University of Sussex

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[Abstract] How anatomy students' loss of confidence during remote learning can inform prospective blended-learning approaches

conference contribution
posted on 2023-06-10, 06:19 authored by Annalise Richards, Dominic O'Brien, Danya Stone, Georga Longhurst, Kate Dulohery, Thomas Campbell, Thomas Franchi, Samuel Hall, Scott Border
The educational paradigm of anatomy is continually changing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. At many institutions, anatomists are considering transitioning their syllabuses to blended modes of delivery. It is imperative that prospective pedagogies are informed by the lessons learnt during the pandemic. Online learning often results in a more independent study experience for students. The replacement of in-person sessions with asynchronous or synchronous online sessions can impact accessibility and interactivity, and may also negatively affect students' self-perceived confidence in the subject. To assess student opinions about the opportunities for interaction they experienced during online teaching, and the resulting impact of online teaching on student confidence, a survey was distributed in June 2020 to 242 medical students in seven different institutions across the United Kingdom and Ireland. A thematic analysis of respondent data was performed to identify prevalent themes. Forty-nine percent of students indicated they were not satisfied with the level of interaction they had received (81 of 164 responses). Sixty-five percent of students felt that the Covid-19 lockdown would negatively impact their confidence in learning anatomy in the future (100 of 153 responses). Responses suggested students feel that live teaching (in-person or synchronous online delivery) offers more opportunity for interactivity and feedback compared to asynchronous online teaching. Students emphasised that the availability and approachability of instructors were of great importance, primarily because tutors could ‘quiz’ students and answer their questions. In addition, students felt their confidence was negatively impacted by both the lost opportunity to learn anatomy using human cadaveric specimens and the changes made to their assessment format. These findings indicate that instructors should act to mitigate impact on student confidence in anatomy by facilitating opportunities for both formal feedback through assessment, and informal feedback through live interactions during in-person or online synchronous teaching sessions. Moreover, student confidence during online teaching can be maintained with well-adapted curricula, effective learning resources and academic support.


Publication status

  • Published


Journal of Anatomy





Event name

Anatomical Society Summer Meeting 2022

Event location


Event type


Event date

July 4th-6th

Department affiliated with

  • Division of Medical Education Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • No

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