And Now, a Word from Our Instructors: Anatomy Lab Trends for 2019
Posted on 3/13/19 by The Team at Visible Body
The results are in! We reached out to anatomy lab instructors across the U.S. and inquired about the tools they use and the challenges they face. We asked about current and future lab setups, trends in educational technology, and how (or if!) the money available and student enrollments were growing or shrinking.
Want to hear what more than 100 instructors of undergraduate and graduate anatomy labs have to say? Keep reading for a summary. You can also download the data to share with colleagues!
1. The State of Anatomy Lab Courses
Student engagement and procuring resources were the two biggest challenges faced by instructors.
“Students are not as prepared; lack of critical thinking skills and integrating what they are learning in lab to lecture; distracted by cell phones; would rather take pictures of slides and models and then leave.” — 2-year college anatomy professor
77% of instructors noted student engagement was a problem, with issues ranging from poor study skills to a lack of preparedness for class.
71% cited the cost of lab materials as a challenge. Respondents reported that over the last three years, they’ve seen a decrease in the availability and quality of biological specimens. Fewer labs are using human cadavers because they are expensive and difficult to maintain, and animal specimens are becoming harder to acquire as well.
Some said that increasing enrollment means they need to find resources that can serve a larger number of students in an affordable way.
16% of instructors reported budget decreases, most of which were due to funding cuts at the university or state level.
The dissection of biological specimens remains a central component of anatomy lab courses.
50% reported that students worked with prosections of human or animal organs.
37% conducted complete animal dissections.
28% of labs dissected human cadavers.
A 2-year college anatomy instructor reports "increased safety concerns when using cadavers for students and faculty. Movement away from dissections due to cost, upkeep and time needed for dissection.”
Synthetic models are also a staple in anatomy labs.
Plastic and synthetic models are found in 56% of labs.
Tablets (such as iPads) are the most popular anatomy lab technology.
Almost all instructors mentioned traditional classroom technology like monitors, screens, and projectors.
By far the most popular newer technological tool in the lab was a tablet, like the iPad. 42% of anatomy instructors mentioned these are used in their labs.
2. The Future of Anatomy Lab Courses
62% of instructors surveyed were at a school with an online anatomy course or a school that will soon offer such a course.
Anatomy lab courses remain in high demand!
56% of instructors reported that enrollments are steady and 38% reported that they are trending up.
55% noted that limits on lab space posed a challenge.
42% of instructors are already at a school that offers online anatomy courses, and another 20% see such courses on the horizon.
The use of virtual models in anatomy labs is growing.
A medical school lab instructor predicts they will see “more students in the lab and their increased reliance on anatomy sources from the internet as compared to text usage.”
39% of instructors reported that they used digital/virtual models.
Many such models are available on tablets. In addition to the 42% who already used tablets, 17% of instructors said they would be adding them to their labs within the next three years.
11% currently utilize technologies like Anatomage tables, Sectra, or Virtual Reality headsets. 7% said they would soon be getting access to Sectra/Anatomage technologies, and 9% would be getting VR headsets.
Are you an anatomy lab instructor and want to join the conversation?