Curriculum reform supporting health professional students to learn for their future practice: what do our first-year students think?

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Curriculum Transformation Vol. 40

June, 2017, 455 pages
Published by
Ruth Walker & Simon Bedford
ISBN
978-0-9945546-6-6
Abstract 

Contemporary approaches for educating health professionals advocate integrating learning within the context of students’ future practice. The previous Adelaide dental curriculum revision did not achieve desired levels of integration. This paper focusses on curriculum transformation in practice. Specifically, it outlines the School’s agreed principles and processes resulting in implementation of a revised dental curriculum, beginning in 2010 and reports on first-year students’ experiences related to the curriculum aims. Key curriculum aims were to: integrate scientific components with clinic; require students to identify and monitor their learning; and align assessment with learning activities. In response, the revised programme has only one course per academic year, in contrast to many dental curricula that have between 4-10 courses/semester. Students’ learning is organised around integrated learning activities (ILAs) supported by other learning activities including regular feedback and assessment. Students’ perceptions of their experiences were collected using surveys, supplemented with focus group feedback from first-year clinical tutors. Consistent with our curriculum aims, students recognised: relationships between theory and practice; the integrated nature of the curriculum; clear links between ILAs and clinic and other classes.  From 2010-2016 surveys, students’ perceptions improved related to: feedback to assist learning, assessment, workload, and coherence of the curriculum. Clinical tutors perceived students integrated their learning from other classes with their clinical activities. From first-year students’ and clinical tutors’ perspectives, students’ learning was integrated and relevant. Core features of the learning environment need ongoing monitoring, to enable maintenance of these outcomes.

Keywords: integrated curriculum design, evaluation

Curriculum reform supporting health professional students to learn for their future practice: what do our first-year students think?

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Winning, T.A. & Skinner, V.J.