Managing curriculum change as you move towards CBE

To better serve the goal of graduating practice-ready professionals who can consistently provide high quality oral care, dental schools are moving towards competency-based education (CBE). However, shifting to CBE can be a complex and tedious process.

Implementing CBE would require realigning program learning outcomes, learning experiences, assessments, and schedules. These changes also have to be communicated and collaborated on by multiple stakeholders. To help your faculty prepare for transition into CBE, we recommend the following guidelines:

Create your competency statements

Competency statements represent your school’s vision for new graduates. These statements define what skills, knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes graduates should possess—and therefore provide the basis for learning experiences, outcomes, and assessments.

Dental schools can use the domains of competency recommended by ADEA as a framework for determining competencies. The domains include Critical Thinking, Professionalism, Communication, Health Promotion, Practice Management and Informatics, and Patient Care. You can begin identifying the major tasks and  competencies that you would expect graduates to perform and demonstrate in the service of each domain.

Guided by these competency statements, you can then start outlining learning experiences and prepare for curriculum mapping.

Invest in data management infrastructure

To say the least, curriculum management in health science programs is a complex task. It’s complex because:

  • Curriculum data is voluminous. You have to map out learning experiences with their standardized objectives, instructional methods, assessments and activities. Keeping track of all this information can be time-consuming if it’s not properly structured and effectively visualized. You need a system where all such data can be compiled and easily queried.
  • You have multiple stakeholders who need to contribute to the curriculum. Course directors, instructors, and administrators need to be able to edit different parts of your curriculum map and collaborate with other faculty members. Other stakeholders, like learners, may only need restricted access to view your curriculum map. You need a system that can manage these different levels of access to your curriculum data.
  • You have strict reporting requirements for accreditation. On top of stressful site visits, schools also need to present a multitude of program documentation to satisfy accreditation standards. Without a good data management system for your curriculum, preparing these reports can add to your faculty’s administrative overhead and take away the time they have available to support learners.

Having a data management infrastructure in place that allows you to easily collect, compile, query, analyze, share, and view curriculum data will save you lots of headaches later on.

In our experience working with medical schools and health science programs, we’ve found that previous curriculum data are often collected and stored in siloed spreadsheets. Not only does it take curriculum managers significant time to wade through these spreadsheets come reporting time, the process of manually transferring data is prone to major errors.

Investing in good data management infrastructure can significantly improve efficiency in your curriculum management processes and simplify CBE implementation for your faculty.

Plan for continuous quality improvement

As your school transitions to CBE your learning experiences, assessments, and scheduling can change. Making sure that your evolving curriculum continues to deliver excellent dental education requires continuous monitoring, analysis, and timely review of your curriculum and program data. This is part of the process called continuous quality improvement (CQI).

Apart from having a good data management system in place, CQI also needs to be supported by your school’s culture. Faculty members and learners need to be involved in the process. Their feedback can yield valuable insights into how your school can continue to refine its CBE implementation.

How can your school implement effective CQI? Learn more about CQI and how you can enhance it with student feedback.