School Services

Assessment Drives Instruction

May 24, 2021

Rick Callan, DMD, EdS, EdD
VP, School and Student Services




As an educator I firmly believe that assessment drives instruction. I will take that one step further to say that assessment drives the curriculum. There can be no better example of this concept than the curriculum of most dental schools within the United States. Prior to the introduction of the Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INDBE), the national board examination was divided into two parts: Part 1, taken in the later part of the second year, was primarily didactic in nature while Part 2 was routinely administered during the fall of the senior year, and was more clinically oriented. The dental school curriculum was designed to match the emphasis of these two parts of the test, putting the bulk of the didactic material into the first two years while delaying the students’ introduction into clinical dentistry, primarily until the last two years of their formal dental education. For years, those of us in dental education struggled to find effective methods of teaching students the importance of this information and to resist the inevitable purge that accompanied the passing of Part I of the national board.


The INDBE is designed to emphasize the clinical relevance of the didactic information, encouraging students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to the treatment of their patients. While the INDBE has become a reality, the curriculum of most dental schools remains unaltered. Few have taken the opportunity to adapt their curriculum to the new norm and to afford the benefits of early clinical exposure to their students. Modern learning theory tells us that the closer a simulation is to reality, the more prepared one will be when they are exposed to the real thing. It is also no surprise that the more experience one has practicing a skill, the better chance they will have mastering that skill.


Another learning concept that needs to be integrated into the dental curriculum is On-Time Learning. Students should be given the opportunity to apply, in an actual clinical situation, skills they learn in the pre-clinical arena as close to the skill acquisition as possible. One should not have to wait a year after learning how to do a Class II restoration before being given the opportunity to perform that treatment in a clinical setting.


Realigning the dental curriculum to promote on-time learning will not only enhance a student’s retention of the skill, but it will also afford additional clinical exposure throughout their dental school career. In addition, the juxtaposition of the bulk of the didactic material to the later part of dental school will provide the student additional relevance to the material being presented and a better appreciation for the “need-to-know” what is being taught. Positioning the learning of the didactic material closer to the time it is being tested will also encourage retention.


I would encourage dental schools to take advantage of the implementation of the INDBE, to realign their curriculum to match the assessment, thus improving the clinical knowledge and performance of their graduates.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Current teaching methods focus on skill building.  PDS advocates a multimodal learning approach, which can be used for skill building, but extends into repetition boosting and end to end workflow experience. Currently, most schools use didactic courses coupled with typodonts and manikins to teach clinical skills. Multimodal learning augments traditional learning modes by adding proprioception through the integration of three-dimensional haptic technology. By using didactic courses, manikins, virtual-haptic simulation, digital dentistry and dental software, the student becomes more engaged, and learning is strengthened.

We have found that most schools are unaware of the need for additional learning modalities. The incorporation of innovative technology and services can help schools address challenges such as remediation, and more recently, Covid. Remediation of students is expensive and is limited by clinic space and faculty monitoring. Covid has severely reduced the amount of patient appointments and opportunities for skill repetition. Technology, like the Simodont Dental Trainer, will allow students access to self-guided remediation and receive objective assessments. A student logs-in, completes the skill exercise module and submits the results. Skill building and repetition boosting will improve the student outcomes and decrease failure rates.

PDS works with dental schools and dental hygiene programs to evolve their educational curriculum. Integration of the multimodal learning model requires more than the purchase of equipment. Our Value-added services include:

  • Cloud Support & Analytic Services-Secure hosting with value added services for making suggestions (Idea Box), to conveniently schedule expert advice (Ask the Doctor) and an analytics dashboard to provide secure, comprehensive data for student progress assessments.
  • Collaboration Programs -Assists schools with using their technological assets to raise revenue.
  • Pre-Admissions Boot Camp-Courses and subscriptions that help students gain experience and gain a competitive advantage for admission to dental or dental hygiene school.

International Dentist Program-Supports Internationally trained dentists who wish to be admitted to dental schools, Advance Standing Programs, or Advanced Education in General Dentistry Programs

You will feel confident in knowing that our online Knowledge Base is available 24/7. This customer help center provides customers the ability to retrieve important information around the clock. Here, you will find a library of frequently asked questions along with the answer and associated instructions. If you don’t see your concern addressed in the library, simply complete and submit your technical support ticket. One of our team members will quickly follow up to address your issue.

There are 2 options for acquiring the Simodont Dental Trainer.

  • Purchase: Quotes for the purchase will be provided by Kilgore International.
  • Lease: Lease agreements will be provided by Promethean Financial Services, a subsidiary of Promethean Dental Services.

Promethean Dental Systems collaborates with Kilgore International and Nissin Dental to perform alignment with your internal IT department, align on the delivery date, and provide installation, configuration, and training services.  If you need assistance from Promethean Dental Systems, please go to our Contact Us webpage and provide your contact information and questions.