Heart dissection

Anatomical Cardiac Assessment

Title III Technology Literacy Challenge Grant

Learning Experience

LE Title: Anatomical Cardiac AssessmentAuthor(s): Sara Nicolette & Lori Franklin
Grade Level: post secondary(also applicable to high school anatomy & physiology classes)School Address: Herkimer Co. BOCES
352 Gros Blvd.
Herkimer, N.Y.
Topic/Subject Area: Human Anatomy & Physiology for Licensed Practical NursesSchool Phone/Fax (315)867-2000


Purpose or Focus of Experience

This experience serves as a cumulative application of the knowledge gained in the cardiac unit. It allows the student to incorporate both the declarative and procedural knowledge they gained. This sets the framework for the pathophysiology applications that are taught in their med/surg nursing class.  

Connection to Standards


Standard 3b Specialized Health Services

Academic Foundations

Essential Question

The essential question in this unit is two fold. First is to identify anatomical landmarks of the previously dissected heart. Second to explain the identified structures functions in  the cardiac cycle.

Content Knowledge

                                             Declarative      Procedural
Cardiac anatomyIdentify anatomical markings of the heart
cardiac valve structural variationsIdentify normal blood flow patterns
left vs. right ventricular structure & rationalidentify ventricular walls properly
*     cardiac         conductivity pathways & cardiac muscle responses*     identify atrial & ventricular septum’s

PROCEDURE    At the point of this experience the nursing student has participated in several preliminary class exercises. These include required chapter reading on the cardiac system (90 min), lecture on the heart as a muscle, electrical conductor, and the circulatory systems pump (90 min), an interactive class exercise constructing a 6 ft. by 9 ft. walk through floor model of the heart (90 min) and an instructor conducted dissection lad of an actual animal heart & lung (90 min).during the dissection lab digital pictures are takenthese pictures are exported onto a disc for use with power point technologystudents working on groups of two or three are asked to identify the following anatomical sites : right atrium, bicuspid valve, right ventricle, septums, pulmonic valves, left atrium, mitral valve, left ventriclea comparrison on the density of the right & left ventricle is donethe function of each identified anatomical site is reviewed within the groupa written summary of the groups finding is completed by each group participantAll students are reassembled and an instructor lead power point presentation that reviews the individual group findings is done.


      The composite class discussion can be modified by transferring the photo prints to overhead transparencies.


30 to 90 minute prep time depending on method: 90 minute classroom participation time


  • animal heart (easily obtained from a slaughter house or a science supply catalog)
  • dissection tray and equipment
  • digital camera
  • PC Disc for digital picture duplication
  • PC ‘s with power point application tools for student
  • ability for instructor to give power point presentations
  • anatomy & physiology text


In computer lab groups of 2-3 students will review digital dissection photos

At a 90 % proficiency  each group will identify the following anatomical locations: left & right atrium, left & right ventricle, all four heart valves, aorta, cardiac lining, ventricular wall thickness variations, pericardial sac, blood flow patterns

At a  90 % proficiency each group will also explain the function of all identified anatomical locations.


Several digital images prints are enclosed as reference material.


Use of this technology is a relatively new tool to our classroom. What proved the most helpful was the magnification and clarity that the digital images allowed. Universally the students were enthusiastic about the exercise. It is our intention to duplicate this approach in all future dissection labs. These images will then enable us to have an inventory of dissection exhibits for us at any time as a compliment to a variety of other nursing subjects we teach.