American Association of Anatomists’ member, Michael Hortsch, Associate Professor, University of Michigan Medical School (UMMS), along with coauthors, surveyed first year medical students regarding their study habits for their histology course. Their research is published in the January/February 2015 issue of Anatomical Sciences Education.
The study led by lead authors Daniel Selvig, currently in residency at UCSF Medical Center, and Louisa Holaday, 4th year medical student at UMMS, looked at the study habits, technology preferences, and background of 440 first- year medical students at the University of Michigan in a self-reported retrospective survey. These data were compared with students’ final histology quiz and examination scores.
Positive statistically significant correlations were found towards higher histology scores in students who had a biomedical science college major and previous histology or pathology experiences, as well as in those students that believed histology is relevant to a successful medical career. No association between self-reported hours of study time and the final histology score was observed.
Participation in faculty-guided learning opportunities was associated with academic success, and alternatively a reliance on viewing recorded lecture videos in place of attending class was inversely associated with final cumulative histology scores.
Dr. Hortsch notes, “Learning is a multi-component process and few factors have a predominant influence on students’ learning success. To find such a strong positive correlation between examination scores and live lecture attendance and a strong negative correlation to lecture video usage was very surprising…Our results contradict the myth that all students know how they learn best. Many students have very successful learning approaches and do well on their own. However, some students, especially those who struggle with the material, need help to optimize their learning strategy.”
While lecture recordings are popular with students, the data shows that attending class regularly- where a student has access to a professor to ask questions and clarifications - has a significant positive correlation with students’ final scores in a histology course. The study also found that students who used the sample multiple-choice questions at the end of the histology lab webpage positively correlated to histology score success.
Dr. Hortsch and his collaborators have future plans for this research as well. “We are currently performing a follow-up study to find out which factors are responsible for the negative correlation of lecture video watching with examination results. Preliminary results indicate that students watching the video are more often interrupted while learning and that these interruptions correlate with poor learning outcomes.”
For more information about this study view the article online in Anatomical Sciences Education.
Dr. Hortsch will be chairing and presenting at a session at Experimental Biology related to this research titled “Didactic Methods in the Anatomical Sciences: How Does Technology Help or Hinder?” on Monday March 30th, 2015 from 2:30-4:30 pm.