ADEA CCI Liaison Ledger

November 2008: Assessment: Focusing on Overall Competence

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Assessment: Focusing on Overall Competence

Dr. Eugene L. Anderson, Associate Executive Director and Director, ADEA Center for Educational Policy and Research

Over the last decade, our community has embraced the transition to competency-based education, and teaching techniques have evolved to reflect this new emphasis on preparing students for practice in real-world environments. That progress is noteworthy, but the assessments we use to evaluate student readiness appear to be lagging behind.

In 2008, ADEA CCI conducted a survey that asked course directors to report how student competence is assessed. When asked how their schools make a comprehensive assessment of students' readiness for entry into unsupervised practice, 70% of schools said that they use a checklist system where students are certified for graduation if they pass all courses, meet GPA standards, complete all clinical requirements, meet all departmental expectations, complete all rotations, submit all assignments, and pay their bills.

That's fine as far as it goes, but the checklist approach may be missing the forest for the trees. While these types of measures may do a good, or even excellent, job of verifying that students have acquired specific skills or competencies, they don't necessarily reveal students' general or overall competence. Since preparing students to deliver the best patient care available is our ultimate goal, it's critical that we keep our sights on this bigger pictureas we bring innovations into our programs.

Fortunately, we have colleagues inside and outside of dentistry who have pioneered new assessments and new uses of traditional assessments that have the ability capture overall competence.

Prof. William D. Hendricson has been studying how assessments are used on our campuses. His article provides a valuable blueprint for how we might employ innovative assessments to measure general competence. Our visit to the campus of the University of thePacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry provides a close-uplook at how the integration of a range of assessments in that school's program is not just evaluating, but also enhancing, students' preparation for practice. Finally, you'll learn about the use of portfolios to assess general competence as we cast the Faculty Spotlight on the groundbreaking work of Dr. Cynthia C. Gadbury-Amyot. Additional tools you can use to examine and implement assessments are available under Resources. We hope these will prove valuable in your work to keep the overall competence in focus.


Upcoming Events

Recent Accomplishments

  • A joint ADEA-Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) TaskForce on Predoctoral Dental Education Standards submitted revised Predoctoral Dental Education Accreditation Standards to CODA. On July 31, 2008, CODA approved the circulation of the revised standards. Following a year of public review, the standards will be reviewed again at the Commission meeting in July 2009.

Looking Ahead

  • The ADEA Outcomes Assessment Task Force plans to release a Dental Assessment Toolbox. Dr. Gene Kramer, Secretary of the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations, is preparing the toolbox. Look for it on the ADEA CCI website in spring 2009.
  • In spring 2008, the ADEA Task Force on Assessment fielded a survey to all dental school course directors and academic deans examining the use of various student assessment methodologies. Look for the findings of this research in a Journal of Dental Education(JDE) article in the coming months.
  • Fifteen special ADEA CCI white papers have been published in the JDE, with four more anticipated. These white papers will be compiled and published in a bound monograph in spring 2009. All of the white papers will help to guide dental schools in their own change and innovation efforts.


A toolkit that recommends strategies for measuring attainment of professional competencies. Produced by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
Web site of the All Ireland Society for Higher Education (AISHE), which includes "Case Studies of Good Practices of Assessment of Student Learning in Higher Education."


Implementation of Portfolio Assessment in a Competency-Based Dental Hygiene Program
Cynthia C. Gadbury-Amyot, Lorie P. Holt, Pamela R. Overman, and Colleen R. Schmidt
J Dent Educ. 64:375-380. Not available online.

Predictive Validity of Dental Hygiene Competency Assessment Measures on One-Shot Clinical Licensure Exams
Cynthia C. Gadbury-Amyot, Kimberly Krust Bray, Bonnie Sue Branson, Lorie Holt, Nancy Keselyak, Tanya Villalpando Mitchell, and Karen B. Williams
J Dent Educ. 69:363-370

Validity and Reliability of Portfolio Assessment of Competency in a Baccalaureate Dental Hygiene Program
Cynthia C. Gadbury-Amyot, Juhu Kim, Richard L. Palm, G. Edward Mills, Elizabeth Noble, and Pamela R. Overman
J Dent Educ. 67: 991-1002

Portfolios Are Replacing Qualifying Exams as a Step on the Road to Dissertations
Paula Wasley, July 11, 2008

Profiled Campus

University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry

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