INTRODUCTION : Precursor tests may be useful educational tools
in dentistry to enhance learning among Oral Hygiene students,
but their application and possible effect on the subsequent
performance of these students have not been studied.
AIM : To determine whether precursor tests, used as dental
educational and formative assessment tools, influence
the performance of undergraduate Oral Hygiene students
in ensuing formal semester tests in the discipline of Basic
METHODS : This descriptive cross sectional study involved
seventeen consenting Oral Hygiene students. An electronic
Odontology Theory Test (OTT) and an electronic Objective
Structured Practical Test (OSPT), were prepared and introduced
as precursor tests prior to scheduled semester tests
in the Division of Restorative Dentistry (Department of Odontology).
Eleven (65%) of the seventeen students completed
the precursor OTT, as well as the precursor OSPT, fourteen
days prior to their scheduled semester OTT and semester
OSPT and sixty two days prior to their final examinations.
The results of the precursor and the semester tests were
entered into a Microsoft Excel® database for comparative
analysis, using a Student’s t-test.
RESULTS : For both OTT and OSPT tests there were significant
differences between the means of the scores of the
students for precursor and semester tests (OTT: p = 0.0009;
OSPT: p = 0.0180)
DISCUSSION : The students performed significantly better in
their precursor OTT, whilst their performance in the OSPT
was significantly better in the semester test. Conclusion: In
the context of this investigation, the precursor OTT did not enhance
the performance of the students in their semester OTT,
whilst the precursor OSPT was associated with an enhanced
performance of the students in their semester OSPT.