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Keywords:

  • histology education;
  • microscopic anatomy;
  • medical education;
  • microanatomy;
  • virtual microscopy;
  • educational technology;
  • e-learning;
  • study habits

Histology is a traditional core basic science component of most medical and dental education programs and presents a didactic challenge for many students. Identifying students that are likely to struggle with histology would allow for early intervention to support and encourage their learning success. To identify student characteristics that are associated with learning success in histology, three first-year medical school classes at the University of Michigan (>440 students) were surveyed about their educational background, attitudes toward learning histology, and their use of histology learning strategies and resources. These characteristics were linked with the students' quiz and examination results in histology. Students who reported previous experience in histology or pathology and hold science or biomedical science college degrees usually did well in histology. Learning success in histology was also positively associated with students' perception that histology is important for their professional career. Other positive indicators were in-person participation in teacher-guided learning experiences, specifically lecture and laboratory sessions. In contrast, students who relied on watching histology lectures by video rather than going to lectures in-person performed significantly worse. These characteristics and learning strategies of students who did well in this very visual and challenging study subject should be of help for identifying and advising students early, who might be at risk of failing a histology course or component. Anat Sci Educ 8: 1–11. © 2014 American Association of Anatomists.