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Open Access Research article

Spaced education activates students in a theoretical radiological science course: a pilot study

Emeka Nkenke14*, Elefterios Vairaktaris2, Anne Bauersachs1, Stephan Eitner3, Alexander Budach1, Christian Knipfer1 and Florian Stelzle1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Erlangen University Hospital, Erlangen, Germany

2 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University of Athens Medical School, Attikon Hospital, Athens, Greece

3 Department of Prosthodontics, Erlangen University Hospital, Erlangen, Germany

4 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Erlangen University Hospital, Glueckstr. 11, 91054, Erlangen, Germany

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BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:32  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-32

Published: 23 May 2012

Abstract

Background

The present study aimed at determining if the addition of spaced education to traditional face-to-face lectures increased the time students kept busy with the learning content of a theoretical radiological science course.

Methods

The study comprised two groups of 21 third-year dental students. The students were randomly assigned to a “traditional group” and a “spaced education group”. Both groups followed a traditional face-to-face course. The intervention in the spaced education group was performed in way that these students received e-mails with a delay of 14 days to each face-to-face lecture. These e-mails contained multiple choice questions on the learning content of the lectures. The students returned their answers to the questions also by e-mail. On return they received an additional e-mail that included the correct answers and additional explanatory material.

All students of both groups documented the time they worked on the learning content of the different lectures before a multiple choice exam was held after the completion of the course. All students of both groups completed the TRIL questionnaire (Trierer Inventar zur Lehrevaluation) for the evaluation of courses at university after the completion of the course. The results for the time invested in the learning content and the results of the questionnaire for the two groups were compared using the Mann–Whitney-U test.

Results

The spaced education group spent significantly more time (216.2 ± 123.9 min) on keeping busy with the learning content compared to the traditional group (58.4 ± 94.8 min, p < .0005). The spaced education group rated the didactics of the course significantly better than the traditional group (p = .034). The students of the spaced education group also felt that their needs were fulfilled significantly better compared to the traditional group as far as communication with the teacher was concerned (p = .022).

Conclusions

Adding spaced education to a face-to-face theoretical radiological science course activates students in a way that they spend significantly more time on keeping busy with the learning content.

Keywords:
E-mail; Face-to-face lecture; Learning style; Spaced education; Theoretical radiological science course