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Keywords:

  • neuroanatomy teaching;
  • learning outcomes research;
  • computer-assisted instruction;
  • health professions education;
  • medical education

Abstract

The cadaver continues to be the primary tool to teach human gross anatomy. However, cadavers are not available to students outside of the teaching laboratory. A solution is to make course content available through computer-assisted instruction (CAI). While CAI is commonly used as an ancillary teaching tool for anatomy, use of screen space, annotations that obscure the image, and restricted interactivity have limited the utility of such teaching tools. To address these limitations, we designed a Web-based CAI tool that optimizes use of screen space, uses annotations that do not decrease the clarity of the images, and incorporates interactivity across different operating systems and browsers. To assess the design and utility of our CAI tool, we conducted a prospective evaluation of 43 graduate students enrolled in neuroanatomy taught by the Divisions of Physical and Occupational Therapy at the University of Utah, College of Health. A questionnaire addressed navigation, clarity of the images, benefit of the CAI tool, and rating of the CAI tool compared to traditional learning tools. Results showed that 88% of the respondents strongly agreed that the CAI tool was easy to navigate and overall beneficial. Eighty-four percent strongly agreed that the CAI tool was educational in structure identification and had clear images. Furthermore, 95% of the respondents thought that the CAI tool was much to somewhat better than traditional learning tools. We conclude that the design of a CAI tool, with minimal limitations, provides a useful ancillary tool for human neuroanatomy instruction. Anat Rec (Part B: New Anat) 285B:26–31, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.