Use of 3-D Imaging and Movement Animation in Teaching Biomechanics

  • R. Therrien
  • J.P. Cuerrier
  • D. Farrar


Students taking basic biomechanics courses often encounter learning difficulties related to inadequate visual representation of human body structures and movements. However, teaching experiments have demonstrated that visualisation can be improved with the use of computer assisted teaching techniques. The present communication reports on the actual use in biomechanics teaching situation of a computer program capable of 3-D objects generation and animation which has been developed to complement traditional teaching. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the influence of the use of such a computer assisted teaching technique on learning and retention of knowledge related to ankle and foot structures and movements in walking and running. An in-class evaluation was performed with 104 physical education students taking a basic biomechanics course; they had been previously assigned at random to 3 groups: 1) a first group was instructed solely with the use of the 3-D imaging and animation program; 2) a second group was instructed with traditional teaching technique together with the use of the computer assisted technique using the same 3-D imaging and animation program; 3) a third group received traditional teaching only. Furthermore, each group included students who has already experienced computer assisted teaching with 3-D imaging and animation in a traumatology course or in a pre-requisite structural kinesiology course, as well as students who had never been exposed to such a teaching technique. Students biomechanical knowledge of structures and movements of the ankle-foot complex in walking and running was evaluated fkom their answers to a questionnaire including multiple-choice and short essay-type questions. Students were evaluated before the teaching session, immediately after and three weeks later. Statistical analysis of results was performed with a 3 X 2 X 3 Anova for repeated measures. Main results showed that students who had previously been exposed to 3- D computer-assisted teaching had slightly better initial scores, while students instructed with 3-D computer imaging and animation as a complement to traditional teaching had the highest scores on both post-test # 1 and post-test # 2, thus indicating better learning and higher retention. The results obtained in the present study demonstrate that complementing biomechanics teaching with 3-D imaging and animation can clearly improve the learning process.