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Keywords:

  • attitudes;
  • dental education;
  • faculty development;
  • higher education;
  • Irish;
  • perceived barriers

Abstract

Introduction:  International studies suggest that dental faculty are resistant to the concept and practice of faculty development. This paper analyses the demographic and educational profile of Irish Dental Faculty, exploring their attitudes to educational initiatives.

Methods and materials:  Irish dental faculty were invited to participate in a national study on perceived educational needs. A custom-designed questionnaire was distributed using a ‘mixed-method’ approach, incorporating both quantitative and qualitative components. Overall response rate was 64.6%.

Results:  Analysis of the demographic profile of Irish dental faculty reveals a male dominated regime (64%). Whilst faculty possess many professional qualifications and extensive clinical experience, most have little or no training in how to teach. Many had attended teacher training programmes; however, 92% merely attended infrequent, informal sessions. Less than a third (30%) of the part-time staff had attended teacher training (P ≤ 0.05), few faculty members had any formal teacher training. Whilst the study revealed a low level of engagement with existing teaching support services, there appeared to be considerable support for the concept of faculty development as 75% were willing to attend teacher training courses. This refutes previous suggestions that dental educators are resistant to educational concepts. Attitudes to faculty development varied significantly with age, gender and time since last qualification. This report presents a detailed analysis of learning needs, and a review of the perceived barriers/inducements to participation.

Conclusion:  This study indicates that targeted educational interventions, with content and delivery tailored to the specific needs of recipients, are most likely to succeed.