Medical Science Educator

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 295–302 | Cite as

Why Students Choose or Don’t Choose to Use an Online Pathology Museum

  • Diane Kenwright
  • Wei Dai
  • Rebecca Grainger
Original Research



Online materials are replacing traditional pathology museums and microscopes. The interactivity of these ranges from static pictures to virtual slides. In this study, we examined how students chose to interact with magnifiable, rotating, macroscopic specimens versus static pictures. The study focuses on motivation to interact with the extended online resource when it was supplementary to, but not required to, answer questions in an online assignment.


Students in a fourth-year anatomic pathology course (N = 102) completed online clinical-case-based learning activities. Students’ interaction with online rotatable specimens and the underlying reasons were investigated using a self-developed online post-course survey.


The 360° rotatable specimens were viewed by 81% of students. Coding of responses to open-end questions identified two short-term motivators (more information and relevant to the question) and two long-term motivators (a better understanding of pathology and helpful for examinations) for viewing dynamic specimen representations. Students reported two reasons for not viewing every online specimen: They could complete activities using the static images, and long loading times for pathology museum pages.


Students who interacted with relevant online specimens were motivated by both the short-term and long-term expectancy value. The research has implications for designing other online resources—the key to students using them is to design for expectancy value.


Online learning resources Pathology E-learning Expectancy-value theory Medical education 



The authors would like to thank all the students in year 4 of University of Otago Wellington Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) who participated in the research. The authors would also like to thank student-learning advisor Emma Osborne for reviewing the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The research was approved by the Ethics Committee of the University of Otago (Human) as a category B (minimal risk) investigation.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Association of Medical Science Educators 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pathology and Molecular MedicineUniversity of OtagoWellingtonNew Zealand

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