Purpose: Numerous studies have explored reliable variables that predict student success in dental hygiene programs and on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE). However, no studies were found using data collected since the NBDHE format changed in 1998 to investigate if traditional predictors hold true. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between pre-admission requirements, basic college science requirements, site of academic preparation, cumulative dental hygiene grade point average (CDHYGPA) and the NBDHE score.
Methods: Data from the academic records of 173 graduates of the dental hygiene program at The Ohio State University from 1998 through 2002 were entered into an Excel spreadsheet using identification numbers. Demographic information for the description of the subjects, course transfer data, course grades in program prerequisites and basic science requirements, CDHYGPA, and NBDHE scores were entered. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social sciences (SPSS-version 10), Pearson's r correlations, regression analysis, and ANOVA with a predetermined level of significance at .05.
Results: Of the 173 records entered, 132 had complete data (76.3%). Results indicate the existing prerequisites for the dental hygiene program remain strong predictors for success. A strong correlation was noted between human nutrition courses and the CDHYGPA. Other core science courses completed while in the program-anatomy, physiology and microbiology--also rendered a moderately strong correlation to the CDHYGPA. The greatest predictors for success on the NBDHE were the student's CDHYGPA and the prerequisite three science GPA. Consistency in site of science preparation also revealed a positive correlation to the CDHYGPA.
Conclusions: This study confirmed the continued use of the three science GPA pre-requisite and entering GPA for predicting success in this dental hygiene program and on the NBDHE even after the format changed to include case-based items. Other predictors for success that were identified in the study may aide dental hygiene program admission committees in their selection process. These committees may also consider the site of science preparation noting that institution consistency played a role in academic performance.