Vol. 125 No. 1 (2021)
Original Article

Face-to-face vs distance learning in human anatomy education: a longitudinal study of students’ perspective and learning outcomes during COVID-19 pandemic

Michela Relucenti
Department of Anatomical, Histological, Orthopedics and Forensic Medicine (SAIMLAL) Sapienza University of Rome, Rome
Francesca Alby
Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome
Rosemarie Heyn
Department of Anatomical, Histological, Orthopedics and Forensic Medicine (SAIMLAL) Sapienza University of Rome, Rome
Filomena Marino
Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome
Marilena Fatigante
Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
Selenia Miglietta
Department of Anatomical, Histological, Orthopedics and Forensic Medicine (SAIMLAL) Sapienza University of Rome, Rome
Pietro Familiari
Department of Human Neuroscience, Division of Neurosurgery, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome
Cristina Zucchermaglio
Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome
Giuseppe Familiari
Department of Anatomical, Histological, Orthopedics and Forensic Medicine (SAIMLAL) Sapienza University of Rome, Rome
Eugenio Gaudio
Department of Anatomical, Histological, Orthopedics and Forensic Medicine (SAIMLAL) Sapienza University of Rome, Rome
Published April 29, 2022
Keywords
  • Anatomy education,
  • COVID-19,
  • computer-assisted learning,
  • e-learning,
  • web-based learning
How to Cite
Relucenti, M., Alby, F., Heyn, R., Marino, F., Fatigante, M., Miglietta, S., Familiari, P., Zucchermaglio, C., Familiari, G., & Gaudio, E. (2022). Face-to-face vs distance learning in human anatomy education: a longitudinal study of students’ perspective and learning outcomes during COVID-19 pandemic. Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology, 125(1), 37-54. https://doi.org/10.36253/ijae-12800

Funding data

Abstract

On March 9, 2020 attendance classes in Italian universities were suspended due to Covid-19 Pandemic. Thanks to the fast actions put in place by Sapienza University Governance and to the efforts made by all components of the university, the face-to-face courses were turned into on-line courses in only one week. This sudden change has been an even more exciting challenge for the Faculties of Medicine, whose members were also involved in the frontline battle against the virus. Anatomy academics, recognizing the challenges as opportunities to innovate anatomy teaching, set up at the same time: a specific survey to investigate students’ perspective on educational preferences and their mood; a longitudinal quantitative study to compare, for the first time in the same student’s population, exam grades after face-to-face classes and after online classes. The students, although with different motivations, considered valid both modes of attendance. Exam grades statistical analysis showed that anatomy exam marks after the online course had a higher average value (statistically significant) and with an excellent correlation factor, compared to the marks obtained at the end of the face-to-face course. Considering our data as a whole, we can suggest that face-to-face classes and online classes, rather than being interchangeable education modes, should be considered as modes with different characteristics that offer different educational benefits. These advantages may have different relevance for individual students, depending on their specific needs and individual preferences. This suggests the opportunity to propose customizable courses, centered on the student’s needs.

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