Learner-control vs. program-control instructional multimedia: a comparison of two interactions when teaching principles of orthodontic appliances

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BackgroundMany studies have compared computer assisted learning (CAL) to more traditional learning formats and have shown CAL to be as effective as or superior to the alternative resources. However, there are only scarce attempts to show which style of CAL leads to the best learning outcomes in orthodontics.AimTo compare the effectiveness of a learner-control (group A) vs. program-control (group B) multimedia learning environment courseware packages regarding knowledge, understanding and transfer of content when applied to teaching principles of orthodontic appliances to undergraduate students.MethodsPre- and post-test assessments of undergraduate dental students (n = 30) who either studied a learner-control multimedia learning environment courseware package (n = 15) or a program-control version (n = 15) on equivalent material of the orthodontic appliances curriculum. Both groups were evaluated by means of multiple-choice questions covering knowledge, understanding and application. A one-way ANOVA was carried out in order to check for statistical difference between the two groups. The P-value was set at 0.05.ResultsThere was no difference in prior knowledge between both groups at baseline. Although, both groups significantly improved their scores after having studied the course, no significant difference was found between both groups in relation to answers to questions about knowledge, understanding and application.ConclusionsIn this study, the learner-control instructional multimedia program was found to be as effective as the program-control version when teaching principles of the orthodontic appliances to undergraduate students. The focus needs to be on improving the value of CAL. Comparative evaluations of how different CAL approaches compare with or complement one another are certainly needed.

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