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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 151-156

Perceptions on faculty development among dental faculty in Andhra Pradesh


1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Sibar Institute of Dental Sciences, Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Anil Neerukonda Institute of Dental Sciences, Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences, Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India
3 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Lenora Institute of Dental Sciences, Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences, Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication13-Jun-2017

Correspondence Address:
Suresh Sanikommu
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Sibar Institute of Dental Sciences, Takkellapadu, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jiaphd.jiaphd_177_16

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  Abstract 

Introduction: Development of the teaching skills by the faculty has become a critical component of health professionals' education. Faculty development is an important tool for improving educational standards. Aim: The aim of this study is to assess the perceptions on faculty development among dental faculty members in Andhra Pradesh. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted during the months of August and September 2015 in five randomly selected dental institutions of Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences, Andhra Pradesh. Semi-structured, self-administered questionnaires were distributed to faculty members who were present on the day of survey and collected personally. Chi-square test was used to analyze the categorical data using SPSS version 20. Results: A total of 130 respondents returned duly filled forms. Mean age of the respondents was 34.7 ± 6.53 years. Nearly 80% of the respondents never attended any faculty development program. Preponderance of the respondents reported a lack of any established faculty development program in their respective institutions. Half of the respondents reported that they had not received any support from their institutions for improving their teaching skills. The most frequently reported barrier for faculty development was a lack of initiation from authorities followed by excessive clinical and teaching load. Majority of the respondents felt that faculty development programs can improve standards of dental education and quality of dental care. Ninety-three percent of the faculty members were interested in attending faculty development programs. Conclusion: It is time for the institutions and authorities to initiate reforms to remove the barriers and provide institutional support for faculty development programs.

Keywords: Dental education, dental faculty, faculty development, perception


How to cite this article:
Guntupalli SN, Sanikommu S, Pachava S, Talluri D, Ravoori S, Pydi SK, Vinnakota NR. Perceptions on faculty development among dental faculty in Andhra Pradesh. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2017;15:151-6

How to cite this URL:
Guntupalli SN, Sanikommu S, Pachava S, Talluri D, Ravoori S, Pydi SK, Vinnakota NR. Perceptions on faculty development among dental faculty in Andhra Pradesh. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Sep 22];15:151-6. Available from: http://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2017/15/2/151/207914


  Introduction Top


Education can be broadly described as an act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and preparing oneself to lead a meaningful life. It is the act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge or skills, required for a profession.[1] Teaching is considered among the noblest of professions in India. “Guru” the Sanskrit word for “teacher” is given a status equal to that of god in ancient Indian scripts. As early as in the 5th century BC, Takshasila was recognized as the center for learning medicine.[2] At present, medical education in India is provided by various number of colleges, both private and government, which are generally governed by the universities of health sciences of the respective states.

The role of a teacher in a student's life is very crucial right from the time the child joins the kindergarten to the stage when he/she takes a step forward toward establishing a professional career. Not all the teachers possess the same characteristics.[3] In today's competitive world, mediocrity is not tolerated and just being good is not appreciated. Students are expecting their teachers to be at least superior if not great. Thus, development of the teaching skills by the faculty has become a critical component of health professionals' education.

Faculty development programs have been defined in several ways. According to Wilkerson and Irby,[4] it is a tool for improving the educational vitality of institutions through attention to the competencies needed by individual teachers and to institutional policies required to promote academic excellence. O'Neill and Taylor [5] quoted the American Association of Dental Schools' definition of faculty development as the continuous process in which opportunities are provided for professional growth of the individual within the academic environment.

The role of faculty development programs in improving the teaching skills has been discussed by various academicians like Wilkerson and Irby,[4] O'Neill and Taylor,[5] and O'Sullivan [6]. Faculty development is needed at all levels of faculty life, from the novice to the administrator, to address various levels of faculty involvement in the educational enterprise.[5] Faculty development is not meant merely for new teachers but should be part of dental educators' lifelong learning.[7] Academic vitality is dependent on faculty member's interest and expertise; faculty development has a critical role to play in promoting academic excellence and innovation.[4] Faculty development programs that focus on improving teaching skills result in a high level of satisfaction and self-reported gains in teaching skills among faculty members.

The paucity of information in dental literature necessitates the need to obtain an assessment of the extent to which dental faculty received faculty development training and their perspectives toward faculty development programs in Indian setting. The information obtained from such a study will help the administrators and policymakers to recognize the needs and desires of faculty pertaining to faculty development initiatives in dental education and to initiate faculty development programs. This study was conducted to assess the perceptions on faculty development among the faculty members of dental institutions in the state of Andhra Pradesh.


  Materials and Methods Top


A descriptive cross-sectional survey was conducted among the faculty members of dental institutions of Andhra Pradesh during the months of August and September 2015. There are fifteen dental colleges spread across thirteen districts of Andhra Pradesh. All these colleges are affiliated to Dr. Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao University of Health Sciences (Dr. NTRUHS).[8] Ethical clearance was obtained from the Institutional Review Board. A self-administered semi-structured questionnaire was prepared in English language. The questionnaire was adopted from a similar study conducted by O'Sullivan.[6] The questionnaire was evaluated by experts for content validity to check if the questionnaire covers all the domains related to the anticipated objective of the study. Six experts participated in the evaluation process, and all the questions in the questionnaire were rated as “quite relevant” and “highly relevant,” confirming the validity of questionnaire. The questionnaire was then pretested in a pilot study on ten faculty members of our institution, and necessary corrections were made. The internal consistency of the final questionnaire as measured by Cronbach's alpha was 0.76, which indicates an acceptable level of reliability according to Okolo.[9] The questionnaire sought information on sociodemographic details and perceptions of dental faculty members toward faculty development. Two open-ended questions were posed; one enquired about their views on faculty development programs in general and the other explored the details of faculty development programs attended, if any.

Cluster sampling technique was employed to select the study participants. Five out of fifteen dental colleges were selected by simple random sampling technique, using lottery method. The questionnaires were distributed personally to all the faculty who were present on the day of survey. Informed consent was obtained from the respondents before administering the questionnaire. Each and every respondent was explained about the purpose of the study, guaranteed of anonymity, and requested to provide the most appropriate answers without any prejudice. The investigator was not present around while the respondents were answering the questionnaires. The filled questionnaires were collected personally by the investigator without looking into the responses. After collecting data from all five institutions, the filled pro formas were pooled so that institutional identity of the respondents could not be traced.

A total of 138 respondents returned the questionnaires, which were screened for completeness of the answers. After eliminating incompletely filled forms, 130 pro formas were found to be duly filled and considered for statistical analysis. The data were entered into Microsoft Excel, and statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (IBM SPSS statistics for windows version 20, Armonk, NY, USA). Descriptive statistics were compiled. Pearson's Chi-square test was performed to determine the relationship among the study variables. Statistical significance value was set at P< 0.05.


  Results Top


The mean age of study participants was 34.7 ± 6.53 years, and mean teaching experience was 6.01 ± 5.26 years. The respondents were characterized by a male predominance (70.8%) and a great proportion (56.2%) in the age group of 31–40 years. There was only one respondent above 50 years of age (67 years). Almost all the respondents (95.4%) possessed master's degree in any one of the dental specializations. Majority of the participants were senior lecturers [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic and professional details of study participants

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Perceptions of the respondents on faculty development are presented in [Table 2]. When asked whether they were equipped with appropriate skills required to handle the students, 90% responded positively. Majority of the participants (79.2%) had not received any type of faculty development training. More than half of them (53.1%) reported that there was no formal evaluation on teaching abilities of the faculty in their institution. Interestingly, 23.1% of the respondents did not know whether their institution had a formal evaluation on teaching abilities of the faculty. A great proportion of the participants (60%) felt that their institutions were giving greater importance to scientific publications than their teaching abilities while considering faculty promotions. When they were questioned whether they were receiving any support from their institution in improving their teaching skills, 50% said no. About 60% of the respondents reported that there was no established faculty development program in their respective institution. More than 90% felt that faculty training must be made compulsory for all faculty members. Most of the faculty (93.1%) wished to attend faculty development programs.
Table 2: Distribution of study participants according to their perceptions on faculty development

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The influence of each of the demographic and professional characteristics on their perceptions was tested separately using Chi-square test. Almost all the senior faculty members expressed that faculty development programs should be made compulsory to the entire teaching faculty irrespective of their experience and skills. However, the responses from young faculty were diverse; considerable number of them opined that the programs can be limited to new faculty or faculty with poor teaching skills [Table 3].
Table 3: Responses to the question “is faculty development program compulsory for all faculty?” (according to age and academic rank)

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The most frequently perceived barrier for faculty development was a lack of initiation from authorities followed by excessive clinical load and teaching load [Figure 1]. Nearly three-fourths of the participants felt that through faculty development programs, the educational standards in the institution can be improved. About 39% felt that faculty development programs help in self-improvement of the faculty and improving the quality of dental care [Figure 2].
Figure 1: Perceived barriers for faculty development

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Figure 2: What can be achieved by faculty development?

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  Discussion Top


This survey provides new insights into the faculty development issues in Indian dental institutions. Dr. NTRUHS is the first university in India, dedicated for teaching and research in medical and allied sciences, including dentistry.[10] As the participants in our study were taken from five different dental institutions of Andhra Pradesh, the results can be generalized to all the faculty of dental institutions of Dr. NTRUHS, Andhra Pradesh.

Faculty in dental educational institutions has to fulfill a number of roles such as a teacher, a scholar, a researcher, a mentor, a discipline leader, a committee member, and a clinician. Hence, they require a multitude of skills that go beyond their clinical expertise.[11] Other than providing technical training in the concerned specialty, master's program provides little opportunity for the development of these skills.[12] Since availability is no longer a bottleneck, universities should focus on improving the teaching skills of dental faculty.

Analysis of demographic profile reveals a marked gender imbalance which concurs with international reports of lower proportion of female dental faculty.[13],[14] Most of the faculty present in the study belonged to younger age spectrum which is in contrast with the findings of Hand [12] and Livingston et al.[15] where 75% were over 40 years of age. The predominance of young faculty in the present study reflects the recent surge in the number of dentists receiving postgraduate degrees from the new dental colleges and occupying faculty positions in the institutions.

In the present study, 85% of the faculty possessed master's degree, reflecting the availability of a highly qualified faculty. This is in contrast with the study conducted by O'Sullivan [6] in Ireland where only 39% of faculty possessed master's degree. It is surprising that 90% of the respondents opined that they were equipped enough with the skills required to handle the students appropriately though there were no established faculty development programs. However, this subjective contentment of the faculty should be verified by studying the perceptions of the students in the respective institutions. Studies conducted among dental students in some developing countries [16],[17],[18] reported the poor communication skills for faculty members, which act as a learning barrier for them.

Majority of the participants did not attend any type of faculty development programs in the past. Spencer,[19] Yip,[20] and O'Sullivan [6] observed that lack of teacher training was accepted as a norm for most educators in higher education until quite recently. Apparently, dental education in India is in a similar state now. Those few participants, who reported receiving faculty training program, attended some sort of informal sessions. The informal faculty development programs encompassed minicourses, workshops, or seminars specifically in the area of education that are narrower in scope and more time restrictive than formal faculty development programs. Whereas formal faculty development programs include master-level degree or curricular-based certificate programs, specifically in the area of education typically occurring at a postsecondary institution.[21]

Reasons for lack of attention to faculty development seem to be institutional rather than personal. When the respondents were questioned whether they received any support from the institution, they were presently working, 50% responded in negative. More than half of the participants reported that there were no established faculty training programs in their respective institutions. The resultant dissatisfaction was reflected by one of the respondents as: “Faculty development program should be implemented by every dental educational institution on its own.” More than half of the respondents reported that their institutions lacked any formal evaluation on teaching abilities of the faculty. Majority of participants felt that their institutions were giving more importance to scientific publications than teaching abilities while considering faculty promotions. Thus, stated one respondent: “Teaching abilities of the faculty members should also be considered as one of the criteria for faculty promotions. A comprehensive system should be developed to evaluate the faculty.” Masella [22] observed, Dental school teaching generally places a second role in career success, where research and publications being the prime movers. To be only a teacher may be regarded as distinctly second rate.”

A long-term follow-up revealed that faculty development programs contributed to professional accomplishments of the dental faculty.[23] Faculty development programs not only result in improved teaching skills of faculty, improved educational standards, and improved quality of dental care as reported by the respondents of our study but also be beneficial to the institutions themselves. International reports suggest that failure to provide adequate faculty development is contributing to the dramatic decline in retention and recruitment rates, leading to impending faculty shortages in institutions.[24],[25] Implementation of programs focused on long-term development of future faculty members within dental schools including mentoring programs will go a long way to help address and reduce faculty shortages.[26]

As lack of initiation from authorities is the most common barrier for faculty development, universities should initiate, encourage, and support faculty development courses by establishing university-based faculty development centers.[27] Since considerable number of faculty reported clinical and teaching load as important barriers, the job responsibilities of faculty shall be streamlined to facilitate participation in such programs.

This study faces a limitation that is inherent to all questionnaire-based studies; there is a chance of social desirability bias. However, anonymity was maintained and the respondents were assured of the same to minimize this bias. Instead of cluster sampling, a simple random selection of respondents from all the dental institutions under the university would have improved the generalizability of the study findings.


  Conclusion Top


As demonstrated by this study, most of them received a little or no training in how to teach. Most of the faculty perceived a lack of initiation from authorities and excessive clinical and teaching load as the important barriers to attend faculty development programs. By mastering active teaching–learning methods, the faculty will act as facilitators and counselors so that students quit the role of passive receptors and become active participants in the process of learning. It is time for the institutions and authorities to initiate reforms to remove the barriers and provide institutional support for faculty development programs in the interest of the students, faculty, institutions, dental profession, and the public at large.

Acknowledgment

We thankfully acknowledge O'Sullivan EM for sharing his questionnaire and allowing us to modify and use the same. We acknowledge the managements and faculty of the participating institutions for their cooperation.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

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