Learning histology – dental and medical students' study strategies




Histology, the science of cells and tissues at the microscopic level, is an integral component of most dental and medical curricula and is often taught using both traditional and novel computer-based didactic approaches. The purpose of this study was to analyse the strategies used by dental and medical students when studying this very visual and challenging subject.


Data were collected from 75 dental and 143 medical students, who had almost identical histology learning resources at their disposal.


When compared with their medical counterparts, dental students view histology as a more difficult subject and as less relevant for their future career. Whereas dental students, who are required to attend class unlike medical students, made more use of in-classroom learning opportunities, they did not take as much advantage of out-of-classroom resources. In addition, dental students reported a significantly higher tendency than medical students to work together, rather than to study alone.


Small differences in the dental versus the medical learning environment associate with several observed differences in learning strategies that are adopted by dental and medical students.


These differences should be considered when teaching the subject of histology to dental or to medical students.