Teaching Histology in the Age of Virtual Microscopy and E-Resources: Is a Tailored Approach to Domestic and International Students Warranted?

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Histology and Embryology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Palacky University in Olomouc, 77900, Olomouc, Czech Republic

2 Department of Dentistry and Oral Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Palacky University in Olomouc, 77900, Olomouc, Czech Republic


Background: Individuals’ learning habits and associated challenges in medical education have rarely been studied in the present digital era. We investigated if a tailored instructional approach is needed for domestic and international students studying histology. Methods: This cross-sectional survey was performed in May 2019 at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry of Palacky University in Olomouc, Czech Republic. Census method was applied, and a validated researcher-made questionnaire was distributed among all students attending histology courses. We collected 192 evaluable questionnaires from Czech students and 61 from international students. Differences in opinions between the two groups were tested using Fisher´s exact and chi-square test. Results: Compared to their domestic peers, international students were less reliant on printed textbooks (6.9% vs. 17.3%), while showing greater interest in materials from lectures (35.3% vs. 9.2%) (p <0.0001). They were also more inclined to use virtual microscopy only (p <0.0001), and unlike their Czech counterparts, they preferred to study in small groups rather than alone (35.5% vs. 4.7%) (p <0.0001). As for the theoretical knowledge acquired in high school, international students were less prepared than Czech students (P=0.0218). Most international students (62.3%) welcomed preparatory courses aimed at solidifying their knowledge of basic sciences in advance of medical studies. However, no differences in opinions on the use of resources were found between native and non-native English speakers (P=0.6506). Domestic as well as international students experienced very similar problems when studying histology. All students appreciated taking interactive tests to assess their practical and theoretical knowledge. Conclusion: Despite the introduction of modern digital technologies such as a Virtual Microscopy in histology courses, a tailored approach to different groups of students is needed.


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