Effect of an online module designed to promote first-year dental students' evidence-based study strategies

Jorge Tricio, Pablo Salles, Cesar Orsini, Jaime Aravena

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Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of an online module in promoting study strategies based on neuroscience applied to education for first-year dental students at the University of the Andes in Santiago, Chile. Methods: Four weeks after the start of the 2018 first academic semester, all 82 first-year dental students (72% females, 28% males, average 19.0 years old) were invited to voluntarily and anonymously complete the self-reported Study Strategies Questionnaire (SSQ) in a session of an Introduction to Dentistry course, which served as a baseline. Subsequently, the session included an interactive workshop on learning how to learn so that students could analyse how the human brain learns and relate this information to mental tools to foster learning. Furthermore, during the semester, students were sent information via email to reinforce the content they were exposed to during the learning how to learn activity so that they could use the toolbox of study techniques to improve their learning in all subjects. At the end of the semester, students were invited to voluntarily and anonymously complete a second SSQ to assess the effects of the study intervention. Exam marks from the previous (2017) and studied year (2018), as well as both SSQ results, were compared and analysed using IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Results: A total of 75 and 71 students answered the SSQ before and after the intervention, respectively. The mean exam mark from 2017 was 63.7% (SD = 8.8), whilst in 2018, it was 69.6% (SD = 5.0) (p <.044); the effect size of the intervention was 0.75. The most significant changes observed after the intervention were reductions in the number of students who studied whilst checking messages on their smartphones (p =.001), studied by highlighting and/or underlining in their notes or textbooks (p ≤.0001) and studied the day before an examination (p ≥.0001). On the contrary, there were significant increases in the number of students who studied without access to social networks (p =.046), wrote notes or words in the margins of texts (p =.001), practised self-testing (p =.001) and studied the day before an examination (p ≤.0001). Conclusions: An online module to promote evidence-based study strategies in first-year dental students can have an impact on increasing students' marks as well as on some practices that can improve their academic achievements and learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-437
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Dental Education
Issue number3
Early online date17 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • dental students
  • learning
  • neuroscience
  • study strategies

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