Neuroanatomy is a difficult topic and online resources can facilitate learning intricate neuroanatomical concepts. We have sought students’ perception regarding limitations of existing resources in context of learning neuroanatomical pathways. Deciphering such limitations will have clinical implications because impaired understanding of neuroanatomy of medical students and doctors has been linked with their lack of confidence to manage neurological patients (NEUROPHOBIA).
An exhaustive search for neuroanatomy web-resources was done using custom search strings. Filtration through inclusion/exclusion criteria generated 159 web-resources. Those containing 1)only histology-related information, 2)being non-interactive and 3)non-comprehensive, were excluded, leaving an inventory of 24 resources. This was narrowed down to 13 and subjected to ‘educators-evaluation criteria’. Five anatomy educators ranked these based on their usefulness in context of student-learning of spinal pathways. The top three existing web-resources, were subsequently compared against each other by 42 undergraduate UCC students (medical, 3rd-year neuroscience).
Educators’ evaluation revealed that web-resources were overall limited in conforming to educational and cognitive learning standards. Students perceived that following pedagogical domains were best employed, in the top-ranked resource compared to other resources, in terms of their usefulness in aiding neuroanatomy-learning,: 1)clarity of explanation, 2)explanation of key principles, 3)step-by-step drawing of pathways, 4)usage of cross-sectional images, 5)quizzes, 6)radiology-images, 7)animations, 8)3D-omputer models and 9)solving neurological cases and 10) features helping in 3D visualization of brain structures.
Students’ preferences will help infer reasons underlying usefulness of various web-learning features. This will inform instructional design of future resources to better achieve learning outcomes for undergraduate students and reduce the prevailing neurophobia.