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Med Educ. 2001 Apr;35(4):364-70.

Clinical assessment of dental students: values and practices of teachers in restorative dentistry.

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



To investigate the values and practices of assessment of the clinical practice of dental students by a sample of teachers in restorative dentistry.


A questionnaire, based on the above objectives, was designed, piloted and redesigned. Its content was based on evidence-based good practice in assessment. Structured items in the questionnaire required responses on (i) frequency of use and (ii) estimates of value of various approaches and characteristics of the assessment systems that respondents were using.


The 14 undergraduate dental schools of the United Kingdom.


Full-time clinical teachers of restorative dentistry in adults (comprising conservation (including endodontics), periodontology and prosthodontics).


A total of 153 usable questionnaires were returned (response rate 70.8%), and 38 statistically significant differences were reported (of which 35 were very highly significant), based on the correlated t statistic. Values were in line with evidence-based good practice, but practices were not in line with values. Particularly noteworthy were the high values attached to objective structured clinical examinations, self- and peer-assessment, portfolio-based learning, feedback to students, the use of objective criteria, communication skills and oral health education. The corresponding frequency of usage of these aspects was relatively low. The reported aims of courses in restorative dentistry were not matched by the profile of assessment practices.


The findings have implications for the development of student learning, assessment procedures and the management of quality and enhancement of dental programmes. Although this is a report of only one study, it relates to the major clinical component of undergraduate programmes in dentistry. The findings imply that the time is ripe for a reappraisal of approaches to the assessment of clinical competence in dentistry.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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