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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 286-291

Social media as a learning tool for the budding periodontist: A questionnaire survey

1 Department of Periodontics and Oral Implantology, Kalinga Institute of Dental Sciences, KIIT Deemed to be University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
2 Department of Periodontology, KIIT Deemed to be University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
3 Department of Public Health Dentistry, KIIT Deemed to be University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
4 Department of Periodontology, Karnavati University, Uvarsad, Gujarat, India

Date of Submission17-Jan-2022
Date of Acceptance24-Jun-2022
Date of Web Publication15-Sep-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Riddhi Awasthi
Department of Periodontology, Kalinga Institute of Dental Sciences, Campus 5, KIIT University, Patia, Bhubaneswar - 751 024, Odisha
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aihb.aihb_9_22

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Introduction: Social media is a web-based platform which has gained popularity amongst students for learning and enhancing their skills. Students are adapting to e-learning methods to enhance their clinical skills. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of social media as an educational/learning tool amongst post graduates in periodontology. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted amongst post graduates pursuing periodontology in India. A validated questionnaire was used to explore the benefit of social media for enhancing the theoretical knowledge as well as the clinical skill of post graduates. Descriptive statistics, Kruskal–Wallis and paired and unpaired t-tests were performed for statistical analysis. Results: The survey included 485 students from the 1st to 3rd year of postgraduates. YouTube was the most used social media platform (87.6%), followed by Instagram (55.0%), Facebook (43.0%) and others. Social media was used for gaining theoretical knowledge (97.3%), pre-clinical guidance (77.4%) and for periodontal surgical skills (52.5%). Similar opinions and recommendations were also analysed. Conclusion: The present findings suggest that students report social media can be a valuable learning tool in postgraduate education if used as an adjunct. A proper understanding of social media resources can benefit both the theoretical and clinical knowledge of the postgraduates.

Keywords: Educational tool, periodontist, postgraduates, social media

How to cite this article:
Awasthi R, Manohar B, Vinay S, Kumar S. Social media as a learning tool for the budding periodontist: A questionnaire survey. Adv Hum Biol 2022;12:286-91

How to cite this URL:
Awasthi R, Manohar B, Vinay S, Kumar S. Social media as a learning tool for the budding periodontist: A questionnaire survey. Adv Hum Biol [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 7];12:286-91. Available from: https://www.aihbonline.com/text.asp?2022/12/3/286/356118

  Introduction Top

Social media is a web-based platform that helps to exchange, collect and share data. The use of social media nowadays is common amongst people. Information can be shared in a variety of forms via Internet services. The ability to communicate quickly with people the world over as well as its being economical has made it very popular. The most popular social networking platforms are YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Google and WhatsApp.[1] The introduction of social media in dental education has brought a revolution in the concept of learning. With advancing technology, students value social media to gain their skills. The most popular social media platforms amongst dental students to learn the advances and newer techniques are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and WhatsApp.[1],[2],[3],[4]

Social media has gained more popularity amongst students for learning and enhancing their skills. The students have easy accessibility and acquaintance with e-learning and online resources.[5],[6],[7],[8] The visual demonstration of clinical procedures is considered a strength of e-learning.[9],[10] Recorded videos of lectures, clinical procedures and animations of clinical courses are available on the Internet as per students' demand and need. Seo C reported that the viewing of YouTube videos along with the knowledge gained from textbooks increased the level of understanding in students as compared to the traditional lectures alone.[11] Similarly, Aboalshamat et al. conducted a survey, in which social media was referred to by senior dental students for enhancing their knowledge.[12]

Students are adopting e-learning methods to enhance their clinical skills. Social media platforms have emerged as a podium for flexible and communal learning. A positive correlation between chatting, online discussion, file sharing and knowledge sharing has been found amongst postgraduate students.[13] A significant impact of the mass media campaign on Iranian adults' knowledge regarding periodontal health and disease has also been observed.[14] Various interactive webinars and educational sessions have been organised by the European Federation of Periodontology in recent years.[15]

However, no data are available on the use of social media platforms by postgraduates pursuing periodontology in India. Therefore, this survey aims to evaluate the use of social media as an educational/learning tool amongst budding periodontists.

  Materials and Methods Top

An online cross-sectional questionnaire survey was carried out amongst postgraduates pursuing periodontology in India. A minimum sample size of 485 participants was determined for this survey using an estimated population proportion of 50%, a margin of error of 5%, a confidence interval of 95% and 26% of no participation. A questionnaire was prepared in English and shared via Google Form links amongst the students. An average time of 5 min was needed to complete the questionnaire. Questionnaires were shared with the subjects who consensually participated in the survey.

The questionnaire consisted of 20 closed-ended questions. Questionnaire validation was done by specialists in sampling and questionnaire design. Reliability was confirmed by conducting a pilot survey amongst 30 postgraduate trainees. The survey was conducted between May 2021 and August 2021 via the online platform.

The questionnaire consisted of the demographic section along with three other domains. Socio-demographic data comprised six questions about their activity on various social media platforms.

The first domain comprised seven questions with responses based on a nominal scale (yes/no/can't Say). The questions were specific to the use of social media as an enhancer of the participants' theoretical and clinical knowledge.

The second domain is comprised five questions with responses based on the Likert scale (strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree). The questions gauged the perceptions and opinions regarding the benefits of social media in education.

The third domain is comprised four questions based on a nominal scale (yes/no/can't Say). The questions were about recommendations by and to the participants in terms of content and its usefulness.

The questionnaire was shared by Google Forms link via Whatsapp, the largest Indian social media platform inviting the postgraduates in periodontology to fill in the questionnaire. The link was subsequently forwarded by these contacts to their contacts on WhatsApp to fill in the questionnaire and so on. The contacts were reminded to fill out the questionnaire once a week between May 2021 and August 2021. IP address restriction technology was adopted to ensure users with the same IP address could complete the questionnaire only once.

Statistical analysis

The total scores of a particular domain were presented as mean ± standard deviation, and the results of categorical measurements were presented as numbers and percentages. The collected data were imported to the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) 23.01 program (Kalinga Institute of Dental Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India). The change in domain scores was assessed using paired and unpaired t-tests appropriately. P ≤ 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

  Results Top

The questionnaire reached 485 participants. One participant denied participating in the survey.

Demographic characteristics

Of the 484 participants who finally participated in the study, the majority were female (77.47%, n = 375). The mean age of the participants was (22.3 ± 1.5 years), ranging from 24 to 38 years. There were 37.4% of participants (n = 181) in the first year, 27.5% (n = 133) in the 2nd year and 35.1% (n = 170) in the final year of post-graduation. The majority of the postgraduates (91.3%, n = 442) were active on the social media platform, and the most commonly used platform was YouTube (87.6%), followed by Instagram (55.0%) [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic characteristics (n=484)

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Anticipated clinical practice

Most of the participants (97.3%, n = 426) preferred watching videos related to periodontology to enhance their theoretical learning, and around 77.4% (n = 339) participants agreed to have taken guidance from social media platforms for pre-clinical assignments. 52.5% (n = 230) of participants agreed to refer to videos on Phase I therapy before patient care on social media platforms. 40.4% (n = 177) disregarded the option. Amongst the same group of individuals, 90% (n = 394) of participants watched videos before surgical procedures, and 85.8% (n = 376) agreed to their active participation in updating themselves regarding the recent advancements in theory as well as the clinical aspect of periodontology, using the social media platforms [Table 2].
Table 2: Responses of anticipated clinical practice domain (n=484)

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The opinion of participants regarding social media platforms and their preference over conventional resources, their accessibility to evidence-based periodontology, pansophical property and its resources are shown in [Table 3]. No statistical difference was noted amongst the five sub-factors of enhancing periodontal skills with the use of social media platforms for learning. Amongst these five sub-factors, three factors related to surgical periodontics show encouraging results in the use of social media platforms for learning the subject, whereas; the other two factors were seen to be a limitation to its use [Table 3] and [Figure 1].
Table 3: Responses of opinion domain (n=484)

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Figure 1: Graphical representation of the opinion domain responses among the entire study population.

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Amongst 484 participants, 82.3% recommended referring to social media platforms for the periodontal surgical videos for learning. About 36.9% of participants also mentioned that this method of learning was not recommended by their faculties. About 83.5% of the total survey population found the recommendations by the social media platforms useful for learning. YouTube (87.6%) was the highly recommended platform, followed by Instagram (55%), Facebook (43%), Twitter (9.7%) and Snapchat (4.8%), respectively, by the postgraduate students [Table 4].
Table 4: Responses of recommendations (n=484)

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Statistical analysis using the Kruskal–Wallis test showed no statistical difference in the domain scores between the postgraduates of different academic years. In the Anticipated Clinical Practice Domain (Domain 1), the mean score for 1st-year postgraduates was 4.48 ± 0.97; for 2nd year, it was 4.25 ± 1.06, and for the final year, it was 4.45 ± 0.74 (P = 0.184).

In Opinion Domain (Domain 2), the mean score was 7.33 ± 3.84, 8.05 ± 3.93 and 7.86 ± 3.84 (P = 0.293) for the 1st year, 2nd year and 3rd year postgraduates, respectively.

For the Recommendation Domain (Domain 3), the mean scores calculated were 2.48 ± 0.71 for 1st year, 2.38 ± 0.80 for 2nd year and 2.40 ± 0.74 (P = 0.422) for 3rd-year postgraduates, respectively.

The P value shows no statistical difference in the comparison of the domain scores between the three academic years [Table 5].
Table 5: Comparison of the domain scores between the different academic years

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  Discussion Top

The present survey is a cross-sectional questionnaire survey aimed at evaluating the use of social media as an educational/learning tool amongst budding periodontists. Amongst 485 participants, 99.79% (484) participants consented to participate, and only 0.21%[1] participant denied participation in the survey [Flowchart 1].

Amongst 484 participants 77.5% (375) were female and 22.5% (109) were male. The majority of the participants were 1st-year postgraduates (37.4%), followed by final year (3rd year) postgraduates (35.1%) and 2nd-year postgraduates (27.5%). The result indicates that the survey population prefers social media for learning and enhancing their knowledge, and with the passing year, their dependency on Internet usage is increasing. Rajeh et al., in their survey on undergraduate students in Saudi Arabia, reported 61.5% of the participants to be females. About 39.9% of the participants were in the final year, 21.1% were from the 4th year and 19.6% were 3rd-year students. It was observed that the final year students become more independent as they approach the end of their course of studies for learning as they are required to comprehensively manage clinical cases as part of their training. Therefore, they might be using social media for additional learning to a greater extent compared to students junior to them.[16]

In our survey, the most preferred social media platforms are YouTube (87.6%), Instagram (55.0%), Facebook (43.0%), Twitter (9.7%) Snapchat (4.8%) and other modes (23.6%). These results were similar to a survey conducted by Kenny and Johnson, where Facebook and YouTube were observed to be the commonly and regularly used social media platforms by the students.[1] Similar results were shown by the surveys conducted by Arnett, et al.,[2] and Rajeh et al.,[16] concluding that Facebook and Youtube were the most common social media site used by the students.

Most of the post graduates agreed to the fact that they seek guidance from social media platforms to enhance their theoretical knowledge and skill before performing treatment procedures to gain confidence. These results indicate that students rely on social media platforms to gain access to more information, make learning interesting for themselves, enable access to advance treatment procedure videos, improve their creativity and improve their research skills. These results were supported by various surveys conducted in Middle-eastern and European countries.[1],[2],[7],[15],[17],[18],[19] In a survey conducted by Burns et al., 76.8% of students agreed to refer to YouTube to prepare themselves before performing clinical procedures.[17]

It was also found that most of the post graduates disapproved of using social media platforms as the only source of learning the subject. Suggestions were made by them on following the conventional methods with social media platforms as an adjunct to learning the subject. As students seek out their e-learning resources, it is important to consider that low levels of prior knowledge of a subject can negatively impact the search process.[18],[20] These results were supported by the survey conducted by Burns et al., in which 36% of participants reported a level of uncertainty or lack of confidence regarding the evidence base of the videos that are accessed.[17]

In the present survey, 95% of participants disagreed that evidence-based periodontology is difficult to learn via social media platforms. This was a contrast to a survey conducted by Geyer and Irish, in which they observed that evidence-based clinical practice could be accessed via social media platforms.[27]

It was found that postgraduates felt motivated to use and recommend social media for learning as it made the educational process more amenable.[19] Social media provides access to a wide variety of educational material worldwide at no additional cost, and this broadens the horizon for students and enables them to explore.[20],[22] In a systematic review, it was concluded that social media could foster professional collaboration and thus facilitate the sharing of observations and hypotheses amongst researchers.[23] Social media allows for group discussions that enhance active learning and a better understanding of educational material, which makes learning more engaging and interesting.

In the survey, most participants suggested incorporating social media discussions in the postgraduate academic curriculum as an adjunct to traditional training. In various studies, incorporating the use of social media in the dental curriculum has been mentioned.[16] This practice has gained success and popularity amongst dental students internationally.[24],[25],[26]

In the present survey, most of the participants use social media platforms on the recommendation of their faculty members. It has also been observed in previous studies that faculty members of different institutes share their evidence-based practices and research that enhances the student learning experience,[27] providing students with the opportunity to access reliable treatment modalities, which can be adopted in their daily practices.[28]

In addition, YouTube has been the most recommended site by the participants as it is useful for pre-clinical using micro-lectures and provides basic knowledge of the methods, enabling students to understand the theoretical concepts coupled with clinical procedures. This is supported by Knosel et al., who found YouTube a useful learning method for students. In their survey, YouTube was used as a tool to demonstrate learning methods to students through short videos before the actual lectures. It was observed that this method provided abstracts with basic knowledge of the topic to the students and increased their interest in the lectures.[25]

Twitter has been used after the learning session for the question-and-answer sessions in the survey conducted by Gonzalez and Gadbury-Amyot to evaluate the learning by students.[24] Such approaches have increased student learning in the institutions as well as with the knowledge of the practitioners.

This survey included a relatively small sample size and used a validated questionnaire that was piloted and adapted to suit the context of this survey. The questionnaire was anonymous, web-based, and delivered to the participants. This was a cross-sectional survey that included postgraduates pursuing periodontology in India. Future research may be extended to include a nationally representative sample of periodontal practitioners. Furthermore, the impact of the usage of social media as a learning tool in postgraduate academic sessions in India can be investigated.

  Conclusion Top

The findings of this survey suggest that final year post graduates are very likely to refer to social media platforms and, most commonly, YouTube. The general conclusions made by this survey are supported by the fact that there were no statistically significant differences between the responses of the domains and academic years. Overwhelmingly, postgraduates suggested social media platforms as a learning tool to their peers and preferred video tutorials for pre-clinical and clinical procedures available on social media. In addition, the majority of postgraduates reported that the use of social media platforms for learning clinical procedures had been recommended by their dental school faculty. The findings of this survey suggest that new strategies should be developed to incorporate social media in postgraduate educational plans to enrich the learning process and render it more interesting to students.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]


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