A systematic review of the use of self assessment in preclinical and clinical dental education

Keith A. Mays, Grishondra L. Branch-Mays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


A desired outcome of dental and dental hygiene programs is the development of students' self-assessment skills. To that end, the Commission on Dental Accreditation states that "graduates must demonstrate the ability to self-assess." However, it is unclear that merely providing opportunity for self-assessment actually leads to the desired outcome. The aim of this study was to systematically review the literature on self-assessment in dental education. A search of English-language articles for the past 25 years (January 1, 1990, to June 30, 2015) was performed using MEDLINE Medical Subject Heading terms. Each abstract and/or article was validated for inclusion. The data collected included student classification, self-assessment environment, faculty assessment, training, faculty calibration, predictive value, and student perceptions. A qualitative analysis was also performed. From an initial list of 258 articles, 19 were selected for inclusion; exclusion criteria included studies that evaluated a non-preclinical or non-clinical exercise or whose subjects were not predoctoral dental or dental hygiene students. The results showed limited information regarding any kind of systematic training of students on how to perform a self-assessment. The majority of the studies also did not specify the impact of self-assessment on student performance. Self-assessment was primarily performed in the second year and in the preclinical environment. Students received feedback through a correlated faculty assessment in 73% of the studies, but 64% did not provide information regarding students' perceptions of self-assessment. There was a trend for students to be better self-assessors in studies in which a grade was connected to the process. In addition, there was a trend for better performing students to underrate themselves and for poorer performing students to overrate themselves and, overall, for students to score themselves higher than did their faculty evaluators. These findings suggest the need for greater attention to systematically teaching self-assessment in dental and dental hygiene curricula and for further research on the impact of self-assessment on desired outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)902-913
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Assessment
  • Dental education
  • Dental hygiene education
  • Lifelong learning
  • Self-assessment
  • Systematic review


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