Correlation of Dental Hygiene Students' MBTI Learning Styles with the OSCE

Kwapis-Jaeger, Judy, Margaret Coleman, and Kathleen Neveu

The Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) Exam has become a standard for measuring dental and dental hygiene students’ outcome performance. The OSCE, a method of testing application of knowledge, has students move through a series of stations designed to be interactive and to test mastery of various skills.  The format consists of a series of stations which examinees rotate through at designated time intervals and do a demonstration, perform a task and/or answer questions following interaction with some type of material (props).  Material or props may include clinical photographs, radiographs, instruments, etc.  Does the learning style of the student increase their ability to successfully complete this type of exam?  Does this type of exam tend to favor certain learning styles?  Does the fact that there is a time factor influence a student’s success on the exam?  The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between differences in learning style of dental hygiene students and their performance on two OSCE Exams.  The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was administered over a ten year period (1998-2008) to students (n=264) during the first semester of class.  This data was analyzed and compared with the scores received on two OSCE exams administered in the curriculum (1999 – 2010).  Each OSCE exam consisted of 30 stations.  The first OSCE was administered during the third semester of the first year just after completing the first semester of clinic and the second OSCE exam during the last semester of the second year.  The data was analyzed using frequency distribution and chi square analysis.  Personality types were identified and strength of individual preferences reported.  The mean score of the first OSCE exam was 83.7 while the mean score of the second OSCE was 66.4.  The large discrepancy in scores may be attributed to low motivation.  The first OSCE serves as a final exam in the first year clinical course and is worth 26% of the course grade, making it a high stakes exam.  On the other hand, the second OSCE is worth 6% of the final grade for the course, and may affect motivation.  On the first OSCE exam INTJ’s represented the highest mean scores consistent with previous research. ENTP’s ranked second, however on the second OSCE exam they were the highest mean score.  This is a type (ENTP) that typically scores lower in traditional liberal arts colleges.  On the four preference scales I’s scored better on the first OSCE while E’s did better on the second OSCE.  This may indicate the three minute time constraint may not have been sufficient time to allow I’s to process the material and answer the question.  Intuitives did better than Sensors on both exams.  This is also consistent with previous MBTI research, N’s do better on timed exams but the difference may have been smaller on this study due to the fact this was a test assessing practical skills.  Thinking types did better than Feeling types on both exams which may be due in part to the scientific subject matter of this exam.  The Judging preference did better on the first exam perhaps because of the link to higher course grades.  Perceptives did better on the second OSCE possibly because they favor a wide acquaintance with many subjects or in the case of the OSCE a wide range of clinical experiences.  Curricular intervention, test construction (i.e. amount of time allotted to each station, amount and depth of material covered in each station), multiple methods of assessing students, mentoring, strong counseling and advising especially to those in learning styles that tend to fall below the mean may need to be implemented to increase students’ success.