Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Dental Education





First Page


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This article is one in a series of invited contributions by members of the dental education community that have been commissioned by the ADEA Commission on Change and Innovation in Dental Education (ADEA CCI) to address the environment surrounding dental education and affecting the need for, or process of, curricular change. This article was written at the request of the ADEA CCI but does not necessarily reflect the views of ADEA, the ADEA CCI, or individual members of the CCI. The perspectives communicated here are those of the authors.

Date of Submission

March 2015


Following curricular revisions at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, this longitudinal study was designed to determine students' perceptions of their educational experience in the revised curriculum. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) open-ended response questionnaire was administered to students in the class of 2011 (N=89) in January of each academic year, 2008 through 2011, followed by focus groups three months prior to graduation. The overall response rate for the questionnaire was 69 percent, and a total of fourteen students participated in four focus groups. Cumulatively, 1,382 responses (SWOT=984 and focus groups=398) were qualitatively analyzed, and five themes emerged: 1) early clinical experiences led to a perceived readiness for direct patient care; 2) the pace and organization of the revised condensed preclinical curriculum were perceived as hectic yet were appreciated as necessary preparation for patient care; 3) most faculty members were seen as committed to student learning, but a few were reported to have poor teaching skills and attitudes when interacting with students; 4) a perceived lack of patients led to fewer clinical experiences and a decrease in student confidence; and 5) some curricular content was seen to be redundant and irrelevant to future practice. The results indicate that the students were satisfied with aspects of their educational experience, suggesting the revised curriculum's preliminary success in meeting its goals of earlier patient care, a condensed preclinical curriculum, and a student-friendly environment. As the curriculum is adapted in response to student feedback, ongoing evaluation is necessary and should be complemented by other evaluation indicators such as faculty perceptions and student learning outcomes.


Reprinted by permission of Journal of Dental Education, Volume 76, 10 (October 2012). Copyright 2012 by the American Dental Education Association.

Is Part Of

VCU Periodontics Publications