Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Instructional Technology

Major Professor

Ann Barron, Ed.D.


Distance learning, Stereo-imaging, Dissection, Nursing, Spatial relationships, Mental models


The primary purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of implementing desktop 3-dimensional (3D) stereo images of human anatomy into an undergraduate human anatomy distance laboratory. User perceptions of 2D and 3D images were gathered via questionnaire in order to determine ease of use and level of satisfaction associated with the 3D software in the online learning environment. Mayer's (2001, p. 184) principles of design were used to develop the study materials that consisted of PowerPoint presentations and AVI files accessed via Blackboard. The research design employed a mixed-methods approach. Volunteers each were administered a demographic survey and were then stratified into groups based upon pre-test scores. A total sample size of 62 pairs was available for combined data analysis.

Quantitative research questions regarding the effectiveness of 2D versus the 3D treatment were analyzed using a doubly-multivariate repeated measures (Doubly- MANOVA) design. Paired test scores achieved by undergraduates on a laboratory practical of identification and spatial relationships of the bones and features of a human skull were used in the analysis. The questionnaire designed to gather user perceptions consisted of quantitative and qualitative questions. Response frequencies were analyzed for the two groups and common themes were noted. Results revealed a statistically significant difference in group means for the main effect of the treatment groups 2D and 3D and for the variables of identification and relationship with the 3D group outperforming the 2D group on both dependent variables. Effect sizes were determined to be small, 0.215 for the identification variable and 0.359 for the relationship variable.

Overall, all students liked the convenience of using PowerPoint and AVI files online. The 3D group felt their PowerPoint was more realistic than did the 2D group and both groups appreciated the detailed labeling of the online images. One third of the volunteers in the 3D group indicated that "eye strain" was what they liked least about working with the 3D images. Results indicate that desktop, stereo imaging may be incorporated effectively into online anatomy and physiology courses, but that more work needs to be done to ensure less eye strain.