A Long-Term Follow-Up Study of Former Dental School Teaching Assistants: Are They Teaching After Graduation?
There has been growth in teaching opportunities for dental students over the past two decades, but little research on whether these experiences have led to actual positions in academia. The aims of this study were to determine whether former teaching assistants at New York University College of Dentistry continued in dental academia after graduation or intended to teach during their careers and to assess their reasons for or for not teaching. Of the 294 former teaching assistants who taught their peers from 2003 to 2014, 106 responded to a survey, for a response rate of 36%. Of the respondents, 28% reported having teaching appointments, with 7% (n=8) having full-time teaching appointments and 21% (n=22) having part-time teaching appointments in a dental school or hospital-based program at some point after graduation. The most common reasons given for teaching were "intellectual stimulation" and "enjoyment" followed by "interactions with students." The most reported reason for not teaching was "student loan debt," followed by "too busy building private practice," "limited teaching opportunities in area," and "family commitments." Significantly, 95% of these former teaching assistants either taught or intended to teach during their careers, and they were six times less likely to rule out future teaching than dental school seniors in national surveys. These findings suggest that participating in teaching opportunities in dental school plants the seed for future teaching. More follow-up studies should be undertaken to see which types of teaching assistant programs are more successful in creating long-term teaching commitments.
A Survey of Faculty Development in U.S. and Canadian Dental Schools: Types of Activities and Institutional Entity with Responsibility
The aim of this study was to assess the status of faculty development in North American dental schools in 2016. This research project was designed to update and expand upon a 2001 study that reported the first comprehensive results on similar topics and to compare the 2001 and 2016 results. In this study, survey responses were received from 57 of 75 U.S. and Canadian dental schools for an overall response rate of 76%. The results showed a sizeable expansion of faculty development efforts across schools. Twenty-three schools (40%) reported the existence of an Office of Faculty Affairs and/or Professional/Faculty Development with 12 offices established within the past five years, a sixfold increase. Other entities that demonstrated increased participation in dental faculty development were Offices of Academic Affairs, Department Chairs, and Offices of the Dean. Activities with the highest increases in involvement over the past 15 years were faculty development planning, assisting with educational research, assessment of teaching, conflict resolution, team-building, and leadership training. The mean number of full-time equivalents devoted to faculty or professional development in these dental schools was 2.67.
Quality of Life Among Dental Students: A Survey Study
Quality of life is a complex construct that affects the overall life satisfaction, emotional well-being, and functioning of individuals. The aim of our study was to assess the quality of life of dental students at one U.S. dental school, using the World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL)-BREF, a multi-dimensional, cross-cultural, validated, and reliable survey instrument. Of the 1,437 students invited to participate, 401 students responded, but 17 were excluded because of missing data. The final sample consisted of 384 students for an overall response rate of 27%: response rates by year were first year 32.6%, second year 16.9%, third year 26.6%, and fourth year 24.0%. The results showed that the responding students rated their overall quality of life as good. The Physical Health domain had the highest mean score, while the Psychological domain had the lowest. Females reported higher quality of life than males in the Social Relationships domain. Single students were found to have a lower perceived quality of life than married students. Older students were found to have lower perceived quality of life in the Physical Health and Environment domains. Physical Health domain scores were significantly higher for fourth-year than first-year respondents, while Psychological domain scores were significantly lower for third-year than first-year respondents. Further research is needed to explore the effect of dental school on the quality of life of dental students. Targeted programs to impact students' quality of life at various points in the curriculum may be beneficial.
Characteristics of Effective Simulation (Preclinical) Teachers as Identified by Dental Students: A Qualitative Study
The aim of this qualitative research study was to identify and categorize criteria for simulation teacher quality preferences as reported by dental students. Second-year dental students at New York University College of Dentistry in 2015 were given a two-question, open-ended survey asking what qualities they liked most and least in a simulation or preclinical teacher. Responses were collected until data saturation was reached. Key words in the responses were identified and coded based on similar relationships and then were grouped into defined categories. A total of 168 respondents out of the target group of 363 students (46.3%) provided 1,062 written comments. Three core themes-character, competence, and communication-emerged from 16 defined categories, which were validated using references from the educational literature. The theme of character encompassed eight of the defined categories (motivation, available, caring, patience, professionalism, empathy, fairness, and happiness) and accounted for 50% of the total student responses. The theme of competence comprised five categories (expertise, knowledgeable, efficient, skillful, and effective) and represented 34% of all responses. The communication theme covered the remaining three categories (feedback, approachable, and interpersonal communication) and contained 17% of the responses. Positive and negative comments in the category of motivation accounted for 11.2% of all student responses. Expertise was the next highest category with 9.3% of the responses, followed closely by 9.1% in the category of available. Among these students, the top five attributes of simulation teachers were motivation, expertise, available, caring, and feedback. While the study did not attempt to correlate these findings with improved student performance, the results can be used in the development of assessment tools for faculty and targeted faculty development programs.
Faculty Calibration: Much Ado About Something [Editorial]
Dental Student Study Strategies: Are Self-Testing and Scheduling Related to Academic Performance?
Self-testing, a strategy wherein a student actively engages in creating questions and answers from study materials to assist with studying, has been found to be especially advantageous because it enhances future retrieval of information. Studies have found correlations among students' grade point averages (GPAs), self-testing, and rereading study strategies, as well as the spacing of study sessions over time. The aim of this study was to assess relationships among dental students' study strategies, scheduling of study time, and academic achievement. A 16-item survey requesting information on study habits, study schedules, and GPAs was distributed to 358 second-year dental students at New York University College of Dentistry. Additionally, the survey asked students to report the average number of hours per week they devoted to studying for didactic courses and preparing for hands-on preclinical courses. Of the 358 students, 94 (26%) responded to the survey. The vast majority of the respondents reported utilizing self-testing and rereading study strategies. High performers (with higher GPAs) were more likely to use self-testing, especially with flashcards, and to space their studying over multiple sessions. Lower performing students were more likely to highlight or underline their notes and to mass their study sessions or cram. Longer hours devoted to studying and practicing for simulation courses were associated with stronger performance; lower performers reported spending significantly fewer hours practicing for simulation courses. Half of the dental students surveyed said that they felt their studying would be more productive in the morning, although 84% reported doing most of their studying in the evening or late night. Sound study decisions depend on accurate regulation of ongoing learning and appropriate use and timing of evidence-based study strategies, so these results suggest that dental students may require guidance in these areas.
The Role of Organizational Context in the Creation and Sustainability of Dental Faculty Development Initiatives
Dental faculty development programs exist for a variety of reasons: to improve teaching skills, develop and reinforce relationships among colleagues and mentors, foster career development, and support curricular initiatives and institutional priorities. These activities impact individual faculty members as well as the institutions in which they work. Each institution has a distinct culture that should be acknowledged and understood alongside conventional outcome measures. As such, this article provides an expanded view of faculty development programming, associated educational activities, and related organizational changes at the College of Dentistry, New York University (NYU) since 2005. Contextual factors include the existence of an Office of Professional Development established in 1999, an Academy of Distinguished Educators founded in 2010, and other programs for present and future educators that support the college's educational mission. Outcomes include a comparison study of one program, the creation of new courses, the sustainability and expansion of existing programs, participants' retention rate, and an increase in awards and other educational accomplishments such as publication of abstracts, oral presentations, and related activities by NYU faculty at national forums in dental education.
Social Media in the Dental School Environment, Part A: Benefits, Challenges, and Recommendations for Use
Social media consist of powerful tools that impact not only communication but relationships among people, thus posing an inherent challenge to the traditional standards of who we are as dental educators and what we can expect of each other. This article examines how the world of social media has changed dental education. Its goal is to outline the complex issues that social media use presents for academic dental institutions and to examine these issues from personal, professional, and legal perspectives. After providing an update on social media, the article considers the advantages and risks associated with the use of social media at the interpersonal, professional, and institutional levels. Policies and legal issues of which academic dental institutions need to be aware from a compliance perspective are examined, along with considerations and resources needed to develop effective social media policies. The challenge facing dental educators is how to capitalize on the benefits that social media offer, while minimizing risks and complying with the various forms of legal constraint.
Social Media in the Dental School Environment, Part B: Curricular Considerations
The goal of this article is to describe the broad curricular constructs surrounding teaching and learning about social media in dental education. This analysis takes into account timing, development, and assessment of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors needed to effectively use social media tools as a contemporary dentist. Three developmental stages in a student's path to becoming a competent professional are described: from undergraduate to dental student, from the classroom and preclinical simulation laboratory to the clinical setting, and from dental student to licensed practitioner. Considerations for developing the dental curriculum and suggestions for effective instruction at each stage are offered. In all three stages in the future dentist's evolution, faculty members need to educate students about appropriate professional uses of social media. Faculty members should provide instruction on the beneficial aspects of this communication medium and help students recognize the potential pitfalls associated with its use. The authors provide guidelines for customizing instruction to complement each stage of development, recognizing that careful timing is not only important for optimal learning but can prevent inappropriate use of social media as students are introduced to novel situations.
Do dental students use optimal study strategies?
Research on human learning has shown that repeated retrieval practice or self-testing maximizes learning. However, recent studies have found undergraduate students to be largely unaware of the benefits of self-testing. The aim of this study was to examine dental students' study strategies and utilization of retrieval techniques for learning. All second-year dental students at New York University College of Dentistry were invited to participate. Of the total 360 students, 66 completed the two-question survey, for a response rate of 18.3%. The first question asked students to choose from a list of twelve study strategies the ones they used and to rank their top five in order of personal preference. Repeated reading was the most frequently used strategy with 83.3% of students reporting that they used it and 43.9% naming it as their top strategy. Of these students, 45.5% indicated that they self-tested while studying, but none indicated it was their number one strategy. The second question asked students how they would study after reading a textbook chapter for the first time. They were asked to choose one option from three possibilities: going back and restudying, self-testing (with the possibility of restudying afterward), or some other strategy. On this question, 25.8% chose restudying, 45.5% chose self-testing, and 28.8% indicated they would use another study strategy. Thus, 54.6% of the students reported they would not test themselves after reading a textbook chapter. Of those who chose self-testing, only seven students indicated they would do so to improve learning. The results of this study suggest that the students lacked sufficient awareness of the superiority of self-testing for learning.