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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Spot(ters) the difference: Bringing traditional anatomical examinations online.

Bond, Alistair P, Butts, Thomas and Tierney, Claire M (2023) Spot(ters) the difference: Bringing traditional anatomical examinations online. Clinical anatomy. ISSN 1098-2353

Item Type: Article


The COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in anatomy education forcing institutions to find innovative ways to teach and assess online. This study details the development of an online spotter across multiple modules that allowed students to sit the examination at home whilst still maintaining the integrity of the assessment. The online spotter consisted of individual, Zoom calls between students and examiners whereby slides with images and questions were screen shared. To examine the viability of this spotter in non-lockdown scenarios several parameters were considered. Mean marks were compared to traditional versions and Pearson's r correlation coefficients were calculated between online and traditional spotters and between online spotters and overall performance in anatomy modules. A survey was carried out to determine the students' view of the assessment. Pearson's r was between 0.33 and 0.49 when comparing online spotters to the traditional format, and between 0.65 and 0.75 (p < 0.01) when compared to a calculated anatomy score. The survey indicated overall student satisfaction as 82.5% reported that it was a fair way to test their knowledge and 55% reported the same or lower levels of anxiety when compared to traditional spotters. However, there was nothing to indicate that the students preferred this format over laboratory-based spotters. These results indicate that this new exam format would be useful for small cohorts who are undertaking online or hybrid courses, or in circumstances when running a full spotter is too costly, and represents a fair and robust way to assess practical anatomical knowledge online.

Clinical Anatomy - 2023 - Bond - Spot ters the difference Bringing traditional anatomical examinations online.pdf - Published Version
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More Information

Depositing User: Thomas Patrick


Item ID: 16896
Identification Number:
ISSN: 1098-2353
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Thomas Butts: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2024 11:43
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2024 11:45


Author: Thomas Butts ORCID iD
Author: Alistair P Bond
Author: Claire M Tierney

University Divisions

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing > School of Medicine


Sciences > Biomedical Sciences
Education > Higher Education

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