Enhancing engagement of dental undergraduates by flipping histology

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Histology is a basic science dealing with the study of microscopic composition and organization of tissue and organs. Medical and dental curricula include human histology as part of their preclinical years. Nevertheless, in many universities the preclinical curriculum has been compressed or an interdisciplinary integration of pre-clinical and clinical subjects has been adopted with a loss of curriculum time spent in basic disciplines such as Histology. In this context, it is not uncommon that this subject is perceived as difficult to pass and high failure rates reduce learners’ interest and engagement. Adaptative flipped classroom (AFC) is a student-centred teaching methodology based on interaction between instructor and students prior to face-to-face sessions. Students are required not only to watch videos, read papers, or study some texts but also to complete some tasks that should make them reflect on the subject while allowing to prove their study. Assignments ought to develop learners’ critical thinking and reveal the most difficult and complex topics so that the instructor could tailor its teaching to their needs and spend time to dive into problems, cases, and discussions. A limited and blended AFC approach was implemented in the subject Cell Biology and Histology which is part of the dentistry curriculum in the Complutense University of Madrid. AFC was applied in 5 tissues that represent 8 units out of 25 of the syllabus. For each tissue, students received an instructive and engaging email, detailing what they were expected to do, tasks and deadlines as well as some suggestions, attached materials and linked videos files. Three types of tasks (initial, previous study check and quizzes) were designed in Google forms and Moodle. Those students who carried out the 15 assignments would achieve one point bonus and the rest would get a bonus proportional to the number of completed activities. An exam comprising the 14 units, 6 of cell biology plus 8 of flipped histology, was carried out. A week later students received a last instructive email asking them to fill in 5 final forms. A statistically analysis was performed using Excel and SPSS to describe frequencies, means, and standard deviations of variables related to personal and academic characteristics as well as participation in AFC assignments. High rates of participation were obtained as on average 84% of students filled in the forms. As the weeks progressed, commitment increased since percentage of early delivery previous study check forms raised. Nearly 82% of the enrolled students achieved a bonus between 1 and 0.73 points. Students stated that they spent around three hours and half on average to prepare each topic. Although most of the class didn’t know about AFC and students were split into two halves that turned weekly to attend online or face-to-face, undergraduate dental students welcomed AFC methodology for teaching and learning histology and results of this first experience were satisfactory.
Este trabajo forma parte del proyecto de innovación y mejora de la calidad docente PIMCD2021-89
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