Anat Sci Educ. 2021 Nov 30. doi: 10.1002/ase.2157. Online ahead of print.
Augmented reality (AR) has recently been utilized as an integrative teaching tool in medical curricula given its ability to view virtual objects while interacting with the physical environment. The evidence for AR in medical training however, is limited. For this reason, the purpose of this mixed methods study was to evaluate the implementation of overlaying donor-specific diagnostic imaging (DSDI) onto corresponding body donors in a fourth-year, dissection-based, medical elective course entitled Anatomy for Surgeons (AFS). Students registered in AFS course were separated into groups; either receiving DSDI displayed on Microsoft HoloLens AR head-mounted display (n = 12), or DSDI displayed on iPad (n =15). To test for change in spatial ability, students completed an anatomical mental rotation test (AMRT) prior to and following the AFS course. Students also participated in a focus group discussion and completed a survey at the end of AFS, analyzed through thematic triangulation and an unpaired, Mann Whitney U test respectively, both addressing dissection experience, DSDI relevancy to dissection, and use of AR in anatomical education. Although statistically significant differences were not found when comparing student group AMRT scores, survey and discussion data suggest that the HoloLens had improved the students’ understanding of, and their spatial orientation of, anatomical relationships. Trunk dissection quality grades were significantly higher with students using the HoloLens. Although students mentioned difficulties with HoloLens software, with faculty assistance, training and enhanced software development, there is potential for this AR tool to contribute to improved dissection quality and an immersive learning experience.
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