Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Clay-Based Modeling in the Anatomist's Toolkit: A Systematic Review

Curlewis, Keegan; Leung, Brook; Perera, Manesha; Bazira, Peter J.; Sanders, Katherine A.


Keegan Curlewis

Brook Leung

Manesha Perera

Profile Image

Dr Kat Sanders
Senior Lecturer in Clinical Anatomy


© 2020 The Authors. Anatomical Sciences Education published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Association for Anatomy Anatomical education has suffered from reduced teaching time and poor availability of staff and resources over the past thirty years. Clay-based modeling (CBM) is an alternative technique for teaching anatomy that can improve student knowledge and experience. This systematic review aimed to summarize and appraise the quality of the literature describing the uses, advantages, and limitations of CBM compared to alternative methods of teaching human gross anatomy to students or qualified healthcare professionals. A systematic search of Embase, MEDLINE, Scopus, and Web of Science databases was conducted, and the Medical Education Research Quality Instrument (MERSQI) was used to assess study quality. Out of the 829 studies identified, 12 papers met the inclusion criteria and were eligible for this review. The studies were of high quality, with a mean MERSQI score of 11.50/18. Clay-based modeling can be used to teach all gross anatomical regions, and 11 studies demonstrated a significant improvement in short-term knowledge gain in students who used CBM in comparison to other methods of learning anatomy. Eight studies that included subjective assessment showed that CBM is rated highly. However, some studies showed that students viewed CBM as juvenile and experienced difficulty making the models. Additionally, there is no evidence to suggest that CBM improves long-term knowledge. Clay-based modeling is an effective learning method for human gross anatomy and should be incorporated into the anatomists' toolkit. In the future, more randomized controlled studies with transparent study designs investigating the long-term impact of CBM are needed.


Curlewis, K., Leung, B., Perera, M., Bazira, P. J., & Sanders, K. A. (2021). Clay-Based Modeling in the Anatomist's Toolkit: A Systematic Review. Anatomical Sciences Education, 14(2), 252-262.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jun 12, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 22, 2020
Publication Date 2021-03
Deposit Date Jan 4, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Anatomical Sciences Education
Print ISSN 1935-9772
Electronic ISSN 1935-9780
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 2
Pages 252-262
Keywords Anatomical sciences education; Medical education; Gross anatomy education; Undergraduate medical education; Postgraduate medical education; Clay-based models; Three-dimensional models; Systematic review
Public URL


Published article (338 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2020 The Authors. Anatomical Sciences Education published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Association for Anatomy<br /> <br /> This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations