Students at three different levels of the operative dentistry course in Saudi Arabia were participants of a survey on their professional satisfaction regarding the teaching and curriculum of the course. These students had already undergone preclinical training and were into clinical training. Clinical-based education is a multi-factorial process wherein the students implement the theoretical knowledge they gain in preclinical training on patients. Dentistry is an important field of medical science, and hence, enhancing the quality of dental clinical education directly improves the oral/dental health of people. Dentistry is a clinical major in which adequate skills and training are highly important in graduate students’ performance, which would consequently promote the oral and dental health systems. Because the educational system, equipment, and performance of tutors are different in dental schools, the results of this study cannot be generalized to other dental schools. Therefore, surveying students’ opinion about the quality of clinical education in different dentistry colleges can surely improve the educational programs and clinical training quality.
In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, most colleges follow the semester-type curriculum. Each year has two semesters, each comprising 14 weeks of actual teaching and 4 weeks of practical/clinical and final theory exams. Operative dentistry starts from level 4 of the dental course. Level 4 to level 6 are primarily preclinical courses where, the students are introduced to the materials they will be using and work in simulated laboratories learning different cavity design preparations and restorations with different restorative materials. In addition to these, they have E-Learning assignments on the recent advances in material sciences and techniques. The course is regularly updated in keeping with the recent trends to introduce students to the latest technology and familiarize them with the same. Levels 8, 10, 11, and 12 involve students implementing their skills on patients under the direct supervision of their supervisors. As mentioned earlier, it is very important to evaluate and assess whether the teaching methods are successful.
Each course has its own learning objectives, which are specified and described at the beginning in the course specifications. During the first lecture, the learning objectives are explained to the students and the same is evaluated at the end of the semester by testing whether students have obtained the requisite knowledge and skills consistent with the learning objectives and are clear about what is expected of them. In the current study, it was observed that most of the respondents agreed that the Learning objectives were met during the course (Tables 1 and 2).
During the course, the students are exposed to a variety of teaching materials and strategies such as lectures, power point presentations, and assessment criteria such as quizzes, online assignments, and continuous evaluation of their preclinical work/clinical work. These need to be evaluated and assessed to understand whether they are consistent with the learning objectives to achieve the intended goal. The results of this study indicated that all the three items under the Course Material domain showed that neither the level nor the gender led to any statistical difference in responses (p>0.05) (Tables 1 and 2).
After training, it is critical to understand the implications of how the student applies his training as a dentist in society. The aim of the learning process is to produce an independent thinking dentist who will be able to apply the necessary knowledge and skills using his or her rationale to be a successful dentist. The relevance of the course is reflected when the intended goals are achieved. The results of this study have indicated that most respondents agreed that the course training increased their level of confidence to work as an independent dentist. The results for all three items under Course Relevance domain showed no statistical difference in responses regardless of gender or level (p>0.05). A majority of the respondents (>88%) agreed that the course was relevant as seen from the training (Tables 1 and 2).
Instructors play an important role in the shaping the attitude and enthusiasm of the students. The knowledge and skills of the instructor along with his or her experience is a vital component of the teaching process, especially in clinical sciences. Students often get influenced and motivated by the instructor. The results of this study showed most of the respondents (>80%) had a positive opinion about the role of instructors. There was no statistical difference seen in terms of gender or level (p>0.05) (Tables 1 and 2).
Since operative dentistry is a clinical subject, the importance of the clinical facilities and the environment needs to be emphasized. The clinical setup, the availability of the latest materials, and the instruments and their utilization during the clinical training period plays an important role in the education of the students. Most respondents in this study agreed (>90%) that the facility and conduciveness of the operative dentistry clinics were satisfactory. There was no statistical difference based on gender or level (p>0.05) (Tables 1 and 2). However, it is interesting to note that at a higher level, satisfaction was greater.
Analyzing the association of between the levels of satisfaction from the perspective of gender and level, it was interesting to observe there was a statistical difference in terms of the level of the students (Table 5). Level 10 students recorded a lower level of satisfaction (31.82%) whereas levels 11 and 12 recorded a high level of satisfaction (68.18%). There was no statistical difference in the gender group (p>0.05) (Table 5).