Playful Learning for Anatomy: Using Play-Doh to Visualise the Heart


Mastery of cardiovascular skills and knowledge has long been challenging for students, with higher order thinking proving difficult despite modern technological advancements, and well-established approaches like dissection. We therefore sought to incorporate active, playful learning into our foundation instruction in Cardiovascular Anatomy and Physiology. Seventy-seven Foundation Year students undertook an online didactic lecture and then one week later, attended the playful learning session where they used Play-Doh to make a detailed model of the human heart under the instruction of an academic, consolidating their prior learning. They were given a post activity, five-point Likert questionnaire, with four additional open answer questions, and responses were analysed using a weighted average as a threshold for positive response. Broadly, students enjoyed and would repeat a playful activity, and felt that the activity increased their interest, improved their knowledge, identified their weaknesses, checked their existing knowledge, and allowed them to interact with their team, but students did not feel that they were able to learn more than in traditional activities per se. Using Play-Doh to model the heart is a fun and effective way of teaching anatomy, and further research is needed to ascertain its impact on student outcomes.


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