Aims: The present study aims to investigate the implications of web-based delivery of identical learning content for time efficiency and students’ performance, as compared to conventional textbook resources.
Materials and methods: Two cohorts of third year undergraduate dental students in 2003 (n = 35) and 2006 (n = 32) completed the study. Following a baseline pre-test, the students were divided into two groups and given 3 weeks for studying identical content using a web-based application (group A) or a conventional paper manuscript (group B). Post-test, end of semester examination and a final retention test were taken. Test scores and studying time was registered for both cohorts in 2003 and 2006.
Results: Group A and B knowledge gain was highly significant between the average per cent scores from pre-test, post-test and end of semester examination in both cohorts in 2003 and 2006 (P < 0.005). Group A spent 1.6× (2003) to 2.6× (2006) less time studying than group B. The average total studying time recorded for group B was 5.1 h using 6.2 learning sessions in 2003 and 3.5 h using 4.4 sessions in 2006. With group A, significantly less time was measured for studying through web-based content using an average of 2.5 h over 4.4 learning sessions in 2003 and 1.5 h added over three sessions in 2006.
Conclusions: Web-based delivery of identical content results in less overall studying time as compared to textbook delivery. These results appear independent of the students’ own preference of the learning medium.