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Anat Sci Educ. 2017 Nov 7. doi: 10.1002/ase.1751. [Epub ahead of print]

Perceptions of first-year medical students towards learning anatomy using cadaveric specimens through peer teaching.

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Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Malta, Msida, Malta.
Directorate for Health Information and Research, Ministry of Health, Valletta, Malta.
Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Malta, Msida, Malta.
Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Malta, Tal-Qroqq, Malta.
Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Malta, Msida, Malta.
Department of Occupational Therapy, Saint Vincent de Paul Long-Term Care Facility, Luqa, Malta.
The Walton Centre, National Health Service Foundation Trust, Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Section of Forensic Pathology, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy.


During the last decade, global interest in the multiple benefits of formal peer teaching has increased. This study aimed to explore the perceptions of first-year medical students towards the use of peer teaching to learn anatomy using cadaveric specimens. A descriptive, cross-sectional, retrospective survey was carried out. Data were collected using an online questionnaire which was administered to all medical students who were in their second year of their medical school curriculum and who had participated in sessions taught by their peers during their first year. Peer teaching was perceived as an effective method of learning anatomy by more than half of the participants. Analysis of mean responses revealed that the peer teachers created a positive, non-intimidating learning environment. Overall, participants gave positive feedback on their peer teachers. Six categories emerged from the responses given by participants as to why they would or would not recommend peer teaching. Ways of improvement as suggested by the respondents were also reported. Variables found to be significantly associated with the perceived benefits of the peer teaching program included sex differences, educational level and recommendations for peer teaching. This study brings to light the merits and demerits of peer teaching as viewed through the eyes of the peer learners. Peer teaching provides a sound platform for teaching and learning anatomy. Further discussions at higher levels are encouraged in order to explore the feasibility of introducing formal peer teaching in the medical curriculum. Anat Sci Educ. © 2017 American Association of Anatomists.


anatomy pedagogy; cadaver dissection; gross anatomy education; medical education; medical students; peer assisted learning; peer teaching; undergraduate education

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