• dental education;
  • curriculum development;
  • competency;
  • problem-based learning

The first class to complete the new Adelaide problem-based learning curriculum graduated in 1997. Their self-perceived competence at graduation was assessed using a revised version of a questionnaire recently compiled and used in Toronto, and based on the global competencies for dental practice accepted in 1995 by all Canadian Faculties of Dentistry. 38 of the 45 Adelaide class members (84%) completed the survey, compared with 93/129 (72%) in Toronto, and their responses were largely similar to those of the Toronto students. At least 67% of the Adelaide and Toronto students felt well-prepared in 34 of the 55 competencies. Most felt well-prepared for the basic everyday items such as diagnosis, local anaesthesia and basic restorative, but less so for items that are not encountered as often in dental school, such as business matters, practice management, soft tissue biopsies and dentofacial trauma. Items showing significant differences between the 2 schools are discussed with reference to curricular and other dissimilarities in the schools, and some inferences are drawn about the importance of context to learning and feelings of competence.