Date of Award

Spring 2021


Access is available to all users

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Dental Hygiene


Dental Hygiene


Purpose: This study examined the implementation of an educational module regarding development of communication skills between dental hygiene students and the geriatric population. The educational module assessed students’ perceived abilities and confidence in communicating with the geriatric population. Subsequently, a standardized rubric determined if there is a difference between how faculty assess students, patients assess students, and students assess themselves.

Methods: Dental hygiene students from the University of South Dakota participated in the educational module and completed pre and post tests. Voice recordings from student-patient interactions in the clinic setting were evaluated by faculty, patients, and students using a rubric derived from the Gap-Kalamazoo. Data was compared for quantitative changes.

Results: A total of fifty-six dental hygiene students (N=56) were included in the research study; thirty-one first-year students (n=31) and twenty-five second-year students (n=25). Analysis of pre-test to first post-test revealed statistically significant changes in student’s knowledge (p < .001) and confidence (p= .024) in communicating with the geriatric population, however there was no statistically significant changes in student knowledge or confidence from first to second post-tests. There was statistical difference between faculty, patient, and student self-assessment scores (p < .001).

Conclusion: An educational module on communication with the geriatric population is an effective method to increase knowledge and confidence for dental hygiene students. Additionally, including faculty and patient feedback on a routine basis is effective in assessing student communication skills. Incorporating as educational module with student faculty and patient assessment should be incorporated into the dental hygiene curriculum.