hypothesis that innovative tools were effective in enhancing students learning experience and improved their academic performance. In summary, the principles of anatomy are best taught through traditional teaching methods which are reinforced by the various innovative supplemental teaching aids available. A blended teaching model has been recommended with traditional methods complimented by innovative pedagogies. The introduction of these innovative technologies is vital in providing educational support to students and are successful when delivered alongside taught lectures and the use of the traditional teaching methods.

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