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Keywords:

  • assessment criteria;
  • curriculum;
  • student degree project;
  • dental education

Abstract

Background

Undergraduate degree projects have currently been introduced into courses in the four Swedish dental schools. The rationale for research projects is that they enable students to develop research expertise skills and to show their ability to apply and develop knowledge relevant to professional practice. This paper reports a qualitative analysis of the curriculum documents and handbooks including the criteria used to assess the students' research reports. The aim was to investigate commonalities and differences in the design of degree projects between the four Swedish dental schools and to explore any inconsistencies within the documents.

Methods

The documentary analysis was based on the constant comparison method.

Results

Four overarching themes emerged from the analysis: (i) developing scientific expertise, (ii) developing professional expertise, (iii) following rules and (iv) fostering creativity.

Conclusions

The documents from the four dental schools revealed similar views on the purposes of the projects and provided similar assessment criteria. The students were requested to formulate an odontological problem, apply a relevant scientific method, analyse texts and empirical data, express critical reflections and write a short thesis. The students were free to choose topics. There were differences between the dental schools on the emphasis placed on practical uses of the projects and theoretical background of the projects. Two of the schools insisted on rigid rules of completing and writing the project yet paradoxically emphasised creativity. There were wide variations in the required length of the project report. The report may prove useful to dental schools in other countries who are about to design undergraduate research projects.