Background: Education in Japan and other Asian countries advocates the stereotypical passive learning style where students are limited in their breadth of knowledge dismissing anything not imparted by their teachers. With globalized education, professions are becoming very competitive, embracing student-centeredness compelling them to introduce active learning activities. A study funded by Japan’s Ministry of Education conducted a needs analysis, proposed a solution, and implemented an active learning approach. Since the latter is still new in the Japanese teaching-learning environment, this current study aimed at assessing the willingness of undergraduate students of dental medicine to participate in active learning activities rather than the typical passive-style teaching-learning educational process.
Methods: Three active implementation-learning activities, namely International Group Discussions (IGD), Student-Teacher Experience (STE) and Role Play Activities (RPA) were included in the Dental English course in a classroom setting at a dental school in Japan. Students had to choose between participating in the activity or taking the final examination. Two hundred and three third-year undergraduate dental students participated over a 5-year period from October 2013 to March 2017. For IGD, the researchers assigned students to a topic and grouped them with visiting international exchange students. For STE, researchers gave students teacher-prepared presentation slides on basic dental topics, which they presented in front of their classmates. For RPA, students had to do prepared role-play and impromptu role play. Peer and teacher feedbacks of the activities were given to all students. At the end of the course, the students evaluated the active learning activities and wrote their comments in a free entry survey.
Results: All 203 students participated in the active learning activities confirming the changing learning needs of Japanese students in this dental school. The most common comment was that the class was interesting, fun, an easy-to-understand way to learn dental terms, and a safe way to express themselves in the English language.
Conclusion: The majority of Japanese students preferred the active learning style. The study revealed that students reported greater engagement and better learning with proper guidance and time to prepare for the activities.
BMC Medical Education
BioMed Central|Springer Nature
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