WVU professors present at national ADEA meeting

Topics included economic impact on dentistry, inclusive learning environments

One of the most compelling issues in dental education, past and present, is cost and student debt.  The concern intensifies when coupled with uncertainties related to a fragile economy.

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) hosted its fall meeting October 27 – 28 in St. Louis, Missouri. The meeting is for dental “faculty, staff, students and administrators to tackle today’s critical issues and navigate the rapidly changing landscape of dental education from all angles.” The 2022 ADEA Fall Meetings included a plenary on the impact of the economy on dental education. 

Two faculty members from West Virginia University School of Dentistry shared their experiences at the national meeting.

Dr. Shelia Price, associate dean of dental admission, recruitment and access, was a panelist with three others for the presentation, “The impact of the economy on dental education before, during and beyond”. She was joined by a university provost, an economist and ADA workforce research analyst to discuss economic influences on future applicants, current students, and dental practices.

Price's input focused on school application and enrollment trends in light of historical economic shifts and also brought attention to potential impacts of high school graduation and college enrollment projections on shaping future applicant pools.

"I always depart ADEA conferences with renewed enthusiasm, helpful resources, and a reinvigorated commitment to cultivating a “future-ready” oral health workforce," Price said. "Early in my career, while attending the ADEA Annual Session for the first time, previous Dean and mentor Dr. W. Robert Biddington introduced me to several leaders and educators from other dental schools. Over the years, I adopted the same mentoring strategy to pay forward what Dr. Biddington did to support my career advancement."

Elizabeth Puette, assistant professor in the department of dental hygiene, also attended ADEA’s fall meeting where she experienced Dr. Price paying it forward. 

"Dr. Price was so supportive and enthusiastic at the meeting and is a true mentor.  It was obvious that she knew quite a few of the attendees and has a wonderful professional network.  I am grateful for her introducing me to a few oral health peers that I hope to see at future meetings," Puette said. 

Puette was among a small group selected for poster presentations. She shared her unique experience using Universal Design in Learning (UDL) in courses. Educators who integrate UDL concepts aim to create an inclusive environment that accommodates the needs and abilities of diverse learners.

Puette teaches head and neck anatomy to dental hygiene students. She has designed content and interactive lessons in her course to help reduce learning barriers and collectively accommodate her students. Puette’s report was just one of 31 posters from across the country accepted for presentation at the event.

Book suggestion if interested in learning more about UDL: “Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education” by Thomas J Tobin and Kirsten T Behling