Education for Health

: 2015  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 216--217

Enhancing learning in anatomy lectures

Sanjib Kumar Ghosh, Soumya Chakraborty 
 Department of Anatomy, ESI-PGIMSR and ESIC Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Sanjib Kumar Ghosh
Department of Anatomy, ESI.PGIMSR and ESIC Medical College, Joka, Kolkata - 700 104, West Bengal

How to cite this article:
Ghosh SK, Chakraborty S. Enhancing learning in anatomy lectures.Educ Health 2015;28:216-217

How to cite this URL:
Ghosh SK, Chakraborty S. Enhancing learning in anatomy lectures. Educ Health [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Jan 20 ];28:216-217
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Full Text

Dear Editor,

Medical education in India typically consists of a traditional lecture-based curriculum. Accordingly, the anatomy teaching schedule for 1st-year undergraduate medical students consists of many hours of classroom-based lectures. During these lecture sessions, we observed that a significant number of the students were regularly absent from class, and among those present, most were not paying attention. In our assessment, these lecture hours were contributing little to the overall learning process in anatomy.

Our interaction with students outside teaching hours revealed that most who were skipping classes actually did so to study on their own. They stated that self-study suited the individualized style of learning. Moreover, it provides the freedom to choose the appropriate learning tool that would help them gain the necessary knowledge. We noted with great interest that students were using “unconventional” tools in their self-directed learning, which included online interactive structured modules, online discussion forums, interactive e-atlases, Wikipedia, YouTube videos, and Facebook pages dedicated to human anatomy education. Students who showed reluctance to pay attention in the class candidly admitted that they found the lectures boring and that they presented too much information in a short time, which they could not understand. They reported that attending lectures did not help them much in terms of learning, so they opted instead for self-study.

Analysis of the students' responses led us to believe that something was wrong with the basic design of the classroom activities during lectures. Accordingly, in early 2014, our medical school in Kolkata, India, shifted from “instructor-based teaching” to a “guidance-based approach” during lecture classes on the thorax. Our strategies in modifying the classroom are presented in [Table 1]. They acknowledged students' inclination toward self-directed learning, as consistent with adult learning principles,[1] and concentrated our efforts in helping students self-analyze and self-monitor their learning in the classroom.{Table 1}

Our efforts were based on constructivist learning principles [2] wherein learning is enhanced when new information (acquired in the classroom) is added to prior knowledge (gathered through self-study). Students, by their own admission, benefitted from the innovative approach in the classroom in terms of learning. This was also reflected in higher attendance during lectures and assessments of their performance.

Medical students skipping classroom teaching is an area of concern worldwide.[3] It does not necessarily imply students are learning less, as students increasingly opt for self-directed learning.[4] Therefore, anatomy teaching methods need to evolve to make the best use of classroom hours. However, before introducing significant modifications to the existing lecture classroom design, it is important to ensure that any change will, indeed enhance learning.[5]


1Lindeman EC. The Meaning of Adult Education. A Classic North American Statement on Adult Education. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma; 1926.
2Shepard LA. The role of assessment in a learning culture. Educ Res 2000;29:4-14.
3Marzuk PM. More about medical students' attendance at lectures. Acad Med 2013;88:149.
4White C, Bradley E, Martindale J, Roy P, Patel K, Yoon M, et al. Why are medical students 'checking out' of active learning in a new curriculum? Med Educ 2014;48:315-24.
5Goldberg H. Considerations for flipping the classroom in medical education. Acad Med 2014;89:696.