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3 (
); 11-18

Perspective of Teaching Methodologies in Dentistry: Active vs Passive Learning

Intern, BDS Student, Department of Oral Pathology, Vinayaka Mission’s Sankarachariyar Dental College, NH-47, Sankari Main road, Ariyanoor, Salem - 636308, Tamil Nadu, India,
Senior Lecturer, Department of Oral Pathology, Vinayaka Mission’s Sankarachariyar Dental College, NH-47, Sankari Main road, Ariyanoor, Salem - 636308, Tamil Nadu, India,
Address for correspondence:
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 License, which allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as the author is credited and the new creations are licensed under the identical terms.
This article was originally published by Informatics Publishing and was migrated to Scientific Scholar after the change of Publisher; therefore Scientific Scholar has no control over the quality or content of this article.


Education in its general sense is a form of learning, in which knowledge, skills and habits are transferred across generations through teaching. The syllabus and curriculum followed by the dental colleges in training undergraduate and postgraduate students have been set by the Dental Council of India in assuring a minimum standard of quality. The current design of curriculum emphasizes on didactic lectures with inclusion of minimum quota completion as a prerequisite for the student to appear for university examinations. This article comprises of a questionnaire study on obtaining the perspective of teaching methodology in dentistry among staffs and students.


Active Learning
Group Discussions
Teaching Methodology

1. Introduction

Never stop learning because life never stops teaching. Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. The quality of an education system can never exceed the quality of its teachers. The advancement seen in the contemporary world in technology, life sciences and medicine are proliferating at an exhilarating rate with the advent of the internet and its availability to everyone. Professional students everywhere are implicitly required to keep up to date to stay alert with developments in their respective fields. The same follows in dentistry, with increased awareness of dental health problems and aesthetics, students feel the pressure to be prepared with the latest innovations in dentistry. All these have driven students to a more applicative approach to learning and studying relying on information from resources such as the internet. Also the teachers are to use additional teaching methods like group discussions, case discussions, seminars etc. The students actively engage in these methods rather than the traditional lectures where they passively receive the information provided by the teacher1. The present study was conducted to evaluate the current teaching methodology among staff and students.

2. Aim

  • To identify the most commonly opted additional teaching method.

  • The benefits of additional teaching methods.

  • The benefits of current system of education.

3. Methodology

A total of 50 participants were included in the study. These were divided into two main study groups, one group comprising of staff and the other group of students from second year to interns. Each group comprised of 10 participants. Two sets of questionnaires were prepared for staff and students. The sample of questionnaires for students and staff are shown in Figure 1, 2. The participants were given twenty minutes to answer the questionnaire provided to them. The answers provided from the questionnaire are compiled in the tabular column are given in the Table 1.

Figure 1.: Questionnaire for staffs.
Figure 2.: Questionnaire for students.
Table 1.: Inference
Q.No Nature Of Question Options Percentage (%)
1. Teaching hours for motivated learning (100-150 hrs/subject) Yes -23
No - 27
2. Preference for demonstration to lectures Yes - 30
No - 5
3. English medium is satisfactory Yes - 16
No - 34
4. Attention span in an one hour lecture 15 min - 9
30 min - 38
Whole lecture - 3
5. Additional teaching methods to traditional methods Seminars - 9
Group discussions - 27
Case discussions - 27
Pedagogy - 5
6. Benefits acquired by teaching methodologies in option 5 Gains self confidence - 11
Improves communication skills - 11
Improves self learning - 15
Easy understanding - 20
7. Preference among teaching methods Discussions > lectures - 32
Lectures > Discussions - 3
Discussions > seminars/ Pedagogy - 10
Seminars > discussions - 7
8. Preferred quality of a educator Approachability - 15
Experience - 7
Communication/ clarity - 34
Humor -4
9. PG entrance exam preparations in UG curriculum Yes - 25
No - 25
10. Stress in dentistry Workload - 28
Financial stress - 8
Exam stress - 7
Others - 12
11. Influence of stress in concentration Yes - 39
No - 11
12. Clarification of doubts During leisure time - 3
Seniors/friends - 21
Internet - 20
Library - 7
Do not clear - 5

4. Discussion

The present study was done to obtain the perspective of present day teaching methodologies and also the opinion of staffs regarding the teaching methodologies and its effectiveness in sharing knowledge and harnessing skills in dentistry based on our questionnaire.

According to DCI norms, each subject has approximately 100-150 hours per year. About half of the participants agree that this way of teaching do motivate students to learn and further refer textbooks. Most students felt that their concentration span for theory lectures is around 30 minutes.

Majority of staffs and students opted additional teaching methods like group discussions and case discussions (Figure 3) and the reasons given were that they felt they would attain a better understanding of the subjects and also boost their self confidence (Figure 4) in dealing with patients. Most of the participant’s opted interactive sessions bridge the gap between staffs and students but still half among them prefer to clarify their doubts with seniors/friends14.

Figure 3.: Additional teaching methods.
Figure 4.: Benefits of additional teaching methods.

The fact that English is the medium of study did not hamper the learning in any aspect shows that with increased exposure to internet students are able to quickly adapt to the language5.

The role of a teacher in the present day is not only teaching but also in motivating students in the particular subject. Among qualities that are required by an educator, students opted for communication or clarity of subject and approachability to clarify doubts.

With the introduction of screening or entrance exams in India to pursue a post-graduation, the staff felt that the current curriculum in under graduation is preparative for PG entrance examinations. Students on the other hand felt that the current system did prepare them for the abstract pattern of examination and did provide the necessary skills in the appearing for objective based questions particularly in time management for answering such questions.

As was expected students found that the stress of quotas coupled with the anxiety of examinations did affect them in performing to the best of their potential. Moreover demonstration of a clinical case with actual clinical setting or scenarios of managing patients were preferred over lectures (Figure 5). Students studying professional courses feel that lectures do not prepare them for managing actual patient-case scenario despite having case quotas in the all specialities. The bridge between theory and the practical classes is considered a formality or prerequisite for appearing examinations. The approach to studying dentistry would be more theoretical than practical or empirical2,3.

Figure 5.: Treating an actual case preferred to quota.

Majority of staff feels current system of education motivates students to pursue their higher studies while more number of students is motivated to become an academician or to set a private practice (Figure 6).

Figure 6.: Benefits of current education system.

Highest number of participants was satisfied with current annual/yearly system of education than following credit system2.

5. Conclusion

On analysing our questionnaire study, the current methodologies in teaching motivate the students in learning, but the acquiring of dental skills and clinical improvising is attained by exposure by an inquisitive approach to dental subjects. Current teaching methodologies include traditional chalk and board method with or without audio visual aids. Based on our survey, staff and students do believe that the theoretical or instructional training followed in the present generation is obsolete and need of the hour is to adopt a learning system to inculcate scientific attitude and reasoning towards dentistry.


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