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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 49-53

Factors influencing the acceptance of online teaching among dental students during COVID-19 crisis in India: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey


1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, ESI Dental College, Indraprastha University, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Dentistry, HIMSR and HAHC Hospital, Hamdard University, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission09-Nov-2020
Date of Decision18-Jan-2021
Date of Acceptance27-Dec-2021
Date of Web Publication25-Feb-2022

Correspondence Address:
Sukhvinder Singh Oberoi
Department of Public Health Dentistry, ESIC Dental College and Hospital, Indraprastha University, Sector-15, Rohini, New Delhi
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jiaphd.jiaphd_204_20

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  Abstract 


Aim and Objectives: The present study assessed the perceived barriers as well as the preferences of the students toward the mode of education in the current scenario. Material and Methods: The study investigators developed a self-administered questionnaire using Google Forms® (Google LLC, Mountain View, CA) and were E-mailed to their respective E-mail ids and were informed telephonically about the survey. This survey was done among the BDS students of public health-care sector dental colleges in Delhi and the final data included 440 BDS dental students. Chi-square test was used to assess the association of the various factors among BDS students. Results: Higher response was obtained for Classroom Teaching for the 1st year students (65.6%) and Online Teaching for final year students (37.3%). The preference for online teaching over classroom teaching and understanding for the subject with your online classes was significantly better among final-year students (61.3%). The most common barrier experienced by the students was Network issue/poor range (52.5%) followed by understanding (17.0%) and excessive number of classes/Too long classes (10.2%). Conclusion: The present study showed that the 1st year dental students who just passed from the school had difficulty adapting to the Education via communication media. While the final year students were in a better position for adapting to the new system of learning.

Keywords: COVID-19, dental students, education via communication media, self-administered questionnaire


How to cite this article:
Atri M, Oberoi SS, Sharma N. Factors influencing the acceptance of online teaching among dental students during COVID-19 crisis in India: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2022;20:49-53

How to cite this URL:
Atri M, Oberoi SS, Sharma N. Factors influencing the acceptance of online teaching among dental students during COVID-19 crisis in India: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 May 20];20:49-53. Available from: https://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2022/20/1/49/338512




  Introduction Top


The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak across the world has led to many schools and colleges to remain closed on a temporary basis. Most of the educational institutions had discontinued in-person teaching. Under such circumstances, realization shall be done that scenario planning is the need of hour for academic institutions. Under such circumstances, it demands for the protections and saving our students, faculty along with academic staff, communities, societies, and over-all nation as a whole.[1]

The immediate need to “shift online,” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to more stresses and burden of work upon the faculty and staff working in the colleges who were already having tough time for balancing out the teaching, research and service obligations, not to mention the work-life balance.[2],[3] Teaching staff of all backgrounds and ages have had to prepare and deliver their classes from home, with all the practical and technical challenges this entails, and often without proper technical support.[4]

Over this, one of the most important challenges for academicians is the lack of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK),[5] which is a necessity for teaching online.[6],[7],[8] Such PCK includes technical and administrative aspects of teaching online (e.g., respectively, using platforms and tools and organizing workflows). More significantly, it includes the pedagogical foundations and knowledge of principles needed to design for, and facilitate, meaningful online learning experiences.[9]

To begin with, transitioning to the online education was a challenging task.[10] Furthermore, every part of the economy has been impacted. This has made the college students much more financially vulnerable.[11] Furthermore, raising the concerns about the affordability among some of the students. In addition, being at home brings about the responsibility among faculty and students toward children, elderly, or siblings, who are also at home.[12]

Online instructional methods are considered to be an efficient learning method.[11] On the other side, it is also tough for the students because of the restricted nonverbal mode of communication. The missing students' and professors' interaction, availability of materials, and time management, effects the preferences of the online education participants.[13] For assessing the students' performance at the time of the online session, relevant face-to-face online courses have to developed to compare with similar type of online courses.[14]

However, there are a lot of factors influencing the success or failure of online learning program, which could be student factors as well as the staff factors.[10],[12] It has also been recognized that changes and developments in medical education are putting extra pressure on already overworked faculty.[15] The present study in the current scenario attempted to assess the perceived barriers as well as the preferences of the students toward the mode of education in the current scenario.


  Material and Methods Top


The study investigators developed a self-administered online questionnaire using Google Forms® (Google LLC, Mountain View, CA). This survey was done among the BDS students of public health-care sector dental colleges in Delhi. The survey contained the basic information about the year of study, age, gender, and location. The review board was intimated regarding the research and the committee approved the COVID-19-related research as per the relaxed guidelines. Thereby, the ethical committee clearance could not be obtained as the institutional permission was taken to carry out the research that was deemed sufficient at that particular time.

The study included 1st to 4th year BDS students studying in the 3 public health-care sector colleges of Delhi. The students who were not willing to participate in the survey were excluded.

Questionnaire

The questionnaire comprised of closed-ended questions for assessing their compatibility and limitations of the online education system. The present survey was done online through the google form being sent to the study participants on E-mail. The questionnaire was prepared by expert in the field of the public health dentistry and further discussed with other experts.

The assessment of various methods of education (classroom teaching, online teaching) among study population, preference of online teaching over classroom teaching, understanding for the subject with your online classes and method of assessment used for your examination in online classes was assessed on Likert scale having the cores from 1 to 5 (1-strongly disagree, 2– disagree, 3– Neutral, 4– agree and 5-strongly agree). The favorable response was taken for the scores 4 and 5.

The previous experience with any online practically stimulated class, opinion regarding the better method while using online teaching method and the perceived barriers regarding the online teaching were also assessed.

The reliability and validity of the questionnaire were assessed using the pilot study which included a group of 30 students which were excluded from the final survey. The reliability was assessed using the kappa value which was found to be 0.78 for the questionnaire. The Cronbach alpha was found to vary between 0.81 and 0.93 for the various questions with an overall value of 0.841.

Sample size

The sample size was calculated using the nMaster 2.0 software (Department of Biostatistics, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India). The power of the study was taken to be 80% and confidence interval of 95% was taken. The sample size calculation was done as per the results of the pilot study. The sample size was estimated to be a minimum of 127 dental students. The data of the pilot study were excluded from the final analysis. However, we collected the maximum available data.

Statistical analysis

The statistical analysis was done using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS, Ver. 21.0, SPSS Inc. Chicago, IL, USA software after entering the data on Microsoft excel. The suitable statistical tests were used as per the data such as the Chi-square test for seeing the association of various factors with years of education. The P value was considered to be significant when less than 0.05.


  Results Top


The study population consisted of 14.5% BDS 1st year, 20.5% 2nd year, 30.9% 3rd year, and 34.1% BDS final year students with 33.2% males and 66.8% females.

A significantly (P < 0.05) higher response was obtained for classroom teaching for the 1st year students (65.6%) and online teaching for final year students (37.3%). The preference for online teaching over classroom teaching and understanding for the subject with your online classes was significantly (P < 0.05) better among final year students (61.3%). The preference for online teaching over classroom teaching and understanding for the subject with your online classes was significantly better among final year students and showed a gradual increase from first to final year [Table 1].
Table 1: Assessment of various methods of education among study population

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The assessment of examination through online method was significantly (P < 0.05) preferred by the final year students (61.3%). Attending of any online practically stimulated class did not differ among the different years with 15.6%, 17.8%, 23.2%, and 34.7%, respectively, being the experience among 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year, respectively [Table 1].

In conjunction with the online teaching, videos were preferred significantly (P < 0.05) more by the 3rd and 4th year students (39.7% and 33.3%, respectively) whereas powerpoint presentations were preferred significantly (P < 0.05) more by the 1st and 2nd year students (37.5% and 48.9%, respectively) [Table 2].
Table 2: Assessment of examination methods and online practical education among study population

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The most common barrier experienced by the students was network issue/poor range (52.5%) followed by understanding (17.0%) and excessive number of classes/too long classes (10.2%) [Table 3].
Table 3: Perceived barriers among study population

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  Discussion Top


Medical schools are known for their intense curriculum and workload. They have adhered to their traditional in-house lectures and bedside teaching since a long time. The pandemic brought a diabolic change in this rigorous teaching schedule. Doctors and health-care workers being the backbone of the community's fight against pandemic are already in testing times. It was difficult at first for medical schools to adapt but with the passage of time and dawn of realization, they were quick to resort.[16]

The conventional teaching methods face hindrances due to fall in routine clinical load, inability for examination in closeness due to social distancing, and students living away from hospitals due to quarantine or lock down.[17],[18] Use of methods ranging from self-study to e-learning technologies[19] is some of the methods for facing the challenges. The technological solutions-video-conferencing[20] and e-learning platforms[21],[22] are of help to deliver lectures or tutorials while students can attend staying in remote ensuring social distancing. With hand-held devices and laptops, teachers and students can log in at convenient and designated times for discussions, even in real time using teleconferencing applications.[23]

This was one of the novel attempts to assess the preferences and barriers of the dental students toward the online teaching methods. As such, we could assess some literature with regards to the medical education but could not find any literature pertaining to the dental learning.

Preferred method of teaching

Our study showed that the classroom teaching was preferred by the 1st year students (65.6%) who just passed out from the school whereas the online teaching was preferred by the final year students (37.3%). The relation was found to be statistically significant (P < 0.05). The assessment of examination via the online method was significantly (P < 0.05) in preference by the final year students (61.3%).

This was inline with the findings by Rafi et al.[23] reported that most of the students preferred recorded classes (69.2%) over live classes (33.5%). Some students (6.3%) did not like online class in general. Fifty-four percent of the students stated that the timetable was shared beforehand. Submission of assignments was the method used for receiving attendance. Submissions were mainly through the online platform itself (69.5%), E-mail submission to the department (17%) or to the faculty (13.5%). A few students (2.5%) were apprehensive of no acknowledgment to their assignment submission and attendance. Forty-eight percent of the students felt that the amount of assignments was more than what they can do.

In one of the studies, most of the students did not want the practical sessions to be made online as they felt that it can never be learned virtually. Information from across the world showed that simulation and demonstration along with various e-learning would be the way forward, especially in medical education.[24] Lack of “patient contact and time in the wards” cannot be provided through online methods is hence reported as limitations.[24]

The scope for online teaching of preclinical subjects is not new or a matter of dispute. But compromises will happen in developing communication skills and interpersonal relatedness. Speaking to patients with confidence, discussing care plan with colleagues or even presenting academic work are necessary skills to be learned by a medical student. Minimal in-person teaching in e-learning is a matter of concern. Need for more doctors entering into practice by the end of every academic year is a requirement, but compromise on standard can negatively influence patient safety and public health. It will be medically unethical also.[25] A shift to online teaching learning, lowered face-to-face contact, and changes in current methods of examination are anticipated in the post-COVID-19 period globally.[26]

Although we most highlighted the issues faced by the students, also relevant difficulties were faced by the faculty toward the online learning method as the biggest constraint was the time given for adaptation to the new method.

In the current study, the common barriers experienced by the students were Network issue/poor range (52.5%), understanding (17.0%), and excessive number of classes/Too long classes (10.2%).

Pettersson and Olofsson's study also references time as a barrier to the implementation of e-learning technologies.[27] They noted that there is limited time available for faculty to learn these new technologies which in effect damages self-confidence. The lack of time available also made faculty concerned about the pedagogical and organizational aspects of distance teaching. To allow educators the necessary time to learn new technologies, institutions should allow for protected time for educators to develop these skills, learn concepts, and reflect on practices.[28]

The professional education cannot be deterred by the impact of the pandemic but has to be modified in the light of the new technology with motivation and training for the educators along with key changes for the assessment of the student's comprehension level.


  Conclusion Top


From the present study, it can be concluded that final year students (61.3%) preferred online teaching over the classroom teaching whereas the 1st year BDS students were more comfortable with the classroom teaching. Network issue/poor range (52.5%) was the major barrier for the online teaching as per the students whereas understanding and long classes were the minor deterrents. In combination with online teaching, videos were preferred more by the 3rd and 4th year students (39.7% and 33.3%, respectively) whereas powerpoint presentations were preferred more by the 1st and 2nd year students (37.5% and 48.9%, respectively).

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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