A longitudinal experiment was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of new methods for learning neuroanatomy with computer-based instruction. Using a three-dimensional graphical model of the human brain and sections derived from the model, tools for exploring neuroanatomy were developed to encourage adaptive exploration. This is an instructional method that incorporates graphical exploration in the context of repeated testing and feedback. With this approach, 72 participants learned either sectional anatomy alone or whole anatomy followed by sectional anatomy. Sectional anatomy was explored either with perceptually continuous navigation through the sections or with discrete navigation (as in the use of an anatomical atlas). Learning was measured longitudinally to a high performance criterion. Subsequent tests examined transfer of learning to the interpretation of biomedical images and long-term retention. There were several clear results of this study. On initial exposure to neuroanatomy, whole anatomy was learned more efficiently than sectional anatomy. After whole anatomy was mastered, learners demonstrated high levels of transfer of learning to sectional anatomy and from sectional anatomy to the interpretation of complex biomedical images. Learning whole anatomy prior to learning sectional anatomy led to substantially fewer errors overall than learning sectional anatomy alone. Use of continuous or discrete navigation through sectional anatomy made little difference to measured outcomes. Efficient learning, good long-term retention, and successful transfer to the interpretation of biomedical images indicated that computer-based learning using adaptive exploration can be a valuable tool in instruction of neuroanatomy and similar disciplines.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology