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Article on Online Learning Assessment Wins ADEA Award

Ann Arbor, MI — February 21, 2013 — A University of Michigan School of Dentistry staff member will receive a major award during the American Dental Education Association’s annual session March 16-19 in Seattle.

Emily Springfield, an instructional designer in the School’s Department of Dental Informatics, will be among four recipients of the Olav Alvares Award for an outstanding article published by a junior author in the organization’s print and online magazine, the Journal of Dental Education.

Springfield was lead author of the article, published last April, that assessed learning effectiveness and outcomes in the School’s online degree-completion program.  Launched in January 2008, the distance learning program offers dental hygienists an opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science degree while remaining employed or maintaining family commitments.  The response to the program led to the School launching a second online learning program last September leading to a Master of Science degree in dental hygiene.

Springfield noted that the method of evaluating the School’s program “is easily adaptable and could be applied to any health science or other professional degree program.”  To evaluate the program’s effectiveness, she emphasized that “quantative measures, such as grades, publication/presentation counts, and survey results, should be combined with qualitative measures, such as focus groups and student reflections” to get a more complete evaluation of academic programs.

Noting that the online program “is academically rigorous,” she added “it requires significant active learning and application of classroom concepts to actual real-life situations.”

Coauthors included Anne Gwozdek, a clinical assistant professor of dentistry and director of the School’s Dental Hygiene Degree Completion Program; Prof. Wendy Kerschbaum, past director of the School’s dental hygiene program; and Dr. Melissa Peet, research specialist at the Ross School of Business.

“This is great news,” said Dr. William Giannobile, chair of the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine.  “The recognition from ADEA speaks well about the scholarly research as well as the online degree completion program.”

The Olav Alvares Award was launched by Dr. Olav Alvares, Journal editor from 2000 to 2009, to encourage junior scholars (assistant professors, instructors, residents, students, and staff) to conduct and publish outstanding research. 

The American Dental Education Association is the voice of dental education.  Its members include all U.S. and Canadian dental schools and many allied and postdoctoral education programs, corporations, faculty, and students.  The mission of ADEA is to lead individuals and institutions of the dental education community to address contemporary issues influencing education, research, and the delivery of oral health care for the health of the public.  For more information, visit: www.adea.org