Byram, Jessica, Jason M. Organ, Michael Yard, & Naomi A. Schmalz (2019, March). Investigating Student Perceptions of a Dissection-Based Undergraduate Gross Anatomy Course Using Q Methodology. Anatomical Sciences Education. (ePub in advance of print) (doi: 10.1002/ase.1887) (Link: (

Abstract: The demand for upper‐level undergraduate dissection‐based anatomy courses is growing, as professional programs require more advanced anatomy training prior to matriculation. To address this need, Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM) partnered with Indiana University‐Purdue University Indianapolis—a large, urban, life science‐focused campus nearby to IUSM—to offer an undergraduate, dissection‐based course in regional gross anatomy. Because this is a new course, a deeper post‐course evaluation of student perceptions was conducted using Q methodology. In this study, Q methodology was used to evaluate student views of the overall course structure, pre‐laboratory materials and activities, assessments, and quality of instruction. Of the 15 students in the spring semester 2018 cohort, 80% (n=12) participated in the evaluation, and 10 of those students followed up with written explanations for their rationale in selecting the four statements with which they most strongly agreed and disagreed. The Q methodology sorted the students into one of three statistically significant groups: Motivated Dissectors (n = 6), Traditional Students (n = 3), and Inspired Learners (n = 3). Motivated Dissectors and Inspired Learners felt strongly that the course did not encourage self‐directed learning and that the pre‐laboratory materials were not adequate to prepare them for quizzes. Traditional Students, however, disagreed, having a favorable opinion of the pre‐laboratory materials, even though this group felt most strongly that the amount of material covered in the course was overwhelming. This study demonstrates the utility of Q methodology to evaluate courses to elucidate student perspectives and inform future course modifications.

Jessica Byram <> is in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN (USA).

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