The Effectiveness of Computer-Assisted Instruction in Teaching Biomechanics of the Temporomandibular Joint

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of computer-assisted instruction (CAI) to teach the anatomy, biomechanics, and pathomechanics of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Sixty-six first- and second-year physical therapist students at Southwest Texas State University participated. None of the subjects had received instruction on the TMJ prior to this study. A two-group pretestposttest experimental design was used. Each group consisted of IS first-year students and IS second-year students. The control group was taught the TM>information by traditional lecture format using still pictures via overhead transparencies for visual illustration. The experimental group was taught the TMJ information using traditional lecture format and CAI with dynamic graphics capabilities. Two faculty members presented the same lecture to both groups, with visual representation of the material being the only variation. Each student completed a pretest consisting of 25 multiple-choice questions pertaining to TMJ anatomy, biomechanics, and dysfunction. Immediately following instruction, each student completed a posttest, identical to the pretest except for random ordering of the questions. A univariate analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), with pretest scores as the covariate and posttest scores as the dependent variable, was performed for the student groups. Posttest scores were not significantly different between students taught by lecture and those taught by lecture using CAI, regardless of level of education. However, posttest scores were significantly different between first- and second-year students, regardless of method of instruction. Findings implied that second-year students were better prepared to understand the information being taught. The results of this study showed the use of the traditional lecture method and lecture supported with CAI to be equally effective in teaching information related to the TMJ.


Recent advances in instructional technology provide educators with a range of exciting and versatile teaching tools. Today's microcomputer programs are capable of demonstrating intricate patterns of movement that can readily enhance a student's ability to visualize complex concepts. Because of this, computerassisted instruction (CAI) is gaining popularity as an effective and efficient method of teaching in a wide range of health-related education programs. 1-5 The effectiveness of CAI use is debatable, however, because published utilization studies have yielded inconsistent results. Inasmuch as researchers have found inconsistent findings regarding the effectiveness of CAI, many advantages are linked to its use.

Benefits associated with CAI include the ability to provide individualized instruction,6-io immediate feedback,4,6-9,11-14 selfpaced learning,4,8 17 freedom of faculty time,3,6,11,18 instructional accessibility,6,10,11 and experience with developing problem-solving skills.6,7,11,13,,19 A particularly effective component of CAI is the ability to incorporate graphics to illustrate visual concepts.5,6,13,20,24

The capability of using still pictures and moving graphics to portray concepts and demonstrate movement patterns is thought to be one of the more valuable components of CA122 and is believed to enhance student learning.25,26 Visual concepts, which may otherwise be difficult to present, can be more effectively conveyed using pictures, diagrams, and moving graphics.1,5,24,26 Graphicsenhanced CAI is especially useful to teach subjects such as anatomy and biomechanics because of the visual and dynamic nature of the subject matter.22

Faculty members in physical therapist education often encounter the challenge of using verbal descriptions, supplemented with static musculoskeletal models and diagrams in textbooks, to facilitate understanding of dynamic human movement. Computer-assisted instruction, enhanced with graphics, can demonstrate movement in a realistic fashion, thereby complementing traditional methods of instruction. …


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