Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science in Dental Hygiene (MSDH)


Dental Hygiene

Committee Director

Michele L. Darby (Director)

Committee Member

Gayle B. McCombs (Member)


The purpose of this paper is to review the problem-based learning literature and recommend changes to the Allied Dental Sciences curriculum at Jordan University of Science and Technology so that problem-based learning can be incorporated into the curriculum. Characteristics of problem-based learning include students' active participation in learning, and interpersonal skills development through discussion, social interaction, collaborative teams or tutorial groups. Problem-based education encourages students to develop communication and critical thinking competencies, enhance self-directedness and ownership of their own learning, and improve, students' knowledge, and independence. For example, two courses in the current Al lied Dental Sciences curriculum, Dental Radiology and Dental Materials were revised to reflect a problem-based philosophy. Weaknesses in the current Allied Dental Sciences curriculum include a teacher-centered approach instead of a student-center approach to learning, and minimal strategies to encourage critical thinking, self-directedness and communication skills. Therefore, the following changes are recommended to make the Allied Dental Sciences curriculum problem-based and to facilitate lifelong learning:

1. Apply a student-centered approach rather teacher-centered approach to learning, e.g., students become the center of the learning process by increasing assignments that require working in small collaborative or tutorial groups to explore real-world problems.

2. Employ small group learning strategies in didactic course work to challenge students to discuss and solve case-based problems instead of the traditional course work with emphasize on learning subject matter via lectures.

3. Develop students' competence in searching the professional literature by using library resources and electronic databases.

4. Utilize electronic communication systems such as asynchronous, on-line discussion with other universities to maintain a current curriculum.

5. Develop on-line lecture information with self-assessment quizzes for use by students.

6. Implement evaluation strategies such as rubrics for oral presentations, group problem solving, debates, and papers to measure problem-based learning outcomes.

7. Introduce an on-line clinical problem-solving series that is illustrated with high quality photographs, graphics, and videos a variety of dental diseases. After a set time, students can compare their problem solving and clinical decisions to that of a faculty expert.

8. Encourage students to use the steps of the problem-based learning model to develop their self-directedness and confidence in their own-self learning. The steps include:

  • Encounter the instructional problem.
  • Problem solving by use of professional and reasoning skills.
  • Identify the needs of learning.
  • Use the gained knowledge to solve problem.
  • Summarize what has been learned.

9. Develop instructional website for each full-time faculty member and have at least one course connected to professional website.

10. Redesign each didactic course into a problem-based curriculum, using the newly revised ADS 326 Dental Radiology II and ADS 212 Applied Dental Materials as a guide.

11. Use quantitative and qualitative measures to assess the problem-based learning curriculum outcomes. The formal evaluation can include on-line questionnaires, focus groups, in depth interviews of students, analysis of recorded communications among students or analysis of students' products, discussion, comments and feedback from students.


A Review of the Literature Submitted to the Faculty of Old Dominion University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science, Dental Hygiene.