A Crocheted Model Activity for Teaching Embryonic Lateral Folding to Medical Students

Anat Sci Educ. 2021 Feb 16. doi: 10.1002/ase.2062. Online ahead of print.


Knowledge of embryology is foundational for understanding normal anatomy and birth defects, yet embryology is a notoriously difficult subject for medical students. Embryonic lateral folding in particular is one of the most challenging concepts in embryology. Highly effective teaching methods that promote active engagement with dynamic, three-dimensional models may be helpful for teaching this content. The aim of this study was to determine whether a hands-on modeling activity utilizing pre-made crocheted pieces constructed from durable, inexpensive yarn helped medical students enrolled in a pre-matriculation course to understand embryonic lateral folding. Change in knowledge was assessed using a pre-post design. Students also completed subjective evaluations regarding their satisfaction with the activity. Quiz scores in means (±SD) increased from 62.7 (±24.1) % before the activity to 77.0 (±17.1) % after the activity (P = 0.0495, two-tailed paired t test; d = 0.68). Generally, students reported that the activity was helpful and enjoyable, and the model pieces were easy to manipulate. These promising results suggest that hands-on activities with dynamic, three-dimensional models constitute an effective method for teaching embryology.

Keywords: activity; educational tools; embryology education; lateral folding; low fidelity models; medical education; simulation.