Assessing the Clinical Skills of Dental Students: A Review of the Literature

  •  Carly Taylor    
  •  Nick Grey    
  •  Julian Satterthwaite    


Education, from a student perspective, is largely driven by assessment. An effective assessment tool should be
both valid and reliable, yet this is often not achieved. The aim of this literature review is to identify and appraise
the evidence base for assessment tools used primarily in evaluating clinical skills of dental students.
Methods: MEDLINE was searched for all relevant articles from January 1950- January 2011 published in the
English language. References of the articles were then hand searched.
This review begins with a brief outline of the student learning process and the aim of assessment. The tools
available for both formative and summative assessments are discussed, with particular reference to those used in
assessing dental students’ clinical ability. The problems of subjectivity and assessor variability associated with
traditional teacher-led assessments are highlighted. Methods which have attempted to overcome these problems,
such as the use of checklists and training are then discussed. The benefits and shortcomings of the use of
students as assessors, both in self and peer assessment are reviewed. Finally, the use of objective assessment
methods involving opto-electronic and haptic technology is considered.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-5250
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-5269
  • Started: 2012
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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