Optical versus virtual: Teaching assistant perceptions of the use of virtual microscopy in an undergraduate human anatomy course

Larissa Collier, Stacey Dunham, Mark W. Braun, Valerie Dean O'Loughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


Many studies that evaluate the introduction of technology in the classroom focus on student performance and student evaluations. This study focuses on instructor evaluation of the introduction of virtual microscopy into an undergraduate anatomy class. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with graduate teaching assistants (TA) and analyzed through qualitative methods. This analysis showed that the teaching assistants found the virtual microscope to be an advantageous change in the classroom. They cite the ease of use of the virtual microscope, access to histology outside of designated laboratory time, and increasing student collaboration in class as the primary advantages. The teaching assistants also discuss principal areas where the use of the virtual microscope can be improved from a pedagogical standpoint, including requiring students to spend more time working on histology in class.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012



  • Histology education
  • Innovations
  • Microscopic anatomy
  • Optical microscopy
  • Pedagogy
  • Teaching assistants
  • Virtual microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Embryology

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