Table of Contents
ISRN Anatomy
Volume 2013, Article ID 873825, 4 pages
Research Article

Learning Anatomy: Can Dissection and Peer-Mediated Teaching Offer Added Benefits over Prosection Alone?

Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Road, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1H 8M5

Received 17 February 2013; Accepted 7 March 2013

Academic Editors: G. Angeles and P. Marcos

Copyright © 2013 Lynn Ashdown et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Purpose. To evaluate the impact of an optional thoracic dissection elective upon anatomy subject acquisition and determine whether peer-mediated teaching has a beneficial effect. Methodology. First year medical students’ results on thoracic anatomy laboratory examinations over a five-year period were obtained. All students were taught in the laboratory using prosected specimens as part of a standard curriculum. A subset of students from each class volunteered to participate in an optional thoracic dissection. A comparison of exam performance between the two groups was made, and the results were analyzed to see if incorporating peer teaching into the elective had an impact on the students’ performance on anatomy examinations. Results. With the exception of one year’s results, no significant statistical difference was found in student performance on anatomy examinations between the two groups. The addition of peer teaching did not result in superior performance. Conclusion. It is believed that prosected specimens are suitable for anatomy laboratory teaching in an undergraduate medical curriculum. Our study did not reveal that an opportunity for dissection offered any added benefit in terms of exam performance. In addition, peer teaching did not affect exam performance. This study strictly compared student exam results. It did not assess the possible impact of the dissection process to influence student attitudes towards death or the development of clinically relevant visuospatial abilities and procedural skills.