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Anatomy Education Research Institute (AERI) 2017, Pt 2: Immediate Impact on Attendees and Social Media Followers

Anatomy education research Institute 2017

Attendees of AERI 2017 participate in a group workshop session

By: Valerie Dean O’Loughlin, PhD

Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology, IU School of Medicine – Bloomington

Polly Husmann, PhD

Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology, IU School of Medicine – Bloomington

James J. Brokaw, PhD

Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology, IU School of Medicine – Indianapolis

In an earlier post, we described the format of the inaugural Anatomy Education Research Institute (AERI 2017), held July 2017 in Bloomington, IN.  We continue our discussion by describing the immediate impact of AERI on both F2F attendees and social media followers. Data for measuring AERI 2017’s impact comes from pre- and post-conference surveys, as well as twitter analytics data gathered from our hashtag, #AERI2017.  The authors received IU IRB human subjects approval to examine AERI’s effects.

Selected end-of-conference survey data

Over 75% of respondents found the 5-day length of AERI 2017 just right, while 22% requested that the institute be shortened by a day, because (as one respondent put it): “my brain hurts.”  The 8 am to 5 pm length of each day was viewed as just right (not too long, not too short) by 92% of the respondents.

Multiple Likert scale questions (1-5: 1 = strongly agree, 2=disagree, 3=neutral, 4=agree and 5=strongly agree) were asked regarding specific aspects of AERI 2017. 100% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “The conference was well organized.”

Approximately 85% or more responded with ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ to the following statements:

  • The AERI 2017 invited speakers represented a breadth and depth of educational research topics
  • In general, the invited speaker (and conference workshop) sessions were informative
  • My assigned mentor provided me with useful and frequent mentoring experience
  • I have a better understanding of educational research methodologies than prior to attending AERI
  • I made at least 1-2 professional connections for future educational research projects
  • The conference met my expectations
  • I would recommend future AERI conferences to my colleagues

When asked what the most useful aspect of AERI 2017 was, the most common written responses were ‘mentorship’, ‘collaboration’, and ‘networking’.  Several appreciated most the interactive quality of both the invited speakers and the workshop presentations.

In response to the survey question “after your experience with AERI, has your opinion changed about what kind of knowledge is needed to perform educational research”, most individuals responded that they gained a greater appreciation of and understanding about educational research.  As one respondent put it:

I now believe it is possible for me to conduct educational research (before I was not sure) with the help of experts in the field (e.g., my mentor). I also have a better idea of the breadth of educational research and different activities/work that can be done to contribute to the field.


Symplur Healthcare Hashtags ( archived twitter use data for the hashtag #AERI2017 for the past 6 months.  During that time, 110 different participants (many of whom were following the meeting remotely) posted 1403 tweets about the conference (figure 1).  The ‘impressions’ number in figure 1 is the total number of tweets a person submitted with the hashtag #AERI2017, multiplied by the number of twitter followers that person has.  In all, the #AERI2017 impressions number was 904,733, indicating up to 1 million Twitter users were informed about the meeting.

Figure 1: Twitter Analytics for the hashtag #AERI2017 in a 6 month period ending August 29, 2017.

Based on both social media and survey data, AERI 2017 has had a powerful impact on both face to face attendees as well as virtual participants on social media.  In future blogs, we will discuss the long-term impacts of AERI 2017– stay tuned!


The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Valerie O’Loughlin

Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology

Valerie O’Loughlin is a Professor of Anatomy at Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM), where she teaches human gross anatomy to medical students, basic human anatomy to undergraduate and graduate students. She also teaches a pedagogical methods ...