March 02, 2009

Curriculum Change Earns School of Dental Medicine a William J. Gies Award for Innovation

The launching of a new curriculum at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine in 2006 has received national honors from the ADEAGies Foundation for outstanding innovation by an academic institution. Members of the dental faculty will accept their William J. Gies Award on Saturday, March 14, during the annual meeting of the American Dental Education Association in Phoenix, Ariz.

Marsha Pyle, associate dean for education at the dental school, said it is the second year that ADEA has given Gies Awards to recognize vision, innovations and achievement in dentistry. Nine individuals, institutions and organizations are among the 2009 recipients, selected by a panel of judges from the ADEAGies Foundation Board of Trustees.

"I am thrilled for the school," said Pyle, who directed the restructuring of the dental school curriculum. "The faculty and staff have worked hard, and it is wonderful to see the outcome of our work for the past three years recognized by our peers. This is truly special."

In November 2002, the dental school began a four-year process to write a new dental curriculum that would differ from those offered at any other dental school in the country. Pyle involved everyone at the dental school in the planning process.

The first two years of the program were transformed to a theme-based curriculum based on the areas of health and well-being, disease processes, restoration of health and maintenance of health. The biomedical science curriculum was organized by organ systems, and students learned content via clinical cases and an integrated curriculum structure.

Pyle said the curriculum uses a variety of traditional lectures and new active learning formats.

With curriculum threads in inquiry and leadership throughout, students will develop new skills important for the future of their practices. The program includes several intense clinical experiences around which significant curricula are designed at key points in the program. The real-life learning experience of the Healthy Smiles Sealant program in the Cleveland Municipal School District is the first experience the students have upon entering the program. These intense experiences continue throughout the four years of dental school through simulation and actual clinical experiences.

While lectures and seminars still take place, some of the large classroom learning was restructured into small groups and team teaching.

"Early indicators have shown that it is going remarkably well and objectives are being met," Pyle said. "The results have been good. We have carefully looked at our outcomes measures to date and are pleased that they are above our expectations. The faculty has been very vigilant about monitoring our progress and outcomes."

The Gies Award was named in honor of William J. Gies, a biochemist and the founder of the dental college at Columbia University in 1926. Gies published a landmark study that established dentistry as a healing science and an important component of higher education.

Other institutions honored are the American Academy of Pediatrics, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the University of Buffalo's program in oral biology and the University of Puerto Rico School of Dentistry.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, March 2, 2009 11:31 AM | News Topics: Faculty, Provost Initiatives, School of Dental Medicine, Staff, Students, news

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