Evaluating the Use of Second Life for Virtual Team-Based Learning in an Online Undergraduate Anatomy Course

Christena M. Gazave, April R. Hatcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Team-based learning (TBL) is one strategy for improving team-work and critical thinking skills. It has proven to be an engaging teaching pedagogy in face-to-face classes; however, to our knowledge, it has never been implemented online in a 3-D virtual world. We implemented virtual TBLs in an online undergraduate anatomy course using Second Life , and evaluated whether it engaged students. This study was conducted over two semesters with 39 total students. Surveys and content analysis of transcripts were used to evaluate student engagement. Our results indicate virtual TBLs were engaging for most students. The average engagement score was 7.8 out of 10 with 89.2% of students reporting a score of 6 or above. Students exhibited high levels of cognitive engagement during the clinical application portion of the TBL process. Males felt more emotionally engaged than females; however, most measures of engagement indicated no differences between groups of students (mode of communication, previous technology experience, gender, and performance); therefore, virtual TBLs may be engaging for a broad range of students. Ninety-five percent of students agreed that this was a worthwhile experience. In light of this evidence, we feel that virtual TBL sessions are valuable, and could be implemented in other online courses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-227
Number of pages11
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, International Association of Medical Science Educators.


  • Anatomy education
  • Content analysis
  • Engagement
  • Second Life™
  • Team-based learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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