Peer Teaching the Anatomy of the Human Hand

Challenge students to demonstrate their knowledge of human anatomy by having them teach recently acquired content to younger students
Made by Anatomy in Clay
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Near-peer teaching

Method Components

Students build elements of the human body—muscles and tendons—with clay on a plastic model of the hand to learn basic components and biomechanical principles. The peer teacher then organizes and presents this lesson to younger students. The educator provides framework, encouragement, and feedback to facilitate the student teacher’s ability to carry out the challenge.

Suggested implementation components:

  1. Describe rules of muscle behavior (i.e., muscles can only contract).
  2. Apply lesson and encourage discussion.
  3. Implement near-peer teaching strategy.
  4. Reflect on the activity.

Suggested implementation activity:

  1. Educator describes the specific rules of muscle behavior (i.e., muscles can only contract) as participants build individual muscles with clay and apply them to plastic models of the hand.
  • Determine how muscles control functions of the hand (i.e., how flexion and extension are accomplished):
    • In order for bones to move, each muscle must cross at least one joint so that when contracting, one bone is pulled toward or away from another.
    • Since a muscle can only contract, each muscle must have a corresponding muscle to reverse—or antagonize—this movement.
  • Individual muscles and tendons of the hand are constructed with clay and attached at points on a scale model skeleton, where each can perform one basic task, contraction. With muscle fibers acting individually or in groups, different degrees of movement, direction, and strength are made possible.

  1. The educator encourages discussion while students apply the above lessons. Both peer teachers and students share solutions, including lessons from non-anatomy subject areas.
  2. Peer teaching lesson: Student(s) demonstrates their grasp of the baseline lesson by assuming the role of teacher, passing along the new knowledge through hands-on activity with younger students.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Peer teaching has a long history in both formal and informal education, with evidence-based outcomes that indicate its effectiveness in improving grades and grasp of knowledge, among other variables.

  • Krych, A.J., C. N. March, R. E Bryan, B. J. Reake, W. Pawlina, and S W. Carmichael. 2005. “Reciprocal Peer Teaching: Students Teaching Students in the Gross Anatomy Laboratory.” Clinical Anatomy 18(4): 296–301.
  • Evans, D.J., and T. Cuffe. 2009. “Near-Peer Teaching in Anatomy: An Approach for Deeper Learning.” Anatomy Science Education 2(5): 227–233.
  • Hamann, K., and A. Krummel. 2013. “Executive Summary of Research Related to Teaching by Elementary and Secondary School Students.” Hoenny Center.


  • The Center for Peer-Led Team Learning. City College of New York,
  • Daggett, W. R., and G. A. Pedinotti. 2011. “Cross-Age Peer Teaching—An Effective and Efficient Model for Supporting Success in the Classroom.” International Center for Leadership in Education.

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1 and 3 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(300-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: Please write a short description of the activity used to demonstrate competency, including the following elements:
    • How and when did you describe the challenge to the peer teachers? Were they presented with the challenge before, during, or after their own exposure to the content?
    • Did you expect peer teachers to mimic the baseline content presentation or did you encourage them to find their own ways to encourage participation?
    • Did you describe the learning environment they would encounter and/or define issues that might be involved with a younger audience?
  • Activity Evaluation: Please write a short description of the evaluation strategies used while demonstrating competency, including the following elements:
    • How were the peer teachers assessed on their teaching activity?
    • Could they specify in retrospect what their successes and failures might have been as presenters?
    • Did they judge themselves on how well their audience perceived and understood the material presented?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Present two or more narratives produced by peer teachers (writing, audio, images, video, other media), describing how they performed the challenge and how they perceived the outcome.

Part 3. Teacher reflection

For the evidence listed above, please submit a reflection on the activity. Respond to the following questions (200-word limit for each reflection component):

  • Did the peer teacher(s) independently demonstrate unique preparations for the challenge, such as practice sessions?
  • Did the peer teacher’s audience embrace the presentation and content?
  • Was there evidence that the peer teacher audiences differed in their reactions—was there an effect related to individual personalities/teaching abilities among peer teachers?
  • Did the peer teachers express positive outcomes for themselves as a benefit of the challenge?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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