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You are here: McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind > Publications > The effect of image quality, repeated study, and assessment method on anatomy learning

Barbara Fenesi, Chelsea Mackinnon, Lucia Cheng, Joseph A Kim, and Bruce C Wainman (2017)

The effect of image quality, repeated study, and assessment method on anatomy learning

Anatomical sciences education, 10(3):249-261.

The use of two-dimensional (2D) images is consistently used to prepare anatomy students for handling real specimen. This study examined whether the quality of 2D images is a critical component in anatomy learning. The visual clarity and consistency of 2D anatomical images was systematically manipulated to produce low-quality and high-quality images of the human hand and human eye. On day 0, participants learned about each anatomical specimen from paper booklets using either low-quality or high-quality images, and then completed a comprehension test using either 2D images or three-dimensional (3D) cadaveric specimens. On day 1, participants relearned each booklet, and on day 2 participants completed a final comprehension test using either 2D images or 3D cadaveric specimens. The effect of image quality on learning varied according to anatomical content, with high-quality images having a greater effect on improving learning of hand anatomy than eye anatomy (high-quality vs. low-quality for hand anatomy P = 0.018; high-quality vs. low-quality for eye anatomy P = 0.247). Also, the benefit of high-quality images on hand anatomy learning was restricted to performance on short-answer (SA) questions immediately after learning (high-quality vs. low-quality on SA questions P = 0.018), but did not apply to performance on multiple-choice (MC) questions (high-quality vs. low-quality on MC questions P = 0.109) or after participants had an additional learning opportunity (24 hours later) with anatomy content (high vs. low on SA questions P = 0.643). This study underscores the limited impact of image quality on anatomy learning, and questions whether investment in enhancing image quality of learning aids significantly promotes knowledge development.

learning outcomes, medical education