The effectiveness of computer-aided learning in teaching orthodontics: a review of the literature

Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2005 May;127(5):599-605. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2004.02.020.


Introduction: The purposes of this review were to evaluate the effectiveness of computer-aided learning (CAL) in orthodontic education, to make evidence-based recommendations for the use of CAL in orthodontics, and to develop guidelines for conducting comparative trials to evaluate CAL as a mode of learning in orthodontic education.

Methods: Medline, the Cochrane Library Database, ERIC, CINAHL, LISA, Psycinfo, and IPA were searched for randomized controlled trials evaluating the effectiveness of CAL in orthodontics. Outcome measures included objectively measured posttest scores on multiple choice, written, or oral tests; performance on a clinical procedure or clinical interview; time spent on CAL programs to learn the material presented; and responses to questionnaires conveying participants' attitudes toward various modes of learning.

Results: Four randomized controlled trials comparing CAL with conventional teaching fulfilled the inclusion criteria and met the cutoff quality assessment checklist (QAC) score of > or = 8. Each study was assessed for quality by 2 independent reviewers. The validity and strength of the selected studies were assessed by using a QAC for an educational intervention.

Conclusions: The controlled trials of CAL in orthodontics that met our QAC cutoff score of 8 were split, with 2 showing that CAL enjoyed a significant advantage over conventional teaching, 1 showing no difference, and 1 showing that the conventional tutorial method was better. More high-quality trials evaluating the effectiveness of CAL in orthodontics are needed. CAL programs in orthodontics elicit mostly positive responses and attitudes from students toward learning.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Education, Dental / methods*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Orthodontics / education*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Students, Dental / psychology