Microanatomy Is Important In The Medical Field Education Essay

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Histology or the study of microanatomy is of great importance in the medical field. Accuracy of disease diagnoses or tracking the effectiveness of a treatment regimen is dependent on the interpretation of a slide specimen under the lens of a microscope. It is a required course for first-year medical and dental students in most health science centers (Ogilvie, 1995). The traditional approach used in teaching this discipline is to present photomicrographic images of structures to students in lecture using 35 mm slides of fields seen through the microscope.

It is well known that a subject that demands extra interest and time for both teaching and learning of histology (Goubran and Vinjamury, 2007). The students then spend many hours viewing and studying specimens of tissues using a light microscope in a laboratory setting.

In a typical laboratory setting students are expected to study micrographs at low and higher power magnifications in order to identify exact fields in the tissue section. However due to the visual complexity of microscopic anatomy, this can be challenging for some students in terms of grasping the context and relevance of the subject. Students in traditional courses of histology spend an inordinate amount of time learning the component structures by attempting to find and identify them in tissue sections using a microscope, where the structure being sought is surrounded by a multitude of other structures with which they are also not familiar.

Furthermore, difficulty in using the equipment in the first instance, even before the slide is viewed and when the right aperture and focus is achieved, a complex histological image appears before their eyes (Brisbourne et. al, 2002).

The use of the microscope has been the primary tool of histology education. The past decade has brought the emergence of digital slide scanners. This has made possible advancements in both the professional and educational field (May, 2010 (a better lens on disease article).

made available the digital microscope where slides

With the recent availability of videodisc stored image libraries of histological samples, it is now possible to study histological principles without the use of the microscope as the primary learning tool.

A videodisc entitled "Histology: A Photographic Atlas" by S. Downing (published by Image Premastering Services Limited, Minneapolis, MN, 1991) has been incorporated into our histology course.

Fifteen videodisc player stations are provided for 150 students. Images are retrieved by students using a bar code scanner attached to a videodisc player (Pioneer CLD-2400). Using this kind of image library, students can now learn basic histological structure, such as cell and tissue types, without the use of a microscope or as a tool for facilitating microscopy.

The use of a videodisc library of randomly accessible images simplifies learning the basic components which all organs are composed of by presenting the learner with clear-cut examples to avoid confusion with other structures.

However, videodisc players and TV monitors are still not appropriately priced for every student to own.

This presents a problem in that the same images studied in class are not available to study and review outside of class.

There is a need for resources for additional study outside of the institutional setting, for students to have and interact with to reinforce the learning experience in the teaching laboratory.

A hard copy manual was created and is being used in our course; it incorporates photos captured from the videodisc. The images displayed in the manual are chosen to give the student one example of each histological component. Additional labeling is added to the images, and each image is accompanied by a bar code that may be used at a videodisc player with a bar code reader to retrieve the same color image from the disc displayed in larger format on a TV monitor.

Each topic in the manual is accompanied by learning objectives and a statement of clinical relevance.

Following the presentation of the images in each section of the manual, the students are encouraged to practice by viewing multiple examples of each structural component presented in the lesson.

They can do this by using the bar-coded catalog supplied with each disc. The presentation of each topic concludes with a quiz composed of questions about images that the student can retrieve from the videodisc using barcodes in the text of the manual.

Some of the images on the quiz are printed in miniature in the manual to provide the student with an opportunity for personal review at home when hardware to obtain and display images from a video disc is not available. This manual provides an answer to the dilemma faced by the learner when access to hardware is not available; reinforcement is therefore facilitated outside the teaching laboratory. This allows learning to continue outside of the classroom, using the same materials. (abstract truncated)

Building mental models

With adequate mental modelling, the 'scaffolding' that is required with which to build new knowledge.

relating static two dimensional structures to dynamic three dimensional functions. Histology education and learning is an active area of research, especially with recent technology advancements such as the emergence of slide scanners.

Traditional slide preparation

Traditional pathology vs. digital pathology

Since the attitude of students for having just microscopic slides for learning histology is ineffective and literature states this, this is obvious research that I would not have to conduct myself.


If you can cite the literature then it is fine to establish this in your background/introduction, yes. 


define the method of teaching here at this university, and state that Im testing a multimedia interactive tutorial to determine the participants response and attitudes? (hope this makes sense!) Its that since Im not doing a  comparison study, I was getting slightly confused as to how I can word my hypothesis.


Yes.  I would cite some literature to back up the hypothesis that the addition of interactive visual aids improve learning and then describe what you have made taking this into account.

In response to this need, numerous studies compare student's evaluation of the usefulness of teaching and learning with and without the reinforcement of a computerised histology education aid (Farah and Maybury, 2009, Rosenberg et al 2006, Weaker and Herbert 2009). Indications are that although the transition from traditional microscopic slides may not necessarily improve on students' test scores, the enthusiasm in their approach to histology has been greatly improved. These findings suggest that perhaps transference from two dimensional picture-like microscopic images and application of some form of interactivity holds visual appeal to the user. This obviously has an impact on their take on the subject, which indicates that traditional methods of being placed with a set of slides and a light microscope is not engaging enough to be appealing to students.

Further to this, different applications have been made to histology to liven up the flatness of the stained microscopic slide. The most basic approach but not quite effective have been the attempts of many universities to make available their histological resources to students anytime and anywhere (weaker and Herbert, 2009, Rosenberg et. al 2006, Salajan and Mount, 2008). The Dentistry department of University of Dundee has their own collection made available via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) for students to access and utilise as they like. As the downfall of many virtually available histology, the level of interactivity is only limited to the display of labelling of the key structures in a slide image. This only aids the students to some point; they can achieve the 'laboratory experience' but at a location of their choice. More conventional methods of integrating histology to a more learner-friendly format include the usage of the current and most recent technology that are presently available in this fast moving technological industry. Three-dimensional modelling, virtual reality and crisp visualisation of biological structures in particular, is one major direction where education has been steadily heading (Trelease, 2002).

Brisbourne et al. (2002) innovatively collaborated animations into the teachings of histology, using a web-based multimedia learning aid called HistoQuest. Their animations aim to integrate the actual functions of the cells to a histological slide and aid students in understanding the major concepts and physiological functions, not just to recognise and label a structure. Mental modelling is the theory and purpose behind their work. Mental modelling is described as the process of integrating a knowledge platform on which the students can then build up on. This is the underlying idea of this research proposal; can putting the scenario of which the tissues were cultured from, i.e. for example a glomeruli of a nephron from the kidney, enable the student to subsequently perform better academically?

The Inner life of the cell animation by Bio Visions from Harvard University is a unique example of animation created with a 'digital appearance' of the cells where the microscopic world is rendered into three dimensions.

Sandberg (2002) created a series of computer aided interactive histology over a number of years and through the experience commented on the fact that long distance learning, immediate feedback and having a fun interface was greatly appreciated by students.

Having been able to meet students and lecturers involved in teaching and learning histology at this university, their opinion on the proposal at hand was invaluable. There definitely seems to be a niche for an improved histological teaching aid, certainly at this university.

as image recognition expertise is an art that can only be developed through time, training and experience.

Recent advancements in technology has facilitated teaching and learning of histology.

There has been numerous histology atlases and etc, by far the effectiveness of a tutorial that incorporates 3D histology slides and reconstruction of 2D slides into 3D tissue models alongside 3D organs has not been addressed. Research is lacking in this particular area. Students require help in identifying

Just by looking at a slide you can only recognise the patterns, which is 2D but reconstructing 2d images from slides into rotatable 3d images will help build the students to understand the microscopic specimen. The transference of the study material will be facilitated by the 3D models as visualising help the students understand the subject easier

Students often express difficulties learning with the traditional microscope and slide set.

histology is a subject area that has been evolving. Histology education is an active area of research that has been expanding due advancements of technologies.

Health science subjects that require visual learning can be supplemented to with visual thought process required.

This research study is concerned with designing a multimedia interactive (MMI)

Aims and objectives:

This study will be designed to examine whether the level of interactivity and presence of visually appealing 3D cellular modelling can improve understanding and memory retention of histology. The e-learning tutorial will be based around an introductory histology practical on colon cancer that first year medical students undertake. Before the practical class, they will have minimal or no experience of histology and after the few hours spent in practical, do not revisit histology again until later years in the course.

the tutorial that contains 3D cellular models alongside the histology slides and will be require them to be more interactive e.g. prompted to click more links on the page to navigate through the tutorial, options provided to move the 3D cellular models around 360 degrees etc. Both groups will be asked to complete a brief pre-tutorial questionnaire (see end of document for an example) to determine whether they have any previous experience with using microscopes and histology. At the end of the e-tutorial, the study groups will be quizzed on what they experienced on the tutorial to test the effectiveness of the tutorial in aiding memory retention (see end of this document for sample questionnaire).