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J Dent Educ. 2004 Dec;68(12):1266-71.

Dental education and evidence-based educational best practices: bridging the great divide.

Author information

1
Orthodontics, Nova Southeastern University, College of Dental Medicine, 3200 S. University Drive, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33328, USA. rmasella@nsu.nova.edu

Abstract

Research about educational best practices is negatively perceived by many dental faculty. Separation between teaching and learning strategies commonly employed in dental education and evidence-based educational techniques is real and caused by a variety of factors: the often incomprehensible jargon of educational specialists; traditional academic dominance of research, publication, and grantsmanship in faculty promotions; institutional undervaluing of teaching and the educational process; and departmentalization of dental school governance with resultant narrowness of academic vision. Clinician-dentists hired as dental school faculty may model teaching activities on decades-old personal experiences, ignoring recent educational evidence and the academic culture. Dentistry's twin internal weaknesses--factionalism and parochialism--contribute to academic resistance to change and unwillingness to share power. Dental accreditation is a powerful impetus toward inclusion of best teaching and learning evidence in dental education. This article will describe how the gap between traditional educational strategies and research-based practices can be reduced by several approaches including dental schools' promotion of learning cultures that encourage and reward faculty who earn advanced degrees in education, regular evaluation of teaching by peers and educational consultants with inclusion of the results of these evaluations in promotion and tenure committee deliberations, creating tangible reward systems to recognize and encourage teaching excellence, and basing faculty development programs on adult learning principles. Leadership development should be part of faculty enrichment, as effective administration is essential to dental school mission fulfillment. Finally, faculty who investigate the effectiveness of educational techniques need to make their research more available by publishing it, more understandable by reducing educational jargon, and more relevant to the day-to-day teaching issues that dental school faculty encounter in classrooms, labs, and clinics.

PMID:
15576815
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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