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J Dent Educ. 2013 Nov;77(11):1443-50.

A complex haptic exercise to predict preclinical operative dentistry performance: a retrospective study.

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Ashman Department of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry, College of Dentistry, New York University, 345 East 24th Street, 3W, New York, NY 10010;.


A reliable test of manual dexterity could potentially have utility in dental education. Recently, haptic technologies have emerged that may offer a means of testing manual dexterity in the preclinical setting. The purpose of this study was to determine whether performance on a complex haptic simulator exercise was associated with preclinical operative dentistry practical examination scores or the Perceptual Ability Test (PAT) scores of the Dental Admission Test. All thirty-nine first-year dental students enrolled in the Operative Dentistry preclinical course at the Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine completed a haptic exercise consisting of a single manual dexterity test (D-circle), repeated eight times in succession during a single session at midterm. A score reflecting accuracy and time to completion of each trial was calculated automatically and resulted in a success or failure for each trial. Preclinical operative dentistry practical examinations consisting of plastic tooth preparations given at three time points during the course were scored by four calibrated and masked course faculty members. Examination scores were compared with students' performance on the haptic test using linear regression. Number of failures during a single session on a complex haptic exercise was found to be a significant predictor of examination performance in the preclinical setting. These results suggest a role for haptics in identifying students with potential learning challenges in the preclinical stages of dental education. Identification of students with manual dexterity problems at an early stage may allow for early intervention to prevent failure.


computer-assisted instruction; dental education; haptics; operative dentistry; psychomotor performance; simulation; virtual reality

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