Student Use of Virtual Microscopy Laboratory Modules in an Integrated Medical Curriculum

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Medicine and Health Sciences


In conjunction with recent curricular changes at US medical schools, histology instruction has undergone significant changes. One major change has been the steady shift from traditional microscopy laboratory sessions to the integration of virtual microscopy programs. This shift has been matched by a decrease in total histology course contact hours, in part due to incorporation of histology into integrated medical curricula. Histology at MUCOM is fully integrated into a systems-based curriculum during the pre-clinical years. Additionally, self-directed virtual histology laboratory modules created in Digital Slidebox take the place of formal microscopy laboratory sessions. These modules were designed to be interactive, collaborative, opennote/ open-book, and provide both formative and summative feedback via practice and graded quizzes respectfully. The purpose of this project was to determine if students utilize the self-directed virtual microscopy laboratory modules in the way they were designed to be used and explore any discrepancies. Two voluntary, anonymous Qualtrics surveys were used to collect data on how students use the virtual microscopy laboratory modules within the NEMS course during the Spring 2016 semester. 68 students responded to the first survey which focused on the first three histology lectures; 33 students responded to the second survey which focused on the last three histology lectures. Results indicated that students do favor group study with more students working in groups for the graded quizzes compared to the practice quizzes. Most students referred to the lecture PowerPoints while working on the quizzes; and about two-thirds of students used Google search. Surprisingly, about 80% of students prefer to take the practice quiz only once. Additionally, students who only occasionally worked in study groups found the practice quizzes more difficult than those who always or never worked in groups. Additional studies are planned to investigate patterns of use over time throughout the pre-clinical curriculum.


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