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J Dent Educ. 2015 Sep;79(9):1066-73.

Assessment of Students' Sense of Community in Distance Education Classrooms of U.S. Dental Hygiene Programs.

Author information

1
Ms. Smilyanski is Assistant Professor, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, MCPHS University; Dr. Boyd is Professor and Dean, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, MCPHS University; Ms. Perry is Assistant Professor, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, MCPHS University: Mr. Rothman is an adjunct faculty member, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, MCPHS University; and Ms. Jenkins is Associate Professor, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, MCPHS University.
2
Ms. Smilyanski is Assistant Professor, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, MCPHS University; Dr. Boyd is Professor and Dean, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, MCPHS University; Ms. Perry is Assistant Professor, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, MCPHS University: Mr. Rothman is an adjunct faculty member, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, MCPHS University; and Ms. Jenkins is Associate Professor, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, MCPHS University. linda.boyd@mcphs.edu.

Abstract

The aim of this study was to examine the association between distance education (DE) and students' sense of classroom community (SCC) in U.S. dental hygiene programs. The concept of SCC is recognized to have an influence on students' educational outcomes. With the goal of increasing diversity among future dental professionals, there comes a need to accommodate students of various backgrounds through the use of DE. The impact of DE on students' SCC has not been studied in previous research. This 2014 cross-sectional survey study looked at a convenience sample of dental hygiene students finishing their first or second clinical year to assess their SCC. Participating programs had both host and satellite campuses and utilized DE for didactic course delivery at the remote sites. To calculate the students' sense of community, Rovai's Classroom Community Scale (CCS) was utilized, and demographic information was collected. Six of the 13 eligible programs agreed to participate; the overall response rate for individual students was 25%. When evaluated on their sense of community, the satellite college-based students scored 26.47 CCS units and 14.51 learning subscale units lower than the host college-based students. These results suggested a negative association between the students' sense of community and their affiliation with satellite campuses when controlled for demographic variables. The findings suggest a negative trend in the SCC for dental hygiene students on remote campuses and utilizing DE for a portion of their curriculum. This trend can potentially decrease students' educational success and satisfaction and should be addressed.

KEYWORDS:

allied dental education; dental hygiene education; distance education; distance learning; educational methodology

PMID:
26329031
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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