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Keywords:

  • virtual microscope;
  • undergraduate anatomy education;
  • undergraduate histology education;
  • student's performance

Abstract

This study compares overall laboratory averages and individual test scores along with a student survey to determine the effects of using virtual microscopy in place of optical microscopes in a large undergraduate human anatomy course. T-tests revealed that the first two laboratory examinations (of four) and the overall laboratory averages were significantly increased compared with the previous year. We hypothesize that this is due to students' ability to use and understand the technology quickly as opposed to learning how to maneuver an optical microscope. Students also responded positively in a survey about the virtual microscope, indicating that increased accessibility, ease of use, and the ability to understand the material were important components of the virtual microscope. In addition, an increase in student collaboration was noted because multiple students were able to view the image at a time. This level of acceptance of virtual microscopy has been reported in previous studies, though this level of increased examination scores is rare. We attribute this to differences between the medical students, with whom this technology has been researched in the past, and undergraduate introductory students. Anat Sci Educ 2:218–226, 2009. © 2009 American Association of Anatomists.