Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Carol Britson

Second Advisor

Carla Carr

Third Advisor

Brian Doctor

Relational Format



The objective of this project was to explore intersections between student preferences and student performance on anatomical visual representations in Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II. Visual representations are a critical resource for the formation of relationships between function and structure furthermore; students interpret these representations uniquely based on specific factors (learning objective, prior knowledge, the diagram studied, etc.). Phase I of this project gathered undergraduate responses to ten Likert-style questions on their opinions on diagrams and their use in the A&P classroom. Phase II of this project presented participants with twelve manipulated diagrams sourced from three diagram with four manipulations (a control in which no manipulations were applied, a change in the portion of the leader lines located on the diagram, both the part of the leader line on the diagram and the label location of the leader line, and a 25% decrease in the number of leader lines) applied to each of the three diagrams. Participants were asked to correctly identify anatomical structures on the twelve diagrams and rate the confidence in the correctness of their answers. Students’ responses in Phase I indicated that when viewing two-dimensional diagrams, students preferred simplified diagrams with leader lines labeling every anatomical structure represented. In Phase II, this preference translates into a higher proportion of correctly identified structures associated with the diagrams contain supporting visual details and the use of visual cutes to separate structures. Generally, however, students performed better and felt more confident on the sarcomere diagram, which had the least amount of total leader lines. The order of diagram presentation sequence had a significant effect on student performance (F (2,335) = 15.61, p= 0.00) with students preforming significantly better on the sequence featuring diagrams randomly grouped together. The conclusions made from this project support current research, which suggest that while students prefer three-dimensional diagrams (Tan et al 2012), students preform best on detailed, two-dimensional diagrams (Fenesi et al 2017). The practical applications of this project have the potential to better inform educators as they choose diagrams to integrate into the classroom.

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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