Feeding the pipeline: academic skills training for predental students.J Dent Educ. 2008 Jun; 72(6):653-61.JD
This article reports the outcomes of an evaluation conducted to determine if an academic skills training program for undergraduate predental students from underrepresented minority backgrounds increased the students' standardized academic skills test scores for vocabulary, reading comprehension, reading rates, spelling, and math as well as subject-specific test results in biology, chemistry, and physics. Data from standardized academic skill tests and subject-specific tests were collected at the beginning and end of the 1998 to 2006 Pipeline Programs, six-week summer enrichment programs for undergraduate predental students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In total, 179 students (75.4 percent African American, 7.3 percent Hispanic, 5.6 percent Asian American, 5 percent white) attended the programs during these nine summers. Scores on the Nelson-Denny Reading Test showed that the students improved their vocabulary scores (percentile ranks before/after: 46.80 percent/59.56 percent; p<.001), reading comprehension scores (47.21 percent/62.67 percent; p<.001), and reading rates (34.01 percent/78.31 percent; p<.001) from the beginning to the end of the summer programs. Results on the Wide Range Achievement Test III showed increases in spelling (73.58 percent/86.22 percent; p<.001) and math scores (56.98 percent/81.28 percent; p<.001). The students also improved their subject-specific scores in biology (39.07 percent/63.42 percent; p<.001), chemistry (20.54 percent/51.01 percent; p<.001), and physics (35.12 percent/61.14 percent; p<.001). To increase the number of underrepresented minority students in the dental school admissions pool, efforts are needed to prepare students from disadvantaged backgrounds for this process. These data demonstrate that a six-week enrichment program significantly improved the academic skills and basic science knowledge scores of undergraduate predental students. These improvements have the potential to enhance the performance of these students in college courses and thus increase their level of competitiveness in the dental school admissions process.