Students' evaluation of online course materials in Fixed Prosthodontics: a case study

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PurposeThe purpose of this study was to assess a new online course format for dental students. Preclinical Fixed Prosthodontics I is a didactic and laboratory course given in the first year of the dental school curriculum. In the spring semester of 1999, the didactic portion of the course was offered in a web-based format as a supplement to the traditional lecture format.MethodsThe study population was 53 first year dental students at one school. The study design was a one group post test without a control group. The online questionnaire consisted of multiple choice questions, Leikert scale questions and open-ended questions. Data were collected using Filemaker Pro and analyzed using Epilnfo.ResultsStudent response rate was 96% (52/53). All of the students responded that they felt comfortable with their computer skills in utilizing this course format. Most (96%) responded that the online materials were either very helpful or helpful to them. About half, (54%) recommended that the online format be continued as a supplement to traditional lectures, while 28% recommended replacing traditional lectures with the new format in order to provide more laboratory time in the course. The syllabus, lecture materials, bulletin board and handouts were found to be the most helpful online features. The least helpful features were the listserve, decision tree, and e-mail options. Most frequently mentioned strengths of the online material were listed as 1) the ability to view material at their own pace and at a time convenient to them, 2) quality photographs in lecture materials and 3) online quizzes. Weaknesses of the course were ranked by students as 1) problems with access to the materials and the intranet system, 2) taking quizzes online and 3) difficulty in printing the web-based lecture materials.ConclusionsThe delivery of web-based material as a course supplement in Fixed Prosthodontics I was determined to be an overall success. Fine tuning of problems with access to the materials took place throughout the course. The student feedback will help direct future development of web-based course materials in the dental school curriculum.

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