Theory and practice of learning and teaching


Practical classes are an integral part of learning human anatomy. The importance of utilising 3-dimensional resources (such as cadavers and skeletons) is only overshadowed by the teacher/student interactions when determining a positive learning experience. As student diversity in Higher Education increases, teaching approaches must also evolve. This study was developed in response to increased student diversity within an anatomy course. It aimed to compare allied health students’ perceptions of anatomy practical classes delivered via two different formats. In 2018, a team-taught format (comprising a lead demonstrator (LD), clinical demonstrator (CD) and near-peer demonstrator (NPD)) was introduced at the large, metropolitan campus, while the smaller regional campus continued the sole-taught format. Student data were collected via anonymous online surveys and interviews. Quantitative data were analysed using ANOVA or appropriate non-parametric testing and qualitative data underwent thematic analysis. Satisfaction scores significantly increased at the team-taught metropolitan campus compared with 2017 when all practical classes were sole taught. Four key themes were realised with the team-taught format: Improved student learning experience; Diverse perspectives; Demonstrator characteristics (Nurturing expert (LD); inspiring clinical contextualiser (CD); relatable study advisor (NPD)); Confidence and approachability. Findings demonstrated that both sole- and team-taught anatomy practical classes can provide students with a positive learning experience; however, a team-taught format of practical classes may provide students with a richer learning experience. The multiple perspectives of different demonstrators were highly valued by students and should be considered as an important approach to teaching students with diverse academic credentials, backgrounds and learning experiences. The interaction between students and teachers is key to instilling motivation and active participation, especially during practical sessions. Stressing key pedagogical (andragogical) principles such as introducing clinical examples and sharing personal experiences can be enhanced if the background of the teaching staff is varied.