Web Browsing Habits of Healthcare Professions Students in Gross Anatomy Laboratory

Anat Sci Educ. 2020 Jul;13(4):520-526. doi: 10.1002/ase.1934. Epub 2020 Jan 10.


Personal computer use for educational purposes by the healthcare professions students has become ubiquitous. Although the effect of computer-based dissection instructions has been studied, there is a paucity of information regarding student browsing habits of information available on the Internet. Although current students have favorable attitudes toward accessing anatomical information online, web browsing habits have not yet been investigated specifically in the dissection laboratory setting. The purpose of this study was to describe the browsing habits of the healthcare professions students in the gross anatomy setting using a retrospective analysis. Files containing web browser history were retrieved from desktop computers in the gross anatomy laboratory and custom code was written to parse them into comma separated value files. Each web address was categorized and descriptive statistics was calculated. Browser history for 24 computers was analyzed from June 2013 to January 2015. During this period, students accumulated 100,857 webpage visits. Most often, students performed a Google search for anatomy (22.0% of all visits) and non-anatomy related (20.6% of all visits) information. Students also used the web browser to access various entertainment (16.4% of all visits) and productivity related services (15.9% of all visits). This analysis revealed a large volume of webpage visits by the healthcare professions students in the gross anatomy laboratory. A wide diversity of anatomy and non-anatomy related webpages were visited. Future analyses could be directed at examination of when in relation to class time students accessed the information, how browsing habits change over time, and what anatomical structures were most commonly searched for.

Keywords: anatomical structures; anatomy laboratory; gross anatomy education; healthcare professions education; information seeking; web browser.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anatomy / education*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Occupations / education
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Laboratories / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Students, Health Occupations / psychology
  • Students, Health Occupations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Web Browser / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult