July 16, 2018
By Drake Milliken
As an undergraduate student myself, I am very familiar with how students engage themselves in course material, in and outside of the classroom. It is no secret that students have a lot to juggle between their classes, work, and social lives. It is for this reason, along with others, that students have a tough time paying attention in class for extended periods of times. I see cases of this in almost every class I attend. Students are often messaging on their phones and computers, finishing up homework for their next class, or just trying to kill time by looking at social media. It is very evident that students aren’t always engaged in class. But why is that the case? Students in college level courses are typically invested in their classes but continue to struggle staying focused for the whole class.
Salman Khan (Founder of Khan Academy) recently posted an article referencing research performed by two professors from Indiana University, Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish. They cited multiple studies showing that students lose almost all interest after the first 10 to 15-minutes during classes. This was backed by the student’s memories, where they could more effectively recall information that was presented at the beginning of the class compared to the end of class.
What keeps Students Engaged?
If we know that students aren’t getting the most out of their educational experiences, what can we do to improve it? One way to do this is to change up the way the course is presented to the students. In an article from the Applied Education Systems website, Sarah Layton shows how we can improve student engagement by introducing student directed learning, interactive exercises, and hands on group activities. These teaching tools will help students stay interested, motivated and engaged. As Salman puts it, “The main point is that when humans get together to learn, we should replace passivity with interactivity.” (Khan, 2012)
Interactivity can be performed in multiple ways, whether that be working in groups towards a common goal, or working through activities that engage students with media, simulations, quizzes, etc. In a study performed by Gregory Walton, a Psychology Professor at Stanford, 2 groups of students were tasked to solve a puzzle. One group was tasked to work on the puzzle alone, while the second group were to work on the puzzle as a team, but they were to do so separated from the rest of their group members. Their findings showed that when people were tasked to work together, even if they did so in separate locations, they persisted 48 to 64 percent longer on a challenging task, reported more interest, became more engrossed, and performed better overall in the task. (Parker, 2014)
How Can BodyViz Increase Student Engagement?
BodyViz anatomy software has the capability of increasing student engagement through multiple sources. Our 3D anatomy software provides interactive visualizations that give instructors and students the ability to perform virtual dissections, explore, and study real anatomy. Working 3D visualizations rendered from MRI and CT scans provide a platform that highlights the natural variations in human anatomy, easily compares normal and abnormal pathologies side by side, and brings actual patient cases into the classroom. When students can study different scans of real patients, it provides them with real life meaning outside of the classroom, making it much more interesting to perform.
Many of our customers choose to setup their digital anatomy labs in interactive stations (similar to the one pictured below) to encourage group collaboration. As we talked about previously, students that can work together not only perform better but they are actively engaged and show more interest in the task, which in turn leads to a better memory retention rate.
A perfect example of this comes from the Digital Anatomy Lab at The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Dr. Rahimi had the goal of increasing interactions among his students, faculty, and technology. To do so, he implemented 84 interactive stations, setup in innovative learning spaces. “This is 100 percent interactive. You do your best learning through active learning, where you are interacting and you are engaging in the material.” said Dr. Rahimi. BodyViz has the capability to flex to any pedagogical approach and scale to any teaching environment, creating a more interactive atmosphere, and increasing student engagement.
To learn more about BodyViz's 3D anatomy software, schedule an interactive demo at your earliest convenience and follow the links below.
Video: One-Minute BodyViz Overview
Case Study: University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Article: Virtual Dissection 101
Article: Virtual Dissection Investment and Budgeting
Layton, S. (2012, January). 5 Tips for Keeping Student Engaged in Health Science Course. Retrieved from: https://www.aeseducation.com/blog/2012/01/engaged-students-five-tips
Hanford, E. Rethinking the Way College Students are Taught. Retrieved from http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/tomorrows-college/lectures/rethinking-teaching.html
Kahn, S. (2012, October). Why Long Lectures Are Ineffective. Retrieved from: http://ideas.time.com/2012/10/02/why-lectures-are-ineffective/
Parker, C. (2014, September). Stanford Research Shows that Working Together Boosts Motivation. Retrieved from: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/september/motivation-walton-carr-091514.html
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