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J Dent Educ. 2006 Apr;70(4):387-97.

Application of an interactive computer program to manage a problem-based dental curriculum.

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Faculty of Dentistry, University of Hong Kong, 34 Hospital Road, Hong Kong SAR, China.


Managing the change from traditional to problem-based learning (PBL) curricula is complex because PBL employs problem cases as the vehicle for learning. Each problem case covers a wide range of different learning issues across many disciplines and is coordinated by different facilitators drawn from the school's multidisciplinary pool. The objective of this project was to adapt an interactive computer program to manage a problem-based dental curriculum. Through application of a commercial database software--CATs (Curriculum Analysis Tools)--an electronic database for all modules of a five-year problem-based program was developed. This involved inputting basic information on each problem case relating to competencies covered, key words (learning objectives), participating faculty, independent study, and homework assignments, as well as inputting information on contact hours. General reports were generated to provide an overview of the curriculum. In addition, competency, key word, manpower, and clock-hour reports at three levels (individual PBL course component, yearly, and the entire curriculum) were produced. Implications and uses of such reports are discussed. The adaptation of electronic technology for managing dental curricula for use in a PBL curriculum has implications for all those involved in managing new-style PBL dental curricula and those who have concerns about managing the PBL process.

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