Use of High-Definition Audiovisual Technology in a Gross Anatomy Laboratory: Effect on Dental Students' Learning Outcomes and Satisfaction

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Laboratory cadaver dissection is essential for three-dimensional understanding of anatomical structures and variability, but there are many challenges to teaching gross anatomy in medical and dental schools, including alack of available space and qualified anatomy faculty. The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of high-definition audiovisual educational technology in the gross anatomy laboratory in improving dental students' learning outcomes and satisfaction. Exam scores were compared for two classes of first-year students at one U.S. dental school: 2012-13 (no audiovisual technology) and 2013-14 (audiovisual technology), and section exams were used to compare differences between semesters. Additionally, an online survey was used to assess the satisfaction of students who used the technology. All 284 first-year students in the two years (2012-13 N=144; 2013-14 N=140) participated in the exams. Of the 140 students in the 2013-14 class, 63 completed the survey (45% response rate). The results showed that those students who used the technology had higher scores on the laboratory exams than those who did not use it, and students in the winter semester scored higher (90.17 +/- 0.56) than in the fall semester (82.10 +/- 0.68). More than 87% of those surveyed strongly agreed or agreed that the audiovisual devices represented anatomical structures clearly in the gross anatomy laboratory. These students reported an improved experience in learning and understanding anatomical structures, found the laboratory to be less overwhelming, and said they were better able to follow dissection instructions and understand details of anatomical structures with the new technology. Based on these results, the study concluded that the ability to provide the students a clear view of anatomical structures and high-quality imaging had improved their learning experience.