School of Dentistry wins a faculty studentship grant to study curriculum evaluation

How do you evaluate your new curriculum? The School of Dentistry plans to find out.

Jessalyn King - 29 May 2020

With the implementation of the new curriculum well underway, the Curriculum Renewal Committee (CRC) and the Educational Research & Scholarship Unit (ERSU) have been busy determining the next step: how to best evaluate the new curriculum?

In a project spearheaded by the CRC, the school has landed a Summer Studentship in Health Professions Education (HPE) Grant Program (commonly referred to as a Summer Studentship grant) sponsored by the FoMD IDEAS Office to conduct a scoping review to determine how other dental schools have evaluated curriculum changes. The project will be led by Dr. Arnaldo Perez and the ERSU team.

In essence, the review will focus on what is already known, the strengths and limitations of previous evaluations, and to identify research gaps in the literature.

Scoping reviews take time, so with a full-time summer student on the project, the team hopes to have the bulk of the work done by the end of the summer so that the review can be published by the end of the year.

Dr. Mohammad Moharrami, DDS grad and MSc student in Dentistry, and ERSU co-investigator, Jacqueline Green, will create the search strategy for each database, review all articles to determine those to be included in the review, complete data collection and analysis, and write the study report.

"Since I was a dental student not long ago, I am aware of the needs and perceptions of DDS students, and the necessity of curriculum change,” says Moharrami. “Therefore, I hope by participating in this summer project, I can take a step toward addressing the educational needs of undergraduate students."

Results from this review will benefit not only the CRC but dental education organizations and will be responsible for supporting and promoting curriculum innovations and dental educators and researchers at large.

This is the first time the school will be receiving the grant for this scope of project. Green said, “It's critical in moving forward with our curriculum renewal as it directly informs the next phase of the roll-out of the new curriculum."

The study aims to map existing program evaluation literature in dental education and address questions like: "What are the main characteristics and findings of program evaluation studies? How are program evaluations in dental education approached? Where are important gaps in the literature?"

Many of the curriculum changes made by the CRC include changes other dental schools have also tried, including earlier exposure to patient care, condensed pre-clinical curriculum and incorporating collaborative learning environments.