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Several new approaches to faculty development have been introduced recently at HSC-Baylor College of Dentistry. The programs – which provide information, encouragement and professional development opportunities – have been made available both to students who are considering dental education as a career option and to faculty.

Professional development opportunities for students

The selective course number S020, Exploring Dental Academia, offered during summer 2007 provided an opportunity for dental students to investigate dental education as a career option. Following a successful interview process, 20 students who were transitioning to the second year enrolled in the course to gain a foundation in the pedagogical skills necessary for success in dental academia.

Dr. Lavern J. Holyfield, director of faculty development, is the course director. Guest lecturers and panelists included Dr. Charles Berry, associate dean of academic affairs; Dr. Amp Miller, professor and director of curriculum; Dr. Whitney Payne, assistant professor and director of clinical programs; Dr. Ernie Brooks, associate professor and director of student development; Dr. Paul Dechow, professor in biomedical sciences and graduate program director and Dr. Francisco Rivera-Hidalgo, professor in periodontics.

Faculty who served as mentors for the students included Dr. Brent Hutson, assistant professor in restorative sciences; Dr. Reginald Taylor, associate professor in orthodontics; Dr. Whitney Payne; Dr. Stephen Crane, assistant professor in public health sciences; Dr. Loulou Moore, associate professor in restorative sciences; Dr. Grace Snuggs, assistant professor in restorative sciences; Dr. Stan Ashworth, assistant professor in general dentistry and Dr. Paul Nelson, assistant professor in general dentistry.

As a culminating exercise for the four-week course, the class was divided into four groups, each of which was given the task of developing a 15-minute lecture on a subject that would be included on their upcoming national board examination. The lectures were presented during the final session on July 2.

As an added incentive for participating, 18 students received financial stipends. Other students received funds from other sources in the college. A proposal to provide the stipends was approved and funded by the Baylor Oral Health Foundation.

“The purpose of the funds was to remove the need for summer employment as a barrier to participation by some of the students,” says Holyfield.


Holyfield Group

 

Front Row: Robyn Seaman, Phong Nguyen, Monica Yavrom, Nora Kweik, Shivangi Mody, Lindsey McLaughlin, Kara Wong, Kimberly Biggs, Ellysse Canales, Shaneka Marks, Lissette Ortega. Back row: Samuel Ellsworth, Luke Bailey, Lee Davis, Harold Kamara, Davina Prida, Courtney Geiger, Jeromy Thornton. Not pictured:  Carla Lopez and Maria Ng.

Professional development opportunities for faculty

Professional development opportunities for faculty included a newly established teaching program for new and junior faculty and implementation of the BCD Peer Review Process, which is available to all faculty. Both programs provide avenues for instructional improvement.

The Teaching Scholars Program is funded through the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. The TSP focuses on the development and/or enhancement of pedagogical skills and expertise among the 10 faculty members who are currently participating in the 18-month pilot program.

The kick-off event for TSP was the Fall Retreat held Oct. 26 and 27 at the Doral Tesoro Hotel in Fort Worth. The agenda included lectures on understanding personality differences, leadership development, tips for planning course goals and objectives, strategies for developing critical thinking skills, innovative teaching and best practices for designing examinations. Results of a post-retreat survey indicated that the program was successful.

Guest lecturers for the TSP retreat were Dr. Linda S. Behar-Horenstein, distinguished teaching scholar and professor at the University of Florida College of Dentistry; Dr. Judith E.N. Albino, senior consultant with the Academy for Academic Leadership; Michael Thompson, CEO of Common Sense Management Company; and William Hendricson, assistant dean for educational and faculty development at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School.

Through a third aspect of the comprehensive faculty development plan, all faculty – including those who are more advanced in their academic careers – now have an opportunity to receive a peer evaluation of their teaching. The HSC-BCD Peer Review Process is designed to provide substantive, formative peer assessment of classroom, clinical and laboratory teaching for faculty in an effort to foster maximum output and effectiveness in the intellectual work involved in teaching.

The peer review process, formally introduced to faculty at the January 2005 retreat, was finalized and opened to faculty during the spring of 2007. As of the end of fall 2007, several faculty members have requested and/or completed the peer evaluation process.

“The establishment of programs for instructional development is a means by which BCD can respond to the challenge of a changing student population and the national dilemma of a decline in faculty base,” says Holyfield.