Hands-on anatomy activities that reinforce understanding of muscle attachments

Abdallah, Randa, Reema Sutariya, James Montante, and Mary Tracy- Bee

Helping students to visualize the origin, insertion, position and relationships of muscles is a challenge.  We present a visual, interactive exercise to reinforce student understanding in this area.  Students were asked to place precut two-dimensional felt models of the muscles on a life sized skeleton or disarticulated bones matching the correct bony origins and insertions.

In order to assess the impact of this approach on student learning, Physician Assistant students were split into two groups. The first group spent 15 minutes utilizing the felt leg muscles while the second group spent 15 minutes reading their books to study the muscular attachments of the leg muscles.  A pre-test and a post-test covering the material were administered to both groups.  Students who worked with the felt muscles showed a greater improvement relative to the students who studied independently (p<0.05) when answering questions about the origin and insertion of the muscles but not the action or innervation, as expected.  The groups switched activities when studying the foot muscles and similar results were found. Student satisfaction was assessed with a survey administered after each unit.  The majority of students indicated that the activity was fun and felt that the activity was an effective way to learn the material. We advocate the use of this type of activity to engage the students and to provide an opportunity for the students to reinforce their understanding of muscular attachments.