Integrating Remote Feedback Into A Preclinical Operative Dentistry Course Spurred By COVID-19 – Sensi – – Journal of Dental Education



The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic in March 2020. The Operative and Safety Health Administration has declared dental providers at high risk. COVID-19 has forced routine operations to be reassessed and dental educators have been made to reinvent teaching methods.1 While didactic courses migrated to online, off-campus, synchronous or asynchronous delivery types, hands-on technical courses that relied on live interaction between faculty and students found themselves with fewer options. The need for social distancing has imposed several new regulations and changes in simulation environments that have been tentatively implemented by different schools (i.e.2 Upon returning to in-person activities at our institution, students were faced with the challenge of a compressed, modified program even more affected by forced absenteeism. In the event of a suspicious (or confirmed) infection, waiting for test results or effective quarantine, absent students could significantly delay the development of their manual skills and their progression through the program. To avoid this delay, and therefore personalized teaching or future remediation, an alternative method of interaction has been proposed for students affected by COVID.


In order to maintain the pedagogical continuity of students requiring isolation, a remote feedback mechanism was put in place during our operative dentistry course. The self-directed exercises were designed using Apple iBooks with predefined results, rubrics, and step-by-step instructions including images and videos. Students performed these exercises during off-peak lab hours and were given two options for feedback: live interaction with faculty (during an agreed-upon time slot while faculty members were available remotely) or feedback. asynchronous (written / prerecorded).

For interactive live feedback, a simple video call from a smartphone was our preferred method, although WebEx or Microsoft Teams platforms could be used. Students and faculty could talk to each other, ask questions, and receive feedback just as they would in person. For the specific evaluation of the work in progress, the students presented their work and, as directed by the faculty, they used measuring instruments to facilitate the process. The use of compatible magnifying lenses has proven to be invaluable, dramatically improving the quality of close-up video images and dramatically improving the quality of the current assessment (Figure 1).

(A) Detailed view of a close up macro lens suitable for a student’s iPhone. (B) Student perspective on live interaction with remote commentary representing faculty and student work

For asynchronous feedback, interactions took place through recorded videos, photographs, and self-reflection reports submitted by students (Figure 2), to which faculty responded using various formats (written, video, or voice recording) . For summative evaluations, students submitted their work for evaluation and received feedback in a detailed recording of faculty evaluation and rubric review. In such evaluations, a setup including quality close-up cameras and screen capture applications is required (Figure 3).


An example of a self-reflection document submitted by a student


A screenshot of a pre-recorded video feedback from a summative exercise illustrating faculty assessment and rubric review


This new, previously unpublished approach allowed for the continued development of manual skills of quarantined / at-risk students without the need for direct on-site contact with professors or classmates. The added flexibility of students being able to work alternate hours while getting feedback in a timely manner (instead of limiting meetings based on space, faculty availability, or program schedules), makes this approach potentially useful for other educational situations.

Even though the number of students requiring remote feedback was limited, comparing their manual performance with physically present students (within the same cohort) demonstrated the benefits of this approach as no difference was noted on their success rates in the formative or summative assessment. Positive comments from students interviewed included: “although physically isolated, I still felt connected to the course and the faculty”, “happy that someone thought about it” and “it was great to follow the lab projects themselves. during quarantine “. The students mostly seemed grateful and grateful, as no negative comments were received.

Professors have provided positive feedback on how well this format works despite initial hesitation. The teachers reported joy and a sense of pride despite the limitations. An interesting comment received was “This mechanism allowed for a more focused one-to-one interaction with students (without competing factors), compared to an in-person lab session.”

The limitations of this approach include the time required to produce and exchange images, videos, and written comments between students and faculty (largely dependent on the user’s technological experience), and the lack of immediate demonstration in person, technical correction, troubleshooting, or practical advice. Minor obstacles encountered included scheduling coordination between students and faculty, especially outside of normal working hours and minor connectivity issues (i.e. internet stability and frozen video calls). Virtual feedback will not replace face-to-face teaching, but offers a viable alternative when one-on-one personal feedback is not possible.



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