ASSESSMENT OF DENTAL STUDENTS’ ATTITUDE TO DISTANCE LEARNING: CROSS-SECTIONAL STUDY
Introduction. For a long time, the question of the expediency of introducing distance learning in the medical education remained debatable. However, the pandemic of COVID-19 has affected all sides of life. Medical universities were forced to introduce distance learning.
Purpose. To assess dental students’ attitude to distance learning in order to further improve the quality of educational process at the Medical University during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Materials and methods. In October-November, 2021, a cross-sectional epidemiological study on the attitude of students to distance learning and their evaluation of its effectiveness was conducted in Medical University in Kharkiv. Dental students were invited to take part in an online survey created using the Google Forms service. Participation in the survey was anonymous, voluntary and free. All participants were informed about the purpose and objectives of the study. A total of 202 people were surveyed. The average age of the respondents was 19.3 ± 1.8 years.
Methods of descriptive statistics were used for statistical analysis. The significance of difference between the two samples on qualitative characteristics was assessed using Student's t-test. The level of significance was 5%. Statistical data processing was performed using the Microsoft Office 2016 software package.
Results. The majority of respondents (38.6%, n = 78) indicated that distance learning is quite effective, but less effective than traditional university attendance. 20.3% (n = 41) and 7.9% (n = 16) of dental students rated ineffective and inefficient distance learning, respectively. Among those who supported the distance form of practical classes (47.5%, n = 96), the majority of respondents were students of the I–III year (67.7%, n = 65; t-test = 5.25, p < 0.05).
The analysis of the answers provided by students of the II–V year and interns (in general 170 people) on the practical component of education revealed the following: 53.5% of respondents (n = 91) stated that they gained less practical skills than earlier. Ninety-nine respondents (58.2%) stated that due to the introduction of distance learning they got to lack practical skills, so in the future this could affect them as professionals and the quality of their healthcare service. Almost a third of respondents (34.1%, n = 58) assumed that medical university did not provide proper practical skills, so practical experience would be needed outside the medical university. The vast majority of respondents (71.2%, n = 121) said that there were more opportunities to try dental procedures at work in a dental office than in a phantom class at the medical university.
Conclusions. A significant number of dental students indicated loyalty to distance learning, but they complained about the lack of practical skills. The introduction of mixed and hybrid forms of education that will solve the problem of obtaining practical medical competencies is promising for higher dental education.
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