A psychometric evaluation of the anatomy learning experiences questionnaire and correlations with learning outcomes
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The Anatomy Learning Experiences Questionnaire (ALEQ) was designed by Smith and Mathias to explore students' perceptions and experiences of learning anatomy. In this study, the psychometric properties of a slightly altered 34-item ALEQ (ALEQ-34) were evaluated, and correlations with learning outcomes investigated, by surveying first- and second-year undergraduate medical students; 181 usable responses were obtained (75% response rate). Psychometric analysis demonstrated overall good reliability (Cronbach's alpha of 0.85). Exploratory factor analysis yielded a 27-item, three-factor solution (ALEQ-27, Cronbach's alpha of 0.86), described as: (Factor 1) (Reversed) challenges in learning anatomy, (Factor 2) Applications and importance of anatomy, and (Factor 3) Learning in the dissection laboratory. Second-year students had somewhat greater challenges and less positive attitudes in learning anatomy than first-year students. Females reported slightly greater challenges and less confidence in learning anatomy than males. Total scores on summative gross anatomy examination questions correlated with ALEQ-27, Pearson's r=0.222 and 0.271, in years 1 and 2, respectively, and with Factor 1, r=0.479 and 0.317 (all statistically significant). Factor 1 also had similar correlations across different question types (multiple choice; short answer or essay; cadaveric; and anatomical models, bones, or radiological images). In a retrospective analysis, Factor 1 predicted poor end-of-semester anatomy examination results in year 1 with a sensitivity of 88% and positive predictive value of 33%. Further development of ALEQ-27 may enable deeper understanding of students' learning of anatomy, and its ten-item Factor 1 may be a useful screening tool to identify at-risk students.
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