Online learning resources in anatomy: What do students think?

I. P. Johnson*, E. Palmer, J. Burton, M. Brockhouse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


An interventional cohort comparison study with pretesting and post-testing in semesters 1 and 2 was undertaken of 159 medical students in year 3 of the MMBS course at the University of Adelaide in 2010. The intervention comprised the provision of a number of additional online resources in semester 2. Students' views on online anatomy were also sought by a questionnaire delivered at the end of semesters 1 and 2 and via a small focus group at the end of the study. Anatomy assessment results after the introduction of online anatomy were compared with a total of three control semesters in 2009 and 2010. There was >90% broad agreement before the intervention that wet specimens, tutors and discussions with other students helped students learn anatomy. After the intervention, these views remained, but there was additionally >90% broad agreement that text books helped them learn anatomy, that they had good access to anatomical specimens, and there was less agreement that lectures helped. The intervention left students' views on online anatomy largely unchanged and made no significant difference to summative assessment scores. Focus group discussions revealed that students want anatomy tutors to help direct them to reputable and relevant sites. The provision of more online resources in anatomy did not affect student views or learning outcomes. While students may need help from tutors in selecting appropriate online resources, wet specimens, textbooks, and discussions with tutors and other students remain the preferred means of learning anatomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)556-563
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • anatomy
  • assessment results
  • online resources
  • student attitudes


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