Implementing fabrication as a pedagogical tool in vertebrate anatomy courses motivation, lessons, and outcomes

January 3 – Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

S4-5  Tue Jan 5 11:30 – 11:45  Implementing fabrication as a pedagogical tool in vertebrate anatomy courses: motivation, lessons, and outcomes Staab, KL; McDaniel College

Fabrication can be employed in vertebrate anatomy courses in various ways to enhance student learning. Here I share how I converted an anatomy lab at a small liberal arts college into a makerspace to spark student creativity using inspiration from vertebrate animals. Learning science in informal environments and specifically in makerspaces has been shown to promote equity and increase motivation to study science. Examples here emphasize accessibility for diverse learners, including strategies for instructors to ensure ease of student access to 3D technology. Scaffolding introduction to software, materials, and skills allows students to fail early and safely in low-stakes assignments, building confidence and expertise. Adding this structure to biology courses helps all students but it benefits underrepresented students even more, further closing opportunity gaps. A way to increase student motivation is to give choices in what they learn. In a semester-long research project in an introductory biomechanics course, students investigate, write about, and build models of animal anatomy of their choice. They use simple materials, crafting supplies, household tools, and/or 3D printing to demonstrate structures of interest, enhancing understanding of the physical principles of animal form and function. Given increased availability of CT data online, students can download, analyze, and 3D print skeletal models of both common and endangered animals. Comparative anatomy students reported they had increased motivation to study intricate skeletal anatomy simply by manipulating bones in a 3D software assignment. Indeed, students performed better on exam questions on their assigned bones as compared to controls and this has potential to scale. All examples are low-cost, accessible options to boost learning of anatomy.

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