Phone-based audience response system as an adjunct in orthodontic teaching of undergraduate dental students: a cross-over randomised controlled trial

BMC Med Educ. 2020 Nov 16;20(1):435. doi: 10.1186/s12909-020-02363-3.


Background: The advent of electronic teaching facilities improves tutor-student communication. This study aims to explore the effectiveness of Phone-Based Audience Response System (PB-ARS), as an adjunctive pedagogy tool to enhance the retention of orthodontic information by dental students; and to explore the students' perception of PB-ARS.

Methods: This cross-over clustered randomised control trial included 34 males who were in the final year of their undergraduate dental training. Participants were allocated to one of two event groups (G1 and G2) using computer-generated randomisation. Both groups simultaneously attended two different traditional lectures (L 1 and L2) a week apart. During L1, PB-ARS was used as an adjunct to conventional presentation to teach G1 participants, (PB-ARS group) while G2's participants acted as a control group (CG), and were taught using a traditional presentation. In the second week (L2), the interventions were crossed-over. Participants from both groups completed pre- and post-lecture multiple-choice questionnaires (MCQ) to assess their short-term retention of information. Their performance in the final MCQ exam (10 weeks following L2) was tracked to assess the long-term retention of the information. Participants also completed post-lecture questionnaires to evaluate their perceptions.

Results: Twenty-nine and 31 participants from the CG and PB-ARS group completed this trial, respectively. Although 87.5% of students in the PB-ARS group showed an improvement in their immediate post-lecture scores compared with 79.3% for the CG, it was statistically insignificant (p = 0.465). Similarly, the intervention showed an insignificant effect on the long-term retention of the knowledge (p = 0.560). There was a mildly but favourable attitude of students towards the use of PB-ARS. However, the difference in the overall level of satisfaction between both groups was statistically insignificant (p = 0.183).

Conclusion: PB-ARS has a minimal and insignificant effect on the short- and long-term retention of orthodontic knowledge by male undergraduate dental students. PB-ARS was the preferred adjunct tool to conventional classroom teaching. Due to the limitations of this trial, a long-term randomised controlled trial with a larger sample size is recommended.

Keywords: Corrective orthodontics; Curriculum; Dental education; Dental research; Dental students; Educational technology methods; Medical education; Teaching methods.