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Keywords:

  • microscopic anatomy education;
  • online education;
  • histology;
  • virtual microscopy;
  • incoming grades;
  • student outcomes;
  • virtual classroom

Increasing enrollment in post-secondary institutions across North America, along with an increase in popularity of and demand for distance education is pressuring institutions to offer a greater number and variety of courses online. A fully online laboratory course in microscopic anatomy (histology) which can be taught simultaneously with a face-to-face (F2F) version of the same course has been developed. This full year course was offered in the Fall/Winter (FW) terms in both F2F and online formats. To ensure that the online course was of the same quality as the F2F format, a number of performance indicators were evaluated. The same course, offered exclusively online during the summer with a compressed time frame, was also evaluated. Senior undergraduate students self-selected which version of the course they would enroll in. Course assessment outcomes were compared while incoming grades were used as a predictor for course performance. There were no significant differences between the incoming grades for the F2F FW and Online FW courses; similarly, there were no significant differences between outcomes for these formats. There were significant differences between the incoming grades of the F2F FW and Summer Online students. However, there were no significant differences among any of the outcomes for any of the formats offered. Incoming grades were strong, significant predictors of course performance for both formats. These results indicate that an online laboratory course in microscopic anatomy is an effective format for delivering histology course content, therefore giving students greater options for course selections. Anat Sci Educ 6: 246–256. © 2013 American Association of Anatomists.