E-learning vs. classroom instruction in infection control in a dental hygiene program

J Dent Educ. 2010 Jun;74(6):637-43.


The purpose of this project was to evaluate e-learning versus classroom instruction in infection control by comparing outcomes of multiple-choice examination scores and clinical competency-based examinations (CBE) between two groups of first-year dental hygiene students (fall 2008 e-learning: n=26; fall 2009 classroom instruction: n=26). Contents of both instructional units were comparable and were developed by the Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention. All students in each group were required to complete infection control instruction as part of the preclinical curriculum (didactic and clinical) and were tested on the material using the multiple-choice examination and clinical CBE. Both groups' scores on the multiple-choice examination ranged from 74 percent to 94 percent (n=26 to 33 of 35), with e-learning mean score=82.8 percent, n=29 of 35, and classroom instruction mean score=86.8 percent, n=30 of 35. A two-tailed independent samples t-test indicated a statistically significant difference between the two groups on the multiple-choice examination (p=0.11). The Fisher's exact test indicated no statistically significant difference between the two groups on the first-time pass rate for the clinical CBE (p=0.668). Findings demonstrated little difference between the two methods for teaching infection control. Thus, either method may be chosen. Future research should examine a blended approach with larger samples and longitudinal data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Competency-Based Education
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • Dental Hygienists / education*
  • Education, Distance*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Humans
  • Infection Control, Dental*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Teaching / methods*