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The evaluation of an approach to reflective learning in the undergraduate dental curriculum

Bush, Helen and Bissell, V. 2008. The evaluation of an approach to reflective learning in the undergraduate dental curriculum. European Journal of Dental Education 12 (2) , pp. 103-110. 10.1111/j.1600-0579.2008.00508.x

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Students in higher education are being encouraged to become active, independent and life-long learners. The use of progress files has been endorsed to encourage this approach. A portfolio intended to fulfil the role of a progress file and to promote student-centred learning and reflection was introduced as a central component of the revised undergraduate degree at the Glasgow Dental School in 2004. This article evaluates its role in promoting reflection. Students following the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) programme completed three written reflections per year using structured proformas, and discussed them with their mentor and mentoring group. Their views of the portfolio and of reflection were gathered using a five-point Likert scale. In BDS1 2004–5, 84% completed a questionnaire, as did 89% in BDS1 2005–6 and 99% in BDS2 2005–6. Most students did not enjoy reflecting (a finding commonly reported elsewhere) or feel that reflection identified their learning needs. It appears that students disliked writing reflections, rather than reflecting per se. In contrast, they took a positive view of mentor group discussions and of having a mentor, both essential components of the portfolio model described. Comparisons of BDS1 2004–5 and BDS2 2005–6 data suggest that students are becoming more comfortable with reflection. The data provide some limited encouragement that students are beginning to acquire the skills which will enable them to reflect purposefully in their professional lives, although it will be some years before this assertion can be substantiated.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Dentistry
Uncontrolled Keywords: undergraduate dental students; reflection; portfolio; mentors
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISSN: 1600-0579
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:25

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