Assessment in postgraduate dental education: an evaluation of strengths and weaknesses

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  • University of Cambridge


This paper describes a study designed to evaluate assessment in postgraduate dental education in England, identifying strengths and weaknesses and focusing specifically on its relevance, consistency and cost-effectiveness. METHODS: A four-phase qualitative method was used: a mapping of current career paths, assessment policy, and issues (phase 1); more detailed studies of the practice of assessment for a range of courses, and the systemic/management perspective of assessment (i.e. quality assurance) (phases 2 and 3), and analysis and reporting (phase 4). Data were analysed from documents, interviews, group consultations and observations. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Five key issues may be distilled from the findings: (i) lack of formal assessment of general professional training; (ii) trainer variation in assessment; (iii) the extent to which assessments are appropriate indicators of later success; (iv) the relationship between assessment and patient care, and (v) data to assess the costs of assessment. CONCLUSION: Current assessment procedures might be improved if consideration is given to: assessment which supports an integrated period of general professional training; training for trainers and inspection procedures to address variation; more authentic assessments, based directly on clinical work and grading cases and posts, and better data on allocation of resources, in particular clinicians' time given to assessment.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-543
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2001


  • dental, standards, education, medical, graduate, cost effectiveness, professional competence, educational measurement, curriculum, education, reliability and validity, Great Britain