Using Situated Learning Theory to Build an Interactive Learning Environment to Foster Dental Students' Professionalism: An Ignite Project

Karin K. Quick, Christine M. Blue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Recognition that professionalism is at the heart of dentistry's contract with society has led to an emphasis on educational strategies designed to improve cultivation of professional behaviors. The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a project based on situated learning theory and using an Ignite format to support dental students' learning and promote professionalism. Learning activities were evaluated in terms of new thinking, changing perspectives, and professional relationships. Professional relationship development and professional self-identity were explored. First-year dental students (n=108) enrolled in a two-semester professional development course at one U.S. dental school in fall 2017 comprised the study sample; all participated in the study. The mixed-methods study design used simultaneous triangulation with the qualitative component adding insight to the evaluation results. A 25-question evaluation form was used to collect quantitative data, and student self-assessment essays provided qualitative information. On the survey, the students' responses were generally agree/strongly agree and ranged from 60% (creating the presentation, changed perspective on academic integrity) to 98% (interaction and discussion with facilitators, appreciate professional relationships beyond dental school). Four themes emerged from content analysis of the essays: Behavior and Consequences: Academic Integrity and Professionalism, Patient Trust: Conflicts of Interest, Professional Interactions, and Professional Standards and Reputation. Overall, this Ignite project was found to advance the desired learning goals with respect to initial professional development. The social interactions with peers and outside practitioners facilitated introspection and learning. Students saw themselves as part of a profession, they started to appreciate and develop professional relationships, and many left the event with a deeper understanding of issues related to academic integrity, professional behavior, and conflicts of interests in dental practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-341
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Dental Education Association


  • dental education
  • educational methodology
  • ethics
  • learning environment
  • professionalism
  • situated learning


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