Self-directed learning in the Gross Anatomy medical curriculum

P. Marcos, M. M. Arroyo-Jiménez, E. Artacho-Perula, A. Martínez-Marcos, X. Blaizot, M. T. Alfonso-Roca, L. Branda, Ricardo Insausti

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    4 Citations (Scopus)


    The Medical School of the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) in Albacete is the most recent School of Medicine approved in Spain. The Institution was launched in the academic year 1998-99 with the specific aim of implementing educational innovations in the medical curriculum. The ultimate goal is to provide future doctors with the competences and skills for medical practice among the people of the region of Castilla-La Mancha, and Spanish society in general, by providing the means for easy integration into the job market of our society. The medical curriculum at UCLM, as in any other medical school in the country, is six years long and is divided into a basic sciences part (first to third years) and clinical sciences part (fourth to sixth years). The teaching method of the UCLM Medical School departs from most Medical Schools in Spain by incorporating the most recent educational trends and technological advances, lead and directed by a Medical Education Unit. The UCLM Medical School organizes its medical curriculum according to two different, but not mutually exclusive, educational approaches: 1. self-directed learning, organized in modules of objectives (basic sciences), and 2. problem-based learning (PBL, for the clinical sciences). The ultimate goal of the curriculum is an integration of basic and clinical disciplines, both among courses in each year of the medical curriculum and among the different years of the degree at both the preclinical and clinical levels. Likewise, maximal interaction between Faculty and students is strongly encouraged, and indeed facilitated by restricting the number of new students per year to a maximum number of 80, divided into four groups of 20 students (basic sciences), and 6 students in the clinical sciences. Gross Anatomy courses are given in the first and second years. During the first year, the locomotor system is presented as a 10-credit course (one credit equals 10 hours of teaching activity). During the second year, Anatomy and Embryology are integrated as a single course, along with Physiology and Histology, comprising 70 credits altogether. In both instances, the contents are organized into modules of objectives two to three weeks long. Each module is divided into five phases. Phase 1 includes an introduction to the objectives and its resources (books, anatomical CD programs, and other educational material), in order to help the student to accomplish the objectives. Phase 2 is a self-learning period, followed by Phase 3, in which the students expound on and discuss the contents related to the objectives. Phase 4 is another period for self-learning and tutorials, while Phase 5 is the evaluation of individual or several thematically related modules. In Gross Anatomy, practical courses are interwoven in the modules in phases 2 and 4. In addition, this past year we have introduced 4 lectures per year in which the students attend to more general and clinical aspects of several modules of objectives. It is important to point out that in addition to the regular practical hours and learning periods, students carry out two gross anatomical dissections per year with the help of handouts and other reference material, after which they present a written report that is a percentage of the final score. Throughout the program, both the autonomy and interests of the students are emphasized. Here, preliminary theoretical and practical results will be discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)147-153
    JournalEuropean Journal of Anatomy
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2004


    • Gross Anatomy
    • Gross Anatomy Laboratory
    • Integrated Medical Curriculum
    • Medical Education
    • Modules of objectives


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