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Using Principles of Active Learning to Maximize Engagement with Neuroanatomy

Presented by:

Mackenzie Feldhacker

This poster will highlight a scholarly project and describe the methods used to increase active learning in a traditionally lecture-based content area of neuroanatomy.

Using Principles of Active Learning to Maximize Engagement with Neuroanatomy


The purpose of this study was to understand if active learning strategies improved the student learning experience and were effective for teaching occupational therapy students about neuroanatomy. Additionally, the study assessed the effectiveness of an online virtual anatomy tool to support learning. Preliminary findings of the study, including student feedback of the techniques, and strategies for implementing active learning to supplement lecture content will be shared. Important takeaways from this poster will include development of a deeper understanding of evidence-based practice for teaching and learning and ways to implement active learning principles in an often lecture-based content area.


Instructional Methods, Active Learning, Neuroanatomy


Summarize the effectiveness of active learning principles for teaching neuroanatomy to occupational therapy students.

Connect effective strategies for teaching neuroanatomy with other STEM topics and/or traditionally lecture-based content.

Apply learning activities used in the study to similar, content-heavy courses to maximize student learning outcomes.

Hear it from the author:

Using Principles of Active Learning to Maximize Engagement with NeuroanatomyMackenzie Feldhacker
00:00 / 01:24

Audio Transcript:

Hello, and thank you for taking the time to view my poster which summarizes the outcomes of a major redesign of a neuroanatomy course. Given what we know about active learning strategies, it was my goal in the redesign to enhance student learning and engagement by intentionally threading active learning throughout the course in both lecture- and lab-based sessions. We had 36 students participate in the study across two cohorts. Students completed three post-exam surveys which rated the learning environment for each session on the levels of activity, engagement, and helpfulness as well as a demographic survey. Preliminary results show that 95% of students agreed that the learning environment was active, engaging, and helpful, and four sessions, three of them labs, had the highest average of the three scales out of all 15 sessions. Overall, this study showed that active learning positively impacted students so hopefully it can serve as an example of using these strategies to maximize course engagement across disciplines, particularly for traditionally lecture-based content. My recommendations include regularly assessing student perception of activities and utilizing lab sessions as much as possible. Additionally, I recommend mirroring the activities completed in the sessions with the highest engagement, such as those noted by the photos and word clouds on the poster, to those sessions with lower engagement. Thank you for taking the time to learn about my study, and please feel free to use the QR code on the poster to access my references and contact information if you have any questions. Have a great day.


Entezari, M., & Javdan, M. (2016). Active learning and fl ipped classroom, hand in hand approach to improve students learning inhuman anatomy and physiology. International Journal of Higher Education, 5(4).

Feldhacker, M., & Feldhacker, D. R. (2022). Active learning and occupational therapy theory:
A mixed methods study of a course redesign. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 6(4).

Thaman, R., Dhillon, S., Saggar, S., Gupta, M., & Kaur, H. (2013). Promoting active learning in respiratory physiology - positivestudent perception and improved outcomes. National Journal of Physiology, Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 3(1), 27.

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