How curriculum mapping can help dental schools

Sofia offers a tech-driven solution for analysing and improving curricula through mapping software

“Teeth are always in style” — Dr Seuss

Visiting the dentist isn’t the nation’s favourite pastime, but as a profession dentistry is certainly attractive. Currently, there are over 113,000 registered dental professionals in the UK.

Dentistry is likely to become increasingly competitive for institutions training dental professionals.

The chair of the Dental Schools Council has stated that there is a ratio of approximately 15:1 ratio of applicants to places in most undergraduate dental schools in the UK, a figure likely to have increased during the pandemic.

If dental schools hope to expand to meet a growing demand, they must continue to demonstrate to applicants that their course content meets GDC standards. They also need to be prepared for regular monitoring and inspections from the GDC itself. One way of doing this is with curriculum mapping.

Sofia: A Tool for Curriculum Mapping

Sofia is an interactive curriculum mapping tool, developed by Isotoma, with the School of Medicine at Imperial College London.

It offers a tech-driven solution for analysing and improving curricula, and for signposting students to key areas of study, while also providing an essential overview of course content:

  • Students can view their individual pathways through a curriculum, and have a clear overview of how different course components relate to each other.

  • University staff can browse the curriculum at any level, and manage and track changes to it.

Sofia offers expert and comprehensive visualisation of all curriculum data on one screen. This is ideal for editing the curriculum before releasing it to students, and for professional bodies to verify it against their standards.

It is a cloud-hosted application, tested extensively to ensure security and full GDPR compliance.

Why Use Curriculum Mapping for Dentistry Courses?

While individual course content is important, so is the bigger picture. The different parts of a curriculum must fit together and complement each other, to provide a complete learning programme.

This is about how different courses are horizontally coherent, compatible across content and grades; but also how they are vertically coherent, within a logical sequence, as students learn, stage by stage.

Curriculum mapping also addresses the coherence of subject areas, to make sure students will receive a compatible level of instruction and gain sufficient knowledge, across equivalent courses.

Finally, the different areas of a curriculum must work together to provide the student with an outcome that incorporates a range of skills and depth of knowledge. This is interdisciplinary coherence.

Visualisation and Curriculum Mapping

Visualisation is a key aspect of how Sofia works. Data visualisation is effective for two reasons:

  • Sense-making, and

  • Communication.

At one level, certain information is abstract, describing non-physical things, statistical data, for example.

Visualisation gives it a form, and helps locate it in relation to other information.

In Sofia’s approach to curriculum mapping, the user can view curriculum content in different, visually dynamic ways.

This isn’t design for its own sake, but a means of presenting important, inter-related data coherently, in an extremely user-friendly way.

By taking an interactive approach using dedicated software, Sofia automates the otherwise labour-intensive tasks surrounding curriculum mapping, the visualisation of data, and displaying the relationships between different types of information.

Sofia in Action

Sofia has gone live at Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, making the requirement to provide vital curriculum information to the GMC a faster, more efficient process.

This is following its launch at Imperial College London in 2015-16.

As a state of the art curriculum mapping tool, Sofia is highly adaptable for different teaching environments. Recently, the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Dublin adopted Sofia for its curriculum mapping.

This will help ensure that veterinary graduates there can continue to work in the UK by demonstrating that its courses meet RCVS standards.

Sofia: Your answer to curriculum compliance

Sofia offers bespoke curriculum mapping capabilities for dental schools, helping them monitor and manage their curricula, while supporting their students.

And in the competitive world of dental education, Sofia will help course providers demonstrate their ongoing curriculum compliance.

For more details, please contact the Sofia team today.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Curriculum mapping in veterinary education How Does Your University Prepare to Implement Curriculum Mapping?