The structure and function of the cranial nerves is a core curriculum topic for Dental students. However, due to the perceived complexity of the subject, it is often difficult for students to develop a comprehensive understanding using textbooks and models. It is generally accepted that the acquisition of anatomical knowledge can be facilitated by visualization of structures . The aim of this study is to assess a new animation of the cranial nerves as a learning aid for first-year Dental students. A cartoon-type animation detailing the names, roles and anatomy of the cranial nerves, with particular emphasis on a life scenario, was developed based on Mayer’s theory of multimedia learning . Questionnaires were designed to assess the participants’ attitude towards the animation and their knowledge of the cranial nerves before and after visualization of the animation. Following consent, the participants completed the pre-animation questionnaire and viewed the animation in a lecture theatre (n=49). The participants had continued access to the animation for 2 weeks after which they completed the post-animation questionnaire (n=55).
Results from the pre-animation questionnaire demonstrate that although more than half the respondents (57.1%; n=28) recognised the concept of cranial nerves, the majority (87%, n=43) had little knowledge of cranial nerves and indeed could not associate the nerves with their function. Data indicates that animations are recognised as helpful tools in understanding anatomy (87.7%; n=43) and that animations can be beneficial in teaching difficult topics (94%; n=46). Results from the post-animation questionnaire indicate that the majority of the respondents viewed the animation after the initial presentation (83.6%; n=46) and also indicate that the animation assisted in developing knowledge of the cranial nerves (81.8%; n=45). While only a small number of respondents (9.1%; n=5) determined that cranial nerves are an easy topic, the majority (67.3%; n=37) indicated that the animation assisted study and improved knowledge of cranial nerve anatomy (72.7%; n=40). The findings of this study suggest that this new animation facilitated understanding of the cranial nerves and their functions.
This study was funded by a teaching grant from the Dental School and Hospital, UCC. Social Research Ethics Committee (SREC) approval was obtained for the study.