Proceedings of The Physiological Society

University of Cambridge (2008) Proc Physiol Soc 11, PC56

Poster Communications

On-line histology quizzes on a virtual microscope

S. D. Barnes1, P. D. Langton1

1. Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.


At the University of Bristol histology is taught alongside physiology and has traditionally been taught in practical classes using light microscopes (LM) and glass microscope slides of tissue specimens. As part of the ‘The Applied and Integrated Medical Sciences Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (AIMS CETL)’ we have developed a virtual microscope (VM) using digital scans of our collection of histological specimens. Users are able to navigate around the virtual slides at a range of magnifications on networked computers using a software application, ‘Digital Slide Box’ (Slidepath, Dublin). On-line VM quizzes were used extensively with the 2nd Year BVSc students in 2007-2008, as formative exercises, revising topics from the previous class, and also in a summative histology exam. Quizzes are built around annotations, with students entering answers into a drop-down form. Several histological slides can be included in a quiz, via a ‘narrative‘ feature, and multimedia content can be associated with the slides or set to become visible on quiz completion. The correct answers can be revealed on individual submission or, if required, withheld until completion by a student group. Different student groups access course-specific areas within Digital Slidebox, so content can be tailored. Quiz design is already flexible and major extensions and improvements are imminent. At present, questions can be in the format ‘which one of the annotated items corresponds to histological feature X?’ where ‘X’ could be a cell type, or histological region; alternatively, the format can be ‘the characteristics of histological feature X are…’ where students must choose from a list of options. This latter format makes it easy to incorporate questions on function, and it has been helpful to design quizzes in conjunction with lecturers on relevant topics. This helps ensure the integration of histology with physiology and anatomy. In the 2nd Year BVSc exam, a three-slide quiz was adapted by replacing a drop-down form with optical marking sheets. This is a conservative option, as the scoring/analysis features of the software are still under development. The ease of transition to optical marking demonstrates the flexibility of the quizzes as an assessment vehicle. Student feedback on the quizzes was extremely positive. For example, >95% of students rated the quizzes ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ in terms of usefulness both as a learning tool and as a revision aid. In summary, students regard on-line quizzes, facilitated by Digital Slidebox, as a highly useful learning tool and revision aid. Guest access to a demonstration on-line quiz is available at: http://137.222.11.10 Please login as a New User using the activation key ‘psdemo’.

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