Method: The behavior of 50 students was observed and recorded on an annotations sheet during execution of several clinical procedures during the two semesters of the pediatric dentistry at Bauru School of Dentistry/University of São Paulo, Brazil. The main technical and cognitive difficulties of the students were evaluated by identifying episodes of assistance necessity requested by them or detected by the responsible supervisor. The type of assistance offered to students was classified as the need for only verbal guidance or direct intervention in the patient by the supervisor. Likewise, it was recorded if such difficulties (technical or cognitive) were related to a clinical step or all clinical sequence.
A qualitative analyzes permitted to detect that there was an increase in the number of procedures performed without assistance and a decrease of those with some type of necessity from 1st to the 2nd semester. During the period of the study 81 observations were performed. Of these, 22 (27.2%) were without assistance necessity and 59 (72.8%) with some type of assistance of the supervisor. Considering these last episodes, 116 clinical procedures were evaluated, from which 66 (56.9%) were requested by students and 50 (43.1%) detected by the supervisor. Restorative treatments (43.9%) and isolation of the operative field (28%) were the most frequent procedures both requested by students and detected by the supervisor, respectively. The technical difficulties decreased in the 2nd semester, reaching levels below those projected based on it was observed in the previous semester.
Conclusion: Although the results suggest an improvement in students’ clinical performance during the practical activities, they indicate some deficiencies which deserve restatements, adjustments or definitions of new pedagogical strategies that favor the teaching-learning process.
Keywords: Clinical Competence, Education research, Learning and Pedodontics
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