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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Fred Muskal

First Committee Member

Lynn Beck

Second Committee Member

Matthew Normand

Third Committee Member

Antonio Serna


This exploratory study was designed to develop a baseline model of expertise in dental education utilizing the Dreyfus and Dreyfus continuum of skill acquisition. The goal was the development of a baseline model of expertise, which will contribute to the body of knowledge about dental faculty skill acquisition and may enable dental schools to provide more relevant faculty development opportunities, and maximize scholarship potential. Employing a qualitative approach, individual interviews were conducted with two dental school academic deans and seven experienced educators who were nominated by their academic deans for their expertise in dental education. Open coding of interview responses was performed to determine categories of phenomena that recurred repetitively. The categories of novice through experienced traits were examined using the Dreyfus model. Finally, the codes developed to describe recurring themes of faculty development were interpreted relative to influence of faculty qualities on development of student qualities. Results of this study indicate that the growth of skills necessary to good teaching, expressed by these experienced educators, reflects a learning curve similar to those noted by Dreyfus and Dreyfus and other previous investigators. While dental faculty approaching the Proficient and Expert end of the Dreyfus continuum, display many of the skills descriptive of these stages, they also speak about the process of active reflection. Some unique challenges present themselves in the process of educating dental students. In addition to supporting technique development, faculty teach a wide range of non-cognitive competencies such as professionalism, communication, and an ethic of care and service. The importance of these non-cognitive qualities to patient care and collaboration with peers are essential to successful practice. Articulation of practical knowledge may not be recognized by the teacher; however, data from this study indicates that qualities to which expert faculty are most sensitive influence dental student development profoundly. These findings increase understanding of expert performance in dental education and provide support for dental faculty who desire to become excellent educators. Study outcomes also have implications for exploration of hidden curricular elements embedded in dental faculty practice and their influence on novice dental students.





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