Peer Learning for Dissection

In this single-class activity, students receive a lab handout with background information about the dissections for the day, which include bolded terms/anatomical features that they are expected to know for a following practical exam in that topic.

Activity: Peer Learning for Dissection


  • To help students learn memorization-based information during a lab period that is too short to thoroughly investigate every structure themselves.
  • For students to master half of the material through teaching it to their peers
  • By being introduced to half of the material by their peer students, students are better able to finish their own dissection within the lab time.

Class: LS2 – Human anatomy and physiology


In Class Activity:

  • The students break into 4 lab groups of 4-5 students. Each student picks up a piece of paper with a word or picture on it. The students then compare papers with their peers and choose a lab table based on the theme of the papers they picked. Sometimes the theme is unrelated to class for instance; words all relating to rain, or colors, or anatomical terms the team would focus on.
  • The instructor describes the process of the activity by assigning each group half of the material covered in class. Two groups specialize on half of the material from the lab while the other two focus on the other half of the material.
  • For 30-40 minutes, each lab group works together on performing the dissection while focusing on the material they’ve been assigned.
  • The instructor goes around to the different groups to check in and confirm that the students are correctly identifying the anatomical structures
  • Half of each group switches places with the other half of a group that was focused on different material. At each lab table there are two students who performed the table’s dissection (residents) and two who focused on different material (visitors)
  • For 15 minutes, the residents explain the material to the visitors, then for the next 15 minutes the visitors explain the material to the residents
  • The last part of this activity is that all lab groups return to their original tables and continue the dissection, now focusing on the material they hadn’t previously focused on.
  • The dissection continues until the end of class


  • The following class includes a practical exam to test the knowledge of this activity


The instructor explained that the students loved the activity. Benefits of this activity include; students remembering the material better, engaging with other students, and efficiency of time. Through this activity, a lot of lab material is covered in a short amount of time.

Submitted by Glenna Clifton, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology