The Impact of Three-Dimensional Printed Anatomical Models on First-Year Student Engagement in a Block Mode Delivery

Nicholas Tripodi, Kate Kelly, Maja Husaric, Rebecca Wospil, Michael Fleischmann, Susan Johnston, Katherine Harkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Student engagement is known to have several positive effects on learning outcomes and can impact a student's university experience. High levels of engagement in content-heavy subjects can be difficult to attain. Due to a major institutional restructure, the anatomy prosection laboratory time per subject was dramatically reduced. In response, the authors set out to redesign their anatomy units with a focus on engaging the learning activities that would increase time-on-task both within and outside of the classroom. One of these curriculum changes was the implementation of a suite of anatomy learning activities centered on sets of three-dimensional printed upper limb skeleton models. A two-part mixed-method sequential exploratory design was used to evaluate these activities. Part one was a questionnaire that evaluated the students' engagement with and perceptions of the models. Part two involved focus groups interviews, which were an extension of the survey questions in part one. The results of the study indicated that the majority of students found the models to be an engaging resource that helped improve their study habits. As a result, students strongly felt that the use of the models inspired greater academic confidence and overall better performance in their assessments. Overall, the models were an effective way of increasing the engagement and deep learning, and reinforced previous findings from the medical education research. Future research should investigate the effects of these models on student's grades within osteopathy and other allied health courses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-777
Number of pages9
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D-printing
  • block mode
  • gross anatomy education
  • intensive teaching
  • practical assessments
  • student engagement
  • undergraduate education


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