Bulletin of Dental Education

University of Michigan School of Dentistry Receives Gift to Develop Innovative Approaches in Dental Education

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Five faculty members at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry have an opportunity to develop innovative educational programs for the predoctoral curriculum with a $200,000 gift from the Roberts Family Foundation, established to honor the memory of Dr. Roy H. Roberts and his wife.

“Because of the generosity of the Roberts Family Foundation, the School of Dentistry will be able to create new knowledge through scholarship and foster innovative approaches to teaching that support the goals of our new predoctoral curriculum,” says Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch, D.D.S., Ph.D., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

After project guidelines were developed and sent to faculty, a standardized peer-review process, modeled after National Institutes of Health study section review, was used by a review committee to evaluate the proposals and make funding decisions. An important part of this program is the mentoring and support that is provided by the review committee and instructional staff in academic affairs. Eight proposals were received and three were funded.

The first recipients of the Roy H. Roberts Dental Education Innovation Awards and their projects are:


Grant recipients: Berna Saglik, D.D.S., Clinical Assistant Professor, and Won-Suck Oh, D.D.S., Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences and Prosthodontics. 

Project: Integrating Computer-Aided Design Technology into Classroom and Preclinic Teaching. 

Summary: Designing a removable partial denture (RPD) for a patient is about to move from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional educational and clinical endeavor.


Grant recipients: Theodora Danciu, D.D.S., Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine. 

Project: Clinical Oral Pathology: Learning Decision Making During Dental School and Beyond.

Summary: This project is designed to enhance the clinical decision-making of dental and dental hygiene students by searching for and applying scientific evidence that supports their clinical decisions, and then contributing their knowledge to oral health care professionals on the Open.Michigan web site. Students will review and assess background information and images as part of an oral and maxillofacial pathology course. They will practice their diagnostic skills and also develop treatment plans for virtual patients with common and rare conditions that will be posted on the Open.Michigan web site specifically designed for this project.


Grant recipients: Carlos González-Cabezas, D.D.S., D.M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, and Margherita Fontana, D.D.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences, and Endodontics. 

Project: Exam Questions Developed by Students Lead to Higher Cognitive Levels of Learning.

Summary: “The primary objective of our project is to enhance student learning in a cariology course using an innovative teaching approach, namely, having students in the course develop exam questions,” says Dr. González-Cabezas. “It’s not a completely new approach, but it’s rarely used in dentistry.” Developing test questions, he added, “requires a significant learning effort and greater critical thinking compared to memorizing.” The student-developed questions are posted in a common web-based repository, such as Google Docs, where other students and faculty can then make any necessary revisions or add comments. This creates a large collection of possible test questions for students to study. 

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