Journal Article
. 2019 Oct; 11(7):e5207.
doi: 10.7759/cureus.5207.

Art as a Learning Tool: Medical Student Perspectives on Implementing Visual Art into Histology Education

Vincent Cracolici 1 Ryan Judd 2 Daniel Golden 3 Nicole A Cipriani 4 
  • PMID: 31565612
  •     28 References
  •     2 citations


Creating visual art to teach and learn histologic concepts is uncommon. A pilot visual art program was developed for use in first-year medical student courses that include histology with the hypothesis that creating visual art would subjectively improve the learning process and lead to learner-based personal incorporation of art into in future learning. Prior to the term, volunteers (n=25) were recruited from 89 first-year medical students. The volunteer group was given art supplies and encouraged to draw histologic images in a free-form setting without restrictions. The control group (n=64) consisted of non-volunteers. Pre- and post-term surveys were distributed to all students, of which 72% and 45% completed the surveys, respectively. Regardless of participation, a majority of students viewed art as a valuable tool to learn medicine prior to and following the term (73% and 82.5%, respectively), however less than half admitted to using art to learn medical concepts (42% and 40%, respectively). In the post-term survey, a higher percentage of students in the experimental group stated they will use art to learn medical concepts in the future (75% vs 40.6%). Most students considered art to be a valuable resource to learn concepts in medicine, including all the students who participated in the art program. Based on the number of students who reported intent to change behavior, the initial hypothesis is supported. Many students favor incorporation of visual art into medical education, we believe that creating visual art may be a worthwhile adjunct tool for histology education.

Keywords: art; education; histology; medical students.

Visual art instruction in medical education: a narrative review.
Neha Mukunda, Nazanin Moghbeli, +3 authors, Horace M DeLisser.
Med Educ Online, 2019 Feb 28; 24(1). PMID: 30810510    Free PMC article.
Seeing patients and life contexts: the visual arts in medical education.
E V Boisaubin, M G Winkler.
Am J Med Sci, 2000 Jun 01; 319(5). PMID: 10830552
Becoming a physician: students' creative projects in a third-year IM clerkship.
Lloyd Rucker, Johanna Shapiro.
Acad Med, 2003 Apr 15; 78(4). PMID: 12691972
Learning to look: developing clinical observational skills at an art museum.
C L Bardes, D Gillers, A E Herman.
Med Educ, 2002 Mar 16; 35(12). PMID: 11895244
Correlating students' educational background, study habits, and resource usage with learning success in medical histology.
Daniel Selvig, Louisa W Holaday, Joel Purkiss, Michael Hortsch.
Anat Sci Educ, 2014 Apr 08; 8(1). PMID: 24706527
The effectiveness of arts-based interventions in medical education: a literature review.
Mark Perry, Nicola Maffulli, Suzy Willson, Dylan Morrissey.
Med Educ, 2011 Jan 07; 45(2). PMID: 21208260
Optical Versus Virtual Microscope for Medical Education: A Systematic Review.
Kuo-Hsing Kuo, Joyce M Leo.
Anat Sci Educ, 2018 Nov 11; 12(6). PMID: 30414261
Systematic Review.
Drawings as snapshots of student cellular anatomy understanding.
Nuno S Osório, Fernando Rodrigues, Eduardo A Garcia, Manuel J Costa.
Med Educ, 2013 Oct 15; 47(11). PMID: 24117561
Progressive drawing: A novel "lid-opener" and "monotony-breaker".
Satheesha B Nayak, Soumya Kodimajalu.
Anat Sci Educ, 2010 Aug 20; 3(6). PMID: 20722050
A plea for the use of drawing in human anatomy teaching.
Philippe Clavert, J Bouchaïb, F Duparc, J L Kahn.
Surg Radiol Anat, 2012 Jun 19; 34(8). PMID: 22706635
A guiding framework to maximise the power of the arts in medical education: a systematic review and metasynthesis.
Paul Haidet, Jodi Jarecke, +5 authors, Daniel R Wolpaw.
Med Educ, 2016 Feb 21; 50(3). PMID: 26896017
Systematic Review.
Are we throwing histology out with the microscope? A look at histology from the physician's perspective.
Rebecca L Pratt.
Anat Sci Educ, 2009 Aug 19; 2(5). PMID: 19688840
Art, anatomy, and medicine: Is there a place for art in medical education?
Lawrence T O Bell, Darrell J R Evans.
Anat Sci Educ, 2014 Jan 15; 7(5). PMID: 24421251
Actual drawing of histological images improves knowledge retention.
Monique C M Balemans, Jan G M Kooloos, A Rogier T Donders, Catharina E E M Van der Zee.
Anat Sci Educ, 2015 Jun 03; 9(1). PMID: 26033842
Body painting to promote self-active learning of hand anatomy for preclinical medical students.
Pitchanee Jariyapong, Chuchard Punsawad, Suchirat Bunratsami, Paranyu Kongthong.
Med Educ Online, 2016 Mar 06; 21. PMID: 26945229    Free PMC article.
Students' memorization of anatomy, influence of drawing.
B Alsaid, M Bertrand.
Morphologie, 2016 Jan 19; 100(328). PMID: 26775609
Arts-based learning in medical education: the students' perspective.
Anne de la Croix, Catharine Rose, Emma Wildig, Suzy Willson.
Med Educ, 2011 Oct 13; 45(11). PMID: 21988624
How Haptics and Drawing Enhance the Learning of Anatomy.
Stephen Reid, Leonard Shapiro, Graham Louw.
Anat Sci Educ, 2018 Aug 15; 12(2). PMID: 30107081
Does 'doing art' inform students' learning of anatomy?
T J Collett, J C McLachlan.
Med Educ, 2005 Apr 22; 39(5). PMID: 15842704
Active learning: A small group histology laboratory exercise in a whole class setting utilizing virtual slides and peer education.
Robert A Bloodgood.
Anat Sci Educ, 2012 Jun 26; 5(6). PMID: 22730160
Art Rounds: teaching interprofessional students visual thinking strategies at one school.
Craig M Klugman, Jennifer Peel, Diana Beckmann-Mendez.
Acad Med, 2011 Aug 27; 86(10). PMID: 21869658
Training the clinical eye and mind: using the arts to develop medical students' observational and pattern recognition skills.
Johanna Shapiro, Lloyd Rucker, Jill Beck.
Med Educ, 2006 Feb 18; 40(3). PMID: 16483329
Students' illustrations of the human nervous system as a formative assessment tool.
Sisika Priyani Nelum Ranaweera, Lisa Marie Montplaisir.
Anat Sci Educ, 2010 Jul 14; 3(5). PMID: 20623684
Developing observational skills and knowledge of anatomical relationships in an art and anatomy workshop using plastinated specimens.
Charleen M Moore, Constance Lowe, Jane Lawrence, Penelope Borchers.
Anat Sci Educ, 2011 Jul 26; 4(5). PMID: 21786428
Evaluation of virtual microscopy in medical histology teaching.
Sylvia Mione, Martin Valcke, Maria Cornelissen.
Anat Sci Educ, 2013 Mar 07; 6(5). PMID: 23463716
Improvements in anatomy knowledge when utilizing a novel cyclical "Observe-Reflect-Draw-Edit-Repeat" learning process.
Mark Backhouse, Michael Fitzpatrick, +2 authors, Iain D Keenan.
Anat Sci Educ, 2016 May 11; 10(1). PMID: 27164484
Commentary: Teaching creativity and innovative thinking in medicine and the health sciences.
Roberta B Ness.
Acad Med, 2011 Oct 01; 86(10). PMID: 21955715
Formal art observation training improves medical students' visual diagnostic skills.
Sheila Naghshineh, Janet P Hafler, +5 authors, Joel T Katz.
J Gen Intern Med, 2008 Jul 10; 23(7). PMID: 18612730    Free PMC article.
Art in Medical Education: A Review.
Yoseph Dalia, Emily C Milam, Evan A Rieder.
J Grad Med Educ, 2021 Jan 05; 12(6). PMID: 33391592    Free PMC article.
Body Painting Plus: Art-Based Activities to Improve Visualisation in Clinical Education Settings.
Angelique N Dueñas, Gabrielle M Finn.
Adv Exp Med Biol, 2020 Nov 20; 1260. PMID: 33211306