Practical examinations in anatomy are usually conducted on specimens in the anatomy laboratory (referred to here as the "traditional" method). Recently, we have started to administer similar examinations online using the quiz facility in Moodle™. In this study, we compare student scores between two assessment environments viz. online and traditional environments. We hypothesized that regardless of the examination medium (traditional or online) overall student performance would not be significantly different. For the online medium, radiological images, prosected specimens, and short video clips demonstrating muscle action were first acquired from resources used for teaching during anatomy practical classes. These were optimized for online viewing and then uploaded onto Moodle learning management software. With regards to the traditional format, actual specimens were usually laid out in a circular stream. Identification tags were then attached to specific spots on the specimens and questions asked regarding those identified spots. A cohort of students taking practical examinations in six courses was studied. The courses were divided into three pairs with each pair credit-weight matched. Each pair consisted of a course where the practical examination was conducted online and the other in the traditional format. There was no significant difference in the mean scores within each course pair. In addition, a significant positive correlation between score in traditional and online formats was found. We conclude that mean grades in anatomy practical examination conducted either online or in the traditional format were comparable. These findings should reassure teachers intending to use either format for their practical examinations.
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