J Dent Hyg Sci.  2019 Mar;19(1):31-38. 10.17135/jdhs.2019.19.1.31.

Effects of Critical Thinking and Communication Skills on the Problem-Solving Ability of Dental Hygiene Students

  • 1Department of Dental Hygiene, Suwon Science College, Hwaseong 18516, Korea.
  • 2Department of Dental Hygiene, Kyungbok University, Pocheon 11138, Korea.
  • 3Department of Dental Hygiene, Baekseok Culture University, Cheonan 31065, Korea. 621zimina@hanmail.net


This study aimed to investigate the effects of critical thinking and good communication skills on the problem-solving abilities of dental hygiene students.
A total of 508 dental hygiene students were convenience-sampled from 3 universities.
The results revealed that critical thinking had the highest intellectual fairness score of 3.60, and systematicity was the lowest at 3.19. The values for communication skills were high in reaction, social adequacy, and concentration, with an average of 3.65. Problem-solving abilities were in the following order: clarification of the problem, seeking solutions, and decision making. According to general characteristics, more extroverted personalities possessed higher levels of critical thinking, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities (p<0.01). Critical thinking scores were high (p=0.016) in students who responded that peer relationship was difficult; however, their communication skills were the lowest (p<0.001). Additionally, problem-solving abilities were highest among students who reported a difficult peer relationship (p=0.001). The higher the satisfaction with dental hygiene academics, the higher the critical thinking, communication skill, and problem-solving ability (p<0.001). Critical thinking showed a high positive correlation with variables in the following order: clarification of the problem, performing the solutions, seeking solutions, decision making, and evaluation and reflection. The communication skills were also related to these variables listed above (p<0.01). With critical thinking, confidence, watchfulness, intellectual passion/curiosity, sound skepticism, objectivity, and systematicity all influenced the problem-solving ability.
Communication skills were influenced by noise control, putting on the other's shoe, social tensions, and efficiency, which affected the problem-solving ability. Dental clinics require dental hygienists to have critical thinking to make analytical judgments and effective communication skills to solve human relation problems with patients and care-givers. Therefore, these skills should be developed in dental hygiene students to improve their problem-solving abilities.


Communication; Critical thinking; Dental hygiene; Problem-solving
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