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Keywords:

  • active learning;
  • audience response system;
  • cross-over design;
  • learning success;
  • randomised controlled trial

Abstract

Introduction

The aim of this study was to examine whether the use of an audience response system (ARS) in a high-quality study design, in a course in pre-clinical dentistry leads to an improvement in cognitive and psycho-motor performance.

Materials and Methods

As part of the Phantom Course I, a randomised, controlled study in cross-over design with 63 students was conducted over 4 weeks. The intervention was carried out by means of an ARS (TurningPoint®), while a verbal question-and-answer session was conducted within the control group. Differences in learning success were determined via a formative multiple-choice (MC) test (cognitive) and a summative practical test (psycho-motor).

Results

Both groups achieved significantly better results in the MC tests with the use of the intervention, when compared with the control group (group A 11.6 vs. 9.5 and group B 13.7 vs. 12.1, maximum 16 points). A further analysis of the results showed that the overall effect was induced primarily by a marked improvement in below-average students. The practical tests showed no clear effect. Despite the careful selection and set-up of the conditions for the study in the regular course of the semester, a cohort effect emerged. This was due to varying degrees of performance between the two groups, because no adequate performance parameters were available, which could have been taken into account for the stratified randomisation.

Conclusions

The results indicate that the use of the ARS leads to better results in cognitive performance, especially where independent learning is required and should be encouraged. Weaker students in particular seem to benefit.