Challenges in Learning Preclinical Prosthodontics: A Survey of Perceptions of Dental Undergraduates and Teaching Faculty at an Indian Dental School

J Clin Diagn Res. 2017 Aug;11(8):ZC01-ZC05. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2017/27710.10301. Epub 2017 Aug 1.


Introduction: Preclinical dental education promotes development of competency and expertise before students work on patients, but this phase is devoid of exposure to real patients leading to challenges in teaching-learning.

Aim: The aim of this study was to explore the challenges faced by students during the process of learning preclinical prosthodontics.

Materials and methods: Two Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted with two different groups of students and one FGD was held with prosthodontics faculty. The FGDs explored the student's and faculty perceptions on the topics which were difficult for the students to understand and their suggestions on how these topics can be made easier to understand. The discussions were audio taped with prior consent and transcribed.

Results: The students and the faculty felt that the subject of prosthodontics is vast, difficult to visualize and also difficult to correlate theory with practical aspects. Lack of clinical exposure coupled with use of conventional methods of teaching were identified as reasons for difficulty in understanding the subject. Both students and faculty members suggested that use of simulation, demonstrations, and videos could augment the learning process for the students. Early clinical exposure will help solve many problems encountered during learning and contribute to a better understanding.

Conclusion: The students and faculty expressed a "need" for early clinical exposure to enhance the learner's understanding of the preclinical aspects of the subject. The present study highlights the need for change in instruction methods to enhance the learning experiences in preclinical prosthodontics of dental undergraduate students in India.

Keywords: Dental education; Early clinical exposure; Focus group discussion.