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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 54-59

Dental students' preferences regarding teaching methods in Riyadh

1 Department of Prosthetic Dental Sciences, College of Dentistry, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Armed Forces Hospital, King Abdulaziz Naval Base, Jubail, Saudi Arabia
3 Nayel Clinics, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Date of Web Publication19-Aug-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Huda I Tulbah
Department of Prosthetic Dental Sciences, College of Dentistry, King Saud University, P.O. Box 60140, Riyadh 11545
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sjos.SJOralSci_44_19

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Objectives: The objectives of this study are to identify and compare the preferences of male and female undergraduate dental students on different aspects of teaching lectures and clinical courses in two major dental schools in Riyadh: the College of Dentistry of King Saud University (KSU) and Riyadh Elm University (REU).
Materials and Methods: A questionnaire of three parts was formulated: Part 1 contained demographic data; Part 2 covered information about: the length and timing of lectures, schedule announcement, attendance, having materials before sessions, interactive sessions, and getting handouts and clinical demonstrations; and Part 3 covered preferences regarding logbooks, written assignments, quizzes, resources, team-based learning (TBL), and student feedback. The questionnaire was distributed to male and female undergraduate dental students in two dental schools in Riyadh. A stratified random sampling method was applied to collect a sample of 345 participants.
Results: Among the participants, 159 were from KSU and 186 were from REU and 183 were male and 162 were female. About 74% of the dental students preferred the use of logbooks, and 40% preferred not to have written assignments. A total of 63% preferred using several resources, and REU students (72%) stated this preference more. More than half of the students (58%) agreed on having frequent quizzes. More REU (61%) than KSU students (38%) preferred (TBL). The majority (78%) preferred to take their feedback into consideration.
Conclusions: This study illustrated that logbooks, writing assignment, and quizzes are learning styles that are still acceptable by dental students. Teachers should consider the feedback from the students when evaluating course outlines.

Keywords: Feedback, learning methods, learning styles, logbooks, quizzes, resources, team-based learning

How to cite this article:
Tulbah HI, Alhamdan EM, Alqahtani AS, Alduhayan GA, Albedaiwi LS. Dental students' preferences regarding teaching methods in Riyadh. Saudi J Oral Sci 2019;6:54-9

How to cite this URL:
Tulbah HI, Alhamdan EM, Alqahtani AS, Alduhayan GA, Albedaiwi LS. Dental students' preferences regarding teaching methods in Riyadh. Saudi J Oral Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 May 19];6:54-9. Available from: https://www.saudijos.org/text.asp?2019/6/2/54/264765

  Introduction Top

Learning styles encompass a group of cognitive, physiological, and emotional characteristics that may be used as indicators of how a person can learn.[1] Knowledge of learning styles can be used to increase the self-awareness of the students and the tutor regarding their strength and weakness as learners.[2] Hess found that males were prone to a kinesthetic learning style, whereas females were prone to a visual style.[3]

Dental education relies heavily on mixture of theoretical and practical components. This complex nature underlines the importance of knowing the preferences among dental students regarding learning and assessment methods.[4] The wide-range spectrum challenges dental educators to meet the educational needs and receive laboratory instruction that helps them achieve goals of upcoming practical courses.[5],[6],[7]

Manchester University introduced logbook at oral and maxillofacial surgery. The findings reveal that logbook monitors students' progress and facilitates effective auditing of the teaching staff, clinical sessions, and overall course delivery.[8]

A well-assembled writing assignment indicates a deep strategic understanding and is considered in many dental schools to be a valid assessment tool. The skill of effective writing involves comprehension, learning, application, and synthesis of new knowledge.[9] However, many students find difficulty in writing and measuring their writing excellency.[10],[11]

Internet is a growing resource worldwide, and its information is usually up to date, only minimal information is known regarding its use in teaching dentistry and whether it is useful for undergraduate students.[12],[13]

Quizzes are used for evaluation of the efficiency of any learning or teaching method and can be beneficial in multiple ways. Quiz administration motivated students and increased their class attendance by 10%.[14],[15] When taking quizzes, students are encouraged to pay closer attention in class and improve the understanding of the reading and presented materials.[16],[17]

Since 1987, Marsh has suggested that the purpose of student evaluation of teaching (SET) is to provide instructors and administration with feedback on their teaching and personnel decisions.[18] Moreover, Yao and Grady emphasized that the purpose of SETs were to improve the quality of teaching and to collect information regarding instructors for use in hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions.[19]

Team-based learning (TBL) strategies have been used to provide students with both conceptual and applied knowledge. Instructors in numerous schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, and other health science disciplines have accepted TBL worldwide.[20]

Extensive research has been performed on the effectiveness of teaching and learning strategies. Al Hamdan et al. conducted a study to evaluate dental students' preferences regarding lectures, attendance, interactive sessions, handouts, and practical demonstration.[21] This current study concentrated more on the use of logbooks, writing assignments, multiple resources, quizzes, TBL, and feedback. Therefore, the objective of this study was to identify and compare the preferences and views of male and female undergraduate dental students on different aspects of teaching lecture and clinical courses in two major dental schools in Riyadh (the King Saud University [KSU] and Riyadh Elm University [REU]).

  Materials and Methods Top

An English language questionnaire was developed based on the information collected by the researchers from a review of the literature; the consent form and an explanation of the purpose of the study were presented on the cover page. Confidentiality and the sole use of the information for the specified purpose were ensured. The research design was registered at the College of Dentistry's Research Center and was reviewed and approved by the Ethical Committee (3334050/IR0003).

The questionnaire consisted of three parts: Part 1 contained the following demographic data: gender, student level, and university; Part 2 covered information about lectures' length and timing, schedule announcement, attendance, preferences for having materials before the session, interactive session, and having handouts and clinical demonstration; and Part 3 of the study pertained to preferences for logbooks, writing assignment, quizzes, timing and number of lectures included in the quiz, and having single or multiple resources to study from TBL and feedback.

Most of the questions were answered using a 3-point Likert scale (1 = agree, 2 = neutral, and 3 = disagree).

The questionnaire was distributed to male and female undergraduate dental students at both KSU and REU. A stratified random sampling method was applied to collect a sample of 345 participants, representing 27.4% of the dental students at the two schools (total of 1259 students).

A pilot study was performed on 30 students to determine the acceptability to confirm the validity and clarity of the questionnaire. Depending on the comments, minor changes were made before questionnaire distribution.

Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16 (SPSS statistics for Windows, version 19. Armonk, NY: IBM corp). Descriptive and crosstab analyses were used to compare the students' preferences for each school and between males and females. The Chi-square test was used to measure the significance level (P = 0.05).

  Results Top

A total of 345 students participated in the study: 159 (46.1%) were from KSU and 186 (54%) were from REU and 183 (53%) were male and 162 (47%) were female.

Although the use of a logbook was preferred by 74% of the students, more KSU students than REU students were in favor of having logbooks (90% compared to 61%); this was found to be statistically significant (P < 0.05) [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Participants' preferences for having a logbook and written assignment

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Although 34% of participants were neutral toward having written assignments after lectures, 40% decided against it. Most of them were female (41%), which was found to be statistically significant (P < 0.05) [Figure 1].

In addition, 63% of the total samples preferred the teacher to give information using several resources. More REU students than KSU students preferred having multiple resources (72% compared to 54%), which was statistically significant (P < 0.05) [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Participants' preferences for multiple resources and frequent quizzes

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Regarding evaluation, 58% preferred having frequent quizzes, and when both colleges were compared, a higher percentage of KSU students (67.3%) preferred frequent quizzes than REU students (50.3%); this difference was found to be statistically significant (P < 0.05) [Figure 2].

Moreover, more students at REU (27.4%) preferred having each quiz after the same lecture than students of KSU (10.7%) who preferred to have quizzes every three to five lectures (54.5%); this difference was found to be statistically significant (P < 0.05) [Figure 3].
Figure 3: Participants' preferences for time of the quiz

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Half of the students preferred having TBL. Significant differences were found by gender and dental colleges. Male students (23%) disagreed more than female students (13%) on the TBL. More students from REU (61%) than students from KSU (38%) preferred this method of learning [Figure 4].
Figure 4: Participants' preferences for feedback and team-based learning

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The majority (78%) of students preferred their feedback to be taken into consideration; however, more students from REU (22%) than from KSU (8%) were more neutral in their opinion, which was found to be statistically significant (P < 0.05) [Figure 4].

  Discussion Top

The study was conducted in two major dental colleges in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The selection of these two colleges was based on the fact that the College of Dentistry at KSU (1975) was the first public college in the Gulf area and REU (2004) was the first private dental school in the Kingdom.

A stratified random sample was used in this study; this method provides greater precision and is more representative than a simple random sample of the same size; in addition, it reduces sample selection bias and helps ensure that the sample accurately reflects the population being studied.

Logbook in practical courses

Learners should be given opportunities to reflect on their practice, and this strategy involves analysis and assessment of their own performance and development of new perspectives and options.[22] Logbooks have been recommended as a versatile aid to clinical teaching.[8] Furthermore, logbooks have been found to be useful in teaching and learning as an interactive study tool for guidance and assessment.[23]

In the present study, although the use of a logbook was preferred by 74% of the students, a significant difference was detected within dental colleges. KSU students were more in favor of having logbooks than REU students. This finding could have emerged because students in KSU are used to having logbooks and they consider them an organized way to represent their achievement throughout the practical courses. In addition, the evaluation system in REU is electronic, which makes the use of a logbook unnecessary.

Written assignment

For students, writing assignment may be a difficult and dreaded exercise, as it requires students to place thoughts on the paper while developing mastery of the rules of writing, such as grammar, spelling, and citation formats.[9]

Parolia et al. claimed that homework assignments were found to be advantageous, as homework teaches perseverance, self-discipline, and time management. It also improves knowledge of the subject.[24]

In the current study, approximately 40% of the students did not prefer having written assignments. Male students were more in favor of having such assignment, whereas female students were more neutral in their opinion. Female students could consider such assignment to be an extra load, whereas male students could see them as an easier and more guaranteed way of improving their grades than other methods of evaluation. Moreover, some female students have after-school responsibilities and some are married with kids, which makes written assignment a burden on them.

Using multiple resources

Providing students with plenty of resources and giving them the opportunity to practice searching for those resources are some guiding principles of effective teaching in medical school; it is recommended that relevant materials, such as books, articles, and videotapes, are available for students and provided in the form of reading materials and for self-assessment.[25] Moreover, blended learning was found to improve learning outcomes, which combines technology-aided learning (e-learning) with traditional face-to-face teaching methods.[26]

In the present study, more than half of the participants preferred that the instructor provides information using plenty of resources, KSU students did not prefer having multiple resources as much as REU students, which could be due to the high number of required subjects every semester, and the long period of time spent at school every day. The KSU schedule restricts students from using multiple resources, especially since they are enrolled in yearly system courses in which they must take all courses and subjects for that specific year with no flexibility in timing or contents compared to REU students who are enrolled in a more flexible semester-based curriculum.

Frequent quizzes and quizzes timing

Assessment is recognized as a strong influence and motivator for studying and positively for learning. Comparably, assessment should be evenly spaced throughout the unit and course. In 2008, Zarei found that the students performed better when exposed frequently to quizzes.[14]

Al Faris and Naeem stated that frequently conducted quizzes that provide grades without feedback, encourage superficial learning. However, exclusive dependence on end-of-year course assessments is not sufficient because they do not determine how well students are performing, and such assessment does not indicate which students need additional support.[25] Another study found that students mostly prefer frequent quizzes because of various reasons they conceal.[27]

In the present study, more than half of the students preferred to have graded quizzes; however, KSU students preferred them to be given every three to five lectures, whereas REU students preferred to have a quiz after the same lecture. One explanation for this difference could be that KSU students believe studying for the quizzes for five lectures makes it easier for them to study for the final examination. However, taking a quiz, each the lecture measures only the retained information from the lecture itself rather than assessing the gained knowledge.

Team-based learning

Johnson et al. defined TBL as cooperative learning and an instructional method to enhance student learning. TBL develops when certain conditions are present, such as individual accountability, positive interdependence, social skills, interaction, and group processing.[28] Furthermore, it was considered that clinical teachers can promote collaborative learning by dividing students into small groups to work on a common task, such as a project on a literature review or reflecting on a report.[25]

In this study, half of the students preferred TBL; however, fewer male students (23%) than female students (13%) preferred TBL. This finding could have emerged because male students might be less organized in distributing the load of work, which can affect the objective behind the TBL. More students from REU (61%) than from KSU (38%) preferred this method of learning. This finding could be due to curricular differences between the two colleges and to the fact that REU is a relatively new college that adopted recent learning methods upon its establishment.


Feedback can be considered as a planned learning experience to help someone (usually a student) after they complete a task to improve their performance by assessing what was performed and what needs to be improved and how this might be achieved.[29] Archer indicated that feedback is an effective educational tool when used appropriately, and when feedback is coupled with reflection, it should be an integral part of the teaching practice, as it is associated with change and improvement.[30] On the other hand, it has been suggested that the evaluation of a teaching session could be conducted by giving the students a simple checklist or questionnaire to provide their feedback.[25] Baker (2010) found that clinical teachers who use feedback from residents improve their skills.[31]

The majority (78%) of students in this study preferred their feedback to be taken into consideration. More students at KSU preferred to give their feedback; this finding was statistically significant. This finding can be attributed to the fact that the KSU conducts course evaluation surveys on which students can document their feedback at the end of the academic year. From another perspective, younger students prefer that senior students provide their feedback about courses, so course directors can discontinue practices that caused difficulties for those senior students, thus enabling younger students to benefit.

  Conclusions Top

Despite several limitations, this study illustrated that:

  1. Logbooks, writing assignment, and quizzes are considered learning styles that are still acceptable by dental students
  2. Teachers and department chairmen should consider the feedback from the students to update, maintain, and evaluate the courses' outlines
  3. Both dental schools in the current study can benefit from each other experience and should implement the point with a positive impact on the student to their own school.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]

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