Cultivating creative learners in higher education: Engaging students in anatomy through art

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Nursing and midwifery students often struggle to engage with bioscience modules because they lack confidence in their ability to study science (Fell et al., 2012). Consequently many have difficulty applying anatomical and physiological information, essential to providing safe and effective patient care (Rogers, 2014; Rogers and Sterling, 2012); therefore a need exists for nurse educators to explore different methods of delivery of these important topics to enhance current curricula (Johnston, 2010). Inspired by the reported success of creative methods to enhance the teaching and learning of anatomy in medical education (Noel, 2013; Finn and McLachlan, 2010), this pilot study engaged nursing students in anatomy through the art of felt. The project was underpinned by the principles of good practice in undergraduate education, staff-student engagement, cooperation among students, active learning, prompt feedback, time on task, high expectations and respect for diverse learning styles (Chickering and Gamson, 1987).

Undergraduate student nurses from Queen’s University, Belfast, enrolled in the year one ‘Health and Wellbeing’ model were invited to participate in the project. Over a six week period the student volunteers worked in partnership with teaching staff to construct individual, unique, three dimensional felt models of the upper body. Students researched the agreed topic for each week in terms of anatomical structure, location, tissue composition and vascular access. Creativity was encouraged in relation to the colour and texture of materials used. The evaluation of the project was based on the four level model detailed by Kirkpatrick and Kirkpatrick (2006) and included both quantitative and qualitative analysis:• pre and post knowledge scores• self-rated confidence• student reflections on the application of learning to practice.

At the end of the project students had created felt pieces reflective of their learning throughout the project and ‘memorable’ three dimensional mental maps of the human anatomy. Evaluation revealed not only acquisition of anatomical knowledge, but the wider benefits of actively engaging in creative learning with other students and faculty teaching staff.

The project has enabled nurse educators to assess the impact of innovative methods for delivery of these important topics.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 02 Sep 2014
EventNET 2014, 25th International Networking for Healthcare Education Conference - Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: 02 Sep 201404 Dec 2014


ConferenceNET 2014, 25th International Networking for Healthcare Education Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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