AAA offers data for benchmarking curriculum change


Have you ever wondered how your embryology course compares to others in terms of faculty/student ratio? Or whether you offer fewer lecture hours in neuroscience than other departments? Or what the trend is in laboratory hours in gross anatomy?

Well, wonder no more! Results of the American Association of Anatomists' Education Course Survey are available online in an active database that can be easily updated when your course changes.

Curricular change at any educational level is a challenging process, but it can be even more challenging if tackled in a vacuum, with little knowledge of what comparable schools and departments are offering. The AAA Education Course Survey—completed by course directors in gross anatomy, microscopic anatomy, neuroscience, and embryology—provides you with important benchmarks against which to assess your own curriculum and can be a powerful tool for convincing others of the need to change…or not!

For each course, data are available on specific issues related to students, faculty, laboratories, and examinations. In addition to viewing combined responses for individual courses, you can view specific questions and responses from individual schools or responses from all schools on a cumulative list. Survey results are found online (

The original survey, spearheaded by Rick Drake, director of anatomy at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, was carried out in cooperation with the American Association of Clinical Anatomists. Further refinements now enable you to update the 2005 data or add data for courses and institutions not included in the earlier results.

If you participated in the initial process, you've recently received an e-mail telling you how to update your course information (if not, contact AAA at for details). If we missed you for the first survey, here's how to set up an account to complete the survey and access the database for future updates: using Internet Explorer, go to; click on “New Account” at bottom of screen; fill out all fields designated by an asterisk (save your user name and password for future Education Course Survey updates); select your specific course and click “Continue”; fill out the survey questions.

To make the results even more robust, you can encourage other course directors at your school to participate; each institution can establish up to five accounts. By increasing participation, we hope to provide a complete, accurate, and up-to-date database detailing how courses in gross anatomy, microscopic anatomy, embryology, and neuroscience are being taught. This important information will assist anatomical science educators as they design programs for the future, filling the data void in which curricular change sometimes take place.