Background: Health education can require an emphasis on potentially difficult concepts in anatomy and alignment. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to describe the effect of active use of Tinkertoys® to promote understanding of alignment and to report its effectiveness for knowledge acquisition among students according to spatial ability. Methods: Two cohorts of physical therapy (PT) students (n=70) participated in this project over two years. Thirty-four students (second cohort) rated their math and spatial abilities on a survey. Following a traditional lecture on femoral torsion and angle of inclination, all participants took a pre-test. Then, a Tinkertoys® model of the lower limb was used along with a pelvic bone to simulate the hip anatomy and alignment. Only students in the second cohort received the opportunity to simultaneously manipulate similar models at their desks. At the end of the class period, a post-test was given. Four days later, a similar quiz was given. Descriptive statistics and repeated measures with pairwise comparisons were used to analyze the data. Results: Quiz means improved from pre-test (32.1%) to post-test (74.6%, p=0.023). Differences were not evident between people who self-reported stronger versus weaker spatial abilities (p=0.186). Conclusions: Tinkertoys® model use, with or without simultaneous model manipulation, facilitated learning, regardless of self-reported spatial ability.

Author Bio(s)

Deborah M. Wendland, PT, DPT, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Physical Therapy in the College of Health Professions at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA. She is also a licensed physical therapist in the state of Georgia and a certified pedorthist.


Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the Mercer University College of Health Profession for their Scholarship of Teaching and Learning grant.




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