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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 64-71

COVID-19 pandemic: Its effects on perception of learning among students of dental schools in Jeddah

1 Department of Preventive Dental Sciences, Ibn Sina National College for Medical Studies, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Oral Basic and Clinical Sciences, Ibn Sina National College for Medical Studies, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Date of Submission04-Mar-2022
Date of Decision31-Mar-2022
Date of Acceptance06-Apr-2022
Date of Web Publication18-Jul-2022

Correspondence Address:
Ullal Anand Nayak
Department of Preventive Dental Sciences, Ibn Sina National College for Medical Studies, Jeddah
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ajprhc.ajprhc_21_22

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Context: The COVID-19 epidemic having produced a sudden and dramatic change in teaching and learning approaches, it is imperative to ascertain the effectiveness of these frequently used methods. Aims: The present study intends to examine the learning experience of dentistry students during the COVID-19 epidemic and to determine the perception of these students regarding learning. Settings and Design: A cross-sectional survey was done among the students (3rd year through internship) from all the four dental schools in Jeddah using a nonprobability convenience sample approach. Subjects and Methods: A Google Form comprising the pilot tested survey questionnaire with open-ended 20 questions in English was distributed to the dental students by personal E-mails or social media/messaging. As per the response, the participants' descriptive statistics were reported in frequencies and percentages. Statistical Analysis Used: The Chi-square test was performed to seek for correlations between variables using the (IBM) SPSS software version 22.0. Results: A total of 415 dental students across four dental colleges of Jeddah participated in the survey. The most opted virtual platform for carrying out teaching was Zoom (64.58%). Nearly 67.71% of them showed good proficiency in using various electronic devices (P = 0.016). They preferred online video demonstrations of dental procedures over live demonstrations (P = 0.004). Students preferred to work in a simulation setting in a laboratory than working on patients with either nonaerosol producing procedures or with limited patient exposures (P = 0.012). They believed that their confidence level acquired in practical/clinical skills was good (P = 0.022), but the pandemic had negatively affected their personal well-being/career growth (P < 0.001). Furthermore, they agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic would change the future of dental education (P = 0.002). Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way of education and virtual online education has becoming the new norm. The traditional assessment method of focusing solely on examinations needs to be updated.

Keywords: Dental student, dentistry, online teaching, video demonstration

How to cite this article:
Nayak UA, Mahmoud RA, Azzawi AY, Althagafi WE, Algarni AM, Nayak PA. COVID-19 pandemic: Its effects on perception of learning among students of dental schools in Jeddah. Asian J Pharm Res Health Care 2022;14:64-71

How to cite this URL:
Nayak UA, Mahmoud RA, Azzawi AY, Althagafi WE, Algarni AM, Nayak PA. COVID-19 pandemic: Its effects on perception of learning among students of dental schools in Jeddah. Asian J Pharm Res Health Care [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Sep 27];14:64-71. Available from: http://www.ajprhc.com/text.asp?2022/14/2/64/351318

  Introduction Top

Apart from inflicting life-threatening infections, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has had an unparalleled impact on dentistry education worldwide.[1] The educators' job has widened as they must provide curriculum contents safely, at the same time ensuring that the aims of the dental education process are satisfied. As a result, it is vital to enhance the efficiency of learning methods while simultaneously establishing their practicality and acceptability for dentistry students.[2]

The COVID-19 situation has resulted in a slew of concerns, including limiting holistic patient care, limiting dentistry students' chairside teaching options, and mandating changes to teaching and learning methods.[3],[4] The anxiety of contracting the virus and transmitting it to others has forced students and teachers to utilize simulation techniques as an effective learning and assessment alternative. As a result, a dental curriculum must be developed that allows for continuous learning without interruption due to the epidemic.[5]

Live online interactive lectures, case-based learning (CBL) sessions, flipped classrooms, and providing recorded lectures to students have been some of the most commonly adopted teaching methods in various institutions.[5] A virtual clinical experience through simulation methods is a possible alternative but incurs large costs.[6] In the absence of patients in clinics, treatments can be carried out and evaluated using dental models, typhodonts, and phantom heads with water inlets to simulate the oral cavity.[7]

As this epidemic has resulted in a sudden and drastic shift in teaching and learning methods, it is vital to assess the efficacy of the most often used approaches. Hence, the present study aims to assess the learning experience of dentistry students during the COVID-19 epidemic and to determine the attitude of these students toward learning.

  Subjects and Methods Top

After getting the institutional ethics committee clearance (Ref No. H-15-03062021), a cross-sectional survey was done among the students (clinical students of 3rd year BDS through internship) from all the four dental schools in Jeddah during June to August 2021. A nonprobability convenience sampling method was employed for simplicity of acquiring the target population. The minimal sample size was calculated to be 302 students, based on the available overall student population size of 1400 students, at 95% confidence interval, 5% margin error, and 50% response distribution. A Google Form containing the survey questions was delivered to the dentistry students by personal E-mails or social media/messaging. A polite reminder was given to potential respondents to ensure the maximum possible response rate. The participants' involvement was fully voluntary, and the information they provided was kept confidential. To ensure anonymity, the questionnaire did not include any personal information about the participants. At any stage during the survey, the participants were free to stop answering questions.

Based on the qualitative data gathered, the questionnaire was designed by conducting open-ended interviews with dental students, and certain aspects were altered and new items were incorporated as a result. The Cronbach's alpha for the questionnaire was calculated as 0.88 which suggested as strong reliability, after it was pilot tested among thirty dentistry students. The data gathered for the pilot study were not included in the study statistics. Participants' replies were gathered twice, with a 1-week delay between each collection.

The survey questions were derived from the study by Alsoufi et al.(2020)[8] which comprised twenty questions, divided into two parts. Gender and the year/college of study were among the three demographic characteristics assessed in the first part (3 questions). The second part (17 questions) explored at how students at dentistry schools in Jeddah felt about learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. To limit the potential of bias, the participants were not told what the study's goal or objectives were.

The participants' descriptive statistics were expressed in frequencies and percentages. The Chi-square test was run to check for perception related to influence of COVID on teaching and learning among gender. For all statistical comparisons, IBM SPSS Version 20, John Wiley & Sons Inc, New York, United States.

  Results Top

The present study included 415 dental students from Jeddah's four dental colleges, whose demographic data are shown in [Table 1]. Zoom was the most popular virtual platform for conducting classes (64.58%).
Table 1: Demographic data of the participating dental students

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[Table 2] depicts student perceptions of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic situation by gender. The variables that were found to have a statistically significant difference in the perception of students during the COVID-19 pandemic were the source for updating their knowledge regarding the pandemic (P < 0.001), their level of proficiency in using various electronic devices (P = 0.016), their preference of online video demonstrations over live demonstrations (P = 0.004), their acceptance level in patient exposure (P = 0.012), the effect on their educational and personal progress (P < 0.001), the confidence level acquired in practical/clinical skills (P = 0.022), their preference to work in laboratory or clinic changed (P < 0.001), their perception that the COVID-19 pandemic would change the future of dental education (P = 0.002), the difficulty they faced during online lectures (P = 0.001), and their perception of advantages of online lectures (P = 0.02).
Table 2: Gender-wise perception of the students with regard to learning during the coronavirus disease-19 pandemic

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Official sources (44.34%) such as WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were most frequently used to update knowledge regarding the pandemic followed by the social media. Nearly 67.71% of the pupils who took part in the study were proficient in using a variety of electronic gadgets. Approximately 73.25% of the responses suggested that the educational program was suspended or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Online lessons should continue long after the pandemic is over, according to 69.47% of the respondents, and 80% believe that recorded videos of online lectures aid in better grasping topics than traditional lectures. Online group discussions and CBL sessions on clinical cases and scenarios were favored by 79.52%, whereas online video demonstrations of dental operations were preferred by 57.83%.

Although students were pleased that online lectures provided the benefit of being able to attend from home or any convenient location (66.02%) and that there was no fear of missing a class because recorded videos were available (31.6%), there were some challenges, including increased screen time due to multiple lectures (63.8%) and connectivity/technical issues (33.7%). A statistically significant observation (P = 0.012) was also found that students preferred to work in a simulation setting in a laboratory (39.28%) than working on patients with either nonaerosol producing procedures or with limited patient exposures. Nearly 47.47% of them also were fearful as before (beginning of the pandemic) to work in the laboratory or clinic.

Although 86.32% of the students thought that their confidence in practical/clinical abilities was strong, the pandemic had a negative impact on their personal well-being and career progress (47.95%). Furthermore, 82.89% of the respondents felt that the COVID-19 epidemic would have an impact on dentistry education in future.

  Discussion Top

Following the advent of the pandemic, Saudi Arabia's dentistry schools decided to prevent students from interacting with one another in the classroom as well as clinical exposure to patients. Because of the close proximity of people during dental treatments and the formation of aerosols, the dentists, employees, and patients were all at risk of contracting COVID-19. The Ministry of Education convened an online brainstorming session with all deans of Saudi Arabia's medical/dental colleges shortly after COVID-19 restrictions were enforced to collect all recommendations. As a result, university-level suggestions for tests and evaluations were issued during COVID-19's brief closure. All Saudi Arabian dentistry colleges were affected by the quick changes, and their responses varied depending on their level of preparedness.[9]

Following the lockdown announcement, a transition from traditional classroom education to virtual classrooms was required. As a result, the schools took many steps to ensure that uniform coursework and assessments were delivered. To begin, all students' segments of the same course were integrated (Blackboard/Zoom) using the academic learning technique. Simultaneously, the college's information technology department created a video series to teach teachers how to use Blackboard/Zoom for academic purposes including recording lectures, creating exams, and supplying any other resources.[10]

Medical students were enthusiastic with synchronized online classes. The online sessions reportedly saved time and resulted in improved performance as a result of the increased use of time; however, they claimed to have encountered a variety of issues during the sessions and online assessments, including methodological, content perception, technical, and behavioral issues.[11]

For a successful online learning deployment, the simplicity with which online tools may be accessed and used is crucial. In order to effectively use online content, students must have the necessary technological skills as well as high-speed internet access.[12] In addition, effective online learning necessitates the use of adequate hardware and software, as well as straightforward content navigation tools. Undergraduate students had a statistically significant lower level of preparedness in online English literacy, institutional support, overall readiness, perceived influence of online technology on education, technological accessibility, and the need for technical support.[13] However, majority of the students in the present study demonstrated a significantly good level of proficiency in using various electronic devices.

Saudi Arabia is currently working on clear visions and strategic planning in the areas of resources, organizational management, and technical infrastructure to ensure sustainability and speed in the installation and management of e-learning systems.[14]

It is believed that e-learning can be successfully introduced into a dentistry school's curriculum to help students learn more effectively, particularly in the clinical program. According to a systematic review, e-resources were a good supplement to traditional lectures, and e-modules improved students' learning experience.[15] During the pandemic, some studies conducted among dentistry institutes in different countries revealed positive or negative attitudes toward online instruction. The acceptance and usability of online learning were overwhelmingly good among the students.[16],[17] The students saw online learning as a supplement to traditional teaching tactics rather than a replacement. However, the results of the present study revealed that the students preferred online lectures and thus should replace traditional lectures, even after the pandemic ends. These students outweighed the advantages of online classes as it can be attended from home or any convenient place and they believed that subject understanding is better especially if recorded online videos are made available. More research is needed to explore at both subjective and objective results of online learning, as well as other factors that must be considered in order to create a successful online learning paradigm.[18] However, in one study, the manner of instruction had no effect on the overall information received at the conclusion of the course. Furthermore, students in the online learning group demonstrated a temporal adaptation to the online environment, as they performed lower on the midterm exam but higher on the final exam than students in the traditional group. In other dental disciplines, similar findings have been found, with Iranian dental students who received virtual learning scoring higher on an average than those who got traditional training.[19]

The impact of watching online video lectures versus attending lectures in person was essentially comparable. Students who attended fewer lectures benefited more from online lectures than students who had access to online lectures but also attended the majority of live lectures in person. While providing recorded lectures to students who were frequently absent from regular face-to-face lectures improved their course grades, the total number of lectures students viewed online and attended in person was the only factor that contributed positively to course performance when controlling for grade point average, study habits, and time invested.[20] Through the potential of online learning, video lectures could increase the quality of teaching, focus university lectures more on research mediation, and even improve practical training. Finally, while a video lecture is more expensive to produce than a single live lecture, it may be replayed as many times and for as many students as desired, resulting in significant cost savings.

The benefits of e-learning were highlighted as the flexibility of learning materials, time, effort, acquiring and improving technical and self-learning abilities, health safety, interaction without shyness, and improved academic performance. On the other hand, downsides and problems included a lack of instruments to support online learning, a terrible internet connection, and educators' and students' lack of technological ability. Furthermore, there were insufficient or no practical classes, no clear framework for the conduct of online classes and exams, and restricted online exam time.[21] The rapid switch to e-learning without prior preparation has uncovered various challenges that must be addressed. For such a fresh experience for both learners and students, the preliminary findings were regarded satisfactory. The e-learning process, on the other hand, has a lot of space for growth and expansion.

Following the commencement of COVID-19, several training programs have been quick to adapt to remote learning with virtual assessments to check for clinical competency.[22] Given the restrictions of social distancing, both the virtual objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) and virtual CBL session functioned effectively from both the faculty's and students' viewpoints. This allowed them to put their skills to good use by conducting a patient interview and examination, and they felt confident in their abilities to do so and deliver an accurate diagnosis. In addition to their understanding of the disease/condition, the virtual OSCE allowed lecturers to assess students' clinical communication abilities, examination skills, and professionalism. The selection of credible, previously checked stations is an essential factor in the success of online OSCE.[23] The participants were of the opinion that the online exam gave an experience that was equivalent to the in-person OSCE.[24]

Live demonstrations have long been utilized in dentistry schools around the world to teach laboratory skills. A live presentation to a small group has been proved to be more effective than didactic education in teaching dental laboratory technology. It enhanced pupils' confidence, improved communication skills, and offered a better grasp of processes. However, studies have indicated that the live demonstration technique has a number of limitations, including students' dependency on the instructor, difficulties envisioning the operation, and little difference in the procedure among diverse instructors.[25] In the present study, the students preferred online video demonstrations of dental procedures over live demonstrations.

Virtual reality dental training system has been discovered to have the advantage of flexible learning with self-teaching that is not constrained to official training hours, thereby expanding students' training time and minimizing overall future expenditures. It also allows students to receive fast feedback and practice assessment tasks using criteria similar to those used by examiners.[26]

Student preferences were influenced by the length of their education. When compared to the seniors, a higher percentage of 1st-year students chose distance learning (DL) (P = 0.001). Students favored classroom learning (CL) for group discussions because DL made communication more difficult and provided less learning satisfaction. Only 44.2% of the students preferred DL to CL, despite the fact that they felt that DL provided a more efficient learning technique (52.6%), more time to study (87.9%), and more time to analyze study materials (87.3%). External problems such as an intermittent internet connection, increased financial load for the internet allowance, and internal factors such as time management and trouble concentration when learning online for a longer period of time were all the challenges during DL.[27] Other studies comparing online and conventional learning methods revealed a stronger preference for e-learning over traditional classroom approaches, but this conclusion was lower.[28],[29]

Despite past papers comparing classroom and DL, there has not been much study on the evaluation of student-centered active learning approaches offered through mixed learning methods versus complete online learning. Students' impressions of virtual learning modules that were integrated with CL were reported in the majority of studies on DL approaches. Student participation could supply useful data for analyzing DL and enhancing future learning strategies.[30],[31]

In the present study, majority of the students were anxious during the pandemic situation and either preferred to perform dental procedures in a simulation setting in the laboratory or restricted themselves to perform nonaerosol-producing procedures on patients in the clinic. During the preclinical years, students' knowledge and attitudes regarding infectious diseases, particularly pandemics, should be nurtured. In the fight against infectious diseases, this is crucial. Dental schools should be prepared to deliver psychiatric therapy to those in need so that students are not influenced by disease-related worries.[32]

The data available in literature as well as the results of the present study suggest that the COVID-19 outbreak had a substantial impact on dentistry education. During a pandemic, intelligent technology can help with the learning process of dentistry education. For future dental education, the paradigm of dental education should be developed to fit varied scenarios, and novel intelligent technology should be implemented.

  Conclusion Top

After the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, the dental education will undoubtedly change. Virtual education has becoming the new norm, but it will be difficult to grasp students' requirements from afar. As a result, professors will need to learn new tools and strategies in order to engage students.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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