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Keywords:

  • dental physiology;
  • graduate dental education;
  • e-learning;
  • educational technology;
  • multimedia

Abstract

There can be a disconnect between the level of content covered in undergraduate coursework and the expectations of professional-level faculty of their incoming students. Some basic science faculty members may assume that students have a good knowledge base in the material and neglect to appropriately review, whilst others may spend too much class time reviewing basic material. It was hypothesised that the replacement of introductory didactic physiology lectures with interactive online modules could improve student preparedness prior to lectures. These modules would also allow faculty members to analyse incoming student abilities and save valuable face-to-face class time for alternative teaching strategies. Results indicated that the performance levels of incoming U.S. students were poor (57% average on a pre-test), and students often under-predicted their abilities (by 13% on average). Faculty expectations varied greatly between the different content areas and did not appear to correlate with the actual student performance. Three review modules were created which produced a statistically significant increase in post-test scores (46% increase, < 0.0001, n = 114–115). The positive results of this study suggest a need to incorporate online review units in the basic science dental school courses and revise introductory material tailored to students’ strengths and needs.