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J Prosthodont. 2007 Sep-Oct;16(5):400-5. Epub 2007 Aug 2.

Evaluation of dental students as instructors in preclinical prosthodontics and occlusion courses.

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Department of Prosthodontics, University of Florida College of Dentistry, Gainesville, FL 32610-0435, USA.



While facing a shortage of faculty members, dental schools need to be innovative in their educational methodologies. One approach to augment student learning would be to mentor dental students as participating faculty in current courses. A study was undertaken to evaluate dental students as instructors in preclinical prosthodontics and occlusion courses.


In spring term 2003, three senior dental students (4DN) and four full-time faculty were assigned as faculty for each of two preclinical courses: fixed prosthodontics and complete denture prosthodontics. In the summer term 2003, two junior dental students (3DN) and five full-time faculty were assigned to teach in the occlusion preclinical course. Each course had previously been conducted with a total of seven full-time faculty. Three types of outcome assessment were accomplished: (1) evaluation by the 2DN students of full-time faculty and student instructors at the end of the course using a standardized university scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent); (2) a survey of student instructors about their experience; and (3) a course debriefing with selected 2DN students.


The overall mean instructor-quality score assigned to the student instructors, 4.5 (SD, 0.7), was slightly higher than that of faculty instructors, 4.2 (SD, 0.9). Student instructors were rated higher than or equal to full-time faculty based on the mean response scores for all ten evaluation questions. The greatest difference between faculty and student ratings was in the category of "respect and concern for the students" in all courses. In addition, information gathered from eight student instructors indicated that the experience was a very positive one overall with an increased interest in an academic career noted. Comments from the 2DN students in the debriefing sessions were positive about having student instructors.


This study demonstrated that from the perspective of second year dental students, senior and junior dental students were accepted as preclinical instructors in prosthodontics and occlusion preclinical courses. Additionally, senior and junior students who participated in student teaching had a positive experience. The use of dental students as preclinical faculty in prosthodontics and occlusion appears to be a viable approach for mentoring students in careers in academics, providing student instructors with higher learning experiences, and supplementing the efforts of full-time faculty.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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