Medical Students Show Limited Use of Computer-Aided Instruction in Studying Gross Anatomy

  • Allison K. Chatterjee Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • James J. Walker Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Purdue University
Keywords: gross anatomy, computer-aided instruction (CAI), anatomy education, science education


Within the last few decades, there has been increased interest in computer-aided instruction (CAI) as a supplement to, or replacement for, cadaver dissection. With the multitude of resources now available, it is important to collect information regarding students’ use of anatomical resources. The purpose of this study was to assess the use of computer-aided instruction (CAI) by gross anatomy students at the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM). A survey was developed to assess how frequently students used a variety of resources. The gross anatomy resources were chosen based on their 1) prominence in the field of anatomy; 2) high level of quality; and 3) appropriateness for medical students. Students reported using general computer applications, such as PowerPoint, web browsing, and email most frequently to study gross anatomy. Instructor-made resources were also popular. The three most frequently used commercially available gross anatomy software programs were 1) The Imaging Atlas of Human Anatomy; 2) Netter Interactive CD; and 3) The Visible Human Dissector. However, a majority of students did not use, or were unaware of, the commercially available anatomy software. Students used resources that held the most potential for improving their grades, as was illustrated by the use of instructor-made CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs at IUSM-Northwest and by the use of the Visible Human Dissector and The Imaging Atlas of Human Anatomy at IUSM-Lafayette. A number of exam questions came directly from these resources at these campuses. Because students’ use of CAI was limited, adding or creating additional resources should be carefully considered.

Science Education