Testing anatomy: dissecting spatial and non-spatial knowledge in multiple-choice question assessment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Limited research has been conducted on the spatial ability of veterinary students and how this is evaluated within anatomy assessments. This study describes the creation and evaluation of a split design multiple-choice question (MCQ) assessment (totalling 30 questions divided into 15 non-spatial MCQs and 15 spatial MCQs). Two cohorts were tested, one cohort received a 2D teaching method in academic year 2014/15 (male = 15/108, female 93/108), the second a 3D teaching method in academic year 2015/16 (male 14/98, female 84/98). The evaluation of the MCQ demonstrated strong reliability (KR-20 = 0.71 2D and 0.63 3D) meaning the MCQ consistently tests the same construct. Factor analysis of the MCQ provides evidence of validity of the split design of the assessment (RR = 1.11, p = 0.013). Neither cohort outperformed on the non-spatial questions (p > 0.05), however the 3D cohort performed statistically significantly higher on the spatial questions (p = 0.013). The results of this research support the design of a new anatomy assessment aimed at testing both anatomy knowledge and the problem-solving aspects of anatomical spatial ability. Furthermore, a 3D teaching method was shown to increase students’ performance on anatomy questions testing spatial ability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Early online date2 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Aug 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • assessment
  • cognitive psychology
  • multiple choice question
  • spatial abilities and medical education
  • spatial abilities and veterinary education
  • three-dimensional


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