Dental and dental hygiene students' diagnostic accuracy in oral radiology: effect of diagnostic strategy and instructional method


01 September 2014


doi: 10.1234567890


There has been much debate surrounding diagnostic strategies and the most appropriate training models for novices in oral radiology. It has been argued that an analytic approach, using a step-by-step analysis of the radiographic features of an abnormality, is ideal. Alternative research suggests that novices can successfully employ non-analytic reasoning. Many of these studies do not take instructional methodology into account. This study evaluated the effectiveness of non-analytic and analytic strategies in radiographic interpretation and explored the relationship between instructional methodology and diagnostic strategy. Second-year dental and dental hygiene students were taught four radiographic abnormalities using basic science instructions or a step-by-step algorithm. The students were tested on diagnostic accuracy and memory immediately after learning and one week later. A total of seventy-three students completed both immediate and delayed sessions and were included in the analysis. Students were randomly divided into two instructional conditions: one group provided a diagnostic hypothesis for the image and then identified specific features to support it, while the other group first identified features and then provided a diagnosis. Participants in the diagnosis-first condition (non-analytic reasoning) had higher diagnostic accuracy then those in the features-first condition (analytic reasoning), regardless of their learning condition. No main effect of learning condition or interaction with diagnostic strategy was observed. Educators should be mindful of the potential influence of analytic and non-analytic approaches on the effectiveness of the instructional method.

Keywords: basic science; clinical reasoning; dental education; dental hygiene education; diagnostic reasoning; oral radiology.