Besides the traditional lecture-tutorial system, the Faculty also adopts a problem-based learning approach in the undergraduates' clinical years.
In this approach, clinical cases are first summarised and presented to groups of six or seven students. The students then discuss questions aimed at stimulating their minds and raising learning issues. After this, each student will try to find an answer to these learning topics and present them to the group at the next session.
In this teaching method, tutors play a passive role and are not expected to provide direct answers to the students. They mainly facilitate discussions and help the students arrive at an answer. Through problem-based learning, students will play more active roles in the learning process and become independent learners and thinkers. Such independent learning methods may one day replace the traditional lecture-tutorial system.
The Human Resource Management
The Human Resource Management Course module is taught in the third year of the dental course. It comprises 18 hours of classes, covering Human Resource Management topics that dental students would be interested in. This course aims to help students acquire fundamental ideas and practical skills which may be applied in different organisational contexts.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
In 1997, the Faculty introducted the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme. students are divided into several groups and, together with a supervisor, they have to choose a research project which must be undertaken in their third and final years. The aim of this programme is to expose students to research work and provide them with a better understanding of how research is carried out.
Armed with a protocol, students have to carry out their projects, analyse the results and submit a report of their research. They then present their findings at the Faculty Research Day. The winning teams of each year will represent the Faculty at the Asia Pacific Dental Students' Association (APDSA) Scientific Research Presentation.
Since the inception of the programme, some 25 projects have been completed and presented at the Faculty level. The projects cover all disciplines of Dentistry, ranging from Restorative Dentistry to Preventive Dentistry, to Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Some of these research papers have also been published in international dental journals, such as Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, Operative Dentistry and International Journal of Prosthodontics.
Student Exchange Programme
The Student Exchange Programme gives students in their clinical years an opportunity to visit overseas universities during their term vacation. Some of these include the Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Japan, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, US, University of British Columbia at Vancouver, Canada and the University of Sydney in Australia. This programme has enabled students to experience different teaching programmes and learning methods. The Student exchange programme has enhanced the overall learning experience and widened the horizons of participating students.
The General Practice Management Course
In an attempt to better equip dental graduates for private practice, the General Practice Management Course was developed for all final-year students. This course exposes students to aspects of dentistry which are not covered in the four-year curriculum.
During the compulsory eight-week course, students visit private practitioners in town and Housing & Development Board (HDB) settings to study the roles, objectives and management styles of each practice. Private practitioners also share their experiences with the students to give them a better understanding of how a dental practice can be successfully managed. Students also visit dental supply companies where they are given a preview of the latest products on the market.
The course provides students with the opportunity to treat walk-in patients and handicapped individuals as well.