Perceptions and Attitudes of Medical Students towards Two Methods of Assessing Practical Anatomy Knowledge

Ibrahim M Inuwa, Varna Taranikanti, Maimouna Al-Rawahy, Omar Habbal


Objectives: Traditionally, summative practical examination in anatomy takes the form of ‘spotters’ consisting of a stream of prosections, radiological images and dissections with pins indicating specific structures. Recently, we have started to administer similar examinations online using the quiz facility in Moodle™ (a free, open-source web application for producing modular internet-based courses) in addition to the traditional format. This paper reports on an investigation into students’ perceptions of each assessment environment. Methods: Over a 3-year period, practical assessment in anatomy was conducted either in traditional format or online via learning management software called Moodle™. All students exposed to the two examination formats at the College of Medicine & Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, were divided into two categories: junior (Year 3) and senior (Year 4). An evaluation of their perception of both examination formats was conducted using a self-administered questionnaire consisting of restricted and free response items. Results: More than half of all students expressed a clear preference for the online environment and believed it was more exam-friendly. This preference was higher amongst senior students. Compared to females, male students preferred the online environment. Senior students were less likely to study on cadavers when the examination was conducted online. Specimen quality, ability to manage time, and seating arrangements were major advantages identified by students who preferred the online format. Conclusion: Computer-based practical examinations in anatomy appeared to be generally popular with our students. The students adopted a different approach to study when the exam was conducted online as compared to the traditional ‘steeplechase’ format.


Anatomy; Attitude to computers; Medical education

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

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