The role of social media in dental education

  • Amr Ahmed Ahmed Hamed Elraggal

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Knowledge and skills that dental students develop are mainly dependant on their interaction either between each other or between them and their tutors. The interaction between the students subsequently promotes collaborative and student-centred learning. Moreover, as information resources increase and vary, there is a critical need for information to be accessible and available for sharing amongst dental students and peers. At the meantime, social media (SM) are ubiquitous in society. Originally used for socialising between individuals, they are increasingly used for educational purposes, and they are potentially useful supplementary learning tools that facilitate communication and interaction amongst dental students and between them and their teachers. Also, they serve as a big source of information. SO, the aim of this study was to explore the role of SM in dental education in the UK and Egypt, as they are used by both dental and dental care professional (DCP) students and their teacher.

An online Google Forms based questionnaire was developed and emailed to dental students and their teachers from two UK and three Egyptian dental schools. Questions including open- and closed- ended, multiple-choice and Likert-scale based; and enquired about demographic information, and the use of SM for communication and education. Completed questionnaires were returned and data were collated using Microsoft Excel 2010 and analysed using Chi-squared and Fisher`s-exact tests (SPSS v26.0). This was followed by 17 semi-structured online interviews that were conducted with dental (n=7) DCP (n=3) students and their teachers (n=7). The interviews included open-ended questions about participants` definitions of SM, and their use of SM for educational purposes. Data analysis was carried out using a thematic framework technique.

923 students and 192 dental teachers responded to the questionnaire. Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and YouTube were the most frequently used platforms. The participating students strongly agreed that SM helped them with communication (n=433, 46.9%) and searching for information (n=393, 42.5%). However, the majority (n=82, 42.7%) of dental teachers showed neutral perceptions regarding the accuracy of information published on social media. The thematic analysis of the interviews revealed that SM were seen by the interviewees as online and unofficial tools for communication. The participants referred to some advantages such as ease of use, accessibility, and the speed of communication. However, the participants expressed a number of social concerns related to the privacy, professionalism, distraction, and the need for motivation and some technical facilities.

SM are potentially useful and effective educational tools that could supplement classroom teaching and encourage collaborative, student-centred, and unofficial learning. However, both students and teachers should be aware about their drawbacks and the requirement for training to use them positivel
Date of Award2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorChristopher David Brown (Supervisor), Chris Louca (Supervisor), Kristina Lutomya Wanyonyi (Supervisor) & Stuart Sims (Supervisor)

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