Beyond the Cadaver: Enriching Hybrid Didactic and Immersion Laboratory Human Anatomy Courses

Watch This Session

Brief Abstract

 This session will explore the use of alternative and integrative learning experiences to bridge online didactic and onsite immersive laboratory experiences for gross human anatomy instruction in a Doctor of Physical Therapy program.


Before getting his bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin and joining Baylor University's Doctor of Physical Therapy Program as an Instructional Support Technologist, Mason worked in Administrative Support as a multimedia and instructional design specialist for CGI Federal and Drillinginfo Inc. (now Enverus.) His work has spanned the fields of military training, geological simulations training, and instructional technology for Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy training.

Extended Abstract

COVID-19 has challenged the delivery of courses requiring hands-on learning experiences across all aspects of education. Hybrid gross human anatomy courses in health professions training programs were significantly impacted due to restrictions in facility access and student/faculty social distancing requirements. The hybrid Baylor University Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program typically utilized cadaver laboratory resources at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas, for our entire 100 student cohort and 10 faculty over a 4 day period. However, due to restrictions on access to their facilities, we were unable to provide this learning experience in the Spring of 2021. Therefore, the course lead, the Director of Curriculum, and the Instructional Technologist pursued alternative and innovative course planning to fill this educational requirement for our first Trimester trunk and lower extremity gross human anatomy course.  

Didactic learning for the students remained unchanged from prior years with use of asynchronous and synchronous learning experiences, and guided mobile application anatomy learning resources developed in collaboration with Touch of Life Technologies, Inc (Toltech), our course lead, and our Instructional Technologist. A 4-day gross human anatomy laboratory immersion experience was held on the Waco, Texas campus with modifications to the delivery of anatomy instruction. Students self-selected to pods of 10 throughout the entire laboratory experience for COVID risk mitigation. The pods rotated through 10 stations, each 2 hours in length. The stations included joints, bones, muscles, palpation, pelvic anatomy, nerve drawings and pathways, Toltech 3D virtual reality guided modules, and diagnostic ultrasound anatomy visualization for both the trunk and lower extremities.  The 10th station was the traditional cadavers (one male and one female), pre-dissected for the students. Clinical faculty guided students during each station, facilitating clinical and functional anatomy application discussions.  

Outcomes revealed no significant differences in final laboratory or written exam scores in the current class as compared with the prior two iterations of the course. Alternative, innovative, and integrative laboratory learning methods for human anatomy may appropriately meet the needs of students for human anatomy instruction. 

Attendees to this Discovery Session will learn about our integration of non-cadaver learning experiences to bridge didactic and laboratory learning for human anatomy, and engage into discussion to explore additional learning strategies.