In June 2017, Newcastle Dental School held the inaugural Dental Education Research Symposium. Cardiff and Glasgow Dental Educators came together with Newcastle to share practice around education research and scholarship and an alliance formed with a passion to continue this collaboration.
Following on from the success of this symposium last June, the newly named British Alliance for Dental Educational Research and Scholarship (BARDES) hosted another day where we got together to discuss our education research, this time also with Liverpool and Sheffield.
One of the major themes that arose from last year’s discussion is that we, mainly with scientific background, are entering the arena of education research for the first time or would like to know more. We therefore asked Professor Rachel Lofthouse of Leeds Beckett, previously of Newcastle, to come and run a workshop to cover basic pedagogic research principles and design and discussion around approaching this type of research with a background in Dentistry. Rachel is an expert in practitioner enquiry and professional learning. You can read more about Rachel here http://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/staff/dr-rachel-lofthouse/. Rachel hosted the workshop with Professor of Curriculum Innovation, David Leat, Newcastle. Both academics have expertise in coaching and mentoring staff in education research.
Rachel and David conveyed many ideas that made us stop and think about our practice as teachers. We discussed tools we can use to frame our enquiry and spoke about the ‘black box’ that is the teaching session; even when we think we have a consistent input, the teaching session presents itself with an entirely different experience as to the one before and therefore our outputs can be very different. This is particularly important in sharing practice across other dental schools. We sometimes, as Rachel put it, just have to conclude, “It is complicated isn’t it!” Accepting that can help us write up our work effectively and we discussed case studies as one of the ways in which to do this.
In the afternoon, we heard from our very own Zoe Freeman, who spoke about a project around obtaining patient feedback for quality assurance (Zoe will present this work at the up and coming IADR). Alison Cairns, Glasgow took us on their journey of building a community of dental educational research and Luke Dawson, Liverpool discussed a project looking into competencies and sophisticated ways to look at student performance and progression. We rounded off the presentations with Ilona Johnson, Cardiff, who told us of the wealth of education research projects Cardiff have been involved in and future work.
The round up, led by Janice Ellis, saw people get together from the different schools and discuss potential collaborations, we then finished the day in the knowledge that we will keep this alliance going and importantly, keep it growing.
We would like to thank the ERDP grant scheme and the School of Dental Sciences for support for the day.
Luisa Wakeling, School of Dental Sciences