Background: First-year dental students in their spring 1-credit seminar were assigned a redesigned, longitudinal PICO project in order to better prepare them to practice with an evidence-based dentistry (EBD) mindset. Previous iterations of the assignment led to disappointing outcomes for students in terms of work distribution among their teams, librarian contact, final presentation quality, and understanding of the research process. The class and project are valued by the faculty as an introduction to EBD, as well as practice for a second year course that requires students to undertake laboratory research leading to a publication or presentation with a literature search.
Description: Dental faculty approached the librarian with an opportunity to present within their dental course titled, The American Dental Student, in the spring of 2019. The final project and the limitations seen in previous years were discussed. Incorporating dental faculty suggestions, the librarian developed a new longitudinal and integrated structure for the project. The redesign included five bi-weekly assignments with responsibilities for each group member, grading rubrics for assignments and the final presentation, explicit guidelines outlining expectations for assignments and the final project, and two 50-minute in-class presentations. The reimagined project addressed several Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) standards, and all assignments required reflection on the process of developing the search and finding evidence. The bi-weekly assignment structure and reflective nature of the questions encouraged more interaction among group members and frequent meetings with the librarian for clarification and assistance.
Conclusion: Short term outcomes include increased contact hours with the librarian, continued work on the project throughout the semester, and dramatically improved final presentations according to faculty graders who attended previous years' presentations. Long term outcomes have yet to be observed, but it is hoped that there will also be improved understanding of the research process and higher quality final products in the second year research course. Student evaluations of the librarian's classes were generally positive, with verbal feedback indicating many students discovering and working through key concepts and roadblocks in information literacy and application of the EBD process.