Dental schools are required to utilize teaching practices that increase students’ culture competence and ensure their ability to deliver equitable oral care. This study explored the impact of active teaching, an approach that offered comprehensive engagement and experiential learning. Students participated in small group activities, conducted interviews and developed reflective writings. A QUAN→qual sequential mixed method was used to analyze their reflective writings. Quantitative results indicated that students’ cultural competence was significantly enhanced. Qualitative findings showed that students recognized their unconscious biases and reported an increase of cultural competence. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of experiential learning, particularly the addition of small group discussions, in instruction aimed at enhancing cultural competence among 84 first year pre-doctoral dental students.


Cultural Competence, Dental Students, Mixed Methods, Reflective Writing, Small Group Activity

Author Bio(s)

Linda S. Behar-Horenstein is Distinguished Teaching Scholar & Professor in the Colleges of Dentistry, Education, Veterinary Medicine, & Pharmacy, Director, CTSI Educational Development & Evaluation and Co-Director, HRSA Faculty Development in Dentistry at the University of Florida. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: lsbhoren@ufl.edu.

Xiaoying Feng is a doctoral candidate in the College of Education at the University of Florida. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: fengxy@ufl.edu.


This study was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number and title for grant amount (Award # 1 D86HP24477-01-00, Faculty development supporting academic dental institution curriculum for 21st century. Awarded $2,552,191). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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