A combination of self-study assignments and small-group discussions in Applied Anatomy teaching for dental students


Cassio Almeida-da-Silva: 0000-0001-9173-7208


Biomedical Sciences

Document Type


Conference Title

American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Annual Session and Exhibition


American Dental Education Association (ADEA)


Portland, OR

Conference Dates

March 11-14, 2023

Date of Presentation



Objective: Given the complexity and large volume of information presented in dental school anatomy courses, innovative ways to reinforce the content given by traditional lectures are beneficial to student learning. The objective of this study is to evaluate how useful inclusion of self-study assignments and small-group discussions are to anatomy learning. Methods: A survey questionnaire was sent to first year Doctor of Dental Surgery students by e-mail to determine how helpful the following were towards learning anatomy: a) 3D anatomy software, virtual microscopy guided self-study, and self-assessments completed prior to the anatomy and histology labs; b) small-group in anatomy and histology labs; and c) presenting and discussing anatomically relevant clinical cases in a small-group setting. Students’ participation in the survey was voluntary and anonymous. Results: Forty-nine students responded to the questionnaire. The majority of students found it beneficial to review the content prior to attending anatomy and histology labs: 86% of students found it helpful to do guided exercises using a 3D anatomy software and virtual microscopy software; and 95% of the students found it helpful to complete self-assessment exercises. Regarding working in a small group setting, 78% of the students found it useful during the anatomy and histology labs; and 71% found it helpful during the presentation and discussion of anatomically relevant clinical cases. Some students preferred to have review sessions in person with instructors, instead of working independently in small groups. Conclusions: Most of the students responded that all the student-centered learning methods used in our anatomy and histology course helped them learn the anatomy and histology content. Even though some students prefer traditional lectures over student-centered learning methods, it is important for instructors to continue emphasizing application of preclinical sciences contents to clinical sciences in order to help students build critical thinking as dental professionals.

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