Self-directed use of neuroanatomy apps does not influence learning outcomes in a tertiary second-year gross anatomy unit
AbstractPURPOSE: Apps supplement traditional learning; however, it’s unknown if self-directed use of anatomy apps can affect students’ outcome. We compared learning outcomes of students using or not using apps. METHODS: Second-year anatomy students were randomly allocated to experimental and control groups. Students completed the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS).The experimental group had access to iPads with four anatomy apps for three weekly classes (1.5 hours each). One week after the last class, students were assessed by a summative online 30-question neuroanatomy test. tTests were used to compare control and experimental groups. Linear regression was used to examine the association between test scores and app use, gender, previous anatomy unit score and SDLRS scores. Students’ views on apps were collected by focus group discussion immediately after the test. Approved by Ethics Committee. RESULTS: Completed questionnaires were obtained from n=25 control and n=25 experimental students. Mean SDLRS scores were not different (control: 150 ± 13; experimental: 151± 12 (p=0.716). App use did not affect mean test scores (control: 63% ± 17%; experimental: 70% ± 17%; p=0.106). There was no association between app use and test score (β=0.18, 95% CI: -0.42-3.87, p=0.11). Only previous anatomy unit score (β=0.348, 95% CI: 0.214-0.483, p<0.001) affected test scores. Students favoured apps with clinical images and features including identification pins, sliding bars and rotatable 3D images. Students lamented the lack of neurology in apps. CONCLUSIONS: App use did not enhance learning outcomes in a second-year anatomy unit.