Research enrichment: evaluation of structured research in the curriculum for dental medicine students as part of the vertical and horizontal integration of biomedical training and discovery
Research programs within medical and dental schools are important vehicles for biomedical and clinical discovery, serving as effective teaching and learning tools by providing situations in which predoctoral students develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Although research programs at many medical and dental schools are well-established, they may not be well integrated into the predoctoral curriculum to effectively support the learning objectives for their students.
Methods: A series of structured seminars, incorporating faculty research, was designed for first-year dental students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Dental Medicine to reinforce and support the concepts and skills taught in concurrent courses.
A structured research enrichment period was also created to facilitate student engagement in active research using faculty and student curricular release time. Course evaluations and surveys were administered to gauge student perceptions of the curricular integration of research, the impact of these seminars on recruitment to the research program, and overall levels of student satisfaction with research enrichment.
Results: The analysis of course surveys revealed that students perceived the research-containing seminars effectively illustrated concepts, were logically sequenced, and were well-integrated into their curriculum.
In addition, analysis of surveys revealed that the Integration Seminar courses motivated students to engage in research enrichment. Finally, this analysis provided evidence that students were very satisfied with their overall learning experience during research enrichment.
Conclusions: Curricular integration is one method of improving the teaching and learning of complicated and inter-related concepts, providing an opportunity to incorporate research training and objectives into traditionally separate didactic courses.
Despite the benefits of curricular integration, finding the most appropriate points of integration, obtaining release time for curricular development and for research engagement, and funding predoctoral student research remain issues to be addressed in ways that reflect the character of the faculty and the goals of each institution.
Published on: 2008-02-19