Effectiveness of an E-module at teaching novice learners critical thinking skills related to dentistry

Allie J. Koth, Alivia G. Focken, Elizabeth R. Lyden, Shayla D. Yoachim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Technological advances and pedagogical shifts toward active learning have led dental academics to explore alternatives to traditional didactic lectures, yet questions remain regarding the effectiveness of new modalities at both relaying foundational knowledge and inspiring critical thinking. Here, we developed an integrative e-learning module on the subject of bone growth and recruited novice learners from undergraduate institutions to participate. The aim of the study was to investigate the impact of learning modality on novice learners’ ability to apply newly acquired knowledge to critical thinking exercises related to dentistry. Methods: In the fall of 2019, 42 undergraduate students from University of Nebraska and Nebraska Wesleyan University campuses voluntarily participated in the study involving a pretest, intervention, posttest, and retention test with survey and results were analyzed. Results: Our data reveal a significant difference in mean pre- and posttest scores within delivery group of both traditional lecture and e-module cohorts (p < 0.0001) and no statistically significant difference between cohorts in posttest scores. Similarly, there was no significant difference in student performance on higher-level cognitive skill questions between cohorts, indicating that students learning via e-module were able to apply foundational knowledge to clinical scenarios similarly to students learning via content-expert lecture discussions. Conclusion: The authors shed light on an opportunity to integrate e-learning into dental education, relieving time constraints for faculty and meeting the needs of our tech-savvy students, without compromising the fostering of critical thinking skills in future dentists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1879-1888
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • E-learning
  • clinical skills
  • dentistry
  • education
  • technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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