Application of ” Case discussion” to improve anatomy learning

“Case Study” or” Case Discussion” is known as one of the most attractive  instructional techniques which enhances the student engagement by extending students’ knowledge to real life . Anatomy is one of the most important basic courses for students in medicine and health related majors. Considering the volume and complex city of its content, educators in this discipline need to investigate and implement the techniques which improve students’ learning . The following research study shows that application of this technique for medical students will increase the learning outcomes by  enhancing the levels of students’ motivation and  engagement in the learning process.



Designing a new approach for learning gross anatomy to improve students’ motivation to study anatomy and to enable them to learn independently through case discussion.

Materials and Methods:

The study included newly registered students in the first academic year. The total number of students was 165, who were divided by alphabetical order into 15 groups of 11 students. Each group was led by one faculty member and each faculty member lead 3 groups. Each group met twice a week for 2 weeks to discuss one case related to the upper limb anatomy. Students took pre- and posttests and completed an opinion questionnaire about the case discussions.


The pretest score shows that 20% of the students received grades of 60% or above and that 80% received grades less than 60%. The posttest showed that 45% of the students received grades of 60% or above and that 55% received grades less than 60%. There was a significant difference between the pre- and posttest for grades <60% (P = 0.0000) and less significant for grades >60% (P = 0.0023). In addition, 17% of students achieved the same results (less than 60%) in both the pre- and posttests. The questionnaire revealed that all students stated that the discussion method was useful in their learning process, helped them to increase their motivation to study anatomy (85%), know the usefulness of studying anatomy (84%), and understand the problems (91%).


The implementation of the case discussion in teaching anatomy can increase the students’ understanding and motivate them to learn.

 link to full article:

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Grit and its role in learning

One of the interesting  concepts which has  been   proposed recently  in the field of education and learning is ” GRIT” . What is it and how it impacts in the  learning process? Grit is ” The power of passion and perseverance” which has known by psychologist and researcher ” Angela Duckworth” and is admitted by a huge number of professionals in the field of education and psychology. The following video has more to say, check this out!


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Interactive Lecturing

Technically, there are various strategies in instructing the course  materials by  educators.  Of course, choosing the appropriate strategy is the most important part of instructor’s responsibilities.  I personally believe there are three main factors which need to be considered in this regard including: subject’s content nature,  class size, and teaching facilities . In terms of the subject’s nature, everybody knows  that  each discipline has certain  core content  and  specific cognitive domain. For instance, in biology , students need to learn the basic concepts of living organisms , from structure to function,then memorize and recall these basic  knowledge to upper levels of analyzing and applying.  Nobody can claims that the lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy  are not important. Also the number of students in  class as well as the equipment or facilities that educators can benefit  from them in each educational institute are very crucial. One of the challenges that educators in the field of biology are faced to is that students get some kind of board when they hear a lot of unfamiliar names and particularly they  feel some kind of fear when they realize they need to be examined of  these huge number of unfamiliar words. So, as educators, we need to implement the techniques to maximize the students’ engagement in  these kind of  subjects. Fortunately, technology has helped us in this regard and several engaging platforms has created in recent years.  Top hat is one of the newest platforms which has introduced as an  interactive tool to enhance motivation and active learning. This tools works for all sized classrooms especially for large one. There is an introducing video , check this out!


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What is E-Learnin?

Dr. Mark Bullen, Education Specialist for eLearning at the Commonwealth of Learning explains his perspective on the meaning of eLearning. His key message is that eLearning should be seen as a continuum of opportunities for using ICT in education. This can involve supporting and enhancing traditional face-to-face teaching, using ICT to provide blended learning or flipped classroom options and delivering fully online distance education programmes. Part of the Issues in E-Learning & Distance Education Video Series produced by the Commonwealth of Learning, July 2014.


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Five Ways to Help Students Succeed in the Online Classroom


More and more students are flocking to the online classroom for the convenience of earning college credits from the comfort of their home. However, many of these students are ill-prepared for the dedication and discipline needed to be successful in the online environment. Oftentimes students have misconceptions concerning the rigor of online courses, and they often underestimate the amount of time and discipline necessary to complete assignments, discussions, quizzes, and projects. Therefore, it is important for the instructor to set the tone of the course to help students succeed. So how do you help your students succeed in the online classroom?

Ensuring Student Success in Online Courses


Students like online classes due to their flexibility and convenience. But not all students do well in these courses; the statistics indicate that online classes have a much higher dropout rate compared to traditional face-to-face classes. The attrition rates in online courses tend to be 10 to 20 percent higher than in face-to-face classes. While there are some personal factors that could influence a student’s decision to drop out, many of the factors are related to institutional and course level support—and these barriers can be addressed with thoughtful planning and implementation. Institutional level factors like technical support, academic support, advising, and availability of resources can support student success in online courses. At the course level, there are many simple strategies and techniques that instructors can use to support students’ success in their online classes.

Student Engagement Strategies for the Online Learning Environment


During the past year and a half, our faculty development unit has been gathering data from students about how engaged they felt in their online courses. We wanted to use this data to develop a variety of strategies for faculty to use to better engage their students. Research provides evidence for the connection between higher student engagement and persistence and retention in online programs (Boston, et al., 2010; Wyatt, 2011). Encouraging student engagement is especially important in the online environment where attrition rates are higher than in the face-to-face setting (Allen & Seaman, 2015; Boston & Ice, 2011).

The Art & Science of Quality Course Announcements: How to Avoid the Trap of the Info Dump


It’s the night before a major assignment is due and you sit down to post an announcement in your online course. You want to remind your students of the impending due date, and oh yes, there’s a great webinar offered by the career center coming up on Tuesday. That reminds you, there’s also that article about the history of Wikipedia that you want to share with them too. Come to think of it, now’s as good a time as any to discuss the lack of analysis you noticed in their discussion board posts last week. As you write about their discussions, you also decide to include one last link to a citation website you hope will help them improve in this area.


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Brain-Based Online Learning Design

Tompkins offers the following succinct definition of brain-based: “instructional strategies designed for compatibility with the brain’s propensities for seeking, processing, and organizing information.”

Abreena Tompkins, instruction specialist at Surry Community College, has developed a brain-based online course design model based on a meta-analysis of more than 300 articles. In this study, she distilled the following elements of brain-based course design:

  • Low-risk, nonthreatening learning environment
  • Challenging, real-life, authentic assessments
  • Rhythms, patterns, and cycles
  • Appropriate chunking or grouping
  • Learning as orchestration rather than lecture or facilitation
  • Appropriate level of novelty
  • Appropriately timed breaks and learning periods
  • Purposeful assessments
  • Learning that addresses visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners
  • Active processing with mental models
  • The use of universal examples, analogies, and parallel processing

Tompkins offers the following succinct definition of brain-based: “instructional strategies designed for compatibility with the brain’s propensities for seeking, processing, and organizing information.”

Tompkins’ model uses the acronym IGNITE.

Intervals: Tompkins recommends using an interval of intense focus for approximately 15 to 20 minutes followed by a two- to three-minute break. “Physiologically, your neurons are keen and alert for no more than 20 consecutive minutes. At the end of those 20 minutes, your neurons have gone from full-fledged alert to total collapse, and it takes two to three minutes for those neurons to be completely recovered and back to the total alert state. If you break longer than three minutes, you’ve redirected your attention,” Tompkins says.

Shifting from intense focus need not be a radical change. It can be as simple as posting to a discussion board.

Grouping: Present information in groups of three or five. “The brain can process no more than nine items in a sequence, and it actually does this much more efficiently with three or five. Odd numbers work better than even numbers. If you’re going to give students a list of six things to do, make it one, two, three, whitespace, four, five, six. The brain responds to whitespace because the brain processes things in groups. Students will be better able to focus as they look at this group of information. You’re providing the same amount of content. It just makes it more learner-friendly,” Tompkins says.

Novelty: When students are bored they tend to not pay attention to information that is present. Tompkins recommends injecting novelty to prevent boredom. “If there’s no announcement to make, post a good joke for the day. If you’ve got a header picture, change it once a week. Insert pictures with each unit. Do something to get their attention. You want students to go in and say, ‘What’s new today?’”

Interconnectedness: Learning needs to be connected to students’ reason for taking the course. Tompkins recommends making these connections by providing experiences and demonstrations and revisiting those experiences. Constant review is essential because people learn through two mechanisms: repetition and connecting to prior knowledge, Tompkins says.

Technology and time: Select the appropriate technology to suit the needs of your students. For example, podcasts may be effective for master’s-level students, but they are not a good choice for teaching developmental-level students.

It’s important to provide enough time for students to process what they’ve learned. “Don’t put so much work in there that there’s no time to process what you’re asking them to learn. I think sometimes instructors fill their courses with all kinds of things that there’s no way students will have time to do everything,” Tompkins says.

Environment: Keep the affective aspects of the online learning environment in mind. Welcome student emails. Understand your learners’ needs.

This model does not require sophisticated high-tech solutions. “It can all be done with a very simple course design,” Tompkins says. “I recommend using visuals all you can because over 90 percent of us are visual learners.”

Excerpted from Brain-Based Online Learning Design, Online Classroom, (November 2011): 1, 2.


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Potential benefits of on-line learning

Century 21, is the age of technology. Technology has changed everything, everywhere. Education is not an exception. Many of teaching techniques which had been used by teachers in the past,  are not attractive and beneficial right now. Educators need to know new features of technology in the field of education to adapt their performance in the way of teaching and learning.  Distance learning or Online learning is one of the modern type of educational techniques which has positive effect on many aspects of the society. In following article, Mark Aspirella, classifies some potential benefits for online-learning and education:

Possible advantages of online learning

Convenience and flexibility

  1. Schedule Flexibility: Students can access their course at any time, from anywhere they can log on, in most cases. This means that parents, working students, and professionals on the move have the option of attending classes no matter their work schedule. Students only need a computer and Internet access to take online classes.
  2. Ease of accessibility: Courseware can be accessible for students when they need it. Students can review lectures, discussions, explanations, and comments. Individuals can also share notes with each other to help facilitate community learning.
  3. Range of options: Students may be able to choose from a wider breadth of degree programs. Someonline colleges develop and offer degree programs that might not yet be available through nearby public or private institutions.
  4. Students control study time: On-campus courses are typically scheduled in a more rigid format, with shorter classes running 50 minutes, and others running longer. Night classes may last for nearly three hours. One of the benefits of online education is that students may not have to sit for long periods of time. Lessons can be paused when needed, and notes read at will.  

Student enrichment

  1. Chance for interaction: Online courses may be less intimidating than the brick-and-mortar classroom setting, and could help to increase student interaction. By allowing everyone to have a voice, shared ideas grow diverse as well. Students can also think longer about what they want to say and add their comments when ready. In a traditional classroom, the conversation could have moved past the point where the student may be willing to comment.
  2. Online communications: Instructors can be more approachable in the online setting. Students may feel more comfortable talking openly with their teachers through online chats, emails, and newsgroup discussions rather than face-to-face. Online correspondence also cuts out having to wait for office hours that may not be convenient for either party.
  3. Time to absorb material: Positive results are reported for students enrolled in online classes, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education: “on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.” Using over 1,000 empirical studies, the DOE found that time was the additive that helped students perform better. The report noted benefits in studies in which online learners spent more time on task than students in the face-to-face condition.

Cost-effective choices

  1. Money saving option: Students may be able to save money by not having to physically attend classes. Online courses may help individuals cut down or eliminate costs of transportation, babysitting, and other expenses incurred by attending classes in a traditional setting.
  2. No more expensive textbooks: Some web-based classes may not require physical textbooks, as reading materials may be available either through the school’s own library or their partnerships with e-libraries and other digital publishers. E-textbooks might offer substantial savings for students, adding up to hundreds of dollars a year.

Distance EducationOpportunities for convenience, cost-effectiveness, and student enrichment are just some of the variables that have contributed to online learning’s growth. Distance education has gained steam in these areas, and advocates are continuously looking to improve upon these as well as other facets of the experience.

One concern is the lack of face-to-face interaction with the instructor and fellow classmates. Students may experience a disconnect with the rest of the classroom, but schools are proactively looking into ways to alleviate the issue. The adoption of video conferencing technologies, and even free-to-use group chats, for example, can help students interface with teachers and other students.

Another worry is that online degree programs are viewed as less optimal instruction for students, with no real standards to regulate the curriculum. However, online instruction is subject to academic scrutiny like on-campus schooling. Accrediting bodies exist to review and accredit online institutions as well as traditional colleges and programs. It’s always a good idea to check that a school has been reviewed by an approved accreditation organization.

Student plagiarism and dishonesty are areas of concern as well. Some critics feel that it is easier to plagiarize or share answers because of reduced surveillance and increased connectivity. Institutions have begun to find ways to fight against these concerns with technologies to tackle cheating, like Turnitin and iThenticate.

Distance education has come a long way since its beginnings, and more advancements are likely to come. Advocates are finding ways to tighten up the perceived shortcomings of e-learning, and new technological developments continue to add to the advantages that online learning may offer for students.

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