Don’t tell me – show me

05 May 2021
3 min read

Amanda Sheehan explores the role of educational demonstration tools.

As dental health professionals, we are familiar with the cycle of trying to teach and help our patients to acquire and develop techniques  that can improve their dental health, but sometimes observing little in the way of positive improvement at their next visit to the surgery. Whatever steps we can carry out to help make the information ‘stick’ and improve compliance, has got to be an advantage to both parties.

Whatever our prior level of knowledge or experience, whenever we are trying to develop new skills or techniques we can acquire these more quickly when we receive a practical demonstration, rather than a set of written or verbal instructions. Surely, we should use the same approach when educating our patients on the best techniques to achieve good oral health.

Some studies have pointed towards higher levels of information retention when participants are engaged with visual or practical demonstrations. Where the information was only spoken, about 10-20 per cent of information was retained, but if this was accompanied by visual illustration or demonstration, the study suggested this rose to around 65 per cent.

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