First year medical students' views on computer programs: "Give us teaching assistants"

L. S. Jones, M. G. Welsh, L. Terracio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We previously reported on the value of fostering independence in first year medical students (MIs), and on the means we use to achieve this goal. A follow-up analysis has been completed on the use of computer programs (A.D.A.M.R and Human AnatomyR), and on the use of fourth year (MIV) medical students as teaching assistants. Dedicated computers were placed in the Anatomy lab five years ago, and use tracked at that time with self-reporting questionnaires. The findings show that the relatively low levels of use seen initially has stayed constant, with 48% of the class reporting using the programs once or never. We provide an introduction to the programs at the start of the course, but do not actively use the programs, or program modules, in our lectures; rather, the programs are there for students to use in addition to many other teaching aids (e.g., videos, models, bones, plastinated sections, radiograms). In rating all components of the course from most to least useful, students uniformly rated the atlases and cadaver dissections as most useful, followed by lectures and textbooks. Midrange in value were bones, models, and cross sections, while the computer programs, video dissections, and radiology presentations were ranked lowest. The MIVs were ranked below textbooks and lectures, but their "moral support" ranked as highly as 'help in lab' and help after hours (evenings and weekends). While it is difficult to assess how individual components of the course affect outcomes, it is clear from the MIs' self-reporting that direct contact with the anatomy (cadavers vs. two-dimensional pictures) and with teachers (MIVs vs. a program) is preferred and therefore more likely to have a positive impact on student learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)A973
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 20 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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