Virtual Dissection with Clinical Radiology Cases Provides Educational Value to First Year Medical Students

Kathryn E. Darras*, Bruce B. Forster, Rebecca Spouge, Anique B. H. de Bruin, Abigail Arnold, Savvas Nicolaou, Jeff Hu, Rose Hatala, Jeroen van Merrienboer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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RATIONALE AND AIM: In virtual dissection, three-dimensional computed tomography scans are viewed on a near-life size virtual dissection table and through touchscreen technology, students work together to manipulate the data to perform their dissection. The purpose of this study was to develop a Virtual Dissection Curriculum for first year medical students and to assess its educational value as well as students' preferred pedagogy for learning with this new technology.

METHODS: One hundred and five first-year medical students participated in a case-based virtual dissection curriculum and were invited to complete a theory-based post experience survey. Eight unique clinical cases were selected based on the first-year curricular objectives and divided into four 30-minute sessions. In groups of 6-8, students reviewed the cases with a radiologist. First, students' reactions to virtual dissection were measured by three constructs using a 5-point Likert scale: quality of curriculum design (11 questions), impact on learning (7 questions), and comfort with technology (3 questions). Second, students ranked the usefulness of six pedagogical approaches for this technology. Responses were tabulated and rank order item lists were generated statistically using the Schulze method where appropriate.

RESULTS: The survey response rate was 83% (87/105). Overall, students' reactions to virtual dissection were positive across all three measured constructs. Most students indicated that the cases were of an appropriate level of difficulty (90%) and that virtual dissection improved their understanding of disease and pathology (89%), the clinical relevance of anatomy (77%), and visuospatial relationships (64%). Almost all students (94%) reported that the curriculum improved understanding of the role of the radiologist in patient care. Students felt that the "very useful" pedagogical approaches were small group demonstration (68%) and problem-based learning (51%).

CONCLUSION: First-year medical students perceive the use of virtual dissection as a valuable tool for learning anatomy and radiology. This technology enables the integration of clinical cases and radiology content into preclinical learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1633-1640
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Radiology
Issue number11
Early online date27 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020




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