Anatomy Study Tips
August 17, 2022
Video of different anatomy study tips and tricks! Share this video and article with your class an an introduction to the semester.
Schedule a demo to learn about BodyViz interactive activities, virtual dissection, real patient case studies, and other resources to incorporate into your classes!
Anatomy courses can be hard, interesting, challenging and rewarding all at the same time. In order to be successful in your anatomy studies, it is important to develop study strategies that fit your style of learning. One-size does not fit all with learning which is why it is important to try new study strategies, because you never know what tip just might make a concept click and stick for you! In this Brain Builder we will share some anatomy study tips and tricks.
Anatomy courses are very different from other courses in that you are learning about things that are physically related to you. The study of human anatomy is learning about the structure and internal workings of yourself. Adjusting your perspective of learning anatomy as just another course or subject, to learning about your own composition and inner workings awakens a new perspective and level of interest to hopefully allow your anatomy studies to not just be another course, but a course that is applicable to your everyday life and wellbeing.
Study Tips and Tricks
We have collected study tips from our BodyViz anatomy experts. Below is a list of some unique and proven effective study tips for helping learn and study anatomy that our anatomy experts used when they were first learning anatomy. We hope this list of tips and tricks will help you with your studies!
Drawing has proven to be an effective exercise in helping someone remember something. Studies have even shown that drawing is a better activity in aiding memory compared to reading or writing because the person is having to process the information in multiple ways including visually, kinesthetically, and semantically. Doodling in the margins, drawing out the instructions to a process, and sketching on a white board are all great ways to process and retain information. In The Surprisingly Powerful Influence of Drawing on Memory study, researchers led by Dr. Myra Fernandes, proposes that drawing improves memory by “promoting the integration of elaborative, pictorial, and motor codes- facilitating the creation of context-rich representation.” Compared to other memorization methods like visualization, writing, and image tracing, the research definitively shows that drawing is the best option for memorizing words, textbook definitions, and individual pictures. Their research showed drawing information as a memorization technique to be almost twice as powerful a way to boost memory.
“When I was sitting in an anatomy lecture it helped me to have a completely blank piece of paper with colored pencils and I would quickly sketch the concept we were discussing or draw the slide my instructor was showing. For my learning style, this really helped me with understanding and creating a strong visual picture in mind of an anatomy concept. If I could draw it, I knew I could remember it.”
“When I was preparing for an exam on the bones of the wrist and ankles, I actually used a marker and drew out the outlines of the bones on my skin. Thinking about the placement of the bones within my own hand, helped me get a better understanding and was my way of quizzing myself on if I actually knew the placement of the bones within the wrist or not”.
- BodyViz Anatomy Experts
Learning is a skill. Not very often though is the skill of learning addressed or taught. Self-explaining is an effective learning strategy that involves asking yourself explanatory questions like “What does this mean?” or “Why does this matter?” Specifically, it is very helpful to ask these questions and think through the reasoning out loud. A study has shown that people who explain ideas to themselves learn almost three times more than those who don’t. The first step to adapting this learning strategy is to start talking to yourself out loud. Although talking to ourselves is not the coolest thing to do in public, it is important in adopting this technique. Knowing the answer to the question of “why?” is powerful to unlock a new level of understanding and mastery of a concept. Pursuing the curiosity behind the question of “why?” is natural and a way to build expertise in areas that we may not understand or fully grasp. Finally, being able to give a summary to answer the question of “why?” promotes learning and makes connections to the information easier to remember and recall at a later time, like during an exam.
“It might be a bit embarrassing at first, but talk to yourself! I will learn a pathway, mechanism, life cycle, etc. and then talk myself through it while I am on a walk, in the shower, cooking, or just hanging out. Not ideal for the periodicals section of the library, though!“
When you look at the front side of a flashcard and think of the answer or definition, you are engaging in the mental skill of active recall. This means that you are attempting to remember the concept from scratch rather than reading a passage in your textbook or recognizing a concept on a multiple choice quiz. Active recall has been shown to create stronger connections in your brain. Because flashcards can be repeated, they are the best way to create multiple memory-enhancing recall events. Research has found that this kind of active recall retrieval practice leads to 150% better retention than passive studying.
Flashcards are a diverse tool and can be used in multiple ways. There are multiple flashcard apps like Quizlet, where you can create your own flashcards or search through premade flashcard sets already created by other students. These can be accessed for free and conveniently on someone’s phone for studying anytime and anywhere. Physical flashcards can also be very helpful to organize terms that are related to each other in specific systems or actions by placing them in related stacks. You can also create your own flashcards of a concept by creating a sketch of a term and the definition on the back to combine both drawing and flashcard strategies of learning.
“When it came to learning blood flow pathways and similar topics, I would make a flashcard for each vessel and then try to arrange them on my bedroom floor from memory. I would give myself a ‘start’ and ‘finish’ vessel and then put down the flashcards to make the connecting path.”
Do you consider yourself a hands-on learner? If you do, being able to physically interact with concepts is your preferred way of learning and mastering something. Most people believe that the only hands-on learning activity that relates to anatomy is dissection. While physical and virtual dissection are considered the gold standard in anatomy knowledge being applied, there are other hands-on techniques that do not require the use of a cadaver. A simple and somewhat silly strategy for memorization is touching the area of a term. This can be effective in memorizing bones, muscles, actions, and other anatomical terms.
“When learning origins and insertions, I would touch the area of my leg, for example, that the origins and insertions were in. When remembering actions I would do that action physically and say the muscle I was thinking of out loud. Definitely looks silly, but my whole lab group did this together every class! I did this during the practical exams, too, so I could tell if I was looking at a right or left femur, etc.“
Learning is never one-size fits all. Learning is a skill. Just like it takes time and practice to learn any other skill, it is important to learn how to learn better! Taking the time to try out some of these strategies and figure out what learning techniques work best for you, can save you time and frustration with your studies. We hope you give some of these study tips and tricks a try!
Schedule a demo today to learn how you can incorporate BodyViz 3D Interactive Anatomy into your classes and give your students the opportunity to learn in a variety of ways including premade modules and quizzes, videos, patient case studies, real patient virtual dissections, and more!
The Surprisingly Powerful Influence of Drawing on Memory
Metacognitive experience and transfer of logical reasoning
The Critical Importance of Retrieval for Learning