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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 64-68

Assessment of effectiveness of different teaching methodologies and perception about pharmacology among 2nd year dental students: A cross-sectional study

1 Department of Pharmacology, Mallareddy Medical College for Womens, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
2 Department of Microbiology, Mallareddy Medical College for Womens, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Date of Web Publication18-May-2017

Correspondence Address:
Vibha Rani
Flat No 408, 1-1-17, Udaya Balaji Residency, Jawaharnagar, Opposite Sudarshan Theatre, Laxmi Ganapathi Temple Lane, RTC X Road, Hyderabad-500 020, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijhas.IJHAS_13_17

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CONTEXT: Reviewing the teaching programs by taking feedback from the students at regular intervals gives us input into the strength of the pharmacology curriculum so that necessary reforms can be undertaken to improve students' performance.
AIMS: This study aims to obtain feedback from 2nd year Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) students regarding their preferred teaching method and their perception about pharmacology.
SETTING: A study done at Mallareddy Dental College for Women (MRMCW), Hyderabad.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS: A prevalidated questionnaire containing 17 questions with 2–6 options each were administered to 73 2nd year BDS students studying at MRMCW, Hyderabad. The data so obtained were entered into Microsoft Excel and statistical analysis was done.
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS USED: Descriptive statistics were used for analysis of the data.
RESULTS: The majority (84%) of students preferred lecture as their preferred teaching method in Pharmacology. Most students wanted lecturers to use liquid crystal display (LCD) projection while taking class (37.8%). 70.8% of students did not prefer studying in tutorials while 29% of them wanted tutorials. The majority of students (57.1%) wanted revision classes regularly after completion of each system, and 84.7% of students wanted pharmacology practicals to be a combination of pharmacy practicals with clinically oriented classes and 93% of them wanted pharmacology to be integrated with medicine.
CONCLUSIONS: Lectures using LCD projection was the preferred mode of learning in this setting. There is a need to incorporate more clinically oriented exercises in pharmacology practicals to prepare the students toward being a competent dentist.

Keywords: Perception, curriculum, feedback, pharmacology, teaching methodologies

How to cite this article:
Rani V, Tekulapally K, Shyamala R, Simpson G B. Assessment of effectiveness of different teaching methodologies and perception about pharmacology among 2nd year dental students: A cross-sectional study. Int J Health Allied Sci 2017;6:64-8

How to cite this URL:
Rani V, Tekulapally K, Shyamala R, Simpson G B. Assessment of effectiveness of different teaching methodologies and perception about pharmacology among 2nd year dental students: A cross-sectional study. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2017 [cited 2023 Oct 4];6:64-8. Available from: https://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2017/6/2/64/206417

  Introduction Top

Dental education has been asserted as one of the most challenging, demanding, and stressful fields of study, as dental students are expected to acquire diverse competencies such as academic, clinical, and interpersonal skills.[1],[2] One of the most serious challenges that dental educators face today is improving the level of students satisfaction with the curriculum and learning environment. Although integration of science with clinical practice is a key objective of any dental curriculum, students often perceive that the mantra of survival in school is to pass the science courses by rote memorization and to discover the relevance of this material in actual practice.[3] A dental curriculum is a 4-year opportunity for dental educators to progressively develop students' knowledge, skills, and attitudes with the hope of graduating a good competent dentist.[4]

The teaching of pharmacology in dental colleges of India has evolved from mere didactic lectures to audio-visual aid-based lectures and computer based learning. A substantial number of dental school students have a preference for several learning styles, yet dental faculty teach overwhelming in a single mode the lecture. Lecturing is essentially a passive learning method that encourages rote memorization and note-taking as the means of assimilating knowledge, and it has been the most common form of teaching and learning since ancient times.[3] Although discussion methods in small groups appear to be a superior method of attaining higher level intellectual learning, in India, it is almost inevitable that medical students will experience lectures, as the number of students attending college is too large in comparison to the teaching staff available. Hence, the lecture is here to stay, so it is immensely important that it should be as effective as possible.[5] A chalkboard is uniquely effective as a medium of classroom instruction and has been used commonly in lectures, while the use of transparencies with an overhead projector is also popular.[6] Recently, the use of Microsoft PowerPoint is now the most popular package used out of all electronic presentations.[7]

The modern dental undergraduates should be skilled enough to deal with the continual introduction of new dental materials and associated techniques coupled with appropriate supporting knowledge before beginning their practice of dentistry and allied dental practice.[8] In this context, pharmacology is an important part of dental education. Pharmacology, like other branches of medical sciences, is an ever changing medical subject. It is a very important subject, included in the 2nd year of Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) curriculum in India and is horizontally integrated with other 2nd year subjects such as Microbiology, Pathology, and Dental materials. It serves as a foundation stone for clinical practice.[9] In the pharmacology class, the students are familiarized with drug production/regulation, drug classification, mechanism of action of drugs, drug interactions, side effects of drug, medications used in various dental disorders such as caries, periodontal disease, plaques, and special dental topics such as obtundants, mummifying agents, and dentifrices. Pharmacology is perceived as dry and volatile by many dental students.[10] Due to content overload, students often find it difficult to remember and recall the pharmacological terms, concepts, and drug names.[11] The modern dental undergraduates should be skilled enough to deal with the continual introduction of new dental materials and also have good clinical knowledge. A competent dentist should be able to prescribe drugs relevant to the oral health care, understand the medications their patients are taking for medical conditions and accurately assess any side effects that the drugs might have on the patient's health. As such, the pharmacology course prepares the students to deal with various medical aspects of their patients and prescribe relevant drugs pertaining to oral health.[12] Practicing dentistry requires knowledge of drugs as primary modality of treatment as well as facilitator of various dental procedures. Dentists may have to manage emergency situations like anaphylactic shock, angina, asthmatic attack which the patients might develop during dental procedures and also many dental patients will be receiving other medications which might have orodental implications or certain drug interactions might arise as a result of drugs prescribed by the dentist. Hence, a broad knowledge of pharmacology is very essential by the dentist.

The importance of including students input in education is accepted as a key component of processes used to monitor the quality of academic programs. Effective evaluation provides valuable information, which contributes to both student and course success.[10] Physicians and dentists play a critical role in health-care system. It is important to assess whether the medical and dental education system are capable of teaching students the required proficiency in their respective fields. The routine assessment of the efficacy of dental education is important to improve faculties, departments, and institutions. The efficacy of education can be determined by observing the extent to which the provided instruction fulfills its intended purposes and objectives.[3]

Only a few studies have focused on students opinions about the received dental education.[13],[14] This lack of input from dental students is striking since there is a widely held belief that students are mostly dissatisfied with their dental school experience, mainly because of the stressful learning environment.[15] According to Bertolami (2001), the fact that dental students generally do not like dental school is a big tip-off indicating the need for revision of dental curriculum.[16] Furthermore, reviewing the teaching program at regular intervals and modifications in the methodologies of imparting knowledge is a must. Hence, to assess the strength of the pharmacology curriculum and students learning experience, the primary aim of this study was that necessary reforms can be implemented for the betterment of teaching/learning the subject. In view of this, the present study was conducted with the objective of evaluating student's perception and their opinion about preferred teaching methodologies used in pharmacology using a prevalidated questionnaire among 2nd year BDS students at Mallareddy Dental College for Women (MRMCW), Hyderabad.

  Subjects and Methods Top

It was a cross-sectional, open labeled questionnaire-based study conducted in the month of February 2016, at MRMCW, Hyderabad, Telangana. After taking oral consent, the questionnaire was administered to 73, 2nd year BDS students who were due to appear for the University examinations. Students who were absent on the day of the study were not included. The questionnaire consisting of 17 questions having 2–6 options each was based on previous studies and suitably modified for the present setting. Students were asked to tick the options whichever they felt was most appropriate and space was provided in the end of questionnaire to write any suggestions/remarks. They were assured about the anonymity and confidentiality of responses given through questionnaire. The students were briefed about the questionnaire and asked to respond freely and fearlessly. The students were told to mark more than one option if they found it necessary. Sufficient time was given to fill the questionnaire. They were asked not to reveal their identities to make them express freely. The completed questionnaires were collected, and the data of 73 students was entered into Microsoft Excel. Descriptive statistics were used for analysis of data. Frequency was expressed as percentage. The study was approved by Institutional Ethics Committee, MRMCW, Hyderabad, Telangana.

  Results Top

Out of the 73 BDS students, 67% had knowledge about pharmacology before entering their 2nd year, and 32.8% were unaware of the subject. It was good to note that 77.3% of students found pharmacology to be useful and interesting while 22.6% found it to be useful but boring. About 64% of students told that blackboard was their method of teaching during secondary education while 35.8% felt smart class was their mode of teaching. The majority of students preferred lectures as their preferred teaching method in pharmacology, the results of which is shown in [Figure 1]. Use of liquid crystal display (LCD) projection was preferred by many students as their mode of lecture presentation [Figure 2]. Most of the students during their 2nd year studied pharmacology through textbooks and class notes (51.2%), rest of them through textbooks, self-prepared notes (31.7%). Nearly, 55.5% of students studied the subject regularly while 44.5% of them did not do so. It was seen that 59.7% of BDS students learnt pharmacology by understanding and then grasping, while 2.5% of them used to learn by mugging the subject. It was disappointing to see that 70.8% of students did not prefer studying in tutorials while 29% of them wanted tutorials. The majority of students (57.1%) wanted revision classes regularly after completion of each system while 42.8% preferred only after the end of the course. About 71.8% of students wanted regular class tests along with internal assessments while 28.1% wanted only internal assessments. It was good to note that 88.8% of students liked performing pharmacy practicals while 11.1% did not prefer doing any practicals. 84.7% of students wanted pharmacology practical's to be a combination of pharmacy practicals with clinically oriented classes, 8.3% wanted only clinical oriented classes, and 6.9% preferred doing only pharmacy practicals. The majority of students (93%) wanted pharmacology to be integrated with medicine while 6.9% of students did not prefer. It was overwhelming to see that 98.5% of students felt pharmacology to be an important subject of BDS curriculum while 1.4% did not feel so. 62.5% of students felt 1 year is not sufficient for pharmacology teaching and 37.5% felt it is enough. Class tests (49.2%) were the most preferred option for preparing annual university exams following internal examinations (36.2%) and tutorials (14.4%). Central nervous system (CNS) was the most interesting topic for students [Figure 3]. 50.6% of students felt CNS was very difficult to understand, following autonomic nervous system (ANS) 30.1%, cardiovascular system 7.2%, chemotherapy 4.8%, endocrinology 2.4%, and general pharmacology 1.2%.
Figure 1: Preferred teaching method among students

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Figure 2: Preferred lecture method by the students

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Figure 3: Topics found interesting by students

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  Discussion Top

Pharmacology, like any other branch of medicine, is progressing by leaps and bounds. Reforms in undergraduate BDS teaching must be done frequently to improve the standard of teaching. It is widely advised that reviewing the teaching programs at regular intervals and modifications in the various methodologies in teaching schedule is a must. The feedback from students, by giving a questionnaire can be used for a series of reforms in the process of improving the quality of teaching program. In view of this, the present study was conducted to determine the perception and feedback of teaching/learning pharmacology using a prevalidated questionnaire among 2nd year BDS students by the Department of Pharmacology.

Few students in the study mentioned about not having any knowledge regarding pharmacology before entering the 2nd year BDS course, hence, there is a need to conduct subject orientation program before the students enter into dental education or an overview of all subjects at the start of 1st year during induction program can be made to the students.

About 84% of students liked being taught by lectures which is consistent with other studies.[8],[17],[18] The popularity of lectures is because it allows bilateral communication between students and faculty where students tend to learn or understand in a relaxed environment and students tend to ask questions/doubts at the end of lecture class. The use of LCD projection was preferred by many students as their mode of lecture presentation as it provides many elaborative diagrams, animations, and certain topics can be illustrated by screening small videos like demonstrating the action of drugs on receptor which is similar to study done by other authors.[8],[19],[20] Use of chalk and board method was the least preferred method of lecture delivery among the dental students which goes against some studies where it was preferred by many students.[5],[21] Many students did not support active learning reflected their uneasiness with the responsibility of defining learning objectives themselves. The collaboration of different teaching methods in the teaching schedule such as lectures, tutorials, seminars, and problem-based learning sessions should be adopted for teaching different topics as it is noted that no single method of teaching can ensure in-depth knowledge and improved performance in the examination.

Students did not prefer seminars as their preferred teaching methodology, the result of which is same with other studies.[8],[18],[22],[23] By incorporating many methods like selecting some interesting clinical oriented dental topics, guiding the students how to make PowerPoint presentation by faculty members, making students present the topic in front of faculty before the day of actual presentation relieves students of apprehension, by so seminars can be made an effective way of learning among students.

The majority of the students found ANS and CNS difficult to understand. Hence, these topics need to be stressed more to help the students so that they can study these subjects better.

Students preferred doing pharmacy practicals such as toothpaste, tooth powder, and paste for dental caries. By doing these pharmacy experiments, students are gives insight and experience of how actually things are carried out. At the same time, performing clinical exercises in combination with pharmacy practicals emphasizes on rational therapeutics and attention to drug interactions or costs which provides students with enough skills and attitude in prescribing drugs safely and effectively. Fusion of pharmacy practicals and clinical oriented exercises is suggested for better practical teaching of the students. Furthermore, incorporating more clinically oriented innovative teaching programs such as handling of dosage forms, proper use of syringes or needles, observing aseptic precautions, and understanding principles of disposal of biomedical wastes will allow future dental professionals to serve patients better and society as a whole. Medical Council of India has time and again put emphasis on integration of pharmacology with medicine.[8] Usefulness of this has been demonstrated in various studies where authors opined that this integration provides students an opportunity to get acquainted with various diseases and learn role of different drug simultaneously.[24],[25] More reinforcement should be given to prescribing principles during practical classes of pharmacology so that the future dentists can be competent enough to practice.

It is seen in this study that class tests were very useful for the students to prepare themselves for annual university examinations. Conducting regular class tests, assessing each student by giving feedback after the test can be done to improve the performance in the subject.

More than half of the students felt that the period is not sufficient to study the pharmacology syllabus. It has to be kept in mind that a balance has to be maintained between the depth of material taught during class hours and time constraint. This problem can be overcome by careful planning the pharmacology timetable and giving priority to important topics like local anesthetics, role of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotic use in dentistry or drugs which have specific application in dental disorders, can be dealt with greater in-depth knowledge than other topics like the endocrine system or respiratory system. The students' feedback serves as an array of effective methodologies in pharmacology teaching. In addition, there is a definite need for modification of undergraduate BDS curriculum so as to make pharmacology more interesting and practicable.

Since the population of the study is only a sample and not representative of the whole population, multicentric studies must be conducted in other dental colleges in India to bring about changes in the dental curriculum at the national level. Furthermore, comparative studies between different teaching methodologies may also be done among students to know which is the best effective method.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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