Human cadavers Vs. multimedia simulation: A study of student learning in anatomy

Andrew J. Saltarelli, Cary J. Roseth, William A. Saltarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Multimedia and simulation programs are increasingly being used for anatomy instruction, yet it remains unclear how learning with these technologies compares with learning with actual human cadavers. Using a multilevel, quasi-experimental-control design, this study compared the effects of "Anatomy and Physiology Revealed" (APR) multimedia learning system with a traditional undergraduate human cadaver laboratory. APR is a model-based multimedia simulation tool that uses high-resolution pictures to construct a prosected cadaver. APR also provides animations showing the function of specific anatomical structures. Results showed that the human cadaver laboratory offered a significant advantage over the multimedia simulation program on cadaver-based measures of identification and explanatory knowledge. These findings reinforce concerns that incorporating multimedia simulation into anatomy instruction requires careful alignment between learning tasks and performance measures. Findings also imply that additional pedagogical strategies are needed to support transfer from simulated to real-world application of anatomical knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-339
Number of pages9
JournalAnatomical sciences education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


  • CAI
  • computer-aided instruction
  • computers in anatomical education
  • digital anatomy
  • gross anatomy education
  • interactive computer graphics
  • multimedia
  • teaching of anatomy


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