Lead Author Affiliation

Doctor of Dental Surgery

Lead Author Program & Year

DDS Year 2

Presentation Category

Research

Introduction/Context/Diagnosis

The Hack-a-thon concept has been used many times in the tech industry. An amalgamation of the words “Hack” and “Marathon”, these events were originally utilized by the computer programming field and other areas of software development. Hack-a-thons created an environment that encouraged creativity and innovation within a small but efficient timeframe 1 . The invested interest of participants in the Hack-a-thon’s subject matter, along with prizes, which ranged from recognition to potential sponsorship with reputable companies, proved effective in making these events a success.

The application of the Hack-a-thon event to the dental curriculum originated in 2015, when Irina Dragan, DDS, MS of Tufts University was a resident and adapted the concept to spark what is now a nationwide interest in creating academic innovation events like these for dental education 2 . This event spurred the creation of the first ever West Coast Curriculum Hack-a-thon in 2018. Headed by Dr. Raymond Lee, former student and Vice Chair of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Chapter at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the West Coast Hack-a-thon aimed to engage students and have fun, learn a systematic framework for curriculum design, and teach the faculty judges a new way of curriculum design involving student participation.

Student-generated ideas from academic innovation events such as the Hack-a-thon have alluded to a potential shift in dental education design that incorporates student insight, who arguably are one of the highest stakeholders in their learning. An exploratory, cross sectional study by Saffari et al distributed 2 surveys among the four faculty-student pairs of the 2016 Curriculum Hack-a-thon at Tufts University 3 . The results revealed valuable student insights in dental curriculum reform, suggesting that student feedback could inform changes in the dental curriculum model.

The University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry ADEA Chapter, with the support of the ADEA District 11 Commissioner, Parisa Moravedje Torbaty, and the District 11 Board, hosted the 3 rd Annual West Coast Curriculum Hack-a-thon on February 22, 2020. This event not only reinforced the goals laid out by UCSF in 2016, but also included the theme of “The Non-Traditional Dental Student”, which challenged the student participants to carefully consider this unique student population in their curriculum design.

In higher education, non-traditional students now account for more than 40% of enrolled students 4 , and a study by Anderson in 2016 stated that this is projected to grow rapidly 5 . A literature review by Macdonald highlighted several needs of the non-traditional student, including early interventions, differentiated instruction, flexibility in courses, and a strong connection with the instructors 6 . The organizers of the Hack-a-thon at the Dugoni School of Dentistry sought to incorporate this theme to spur discussion about the ideal dental curriculum that may incorporate the needs of both traditional 4-year undergraduate students and these students that may possess more real-world experience 7 .

Based on the event’s positive record of success in dental education, the organizers utilized the Hack-a-thon concept as a learning method that not only informed school faculty and administration on emerging themes in curricular design, but also promoted student involvement in their dental education and introduced them to the intricacies of creating a dental program for the non-traditional student. We highlight in this reflection the methods and materials used in the event’s organization, the results informed by the student and faculty participants, and what these findings suggest for the future of dental education.

Methods/Treatment Plan

This event revolved around our collaboration with faculty at Pacific and our involvement with the ADEA District 11 Commissioner. To develop a theme and organize the necessary content we had meetings, coordinated with our faculty mentor Dr. Iyer, involving interested participants from the Curriculum Committee. In these meetings, we discussed inherent issues in dental education in conjunction with a literature review, finally deciding that variable time to degree for non-traditional dental student candidates with a variety of experiences would be a relevant topic for modern dental education.

To develop this theme, we held think tanks where faculty pulled their experiences with non-traditional applicants together to compile compelling and realistic Curriculum Vitaes (CVs) that would be distributed during the event. Members of Pacific’s ADEA student chapter assisted in the creation of 12 CV drafts of theoretical non-traditional applicants, along with developing a grading rubric and defining these aforementioned areas of focus for the participants.

These CVs ranged from an experienced ceramist to a PhD holder in a different field and the subsets of the curriculum the participants would look at were defined as the following: · Pre-Clinical Education : Simulation courses and the essentials of clinical dentistry · Clinical Education : Rotations, clinic, and patient care · Basic and Biomedical Sciences Education : Anatomical and Biomedical science courses · Health Care Delivery Sciences and Systems : Practice management, community outreach, and behavioral science

We then defined aspects of the curriculum that we felt could be either accelerated or decelerated based on the experiences of non-traditional dental school applicants.

To prepare student participants for the event, information regarding Hack-a-thon and the theme were sent to their registered email addresses one week in advance of the event date. In addition, four journal articles/bulletins were selected from the literature review and sent to the participants to allow them time to brainstorm and prepare for the event 2,6,7,8 . Along with the articles, an itinerary was sent to all participants informing them of the event schedule.

On the day of the event, Each of these categories were assigned to a group of participants, along with the CV drafts, and the groups had to utilize their applicants to formulate creative solutions to the process of that student obtaining licensure requirements in their respective category. With regards to event organization, we utilized our various cabinet members to assist with funding allocation and graphic design to generate marketing materials. Funding was especially difficult to procure as we were denied funding from the national ADEA board to host this event, something which had been the fiscal foundation in previous iterations of our event. We looked to gain support of the event from vendors, the various participating universities, and other ADEA-affiliated sponsors to help us accomplish this event.

Results/Outcome

This event took place on February 22, 2020 at the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA and was attended by around 80 students and faculty representing the major District 11 dental schools. Students used a large portion of the morning and early afternoon to compile presentations addressing their CV and rubric category, and then presented to a panel of judges who evaluated based on the grading criteria created. After all the presentations, the judges selected a winning team and prizes were distributed. Surveys were conducted at the beginning and end of the event to assess student and judge experiences during the event, including the student’s perspective on dental education after having attended our event. These surveys showed a great increase in student awareness regarding the structure of a curriculum.

Three faculty responses were also received, indicating a greater understanding of curriculum innovation events as a whole and the importance of holding collaborative educational events.

Significance/Conclusions

The purpose of this event included the following: 1.) To continue the tradition of the West Coast Hack-a-Thon and spark student engagement in dental curriculum. 2.) To establish an environment for dental students to express their creativity and propose innovative solutions to common challenges in the dental curriculum. 3.) To connect and network with dental students in District 11 and forge professional connections. 4.) To inspire students to be active in their dental education and consider a career in dental education.

Four of the six California dental schools were represented in the student participants. A diverse group of school year levels were present, with the majority being D2 students (45% of respondents).

As an opportunity for learning and collaboration, academic innovation events such as these have had a standing history in providing a vehicle for student innovation and participation in the dental curriculum 3 . As student comments in the event’s post-survey declared a resounding agreement that the event greatly exceeded their expectations and highlighted that curriculum design and working with students from other dental schools were some of the best parts of the event.

The five student teams created meaningful, thoughtful powerpoint presentations that displayed their curriculum design in consideration of the non-traditional student CV they received. Faculty judges commented that the concepts presented were thoughtful and that student engagement was impressive to see.

The event also seems to be a valuable tool for introducing students to curriculum design. In comparing the pre- and post- survey responses to the question, “How would you rate your current understanding of curriculum design?”, there was a significant change of the student responses, from 14 students rating their understanding as a 3 or less on a 5-point Likert scale, to only 4 students rating their understanding as 3 or less after the event had taken place. This suggests that academic innovation events such as Hack-a-thons applied to any subject could increase.

In consideration of the unique skills and experience the non-traditional student applied, some students noted it was challenging to incorporate this into the traditional dental curriculum, underscoring the challenge that dental school across the United States face. Non-traditional students also include foreign-trained dentists who currently require successful completion of a 2 or 3 year dental education in a CODA-accredited dental school in order to practice in the US 9,10 . Some dental schools have integrated advanced standing programs wherein foreign-trained dentists learn alongside traditional pre-doctoral students. Some benefits of this concept include diversity in treatment perspectives, maturity, and increased expertise in the profession. This approach could inform decisions for other populations of non-traditional students as well. Academic innovation events such as Hack-a-thons could inform future curriculum design that includes all concerns that need to be addressed for non-traditional students.

In conclusion, the development, organization, and implementation of the 3rd Annual West Coast Curriculum Hack-a-thon was a resounding success. Student participants enjoyed the collaboration and freedom to be creative in revamping the design of their education. Positive faculty response was due to the thoughtful presentations and discussion with students, and many were convinced that it was a valuable learning experience to engage students in their learning. Data and information collected from student participation could inform changes in dental curriculum design for the benefit of future students. Finally, the Hack-a-thon concept could be applied to other subject matter, which could take advantage of the participant benefits discussed above.

Comments/Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Parisa Moravedje Torbaty for her support, inspiration, and positivity as an instrumental Co-Organizer of this event; Dr. Parvati Iyer, our faculty mentor, and Drs. Daniel Bender, Cindy Lyon, and Sinky Zheng for their guidance, feedback, and commitment to academic excellence; Janelle Palomares, whom without her guidance, this event would not have been possible; The Pacific ADEA Chapter Cabinet, whose collaborative spirit made Hack-a-thon a huge success; The student participants and the for their creative, innovative ideas that underscore the importance of academic innovation events like these; The faculty judges for their time and dedication; And last but not least, we would like to thank Dr. Nader Nadershahi, a true role model who continues to inspire us to innovate and think boldly in the world of dental education.

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The 3rd Annual West Coast Curriculum Hack-a-thon: An Academic Innovation Event

The Hack-a-thon concept has been used many times in the tech industry. An amalgamation of the words “Hack” and “Marathon”, these events were originally utilized by the computer programming field and other areas of software development. Hack-a-thons created an environment that encouraged creativity and innovation within a small but efficient timeframe 1 . The invested interest of participants in the Hack-a-thon’s subject matter, along with prizes, which ranged from recognition to potential sponsorship with reputable companies, proved effective in making these events a success.

The application of the Hack-a-thon event to the dental curriculum originated in 2015, when Irina Dragan, DDS, MS of Tufts University was a resident and adapted the concept to spark what is now a nationwide interest in creating academic innovation events like these for dental education 2 . This event spurred the creation of the first ever West Coast Curriculum Hack-a-thon in 2018. Headed by Dr. Raymond Lee, former student and Vice Chair of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) Chapter at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the West Coast Hack-a-thon aimed to engage students and have fun, learn a systematic framework for curriculum design, and teach the faculty judges a new way of curriculum design involving student participation.

Student-generated ideas from academic innovation events such as the Hack-a-thon have alluded to a potential shift in dental education design that incorporates student insight, who arguably are one of the highest stakeholders in their learning. An exploratory, cross sectional study by Saffari et al distributed 2 surveys among the four faculty-student pairs of the 2016 Curriculum Hack-a-thon at Tufts University 3 . The results revealed valuable student insights in dental curriculum reform, suggesting that student feedback could inform changes in the dental curriculum model.

The University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry ADEA Chapter, with the support of the ADEA District 11 Commissioner, Parisa Moravedje Torbaty, and the District 11 Board, hosted the 3 rd Annual West Coast Curriculum Hack-a-thon on February 22, 2020. This event not only reinforced the goals laid out by UCSF in 2016, but also included the theme of “The Non-Traditional Dental Student”, which challenged the student participants to carefully consider this unique student population in their curriculum design.

In higher education, non-traditional students now account for more than 40% of enrolled students 4 , and a study by Anderson in 2016 stated that this is projected to grow rapidly 5 . A literature review by Macdonald highlighted several needs of the non-traditional student, including early interventions, differentiated instruction, flexibility in courses, and a strong connection with the instructors 6 . The organizers of the Hack-a-thon at the Dugoni School of Dentistry sought to incorporate this theme to spur discussion about the ideal dental curriculum that may incorporate the needs of both traditional 4-year undergraduate students and these students that may possess more real-world experience 7 .

Based on the event’s positive record of success in dental education, the organizers utilized the Hack-a-thon concept as a learning method that not only informed school faculty and administration on emerging themes in curricular design, but also promoted student involvement in their dental education and introduced them to the intricacies of creating a dental program for the non-traditional student. We highlight in this reflection the methods and materials used in the event’s organization, the results informed by the student and faculty participants, and what these findings suggest for the future of dental education.