Journal of allied health
New and traditional educational media were used to study alternative methods of instruction in a human gross anatomy course. Three consecutive entry-level physical therapy (PT) classes (55 students total) participated in this study. No other anatomy course was available to these students during this time. During the first year, all entering PT students (n = 18) completed a traditional cadaver anatomy course. This traditional group attended weekly lectures and dissection laboratories for 15 weeks. During the second year, the next entering class of PT students (n = 17) completed a self-study, computerized noncadaver anatomy course. This self-study group attended an introductory session to receive course objectives and instruction in using the computer package chosen for the study. After the introductory session, this group worked independently for the remainder of their 15-week course. During the third year, the entering class of PT students (n = 20) attended weekly lectures and completed a self-study, computerized non-cadaver laboratory course. This lecture and self-study group attended an introductory session to review course objectives and receive instruction in using the computer package. For the remainder of their 15-week course, this group attended a weekly lecture and worked independently on the computer for the laboratory portion of their course. All groups kept time logs, recording class and study time for each day of the course. The time logs were collected on the last day of each course. Each group's performance in anatomy-based system courses was followed through the remainder of the PT curricula, including clinical rotations, and through the completion of the state board licensure examination. Data were analyzed using a multivariate analysis of variance and a Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance. There was no significant difference in anatomy course class means, class study times, performance throughout the remainder of the PT curricula, and performance on the state board licensure examination. The results of this study suggest that computerized self-study techniques may be a viable alternative to traditional cadaver laboratory and instruction in human gross anatomy courses. Plans for future study include the continued use of lecture and computerized study and the use of a supplemental bone and radiology laboratory.