Concept mapping in health sciences education: Conceptualizing and testing a novel technique for the assessment of learning in anatomy

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Research has shown that students feel overwhelmed by the amount of information covered in first year anatomy and physiology subjects (Eagleton, 2015). In this paper, we present an activity designed to facilitate learning of the organization of the human skeletal system and anatomical directional terms used to help describe it. Learning styles and the effect of body painting was also investigated.

Two studies are described and each were analysed separately both quantitatively (pre- and post-test scores) and qualitatively (surveys).

Body painting did not affect the number of directional terms included in the concept maps. The most common term used was “superior” and the least was “superficial”. Students applied the greatest number of directional terms to the lower limb, upper limb and vertebral column. Knowledgeable students gained no benefit from the body painting activity and from completing the concept map test a second time, whereas, the students who were naïve to the content benefited significantly from repeated testing and from body painting.

Students need scaffolding, practise and feedback to construct concept maps. Adapting the concept map tests increased student engagement and the objectivity of scoring. Learning style did not have an effect on learning outcomes of the students in this study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalMedical Teacher
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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