Histology Teaching to Meet the Needs of Tomorrow’s Doctors

SD Morton¹, TS Cecot¹, Z Bayram-Weston¹, S Border¹, SI Paterson², JR Skidmore¹ and AS O’Malley¹

¹ Centre for Learning Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton.

² Centre for Comparative and Clinical Anatomy, University of Bristol.

“Histology teaching is uninteresting, lacks interaction and supplementary resources!” At least, that is what was described by the students at Southampton. Histology is an integral part of undergraduate medical education but students find the subject challenging and so all the more reason to make it more engaging.

In 2015, histology education at Southampton was transformed, putting students at the centre. Rather than histology being standalone, it is now integrated with gross anatomy to complement the spiralling curriculum, to reinforce knowledge. Multimedia learning is adopted, something our students now expect, with ePracticals to be completed before teaching sessions; this flipped approach ensures time in the classroom is used more effectively. Interactive, clinically-oriented histology workshops promote active learning and instil relevance, whilst the use iPads and apps are available for our diverse learners and to provide instant feedback on student progress.

According to module evaluations, significantly more students rated the new format of histology teaching positively compared with the old format. Although students rated ‘relevance’ and ‘team-based learning’ of the new teaching format significantly higher than the old format, stronger correlations were observed between student attitudes and 1) histology’s ‘integration’ with gross anatomy, and 2) ‘feedback’. With emerging technologies and expanding curriculums, our findings could be a useful model to adopt in other disciplines wishing to incorporate blended learning. But, what impact did the new format have on assessment? And should histology teaching be modernised further?