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Dental students get their teeth into culture and diversity issues: Evaluation of an outcome based education program in the UWA dental curriculum

Leanne Coombe and Estie Kruger
Centre for Rural and Remote Oral Health, The University of Western Australia
The University of Western Australia (UWA) boasts a very open and inclusive policy on diversity and equity. The University also recognises that it has a pivotal role to play in reflecting and responding to the needs of a diverse society in the design of curricula and delivery of courses. One week of UWA dental undergraduate final year program is dedicated to diversity and cultural issues. A significant number of disciplinary cases result from ineffective communication and cultural barriers, which lead to a lack of informed consent. This outcome based education program contributes to overcome some of these problems by raising the cultural awareness, sensitivity and communication skills of dental professionals.

The one week program addresses concepts of race and cultural diversity, intercultural communication, Aboriginal history and cultural issues, and culturally sensitive service delivery. The program includes a variety of activities, excursions, workshops and discussion groups. Students are assessed on their contribution, a written reflective piece, and a presentation on the culture with which they identify. Program evaluation has included a survey of student perceptions and an evaluation of the learning outcomes against student performance. The results of the evaluation demonstrate that 100% of students have experienced an increased awareness of the issues covered. It has been recommended that this program be extended to the entire UWA dental curriculum to provide dental students with a more holistic view of their clients and a more comprehensive understanding and skill base in human sciences.

Please cite as: Coombe, L. and Kruger, E. (2003). Dental students get their teeth into culture and diversity issues: Evaluation of an outcome based education program in the UWA dental curriculum. In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/coombe-abs.html


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Last revision: 13 Jan 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/coombe-abs.html