The anatomy lesson: dissecting your learning environment

Healthcare professionals each learn differently. Many of us realise this during our training.

Learning objectives

1. Stimulate thoughts on how to improve your learning environment

2. Look at a really interesting image

3. Reflect on your learning style


When attending a classroom or lecture theatre, where would you choose to sit:

At the front…

…in the middle…

…or at the back?

What factors influence where you decide to sit in a learning environment?

You may have mentioned:

Vision or ease at which learning material can be viewed

Hearing or ease at which the tutor can be heard

Attention or ability to concentrate without distraction

Eye contact with the tutor

If you’re in a slightly humorous mood, you may have considered:

Proximity to food if it is available (is it better to learn when you’re full or hungry?)

Distance to nearest window to try and boost your vitamin D levels (does natural sunlight aid learning?)

Immediacy to an exit just in case you have to leave early because you’re on-call (does stress improve learning?)

The question is irrelevant, I sit wherever I can find a space because I’m usually late (why are you always late?)

Here’s an opportunity to look at something other than medical records on a computer screen; a painting by Rembrandt called The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.

the anatomy lesson.JPG


Which learner do you most relate to? (sorry, you can’t pick the cadaver no matter how tired you might feel)

Was it easy to choose one of the anatomy students?

What do you think your choice says about your learning style?

Think about your learning environment.


How could your environment be improved to facilitate learning?

What could you do?

What could your tutor do?

What could your institution do?


We all have our own learning style. This may, to some extent, manifest in where we decide to position ourselves during a lecture or tutorial. Environmental and social factors may play a role in this decision making process. Modifying these factors might improve your educational experience.

Further resources

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s