Prospective evaluation of a web-based three-dimensional cranial nerve simulation

J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Dec;41(6):426-36.


Objective: Advancements in technology and personal computing afford the development of novel teaching modalities such as online Web-based modules. These modules are currently being incorporated into undergraduate medical curricula and, in some paradigms, have been shown to be superior to traditional methods of instruction. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the ability of a computer-assisted learning (CAL) module to demonstrate content and spatial information in the context of cranial nerve anatomy.

Study population: Undergraduate anatomy students.

Methods: A prospective, randomized, controlled trial was conducted comparing a CAL module to traditional text-/image-based learning supplements. Indications of the participants' ability to translate spatial relationships between the trigeminal nerve and the craniofacial skeleton were assessed via a postintervention knowledge quiz.

Results: No significant difference was identified between the CAL module and the control group. Students in both groups performed poorly in questions testing spatial relationships.

Conclusions: The CAL module used in the present study did not objectively contribute to the understanding of spatial anatomic relationships of the cranial nerves in novice students. Despite this, these modules may help pique student interest and motivation and, as such, may be used in the context of supplemental learning resources in existing university curricula.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Cranial Nerves / anatomy & histology*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult