Objectives: The need to encourage dental students to do research and to facilitate the involvement of research students is necessary for the future of dental education. Tufts University School of Dental Medicine has instituted a Dean's Research Honors Scholarship to mentor and guide select students who indicate a strong desire to pursue research throughout their predoctoral program. This study examines the level of research involvement in all applicants to the program.
Methods: An invitation to apply for the Dean's Research Scholarship is sent to all incoming first-year students the summer before enrolling. Applications consist of a 1-2 page statement-of-interest describing research experience and future goals. The selection committee examines each applicant's transcript(s), DAT scores, and admissions interview notes along with the essay to determine which five students best demonstrate the drive and ability to handle the workload associated with starting research during the academic year. Those accepted to the program receive a $3000 tuition scholarship. Participation in the program is recorded on their transcript. Research Scholars select a faculty research mentor in September and meet monthly with their mentor for journal article discussions in preparation for designing their own summer research project, and eventual poster presentation.
Results: As a result of this program and other research initiatives, overall yearly student participation in research has risen from 24 to 42 in five years. The initial group of Scholars (D09) retained 2 out of the 5 accepted for all four years of dental school. The latest graduating group of Scholars (D11) retained 100% of the originally accepted for all four years.
Conclusions: The institution of a competitive award that singles out exceptional research students has added to the research profile of the dental school and has shown success in encouraging dental students to be involved in research throughout their time at school.
Keywords: Assessment, Education research, Effectiveness and Evaluation
See more of: Education Research