WHAT DOES A VIRTUAL REALITY SCENARIO REQUIRE FOR EFFECTIVE ANATOMY LEARNING? A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW
In recent years, virtual reality (VR) has received a great deal of attention due to its ability to sensory envelope and engage the user.
There is no consensus or standardization regarding the definition of VR. Therefore, after research to establish the principal and most common elements, it was determined that the most thorough definition corresponds to the one of M. Gigante: 'The illusion of participating in a synthetic environment, rather than observing externally. VR is based on stereoscopic three-dimensional (3D) displays with head tracking, hand/body tracking, and binaural sound. Virtual reality is an immersive and multisensory experience'.
Currently, there are various methodologies to teach anatomy. Within them, the atlases of anatomy and dissection of corpses or fixed human material are, without a doubt, the best known. However, during the last decades, these methodologies have had certain detractors, such as their cost or availability. Thus, implementing new proposals such as VR can become an efficient method in the teaching and learning process.
It is postulated that VR could transform abstract and intangible learning into concrete and manipulable. This would be done through scaled and modifiable scenarios, especially involving anatomical structures that are difficult to learn and access when using cadaveric material. In addition, as the literature has already stated, students would present greater motivation and better perceptions when using VR. Due to the costs to produce and acquire a VR scenario, this bibliographic review seeks to identify how this virtual scenario should look to have a positive impact on anatomy learning.
The present review was carried out according to the recommendations proposed in the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyzes (PRISMA) statement. A systematic search was carried out in three databases (ERIC, ISI: Web of Science and SCOPUS) for articles or reviews published in English or Spanish in any year. The research terms included the impact on learning, virtual reality and anatomy, resulting in 449 studies. Thus, qualitative and quantitative projects were selected, considering the ones that were empirical or primarily focused on learning and/or on the impact of the use of VR in anatomy in higher education. Non-empirical or secondary studies were excluded, along with studies that focused on a population other than higher education. Moreover, studies that sought the validation and/or construction of instruments were left aside as well.
The findings of the studies were synthesized and classified into two large groups: virtual stage design and implementation. These groups contain eight principles such as having an anatomically correct setting, allowing the differentiation of anatomical structures, having the freedom to manipulate the setting, adding theoretical support within the virtual setting, justified choice of the virtual setting, the availability of the necessary technological resources, priming to use VR and the use of theoretical material before using the VR scenario.