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J Dent Educ. 2009 Jun;73(6):730-9.

Computer-assisted learning in orthodontic education: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Community Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto, 124 Edward Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1G6.


The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to compare the efficacy of computer-assisted learning (CAL) with traditional methods of learning in orthodontic education. Comprehensive electronic and manual searches of randomized controlled trials and prospective studies were conducted. Participants considered were undergraduate or postgraduate orthodontic students or orthodontic educators. The main outcome measure of CAL efficacy was knowledge gain. The time efficiency of the method was assessed based on the time spent learning the material, while its qualitative effect was tested by the attitudes of participants. Nine studies assessing CAL in teaching orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning met the inclusion criteria. A statistically significantly higher knowledge gain favoring CAL was identified in studies that used pre- and post-intervention tests (weighted mean difference [WMD] 9.78 percent, 95 percent confidence intervals [CI] 2.89 percent, 16.67 percent; test of heterogeneity p=0.25). For studies that used only post-intervention tests, significantly greater efficacy was noted, but the effect size was smaller (WMD 3.79 percent, 95 percent CI 0.31 percent, 7.28 percent; test of heterogeneity p=0.003). Overall, student attitudes were positive towards CAL. No conclusions can be drawn about the time efficiency of CAL. Further studies are warranted to examine other important outcomes, including CAL efficacy in teaching other orthodontic topics, cost-effectiveness, and knowledge retention.

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