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Eur J Dent Educ. 2018 Feb;22(1):e35-e41. doi: 10.1111/eje.12253. Epub 2016 Dec 25.

Students' perceptions of a blended learning experience in dental education.

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Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, New York, NY, USA.
Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.
Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.



"Flipped" instructional sequencing is a new instructional method where online instruction precedes the group meeting, allowing for more sophisticated learning through discussion and critical thinking during the in-person class session; a novel approach studied in this research.


The purpose of this study was to document dental students' perceptions of flipped-based blended learning and to apply a new method of displaying their perceptions based on Likert-scale data analysis using a network diagramming method known as an item correlation network diagram (ICND). In addition, this article aimed to encourage institutions or course directors to consider self-regulated learning and social constructivism as a theoretical framework when blended learning is incorporated in dental curricula.


Twenty (second year) dental students at a Northeastern Regional Dental School in the United States participated in this study. A Likert scale was administered before and after the learning experience to obtain evidence of their perceptions of its quality and educational merits. Item correlation network diagrams, based on the intercorrelations amongst the responses to the Likert-scale items, were constructed to display students' changes in perceptions before and after the learning experience.


Students reported positive perceptions of the blended learning, and the ICND analysis of their responses before and after the learning experience provided insights into their social (group-based) cognition about the learning experience. The ICNDs are considered evidence of social or group-based cognition, because they are constructed from evidence obtained using intercorrelations of the total group responses to the Likert-scale items.


The students positively received blended learning in dental education, and the ICND analyses demonstrated marked changes in their social cognition of the learning experience based on the pre- and post-Likert survey data. Self-regulated learning and social constructivism are encouraged as useful theoretical frameworks for a blended learning approach.


flipped classroom; group problem-solving; item correlation network diagram; self-regulated learning; social cognition; social constructivism

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