Teaching and learning

Figure 3.1 Educational paradigm

Assessment drives learning, providing an indication of your performance against the expected ability of an FD at the equivalent stage. It also helps the teacher to evaluate his or her teaching, identifying where this can be improved and helping to develop the curriculum defined for you.

Curriculum, derived from the Latin for track, has been defined61 as ‘an educational plan that spells out which goals and objectives should be achieved, which topics should be covered and which methods are to be used for learning, teaching and evaluation.’ Your curriculum therefore refers not only to the COPDEND Dental Foundation Training Curriculum but also to your bespoke learning needs identified from a learning needs assessment conducted by your ES at the beginning of FT.

Your ES and FTPD will most likely teach you using a combination the following methods:

  • Didactic – telling you information
  • Socratic – asking you questions to engage you in a dialogue to explore your understanding in more depth
  • Heuristic – encouraging you to discover and therefore learn something yourself, such as problem-based learning
  • Counselling – exploring your feelings and insights in order to help unblock emotions blocking your learning.

Linking learning into practice is desirable in FT, and as skills and knowledge are acquired, it is paramount that you return the demonstration of a learned skill. The primary purpose of ‘return demonstration’ is to verify your ability to perform the skill, and to experience progress in your understanding and application of the education.

One-to-one teaching

The training practice environment gives rise to experiencing one-to-one teaching between you and your ES. This method of teaching differs considerably from lecture and other group-based teaching methods that you may have experienced at undergraduate level. One-to-one teaching is underpinned by the trust that you build with your ES. As a result of you being more closely observed, you cannot easily hide your weaknesses from the teacher, since your skills, knowledge, reactions and opinions are all magnified. Rather than thinking of this as intrusive, it is actually a very helpful tool to identify what you need to learn, thereby helping your teacher to customise his or her teaching in order to accurately address your learning needs. In fact, Ausubel et al.62 have suggested that the secret of education is to find out what the learner already knows and to teach accordingly.

Learning in the clinical environment provides a focus on real problems in the context of dental practice, although time pressures and competing patient demands can often prove challenging. This is why at least an hour a week is dedicated to one-to-one teaching with your ES. Tutorials are the backbone of in-practice teaching and they usually take place during the working day, in protected time (not within your lunch hour). There are different approaches to delivering tutorials and these may involve:

  • reviewing e-PDP outstanding tasks
  • discussing how learning outcomes from the previous study day have been applied to practice
  • discussing any complex cases
  • discussing operational or administrative issues (equipment, materials, payment, etc.)
  • obtaining assistance with project work such as the FT portfolio of evidence and audit
  • reviewing case presentation cases
  • teaching of a tutorial topic
  • conducting a workplace-based assessment (WPBA)
  • agreeing next week’s tutorial subject and any preparatory work
  • completing the tutorial reflection section on e-PDP.

Tutorial topics ought to be agreed between you and your ES in advance, to be the most relevant. For instance, if you are struggling with extractions it would be prudent to cover oral surgery in the proceeding tutorial. Once agreed, the method of learning within the tutorial could be:

  • carrying out a clinical procedure on a patient together
  • asking you to present a topic to the ES, after having researched it, or
  • speaking about and reflecting upon particular cases of difficulty.
lightbulbACTION POINT! To get the most benefit out of your weekly tutorials get into the habit of keeping a notepad to jot down any questions you have during the course of the week. You can then bring up these questions with your ES during your next tutorial.

One-to-one feedback

One-to-one supervision and assessment in practice ultimately leads to receiving feedback based on the observation of your performance by your ES. Accepting and providing effective feedback in a manner that motivates and encourages learning is a COPDEND curriculum competency63 that you are expected to demonstrate during FT. Feedback will generally be given to you immediately after your performance, such as in an A’DEP’T, in a factual and targeted way. As evidenced by Smoll64 ‘knowledge of results’ feedback is most beneficial when there is some quantitative nature attached to it – for instance, the clearance height required in a crown preparation.

In a randomised controlled trial conducted by Boehler et al.,65

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May 3, 2015 | Posted by in General Dentistry | Comments Off on Teaching and learning
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