Developing the Teaching Skills of Part-Time Dental Educators

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John A.G. Buchanan, MSc FDS (OM) RCPS Glasg FDS RCS Eng FRCP John Ho, MSc MScMEd DCH FRCPCH FHEA David Perry, BA (Hons) MA PGCE CPE (Law)


Background: Well-conducted peer observation of teaching (POT) can be an effective tool in enhancing teaching quality and educator development in healthcare teaching including dentistry. Experience suggests that its effectiveness depends on the environment in which it is undertaken.  A previous study investigated engagement with POT by a dental school faculty in the UK and identified barriers to its routine use for educator development. These barriers are particularly problematic for part-time educators who play an increasingly significant, but frequently underestimated role, in undergraduate dental teaching, complementing the teaching of full-time clinical academics.  Owing to the part-time nature of their roles, opportunities for their teaching development are limited. This can lead to dissatisfaction and a lack of fulfillment, and ultimately their loss from teaching faculty.

Aims: This study explores POT’s utility for the development of part-time dental educators’ (PTDEs).  Specifically it (i) audited their engagement with POT, (ii) reviewed the design(s) employed, (iii) assessed participant’s perceived value of it and (iv) explored methods to maximize its utility for their teaching development.

Method: Teaching roles and experience, current engagement and experience of POT of part-time educators employed in a UK dental school were explored using a mixed methodology survey. Free-text responses were subjected to thematic analysis and emerging themes were subsequently explored iteratively by undertaking observations of seven part-time educators in various dental teaching environments. A developmental POT approach was used to assess utility.

Results: Of 44 surveys distributed, 27 (61%) completed surveys were returned. 24 (89%) respondents reported that POT was of some or high value and resulted in enhanced teaching quality. Respondents experienced difficulties undertaking POT annually with only 14 (52%) achieving this.  Observer choice emerged as fundamental to its utility. Additionally, the study identified a number of barriers to its effective use. 

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How to Cite
BUCHANAN, John A.G.; HO, John; PERRY, David. Developing the Teaching Skills of Part-Time Dental Educators. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 3, mar. 2023. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 apr. 2024. doi:
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