Longitudinal Study of Online Lecture Use and Performance in a Medical Gross Anatomy and Embryology Course

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Course content delivery in the basic science medical curriculum is increasingly accomplished by lectures outside the traditional physical classroom. Over the past six years, lecture material in our gross anatomy and embryology course has been available only in an online format comprised of html pages with audio tracks. Although students appreciate the availability of online lectures, previous work has shown a wide variance in students' use of online resources in our course. We have now examined students' online lecture use behaviors over six years. Students accessed lectures throughout the course via a secure server which logged each page request so behaviors of individual students could be tracked. Over the six years, use of lectures increased beyond that accounted for simply by the volume of materials available (i.e., students spent more time with all the available materials). Another apparent trend was an increase in student use occurring off campus, as broadband connectivity increased, and more recently toward wireless connection on campus, with a corresponding decline in use of the campus computer labs. Looking at individual use data, the amount of online content viewed during the course varied more than four-fold among students in this pooled population. There was a small, but statistically significant positive correlation between online use and performance on course exams and quizzes. We were also able to show a significant difference in both online use and performance between males and females with males tending to use the online lectures more and scoring higher on exams and quizzes.


Presented at the 26th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists, Cleveland, OH.

Presentation Number 055.