The relationship between standardized psychomotor tests and basic clinical dental hygiene skills

J Dent Hyg. 1995 Jul-Aug;69(4):163-8.


Purpose: This study was designed to help dental hygiene educators identify predictors of early instrumentation achievement among preclinical students. Studies from other disciplines suggest that underlying abilities play a significant role in early skill development and that additional factors contribute to later skill development. Previous studies in the dental professions have not differentiated between early skill development and later skill development.

Methods: Forty-five entering dental hygiene students were subjected to six psychomotor tests. In the first trimester, these same students were given three instrumentation tests (Marquis probe, 3-A explorer, and Gracey curets) by calibrated faculty. Data from the psychomotor and the instrumentation tests were then statistically examined using means, standard deviations, Pearson product-moment correlations, and stepwise regression to determine predictive validity of the ability tests for each instrumentation skill.

Results: The Purdue Hand Precision Test was found to contribute significantly to use of the explorer and Gracey curets. Analysis of variance revealed that this test accounted for 17 percent of the variance on the probe examination and 22 percent on the curet examination. None of the other psychomotor tests used were predictive of early clinical skills.

Conclusions: This study suggests that hand-eye coordination, precision, and aiming, as measured by the Purdue Hand Precision Test are factors in the development of early dental hygiene instrumentation skills. Continued study in this area is indicated since early identification of clinical problems may help educators and students deal with morale and retention issues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Dental Hygienists*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reproducibility of Results