Another way to skin a cat : Argument-Driven Inquiry in the human anatomy laboratory

Cheshire, Philip Andrew
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The demand for healthcare professionals is expected to grow faster than any other industry through 2028. Fundamental to the training and practice of healthcare professionals is human anatomy. However, human anatomy courses experienced substantial declines in time and resources in recent years; reducing anatomical studies to rote memorization. As a result, human anatomy labs often lack best practices in science education, which foster the development of the scientific proficiency that supports the deep learning and reasoning students will need for the high levels of problem-solving in healthcare. PURPOSE: The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the potential for implementing the novel laboratory-teaching framework of Argument-Driven Inquiry (ADI) in the human anatomy laboratory. The research questions related to the feasibility of ADI in anatomy, and the impact that varying levels of ADI had on students' knowledge, reasoning, and perceptions. METHODS: This dissertation conducted three studies. Participants in Studies I and II were 126 and 215 undergraduates respectively. Participants in Study III were 108 first-year medical students. Study I implemented a one-week modified ADI lab in one course section. The subsequent lab exam assessed differences in factual learning compared to the standard labs. Study II implemented a modified ADI lab protocol for the final four weeks of a human anatomy course; using the previous semester's standard protocols as a control group. Factual learning and application reasoning were assessed on the lab exams at the mid-term and final. Study III conducted a medical procedure learning event and assessed factual knowledge changes as well as student perceptions in a pre- and post-test survey. ANALYSIS: For Study I, a 3- way ANOVA tested for mean differences in factual knowledge between lab groups. For Study II, a 3 x 2 mixed factorial MANOVA with repeated measures on the second factor was conducted to test for mean differences in factual knowledge and application reasoning. For Study III, separate one-way repeated-measures ANOVAs tested for mean differences between pre- and post-test factual knowledge and student perceptions. RESULTS: Study I showed no difference in factual knowledge between the modified Argument-driven labs compared to the standard labs. Study II showed no difference in factual knowledge between the intervention and control groups. The intervention group scored significantly higher on the application reasoning assessment. Study III showed no difference between pre- and post-test factual knowledge, and students perceived the medical procedure lab more positively than the standard dissection lab. DISCUSSION: Argument-driven Inquiry is a novel approach that provides a theoretically sound framework for science education. While students report greater engagement, and show improvements in reasoning, there are implementation challenges that restrict its effectiveness at improving factual knowledge and reasoning for a large portion of students. Further research is needed to better understand the factors that allow for more effective implementation, which will allow the impact of ADI in anatomy to be tested in a more robust manner