The Effects of Virtual Labs and Cooperative Learning on Student Achievement and Motivation in Anatomy Instruction.
A 2 (instructional technology: cadaver, virtual cadaver software) x 2 (cooperative learning technique: jigsaw, individual) between-subjects experimental-control design was used. Students from 15 undergraduate lab sections (N = 233) were randomly assigned to one of the four experimental groups. Learning was assessed through an initial quiz and a 1-week retention quiz. A survey evaluating students’ attitudes and motivation was included with the initial quiz. Results suggest that cooperative learning promotes student motivation and learning retention better than regular lab instructional methods. Additionally, results suggest that cooperative learning may be an effective way to ameliorate students’ negative perceptions of new learning technologies.
Jigsaw in Action
Summary of Findings:
- Students who participated in the jigsaw activity performed better* than those that didn’t on the 1-week retention quiz. (*Wilks’s ?=.97, F(1,218) p = .04) Thus, results suggest that the jigsaw activity promotes learning retention better than regular lab instructional methods.
- Students who studied with APR in lab performed worse on the intial quiz, but the same as cadaver-only on the 1-week retention quiz. Thus, results suggest that studying with APR led to initial decreases in achievement, but made no difference with regard to learning retention.
- Students who participated in the jigsaw activity had higher motivation* than those who didn’t participate. (*F=5.96, P=.01)
- Students who studied with APR in lab had lower motivation* than cadaver-only students. (*F=28.83, P<.001)
Results suggest* that the jigsaw activity ameliorated decreases in motivation observed in the APR group. (*Jig x APR Interaction, F = 6.57, p = .01) Thus, jigsaw may be an effective way to ameliorate students’ negative perceptions of new learning technologies.
- Students who participated in the jigsaw activity had higher epistemic regulation (more focused on learning content)* those who didn’t participate. (*Wilks’s ?=.95, F(1,213) p < .01) Thus, jigsaw seems to focus students on wrestling with course content (as opposed to relational conflict with the instructor or other students) leading to higher achievement.
Effects of Multimedia and Simulations on Learning in Anatomy Instruction
Multimedia and simulation programs are increasingly being used for anatomy instruction, yet little is known about whether these technologies support learning to the same extant as human cadavers. Using a multilevel, repeated measures, experimental-control design, this study addresses this issue by comparing the effects of multimedia-based, virtual simulation system (APR 2.0) and cadaver-only instruction on 225 undergraduates’ learning. Results showed that the cadaver-only condition offered a significant advantage over the multimedia condition on identification and explanatory knowledge, and that these effects did not vary as a function of time, instructional unit, or laboratory section. Results also showed that students overwhelmingly perceived cadaver-only instruction as most conducive to their learning. For practice, this study suggests that caution is needed when considering replacing traditional instructional methods with multimedia and simulations – especially for learning basic biomedical knowledge. Further research is needed to explore how to combine and leverage the unique affordances and minimize the constraints of traditional and digital learning strategies, respectively.