Download poster

Download Poster (6.8 MB)



The virtues of using computer-based learning modules as an alternative to traditional didactic lectures were tested in a human anatomy course for Physician Assistant (PA) students. Self-directed learning modules on diagnostic imaging were created using ArticulateTM software and provided online as homework assignments for PA students taking a human anatomy lecture and dissection laboratory course. These interactive self-learning modules replaced the content of traditional didactic lectures on the same topics that had been given in previous years. For the PA class of 2016 (n=103), diagnostic imaging was taught via traditional lectures, whereas for the PA class of 2017 (n=100), students studied the same content online using self-learning modules. An identical set of 21 questions on diagnostic imaging was used for both lecture (2016) and self-learning (2017) groups of students, and student performance on these examinations was compared between the two groups. Our results indicate that PA students with access to online self-learning modules performed as well or significantly better on the diagnostic imaging questions (p<0.05 for 5 of 21 questions). Moreover, the average on the diagnostic imaging questions improved from 86.29 (class of 2016) to 89.19 (class of 2017). The overall course grade for students using self-learning modules for diagnostic imaging was also higher (class mean 87.76) than that of students receiving lectures for diagnostic imaging (class mean 86.08), suggesting that selflearning modules may have a positive influence on students’ overall understanding of the anatomical material. Our results indicate that online self-study modules are highly effective teaching tools for pre-clinical basic science medical education.

Publication Date



self-directed learning, gross anatomy, medical education, self learning, anatomy education


Medical Anatomy | Medical Pathology | Medicine and Health Sciences


Presented at the 2018 American Association of Anatomists Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology

Self-Directed Learning Modules Enhance Mastery of Diagnostic Imaging in Dissection-Based Anatomy Course for Physician Assistant Students