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Int Endod J. 1999 Sep;32(5):397-405.

Improving student learning in root canal treatment using self-assessment.

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Division of Restorative Dentistry, Leeds Dental Institute, England, UK.



This paper reports the first attempts to implement a new course in endodontology for undergraduate dental students based upon independent, reflective learning and self-assessment.


The responses were analysed of two successive cohorts of third-year students to laboratory courses in (i) the restoration of teeth with crowns and (ii) endodontology and root canal treatment. The major changes introduced to the endodontology course were a substantial reduction in the number of formal lectures, the introduction of a series of structured tutorials, time for private study and the use of self-assessment in practical classes.


The evidence indicates that the new approach increased student confidence in practical skills, although the time available for operative practice was actually reduced; there was a perceived increase in problem-solving ability; and that students felt encouraged to pursue greater understanding. Reports from tutors suggested that students' self-assessments became more accurate as the courses proceeded. Seven experimental learning points were derived from the study. These included the importance of careful planning, well-designed assessment procedures and the creation of a climate of trust and openness.


The task of developing fully the students' skills of accurate self-assessment remains a challenge.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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