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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL RESEARCH
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 87-93

Readiness and utilization of computer-assisted learning among dental students and faculty


1 Department of Paedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal University, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal University, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Periodontics, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal University, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication29-Nov-2017

Correspondence Address:
Baranya S Suprabha
Department of Paedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Light House Hill Road, Mangalore - 575 001, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/denthyp.denthyp_18_17

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  Abstract 

Introduction: An assessment of computer literacy and readiness is required for successful implementation of a structured computer-assisted learning (CAL). The present study was aimed to assess and compare computer literacy, attitude toward implementation of a structured CAL, and the current level of use of computer/laptop for academic purposes by students and faculty. In addition, the difference in attitude toward structured CAL and the current level of use of computer/laptop, based on computer literacy were evaluated. Materials and Methods: In this cross-sectional study 316 undergraduate students and 57 faculties of a dental school in India. Computer literacy, the current level of use, and attitudes toward a structured CAL were assessed using a questionnaire. Participants were divided into basic user, intermediate user, and advanced user based on computer literacy. Data were analyzed using Chi-square test. Results: Most of the students and faculty were intermediate users. Faculty used the internet for academic purposes at a significantly higher frequency and accessed a wide variety of internet sites and material as compared to students. Most of the students and faculty favored introducing a structured CAL. The favorable attitude toward structured CAL and the better utilization of laptops for academic purposes were associated with the level of computer literacy among students. Conclusions: Both faculty and students favor the use of structured CAL. Higher computer literacy results in more use and favorable attitude toward structured CAL among students. Further training of faculty and students is needed to improve the readiness and utilization of CAL.

Keywords: Computer literacy, dental education, utilization


How to cite this article:
Suprabha BS, Shenoy R, Rao A, Rao A, Naik DG. Readiness and utilization of computer-assisted learning among dental students and faculty. Dent Hypotheses 2017;8:87-93

How to cite this URL:
Suprabha BS, Shenoy R, Rao A, Rao A, Naik DG. Readiness and utilization of computer-assisted learning among dental students and faculty. Dent Hypotheses [serial online] 2017 [cited 2017 Dec 11];8:87-93. Available from: http://www.dentalhypotheses.com/text.asp?2017/8/4/87/219445


  Introduction Top


Computer technology can be utilized for professional development as well as for student and patient education. The accessibility to computers and internet has made utilization of computer-assisted learning (CAL) possible.[1] In CAL, personal computers/laptops are used as educational aids to implement a structured e-curriculum. This includes the use of computers for literature search, communication by e-mail, use of computer-based simulations, multimedia projection system, and wireless classrooms.[2] Knowledge and awareness of the available information technology and the ability to utilize it is termed as computer literacy. The often limited computer literacy among the faculty or the students can jeopardize even very well-planned computer-based learning projects and minimize the expected added value.[3] An understanding of the level of computer literacy among students and faculty, their attitudes toward the use of computers as an educational tool along with an understanding of their current level of use for dental education is necessary to implement curricular modifications to use computers effectively in dental education.[4]

There are a few published studies on computer literacy and attitudes of faculty and students, which were carried out in European and American dental schools.[2],[5],[6],[7],[8] There is a paucity of studies regarding the readiness of dental schools for CAL in India. A structured CAL using laptops/computers appears to be lacking in the dental curriculum.[9] Hence, there is a need to implement a structured CAL, keeping in mind the advantages of using computer technology in dental education.

The performance of readiness preparation tasks is more likely to result in successful implementation of a program.[2] A positive attitude toward integration of e-curriculum with conventional teaching methods and acquisition of required computer literacy skills by both faculty and students are required for successful implementation of CAL.[2],[5] Hence this study was designed to evaluate the readiness for implementation of structured CAL and current level of utilization of computers/laptops in dental education.

The present study was aimed to assess and compare computer literacy, attitude toward implementation of a structured CAL, and the current level of use of computer/laptop for academic purposes by students and faculty in a dental school in India. In addition, the difference in attitudes toward structured CAL and the current level of use of computer/laptop, based on the level of computer literacy, was also assessed.


  Materials and Methods Top


This cross-sectional questionnaire survey involved all the undergraduate students (434) and faculty (59) of a dental school in India. In this dental school, students and faculty are provided laptops by the University. The campus has Wi-Fi facility and thus students and faculty have good access to the internet.

A semi-structured questionnaire consisting of 18 questions was used. The questionnaire was derived from previous studies.[2],[4],[6],[10] The questionnaire was examined for content validity by two experts who have substantial experience in the field of dental education. The reliability of the questionnaire was tested by administering the questionnaire to 10 students and 5 faculty members and the Kappa value was 0.83. The domains of the questionnaire were:
  1. Computer literacy which included questions on the ability to use the internet, various software programs, knowledge of hardware and software of the computer, the ability to troubleshoot and teach others regarding the use of computers. In addition, data on the methods by which the individual gained knowledge regarding the use of computers/laptops were also obtained.
  2. The current level of utilization of laptops, which included the type of sites and material accessed on the internet, the frequency of use for academic and nonacademic purposes.
  3. Attitudes regarding the implementation of CAL and the use of laptops for academic purposes.


The readiness for CAL was assessed based on the computer literacy and attitudes of the study subjects. The estimated time required to complete the questionnaire was 10 min. The questionnaire was administered to students prior to the beginning of a lecture class and collected back immediately upon completion. It was emphasized that this was not any kind of “test” and participants were requested to respond honestly. The response from the faculty was obtained by distributing the questionnaire in their respective place of work. Efforts were made to reach the students and faculty who might have been absent on the day of administering the questionnaire.

Ethical considerations

Participation in the survey was voluntary and anonymity of all participants was preserved to maintain confidentiality. Participant information sheet was provided to the participants prior to the study and written informed consent form was obtained. The protocol for the study including the informed consent procedure was cleared by the Institutional Ethics Committee (#13005), prior to the commencement of the study. The study was conducted in full accordance with the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki of 1975, as revised in 2000.

Statistical analysis

Data were entered and analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) for Windows release 16.0 (SPSS Inc., Released 2007, SPSS for Windows, Version 16.0., Chicago, SPSS Inc.). Chi-square test was used to compare the responses between faculty and students. The participants were divided into three groups based on computer literacy according to following criteria:
  1. Basic user (able to do basic word processing and use the internet)
  2. Intermediate user (have mastered the basics and use of different software programs like Microsoft Power Point, Microsoft Excel, etc.)
  3. Advanced user (knowledge of hardware and software; able to troubleshoot, advice, and teach others).


The three groups were compared regarding the level of use of laptops/computers for academic purpose and attitude toward implementation of a structured CAL using Chi-square test. Numerical data such as mean age between the groups were compared using Student’s t-test.


  Results Top


A total of 57 faculty and 316 students participated in the study, amounting to response rate of 73.04% among students and 96.6% among faculty. Among students 70 (22.08%) belonged to the first year, 75 (23.65%) were in the second year, 92 (29.02%) belonged to the third year, and 82 (25.87%) were from the fourth year. Among the students who responded 73.5% were females and 26.5% males. The mean age of student participants was 20.66 years with a range of 18–25 years. The mean age of faculty was 36.42 years with a range of 25–65 years. Among the faculty, 56.1% were females and 43.9% were males.

Competency

The proportion of study population with competency in the use of word processing and presentation software was significantly higher among faculty than students [Table 1]. Most of the participants were intermediate users and there was no difference in the level of computer literacy between faculty and students [Table 2] (P = 0.268).
Table 1: Experience of faculty and students with various computer applications

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Table 2: Mode of training for the use of computers/laptop along with frequency distribution of the study population based on computer literacy

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Among the faculty, majority were self-trained regarding the use of computers, whereas among students an equal proportion were also trained through school curriculum. There was a significant difference in the method of training undergone by the faculty and students (P < 0.001). Faculty had less formal training than students [Table 2].

Among the faculty, the majority of the intermediate users had learnt to use computers from personal study and experience as compared to advanced users who had undergone more formal training (school curriculum/computer course) and the difference was statistically significant. No significant difference was seen in the mode of training among students, based on computer literacy [Table 2].

Current level of use for academic purposes

There was a significant difference in the frequency of use of the internet for academic purpose between faculty and students and no significant difference for the nonacademic purpose. About 4% of students had never used the internet for academic purposes [Table 3]. The daily use of internet for academic purpose was significantly higher among faculty (63.2%) than among students (15.5%) (P = 0.684). However, the frequency of daily use for nonacademic purposes was higher among both faculty (92.3%) and students (80.8%) as compared to academic purposes, with no significant difference (P = 0.231) between faculty and students.
Table 3: Frequency of internet usage for academic and nonacademic purposes

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When asked about the sites frequently accessed for academic purposes, the majority used general search engines such as Google. The use of medical search engines such as PubMed was significantly higher among faculty (98.2%), with only about 13% usage among students (P < 0.001). Use of university sites (P < 0.001), dental commercial sites (P = 0.003), and sites of organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO) (P < 0.001) was also significantly higher among faculty. University sites were accessed by a greater percentage of faculty who were advanced users as compared to intermediate users and basic users (P = 0.016). Among students, advanced users used search engines significantly more (P = 0.003) than intermediate users and basic users [Table 4].
Table 4: Internet sites accessed for academic purpose

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Among the materials accessed through the internet, a higher proportion of the study population accessed online articles/text, clinical photographs, and patient treatment videos. The use of journals (P = 0.033) and online articles/texts (P < 0.001) for information was significantly higher among faculty. Access to clinical photographs and patient treatment/lab simulation videos were higher among students but not significantly different from faculty (P = 0.221 and P = 0.312, respectively). Students accessed histopathological slide photographs more frequently (P = 0.013), while faculty accessed online discussion/webinars more frequently (P = 0.001) [Table 5].
Table 5: Material accessed through the internet for academic purpose

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There was no significant difference among faculty, regarding material accessed on the internet based on computer literacy. However, the difference was significant among students. The access to all the academic materials through the internet was highest among advanced users. The difference was significant for clinical photographs (P = 0.035); patient treatment/lab simulation videos (P = 0.002); online quiz (P < 0.001); and webinars/discussion forums (P = 0.003) [Table 5].

Attitude

Lack of awareness regarding reliable sources of knowledge was a major barrier in the usage of internet for academic purposes. This was perceived as a barrier by faculty more significantly than students (P = 0.028). The level of computer literacy did not influence the perception of barriers for internet use among faculty and students, except for the lack of awareness regarding proper resources. More advanced users (71.2%) perceived lack of awareness as a barrier than intermediate and basic users (P = 0.001) among students [Table 6].
Table 6: Attitude regarding use of computer-assisted learning

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In this study, 61% of the population preferred to read from computer screen rather printouts. Only 35% preferred to answer exams using a website module instead of the conventional method of using answer scripts. The preference to take notes using a laptop during lecture classes was also lesser (26%). There was no significant difference among students as well as faculty groups based on computer literacy, for preferences such as reading from computer screen over printouts (P = 0.546 and 0.914, respectively); use of laptops for taking notes (P = 0.287 and P = 0.454, respectively) and answering exams on a website module rather than answer scripts (P = 0.128 and 0.377, respectively). It was notable that greater percentage of advanced users, among students and faculty preferred these methods [Table 6].

Majority of the population were of the opinion that use of a laptop for academic purposes improves the quality of education and that there should be a structured e-curriculum which supplements the existing curriculum. Overall, there was no significant difference in attitude regarding the use of laptops for a structured CAL between faculty and students [Table 6]. There was also no difference in the perception toward the use of structured CAL based on the level of computer literacy among faculty. Among students, the perception of improvement in the quality of education and the need for e-curriculum was significantly higher among advanced users followed by intermediate users and basic users (P < 0.001; P = 0.004, respectively).

Similar trends were also seen with the preferred modes of structured CAL in dentistry. The difference in perception among groups based on computer literacy was significantly higher in advanced student users for all the modes used in structured CAL (Lecture handout in a disc: P = 0.008; lecture handout through intranet: P < 0.001; use of e-mail for communication with faculty: P < 0.001; lecture videos in intranet: P < 0.001; patient treatment videos in intranet: P < 0.001; computer-based learning packages: P = 0.004; web-based course: P < 0.001) but no significant difference was seen among faculty based on computer literacy.

The majority of faculty and students preferred the use of patient treatment/lab simulation videos in intranet (63.2 and 71.6%, respectively) for teaching and learning. The majority of faculty also preferred use of web-based courses (63.2%) and computer learning packages (50.0%) for teaching, while the majority of students preferred use of lecture handout in a disc (54.9%) and lecture videos in intranet (56.2%) as part of the structured CAL. The difference between faculty and student attitude toward methods used in structured CAL was significant for use of lecture handouts in a disc (P < 0.001), use of computer-based learning packages (P < 0.001), and web-based courses (P = 0.032).


  Discussion Top


Computer literacy skills observed among students and faculty in this study is comparable to the levels seen in other studies.[11],[12] However, the daily use of the internet for academic purposes was higher among faculty as compared to students, even though the students had better training. The usage reported in this study was higher due to the availability of laptops as compared to the study by Kumar et al.[9] in a private dental school in India, where usage was less due to lack of availability of computers. Similar studies carried out in other countries such as Jordan, Greece, Nigeria, Egypt showed that, though students had good knowledge regarding the use of computers, the use of computers in the dental curriculum was low.[8],[11] Higher usage for nonacademic purpose by students reported in other studies[8],[9],[10] were similar to this study. On the contrary, a survey by Wrzosek[13] suggested high levels of CAL by students and staff of US dental schools. The use of computers for academic purposes was higher among faculty with most of them using word processing program and presentation software for teaching purposes. A difference in pattern and proportion of access to academic materials was observed between faculty and students. This difference might be because faculty need to use internet resources for teaching and research purpose. On the contrary, the need was not felt by the majority of students because the internet as a source for learning was not part of their curriculum.[14]

Among students, advanced users showed a higher level of computer use for the academic purpose. They also had a more positive attitude toward the use of a structured CAL in dental education. This implies that the level of computer literacy skills can affect the attitude toward structured CAL as well as utilization. Hence there is a need to evaluate computer skills/literacy of students at the beginning of the dental course. Even among faculty, advanced users showed a higher level of use for academic purposes and accessed a variety of internet sites and materials, though the difference was not statistically significant. Hence, training faculty and students in computer usage skills could further enhance their utilization of available resources.[4] As a wide range of computer skills was noted among students and faculty, a single computer course for all students/faculty would not be useful. Special measures need to be taken to train students and faculty who are basic users to prevent them from developing computer-hostile attitudes.[15]

In this study, 61% felt comfortable reading from computers/laptop screen than reading from printouts and the preference was more among advanced users. This is not unexpected as those more competent in the use of computers might be more confident in adopting paperless systems.[8]

In this study population, most of the students and faculty were not in favor of online examinations. Many students felt that this was out of their comfort zone and would not give them a chance to explain the matter related to the given question. Those who favored it felt that it saved time and facilitated easy correction. The unfavorable response for online examinations might be attributed to the perception that their performance may be hindered by a lack of expertise in the use of computers.[4]

In this study, both faculty and students recognized the importance of CAL which is in accordance with studies carried out in other medical[4],[16] and dental schools.[8],[17] Despite the wide variety in the level of competence with the use of computers among faculty and students, the positive attitude toward the importance of CAL was very high. Learning is facilitated by viewing web-based resources along with reading textbooks and lecture sessions.[4],[18] Computer-based teaching methods have several advantages over conventional lectures: there is the ability to revisit areas and hence students can easily incorporate them into their own tailor-made schedule; provision for learner led interactive case studies; hyperlinks for online discussion or quiz and additional materials such as audio/video/handouts can be provided to the learner.[18] Conventional teaching methods like lectures are still necessary as they permit direct interaction with students and help the teacher to identify knowledge gaps.[17],[19] Areas where structured CAL will be needed to enhance learning should be identified and an organized curriculum with required software should be put in place.[2] In addition, it should be assessment-oriented, so that the teaching method is effective.[18]

In this study, lack of awareness regarding valid and reliable academic internet sources that are relevant for academic use was perceived as a major barrier for internet use for academic purposes. Advanced student users were more aware of the various modes of structured CAL. This underlines the need for awareness programs and training related to internet sources which are relevant for academic use. Computer literacy for students includes the use of the internet, especially medical search engines, search strategies and techniques, data management, presentation, and communication applications such as word processing programs and multimedia presentations.[5] Faculty must be involved in designing resources for e-learning and students need to know how to effectively use them.[16] Formal training in these areas is a prerequisite to support e-learning and enables a smooth transition from traditional teaching methods into a blended approach.[16],[20] CAL will be effective when faculty change their teaching methods. A transformation process that is institution-based is required which makes alternative teaching strategies desirable to the faculty.

The present study involved data collection from the faculty and students of one dental school in India. Further studies are needed involving other dental schools. However, the study gives an idea about the utilization of computers for CAL and readiness for implementation of a structured CAL in a dental school where computer facilities are available.


  Conclusion Top


  1. The level of use of the internet for academic purpose is better among faculty as compared to students.
  2. Lack of awareness regarding available resources for dental education on the internet is a barrier for usage of internet for academic purpose.
  3. Both faculty and students favor the use of structured CAL.
  4. The favorable attitude toward structured CAL and the level of use of laptops for academic purposes is associated with computer literacy among students.


Based on the results of the study, further need-based training of faculty and students may improve the readiness and utilization of CAL.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
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