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ORIGINAL ARTICLE  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 27-33
The use of information and communication technology among undergraduate students in dental training


Department of Orthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Date of Web Publication11-Oct-2017
 

   Abstract 

Aims: This study aims to investigate the current knowledge, skills, and opinions of undergraduate dental students at local universities in Malaysia with respect to information and communication technology (ICT).
Settings and Design: This was a cross-sectional study involving a convenient sample of 359 dental students from two universities in Malaysia, i.e., Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM).
Subjects and Methods: The use of ICT among the students was assessed using a questionnaire that had been pretested. The components of the questionnaire consisted of access and availability of computers, computer activities, information technology (IT) literacy and competence, Internet access, activities involving Internet and dentistry and use of ICT in clinical management. Ethical approval was obtained from UKM Research Ethics Committee.
Statistical Analysis Used: Data analysis was done using SPSS version 22.
Results: The sample comprised of 78.8% of females and 21.2% of males with the mean age of 21.21 years old. The majority were Malays (72.4%) and Chinese (25.3%). Most of the students were from UKM (65.7%). The total of clinical students were 62.4%. Majority of the students had access to computers and Internet. They possessed adequate IT knowledge and skills, and they agreed that ICT resources were mandatory for education in dentistry. However, there were still some students who complained of obstacles in using the computers for patients' data storage and retrieval, especially in UKM.
Conclusions: The students demonstrated favorable attitude and perception toward utilization of computers and Internet for education in dentistry.

Keywords: Computer, dental students, information and communication technology, internet

How to cite this article:
Chan WM, Chai YY, Abang Abdullah AA. The use of information and communication technology among undergraduate students in dental training. J Educ Ethics Dent 2016;6:27-33

How to cite this URL:
Chan WM, Chai YY, Abang Abdullah AA. The use of information and communication technology among undergraduate students in dental training. J Educ Ethics Dent [serial online] 2016 [cited 2017 Dec 17];6:27-33. Available from: http://www.jeed.in/text.asp?2016/6/1/27/216514



   Introduction Top


Information and communication technology (ICT) is a diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information.

Due to the rapid advances and availability of ICT resources over the years, most universities and colleges over the world have started to exploit the capacities of ICT to facilitate and enhance educational programs, ease data management as well as communication among students and staff. Despite the availability of computers and access to various ICT resources, the level of acceptance, utilization and satisfaction of dental students in Malaysia toward the integration of ICT into education as well as information storage and management remains unclear. Gross and Latham found that undergraduate students self-reported they were computer information proficient, but their knowledge and information, searching skills were insufficient.[1]

Computers and Internet are the major sources for undergraduate students to search for information.[2] On entering dental schools, the students have variable levels of competence in the use of computers and Internet. Although undergraduate students are currently familiar with Internet use, they are not sufficiently fluent with ICT and are less fluent than their perception.[3],[4] Salisbury and Ellis also mentioned that professors might believe students to be computer literate, but most students cannot demonstrate foundational skills for information research.[5] Thus, study on their level of information technology (IT) literacy and competence will help to determine the necessity for universities to provide courses or training in acquiring IT skills to aid in the pursuit of their studies.

Full utilization and implementation of ICT resources for data management and education in dental schools will create a path to better academic environment and “paperless” clinics in the future that saves time and money. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the current knowledge, skills, and opinions of undergraduate dental students at local universities in Malaysia with respect to ICT.


   Subjects and Methods Top


The sample in this study consisted of dental students from the first to fifth year from two public universities in Malaysia, i.e., Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM). The students were categorized into preclinical, i.e., year 1 and 2 and clinical year students, i.e., year 3 until year 5. Ethical approval was obtained before the start of the study from UKM Research Ethical Committee (UKM1.5.3.5/244/DD/2012/019).

This was a cross-sectional study using questionnaire which was designed with reference to a study conducted by Rajab and Baqain.[6] The questionnaire was divided into two sections. Section 1 assessed the demographic profile of the individuals. The second section was divided into 6 parts looking at the knowledge, skills, and opinions regarding ICT in dental education. Many of the clinical students use a clinical management software for patients' data storage. Furthermore, students' opinions on the use of clinical management software were assessed. Thus, opinions regarding the usage of the clinical management software were assessed. The questionnaire was pretested among twenty Pharmacy students ranging from first to final year.

Estimated time to complete the questionnaire was 10 min. Convenient sampling was utilized in this survey and students who were not present were excluded in this study. The questionnaires were distributed to dental students from each year and retrieved immediately after completion. Participation was voluntary, consent was obtained, and all the respondents remained anonymous.

Data were collected and analyzed using the IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS PC Version 22.0). Descriptive statistics were used to report frequencies and percentages of respondents to each question. The Chi-square test was used to compare answers from university and preclinical and clinical year students. The level of statistical significance for the test was set at P < 0.05.


   Results Top


A total of 359 respondents were obtained. Majority of the individuals were females (78.8%). The mean age of all the respondents was 21 ± 1.5 years old. Majority of the students (72.4%) were Malay, 25.3% were Chinese, and the rest were Indian (1.7%) or other ethnicity (0.6%). There were a total of 236 UKM's students and 123 USIM's students. Among the respondents, 62.4% were from clinical year while 37.6% were from the preclinical year.

Availability and accessibility to computer Majority of the two universities' students (94.2%) accessed a computer at home. Most of the students (60.2%) had unrestricted access to the computer. Majority of the students (87.2%) learned computer through personal study and experiences [Table 1].
Table 1: Availability and accessibility to computer, by university

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Computer activities

More than half of the students (64.9%) used computer every day for personal purposes whereas only 40.7% used computer every day for academic purposes.

More preclinical students (63.7%) significantly used computer for academic purposes than clinical students (P < 0.05). On the other hand, more clinical students (50.9%) significantly used computer for personal reasons as compared to preclinical students (P < 0.05).

Information technology literacy and competence

Students perceived their general IT skills were ranged from good (52.9%) to average (44.0%). The most commonly used program/Internet facilities by students were search engine (78.8%) and word processing program (76.9%) as shown in [Table 2]. The pattern of usage of computer program and Internet facilities were significantly different between the preclinical and clinical students in multimedia, online database, and university's website (P < 0.05).
Table 2: IT literacy and competence, by year

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In ranking their ICT's competency, most of the students felt that they were “good” in the word processor (MS Word) (54.9%) and presentation software (57.4%). Most of the students (61.8%) thought that it is necessary for the university to provide training and courses for the students to acquire basic IT skills whereas the rest felt that it is unnecessary. However, when comparing between preclinical and clinical students, more preclinical students (75.6%) significantly thought that the training or course to acquire the basic IT skill was necessary than those of clinical student (53.6%).

Internet access

Almost, all students (99.2%) had access to the Internet. Most of them accessed the Internet at home or hostel (96.3%) through computer or laptop (63.1%). Most of the students rated the accessibility of the Internet as “good” (54.2%), easy to use (48.9%), and “quick” (55.6%). There was a significant difference in response between the two universities in terms of the accessibility to Internet and the speed of the Internet (P < 0.05). More than half of the students had an average level of confidence toward the accuracy (57.6%) and relevance (52.8%) of the information on the Internet [Table 3].
Table 3: Internet access, by university

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Internet and dentistry

The idea of placing undergraduate lecture notes on the university's website was supported by 97.4% of the students, and that would not stop them from going to lectures (90.8%). Almost, all of the students (97.8%) reported to have used the Internet at least once a week for education in dentistry. Majority of the students (83%) used E-mail for personal purposes at least once a week whereas fewer students, which was about 60%, used E-mail at least once a week for educational purposes or to communicate with the lecturers [Table 4].
Table 4: Questions on activities involving the internet and dentistry, by year

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Majority of the students (88.5%) agreed that ICT resources were necessary for education in dentistry and preferred virtual information regarding dentistry (83.3%) compared to reading books. The information searched by students was mostly theoretical (75.8%) compared to clinical (24.2%).

Among the perceived barriers to use of the Internet were “time” (81.6%) followed by the presence of virus (52.6%) and the availability of a computer (51.5%) [Table 5]. In searching for dental information, Google was the most “nondental site” commonly used (77.5%) when compared to Yahoo or YouTube. Whereas British Dental Journal was identified as the most visited dental site (4.0%) as compared to PubMed, Medline, or other sites.
Table 5: Perceived barriers to use of internet

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Use of information and communication technology in clinical management

Nearly, half of the clinical students (46.5%) had used clinical management software in their practice. More students in USIM (91%) were more comfortable with the use of a computer for patients' data storage and retrieval compared to students in UKM (P < 0.05). The biggest hassle of using the clinical management system was entering patients' data (71.7%) [Table 6].
Table 6: Questions on use of information and communication technology in clinical management, by university

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   Discussion Top


Several studies have reported the potential use of a computer, IT, and Internet in dental curriculum as educational tools.[4],[5],[7],[8] This study surveys the knowledge, skills, and opinions of the dental students from two public universities, i.e., Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) in the use of ICT.

The overall impression of the present study is that the dental students in UKM and USIM seem to have comparable availability of computer and Internet of that of other students from other countries.[1],[9],[10] Almost, all of the students reported that they had good accessibility to the computer at home or university and this is comparable with the previous studies.[6],[7],[8] Majority of our individuals learnt computer through personal study and experiences which were consistent with the study carried out on the dental students in Jordan.[6]

For a student, computer has been an important tool for both academic and entertainment. They use a computer to search for information, complete their assignments or read journals. In addition, they spent their free time for computer entertainment. In our study, the majority of the students used computer every day for personal purpose or entertainment whereas a lower percentage of them used it for academic reasons. This finding is similar to other previous studies done in different parts of the world.[6],[7],[9]

Our students felt that their IT skills were good which is similar to subjects in Saudi Arabia.[10] Search engine, word processing and presentation software were the three most used program among our subjects. This may reflect the amount of work that requires word processing and literature search for writing reports, seminars and presentation for their studies. These findings are consistent with the study in Jordan's study.[6] More clinical students used the online database as compared to preclinical students. In our opinion, this is because clinical students need to search for evidence-based information for their clinical and research purposes. More clinical students used software for data management like Microsoft Excel which is consistent with the study carried out by Eze et al.[11] Data management software is required to manage their patients' information. In contrary, the university's website was used frequently by preclinical student than the clinical students. This probably reflects the amount of assignment or announcement from the lecturers to the preclinical students, as the university's website is the main pathway for the lecturers to convey messages to their students. In general, most of the students felt that their skills in using a word processor and presentation software were good, consistent with the finding from Jordan.[6] These two software were the most common software to be used, thus frequent usage increases the skills of the students.

In our finding, almost all of the students had access to Internet, and they mostly preferred to access to Internet at home or hostel by using computer or laptop as also noted by Rajab and Baqain.[6] In the comparison of the accessibility between the two universities, USIM had better accessibility to Internet and faster Internet connectivity than UKM. This is probably because quite a number of UKM students who stay in the hostel experience poor Internet connection. The speed of the Internet is very subjective and varies in different locations.

More preclinical year students would use the Internet for educational purposes frequently than the clinical year students. This could be due to the fact that preclinical year students need to search for theoretical knowledge using the Internet as compared to clinical students where practical is more important. E-mail usage has been reported to be more for personal purposes. Educational usage of E-mail has not become a trend among the students, and some of them may still prefer to have face-to-face contact with lecturers if they have inquiries on topics related to dentistry. Although lecture notes or teaching material are available online, students still prefer to go for a lecture as it has the two-way interaction mode of transferring knowledge. However, several universities around the world have successfully started using E-mail as a mandatory communication and the Internet as a mandatory information and communication channel[6] as it will help to save time and paper.

Nowadays, the fastest and easiest way to get information is by surfing the Internet. The students agreed that ICT resources were mandatory for education in dentistry and thus, most of them preferred the modern way of searching for information regarding topics related to dentistry than the conventional way which was to visit the library and read books which can save time.

Apart from using ICT for academic reasons, our dental students use clinical management software provided by the respective universities. More students in USIM used clinical management software compared to students in UKM. This is due to the fact that there were a proportion of 3rd year UKM students who had not started using the software when the questionnaires were distributed because they had not entered clinics or started treating patients. More students in USIM seemed to be more comfortable with the use of computer for patients' data storage and retrieval. Although time consumption was the most common obstacle encountered when using the software, larger proportion of students in UKM faced this problem than those in USIM. In UKM, the clinical management software can only be used during the office hours.

Efforts should be made to tackle the problems in using clinical management software for patients' data management. Follow-up studies should also be conducted after some time to gauge the students' acceptance and ability to use the software so that improvement can be made from time to time and its advantages can be fully utilized.

Overall, ICT has been an essential educational resources for dental students in these two universities in Malaysia and is at par with other universities from other parts of the world. Students were able to retrieve and use knowledge gained from the internet for their dental education. Thus, it is believed that in the near future, web-based and “paperless” dental education would become a reality.


   Conclusions Top


Majority of the students had access to substantial ICT resources and demonstrated favorable skills and perception toward utilization of computers and Internet for education in dentistry. Students had been actively using Internet for both personal and educational purposes. More preclinical students used computers for academic activities than clinical students. Although the majority of the students who used clinical management software for patients' data management claimed to be comfortable with its use, there were still a number of students who complained of obstacles in using the computers for patients' data storage and retrieval, especially in UKM.

Acknowledgment

We would like to express our gratitude to Dr Azrul Hafiz Abdul Aziz from Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia for facilitating the distribution of questionnaires in USIM.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
   References Top

1.
Gross M, Latham D. Undergraduate perceptions of information literacy: Defining, attaining, and self-assessing skills. Coll Res Lib 2009;70:334-50.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Van Scoyoc AM, Cason C. The Electronic Academic Library: Undergraduate Research Behavior in a Library without Books. Vol. 6. Portal: Libraries and the Academy; 2006. p. 47-58.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Maughan PD. Assessing Information Literacy among Undergraduates: A Discussion of the Literature and the University of California-Berkeley Assessment Experience. Coll Res Lib 2001;62:71-85.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Hilberg, JS, Meiselwitz G. Undergraduate Fluency with Information and Communication Technology: Perceptions and Reality. Proceedings of the 9th ACM SIGITE Conference on Information Technology Education; 2008.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Salisbury F, Ellis F. Online and face-to-face: Evaluating methods for teaching information literacy skills to undergraduate arts students. Lib Rev 2003;52:209-17.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Rajab LD, Baqain ZH. Use of information and communication technology among dental students at the university of Jordan. J Dent Educ 2005;69:387-98.  Back to cited text no. 6
[PUBMED]    
7.
Mohamed AM, Teoh CA, Loke PY, Abdullah D, Mohd Dom TN. Dental Students' Attitudes and Perceptions towards ICT Resources and Skills. Procedia Soc Behav Sci 2011;18:400-3.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Dørup J. Experience and attitudes towards information technology among first-year medical students in Denmark: Longitudinal questionnaire survey. J Med Internet Res 2004;6:e10.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Walmsley AD, White DA, Eynon R, Somerfield L. The use of the internet within a dental school. Eur J Dent Educ 2003;7:27-33.  Back to cited text no. 9
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10.
Rahman G. Use of computers among students of dental college in Saudi Arabia. J Educ Ethics Dent 2011;1:12-7.  Back to cited text no. 10
  [Full text]  
11.
Eze B, Mba A, Ozemena F. Information and communication technology skills and resource utilization: Preclinical versus clinical medical students in a resource-limited African setting. Open Access Bioinformatics 2011;3:75-84.j  Back to cited text no. 11
    

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Correspondence Address:
Asma Alhusna Abang Abdullah
Department of Orthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, University Kebangsaan Malaysia, Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, Kuala Lumpur 50300
Malaysia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jeed.jeed_22_15

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