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Students’ Perceptions of two Different Dental Simulators

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

This research used the Theory of Planned Behaviour, the Technology Acceptance Model and general motivational models as the basis for investigating first-year, undergraduate dental students’ perceptions of two dental simulators: a virtual reality based simulator and a traditional plastic-based simulator. Until now an empirical measure of student perceptions of dental simulators has not existed. This research aimed to address this gap by firstly designing an instrument that could be used to measure dental student perceptions a simulator before empirically testing first-year, undergraduate dental students’ perceptions of two different dental simulators. The simulators were integrated into the year 1 undergraduate dental curriculum and were used to teach basic cavity preparation skills. A questionnaire based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour, Technology Acceptance Model and motivational models was developed. The students’ initial perceptions of the simulators before they had used them were assessed using this questionnaire. After using the simulators for one term the students’ perceptions were assessed again using the same questionnaire. Qualitative data regarding the students’ experiences of using the simulators was also collected using worksheets and the questionnaire. Statistical testing was then carried out in order to determine the students’ perceptions of the two simulators and how the variables from the different models were related to each other. Structural equation modeling was then used to develop a new model for the student perceptions of the simulators.
All of the models showed acceptable levels of model fit. The variables Cognitive Absorption Heightened Enjoyment, Cognitive Absorption Focused Immersion, Subjective Norms, System Quality, and Perceived Usefulness were significant in the hapTEL simulator pre-usage questionnaire. The variables Perceived Usefulness, Perceived Ease of Use, System Quality, Emotion and Interest were significant in the mannequin-head simulator pre-usage questionnaire. The variables Perceived Usefulness, Subjective Norms, Interest, System Quality, Emotion, Self-Efficacy Technology and Perceived Behavioural Control were significant in the hapTEL simulator post-usage questionnaire. The variables Perceived Usefulness, Perceived Ease of Use, Task Value, Cognitive Absorption Heightened Enjoyment and Cognitive Absorption Focused Immersion were significant in the mannequin-head simulator post-usage questionnaire. The variables from the Technology Acceptance Model were found to be more useful in measuring the students’ perceptions of the simulators than the variables from the Theory of Planned Behaviour.
Overall, the results showed that the students were initially positive towards using both of the simulators but after having had first-hand experience using them they became more positive towards using the traditional plastic-based simulator. The negative issues regarding the virtual-reality simulator included the levels of reliability, realism and Perceived Usefulness.
Original languageEnglish
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Award date2014

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