Impact of introduction of blended learning in gross anatomy on student outcomes
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Blended learning has become increasingly common, in a variety of disciplines, to take advantage of new technology and potentially increase the efficiency and flexibility of delivery. This study aimed to describe blended delivery of a gross anatomy course and to evaluate the effectiveness of the delivery in terms of student outcomes. A gross anatomy course for second-year physiotherapy students across two campuses was delivered in traditional face-to-face teaching mode in 2013 (n = 150 students), some online content was introduced in 2014 (n = 160) and the subject was fully blended in 2015 (n = 151). The final 'blend' consisted of one lecture per week with most content delivered using online video resources (prepared by staff using a structured peer-reviewed process) and retention of face-to-face practical classes. Outcomes evaluated included student grades, student engagement with content through online discussion forums and student feedback using both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Grades were higher in 2014 and 2015 than in 2013 (P < 0.01). There were no differences in student engagement with online discussion forums. Student feedback identified some negative comments and lower levels of intellectual stimulation (P < 0.05) with the initial introduction of online content in 2014. The fully blended version in 2015 resulted in more balanced comments about online content but higher perceived workload (P < 0.05). All cohorts listed practical classes as a major factor contributing to learning. Blended learning appears to be well-suited to gross anatomy teaching on the proviso that face-to-face practical classes are maintained, but may result in higher perceived workloads. Anat Sci Educ 9: 422-430. © 2016 American Association of Anatomists.
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