An innovative method for teaching anatomy in the predoctoral dental curriculum

Eric W. Baker, Phyllis A. Slott, Louis Terracio, Elena P. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


New methods of teaching gross anatomy are being evaluated as medical and dental schools attempt to find time in their curricula for new content without sacrificing essential anatomical knowledge. This article reports on an innovative method of teaching anatomy at New York University College of Dentistry. In 2005, the instructors completely replaced the dissection of wet cadavers with the study of dissected and sliced plastinated specimens. The shift from cadaver dissection to the study of plastinated specimens was accompanied by other changes in the anatomy course: students study in small, consistent groups; frequent, low-impact quizzes are administered; and the role of the computer is increased as a tool for self-directed study. To assess the course, this study considered students' long-term understanding of anatomy as demonstrated by performance on the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) Part I, hours of instruction, and student evaluation. The results show that, since 2005, students have had higher NBDE Part I scores, their overall performance has been above the national mean while hours of instruction were 60 percent of the national mean, and student satisfaction increased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1498-1507
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013


  • Anatomy
  • Cross-sectional anatomy
  • Dental education
  • Gross anatomy
  • Gross anatomy laboratory
  • Plastinated specimens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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