The target population in our study included all dental students at Cairo University in the given academic year; a census study is free from sampling error and will provide a more general overview .
DELES has strong factor validity and a high level of reliability, with a Cronbach’s alpha ranging from 0.75 to 0.94. In general, this is not enough to consider the DELES as having the best psychometric properties for different contexts. However, DELES was created to assess learning environments in educational programs and to correlate the nature of the distance learning environment with student acceptance and enjoyment of their subjects, which is very close to the context of our study. [11, 14, 15].
DELES originally has six constructions constituting a survey of 34 questions; in the present study, the concept of “personal relevance” was not used because we found that students had no chance to test their knowledge in relation to real-life activities.
Students at Cairo University Faculty of Dentistry study in English and can easily read and understand English, that is why English versions of DELES and SS have been used.
Reliability and security of data has been demonstrated in the electronic versions of the questionnaires [16, 17]. Some platforms, on the other hand, are expensive. To solve these problems, we adapted the Google Docs format to develop a useful computerized questionnaire system. It is simple, effective and the input form can be designed to adapt to any type of response to the questionnaire.
Student responses were found to be statistically significant (p
On the “instructor support” scale, there were significantly higher scores for blended learning compared to distance learning. Students feel they get more help, guidance, and feedback through face-to-face student-instructor interaction in blended learning. This is in agreement with Lodge et al. who believed that the lack of face-to-face human interaction in pure distance learning may have a negative effect on instructor-student interaction, which is a key factor for the implementation of instructor support.
“Student Interaction and Collaboration” scores were also higher for blended learning than for distance learning, agrees with Furnborough , who reported that in online courses, spontaneous interaction between students is not as easy as in conventional courses. The blended learning methodology typically encourages group assignments in the form of assignments and group discussions, which can facilitate group cohesion and student collaboration.
“Authentic learning” scored significantly higher for blended learning than for distance learning. This was in disagreement with an interesting previous study by Kartoğlu , which took advantage of the move to the online public health course to increase the time available for the “on-site simulation for (good clinical practice) inspection” from a 6-hour hands-on session to an interactive online simulation of 24 weeks. Authentic learning aims to engage students in real-life activities to practice what they learn, this happens daily in medical and dental education, the simplest form being problem-based education, where real clinical situations and challenges are used to allow students to apply and test their theoretical knowledge .
For the correlation between student satisfaction and the environment created for the blended learning group, there was a statistically significant difference (p
In addition, the results of the multiple regression analysis (Table 4) showed that the learning environment is a predictor of satisfaction (22.8%) in a hybrid course, specifying that the “support of the ‘instructor’ (p= 0.001) and “Student autonomy” (p
When instructors support autonomy, students have more opportunities to take control because autonomy fosters greater enthusiasm, interest, and desire for challenge, allowing students to develop self-determined motivation and respond to their basic psychological needs . Additionally, students are more likely to rate classes as satisfactory if there is good communication with instructors, if their classes are well organized, and if their instructors have shown interest in and respected their learning. .
It should be mentioned that the study has some limitations; nonresponse bias where some students included in the sample did not respond to the questionnaire and their response could have affected the results, and the study took place during the COVID-19 pandemic where decisions to move to different pedagogical approaches were more spontaneous than well planned.
This study provides insight into student opinions regarding the learning environment created to deliver a course in pediatric dentistry. The results of the present study suggest that a blended learning environment is more accepted and satisfying for students than distance learning. With the help of previous similar work and future work to come, the process of implementing blended learning for undergraduate education or continuing education could be done in the field of dental education under other conditions. as an emergency, which would be a step forward in solving the problem of the lack of oral health workers in some countries. It should be emphasized that a lot of work and study must be done to be able to implement such programs without compromising the quality of teaching.
Future work is needed to build on the results of the current study, more studies on different courses, studies involving 100% on-campus learning versus blended learning, specific studies to suggest which subjects are more suitable for e-learning and which should be taught on campus, with studies testing different e-learning apps and tools available, and what is the added value of using one of these tools will also be beneficial. Instructor preferences and satisfaction should be investigated for all of the above points.