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Students’ perception, attitudes, and readiness toward online learning in dental education in Saudi Arabia: a cohort study

Authors Linjawi AI, Alfadda LS

Received 26 May 2018

Accepted for publication 14 October 2018

Published 22 November 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 855—863


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Md Anwarul Majumder

Amal I Linjawi,1 Lama S Alfadda2,3

1Department of Orthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; 2Department of Advanced General Dentistry, The Dental Hospital, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; 3Residency Program, Saudi Board in Restorative Dentistry, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess students’ perception, attitudes, and readiness toward online dental education in Saudi Arabia.
Materials and methods: This is a longitudinal study using a 5-point Likert scale questionnaire distributed to a cohort group of undergraduate dental students at King Abdulaziz University, Faculty of Dentistry, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, during their fourth year (T1) and internship year (T2). It assessed technological access, computer skills, online skills, and motivation level in using e-learning for personal and learning purposes; and overall readiness for e-learning adoption in dental education. The response scale for each domain was categorized as follows: low readiness level (mean value=1–<3), acceptable/moderate readiness level (mean value=3–<4), and high readiness level (mean value=4–5). Descriptive and group comparisons were conducted using the chi-squared test, Fisher’s exact test, and paired and independent samples t-test. The significance level was set at P<0.05.
Results: The respondents were as follows: T1 group (n=72; 36 males [M], 36 females [F]) and T2 group (n=50; 20 M, 30 F). The results indicated high levels of computer skills, technology access, and perceived importance of online technology with no significant difference between the groups (P>0.05). They also showed acceptable levels of e-learning experience and social influence on e-learning adoption with no significant difference between the groups (P>0.05). A significant difference was reported in using e-learning for personal compared to learning purposes (P<0.05). The T2 group reported significantly lower levels of online English literacy (P<0.01), perceived impact of e-learning on dental education, and readiness for e-learning (P<0.001). Multiple technical and content development supports were reported.
Conclusion: This study showed acceptable levels of individual characteristics and system competency levels as well as the perceived importance of using technology in dental education among the participants. However, the perceived impact of and readiness for e-learning were found to be less acceptable as students matured. The need for much support in some skills was also reported.

Keywords: e-learning, dental education, curriculum reform, online, technology

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