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Student View - Enquiry Based Learning in the Manchester Dental School

by YPU Admin on June 4, 2020, Comments. Tags: biology medicine health, BMH, dental hospital, dental school, dentist, dentistry, and EBL

About Me

Hi everyone, my name is Ayoola Bode and I am a fourth-year dental student at the University of Manchester. Being a dental student has been both a rewarding and challenging experience as you are learning a lot of new information and trying to develop intricate manual skills for clinical dentistry. However, Dentistry is such an interesting and varied course to study.

In fourth year, we’ve been able to treat children for the first time and it’s such a nice feeling being able to reassure them and give them stickers at the end of appointments. During my time in dental school, I’ve taken part in various societies and initiatives, but my greatest achievement has to be being elected as co-president of the Manchester Dental Student Society this academic year. It has allowed me to truly be involved within my dental school and organise events to bring dental students together. Here's a picture of my wonderful committee!

What is EBL?

Manchester Dental School is known for its unique approach to learning by the use of Enquiry Based Learning (EBL). EBL is a form of active learning that utilises posing questions or identifying issues from cases or scenarios which students independently research to develop their knowledge from the questions or issues identified. EBL is carried out within a small group of 8 to 10 students, mediated by a facilitator but it is very much student-led. I see EBL simply as a style of learning that is really driven by curiosity.

There are different roles taken on during an EBL session:

  • A chair – this person leads the group in reading the new case out loud, directs the group to identify any new or unfamiliar words in the case and stimulates the group discussion.
  • A scribe – this person notes down key points during the discussion and learning objectives the group set for themselves.
  • Other students – contribute ideas and engage in discussion.
  • University tutor – acts as a facilitator and ensures that key topic areas to be picked up on have been discussed or added to the learning objectives.

In first and second year, EBL works via a 2-week rotation timetable:

  • Week 1 (session 1): Monday - A new case is discussed in EBL groups (1 hr)
  • Week 2 (session 2): Wednesday - Discuss what you have researched (1.5 hrs)
  • Week 2 (session 3): Friday - Group Assessment (1hr)

At the start of every new EBL case, a new scribe and chair are chosen, so by the end of the term, everyone would have had a chance to take on a more active role. There is an assessment during session 3 of each case which contributes to the overall coursework grade at the end of the year. You do get to do the assessments within your groups, and they are more like activities instead of the traditional question and answer written assessment format which makes them a bit more fun.

In between session 1 and session 2, EBL is always supplemented by lectures, anatomy classes or lab practicals that link to the general theme of the case being worked on for the 2 weeks. For example, in second year, we had a case that revolved around blood pressure and in a lab session we learnt how to take each other’s blood pressure and the anatomy classes for those two weeks involved examining a heart prosection from a cadaver while being taught by an anatomy demonstrator.

How has EBL benefited my learning?

Initially, EBL seemed very daunting and too independent, but each case is so well supplemented by teaching and I eventually adjusted to the style of learning during my first term of first year. EBL is beneficial as it creates a safe space to ask questions and be inquisitive. It has allowed me to improve my ability to explain complex scientific ideas to people in a simple way which in turn has made me more confident in my ideas and a better communicator.

Useful links from Manchester Dental School: