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Anat Sci Educ. 2016 Oct;9(5):440-5. doi: 10.1002/ase.1588. Epub 2015 Dec 19.

The intelligent anatomy spotter: A new approach to incorporate higher levels of Bloom's taxonomy.

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Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, United Kingdom.


The spotter test is an assessment that has been used widely to test practical knowledge of anatomy. Traditional spotter formats often focus solely on knowledge recall, in addition to being an onerous marking burden on staff where consistency in marking free text responses can be questioned. First-year optometry students at the University of Manchester study the functional anatomy of the eye in the first semester of their first year. Included in the assessment of this unit is a spotter examination worth 45% of the total unit mark. Due to the factors listed above, a new spotter format was designed. Students had to answer three questions per specimen where the answers to the questions were the labeled structures themselves (A, B, C, or D). They had to work out the answer to the question and then work out which of the labeled structures was the correct structure, negating the "cueing effect" of standard multiple choice questions. Examination results were analyzed over a six-year period (control groups 2008/2009, 2009/2010, 2010/2011; treatment groups 2011/2012, 2012/2013, 2013/2014). There were no significant differences between marks obtained for the new spotter format when compared with the traditional format. The new format spotter tested comprehension rather than just knowledge, and facilitated marking because subjectiveness was erased, and less time was spent determining whether an answer was correct or not. Anat Sci Educ 9: 440-445.


gross anatomy education; laboratory assessment; practical examination; spotter; undergraduate education

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