Using an adaptive learning system for optimal dissection class preparation

22 February 2024

Educational project

Using an adaptive learning system for optimal dissection class preparation

Veterinarians are taught to acquire a solid foundation in anatomy to provide clinical care and perform surgery. This is achieved via dissection lessons. However, students have shown to struggle with acquiring the necessary knowledge prior to dissection classes. This project aims to look into the positive effects of using an innovative fact-learning system, Slim Stampen, prior to such dissection lessons.


A solid knowledge in anatomy is fundamental for veterinarians to safely and successfully provide clinical care and perform surgery. Students at the faculty of veterinary medicine in Utrecht have limited opportunity to perform cadaveric dissection on donated animals to foster deep learning. Unfortunately, students struggle to acquire the necessary factual anatomy knowledge prior to the dissection classes to fully utilise the learning opportunities. Often, they are not effective in self-regulated learning (1) and an important aspect of self-regulated learning is monitoring study progress (2). Using an innovative online adaptive fact-learning system (Slim Stampen) could support students with this activity.


This study aims to investigate if students engage in deeper learning activities during the dissection class, when an online adaptive fact learning system is used to acquire the prerequisite anatomical terms. Specifically, to determine if students engage in more explorative, experiential and collaborative behaviour during dissection to obtain a spatial and 3D comprehension of the animals’ body.

Project description

All students who are enrolled in the 2nd year bachelor course “Digestie” (~N=220) will receive instructions on how to access and use ‘Slim Stampen’. At the beginning of the course, students are allocated to a dissection group based on their student number (4 groups in total, ~55 students per group).

Crossover phase

  • A week before the first dissection class, 2 dissection groups will be chosen at random who will have access to ‘Slim Stampen’ to prepare for class, while the other 2 groups will have no access.
  • A week before the second dissection class, the 2 dissection groups who did not had access to ‘Slim Stampen’ can now use the learning system to prepare for class while the other 2 groups will have no access.
  • At the start of each dissection class, students are invited to take an online survey consisting of: 1) A questionnaire about students’ perceived competence regarding the learning goals they need to achieve (modified Perceived Competence Scale). 2) A factual anatomy knowledge test containing 10 open ended questions.
  • During each dissection class, a researcher will make field notes describing the behaviour of students, interaction between students and between students and teachers. The researcher is blinded for the intervention, meaning he/she is unaware if the group had access to ‘Slim Stampen’ to prepare for class.

Interview phase

  • Students (N=10) will be invited to participate in a focus group and interviewed about their experience with ‘Slim Stampen’ and perceived usefulnes.


  1. Bjork RA, Dunlosky J, Kornell N. Self-Regulated Learning: Beliefs, Techniques, and Illusions. Annu Rev Psychol. 2013;64(1):417-44.
  2. Griffin TD, Wiley J, Salas CR. Supporting Effective Self-Regulated Learning: The Critical Role of Monitoring. Springer New York; 2013. p. 19-34.

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