The aim of this study was to assess the learning approaches of undergraduate dental students in Saudi Arabia.
This was a cross-sectional study in which an electronic questionnaire using the Biggs Revised two-factor Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) was completed by 222 undergraduate dental students from 1st year to 5th year. R-SPQ-2F contains 20 items to measure learning approaches through a structural model contrasting deep and surface learning.
The mean value of the deep approach was higher among 4th- and 5th-year students than among 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-year students. The mean values of the surface approach in male subjects and subjects with lower grade point averages were statistically significantly higher than those of the deep approach.
This study highlights that dental students have a greater tendency to adopt the surface approach in their preclinical years and in the 3rd year when they experience a transition to clinical training. A deep approach to learning was mostly adopted among 4th- and 5th-year dental students. The surface approach was higher among male than female students. Students who used a deep approach had higher academic achievement than students who used a surface approach.
Keywords: Learning approach, Dental education, R-SPQ2F questionnaire, Saudi dental students, Surface learning approach, Deep learning approach.