The Spectrum of Learning and Teaching: The Impact of a Fourth-Year Anatomy Course on Medical Student Knowledge and Confidence

Rebecca S. Lufler, Michelle D. Lazarus, Joshua J. Stefanik

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3 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing demand from accrediting agencies for improved basic science integration into fourth-year medical curricula and inculcation of medical students with teaching skills. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a fourth-year medical school elective course focused on teaching gross anatomy on anatomical knowledge and teaching confidence. Fourth-year medical student “teacher” participants' gross anatomy knowledge was assessed before and after the course. Students rated their overall perceived anatomy knowledge and teaching skills on a scale from 0 (worst) to 10 (best), and responded to specific knowledge and teaching confidence items using a similar scale. First-year students were surveyed to evaluate the effectiveness of the fourth-year student teaching on their learning. Thirty-two students completed the course. The mean anatomy knowledge pretest score and posttest scores were 43.2 (±22.1) and 74.1 (±18.4), respectively (P < 0.001). The mean perceived anatomy knowledge ratings before and after the course were 6.19 (±1.84) and 7.84 (±1.30), respectively (P < 0.0001) and mean perceived teaching skills ratings before and after the course were 7.94 (±1.24) and 8.53 (±0.95), respectively (P = 0.002). Student feedback highlighted five themes which impacted fourth-year teaching assistant effectiveness, including social/cognitive congruence and improved access to learning opportunities. Together these results suggest that integrating fourth-year medical students in anatomy teaching increases their anatomical knowledge and improves measures of perceived confidence in both teaching and anatomy knowledge. The thematic analysis revealed that this initiative has positive benefits for first-year students.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-29
Number of pages11
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • confidence
  • elective courses
  • fourth-year medical students
  • gross anatomy education
  • medical education
  • peer teaching
  • student-as-teachers

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