Correlation of a Carving Test

Pink, Frank, Lawrence Abbott, Judy Kwapis-Jaeger, Margaret Coleman, Nahid Kashani, Jackson Linger, Durinda Mattana, and Kathi Shepherd


To test whether a carving dexterity test and first year dental school performance correlate with GPA and rank in class upon graduation

The identification and development of hand skills has always been an issue in dental education. U.S dental schools use the PMAT of the DAT to assess potential hand skills, while Canadian schools and Louisiana State University also use a carving test for this purpose. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between a carving test similar to that used by the CDA and LSU and 1st year performance in dental school, as represented by 1st year operative GPA and 1st year overall GPA against graduating dental school performance. On the first day of class, first year students, without prior notice, carved a specific design into standardized sticks of soap. The carvings were evaluated by a team of 8 faculty who had been calibrated using the standardized criteria and format used by the CDA. The criteria used were flatness of straight planes, sharpness of angles, symmetry, and accuracy of overall reproduction. One pair of faculty evaluated the same criterion on each carving. Scores for each criterion were 0- 4. Relevant summary data of the class of 2004 (N=73) was collected from the end of the first year of dental school and upon graduation, including a carving test, 1st year GPA, 1st year operative GPA, graduating GPA and graduating class rank. Data was then statistically analyzed using ANOVA, Kruskal-Wallis, regression, and correlation analyses. The carving test had a slight correlation value of 0.254 with final class rank. The same test showed an inverse (-0.234) correlation with entering GPA. First year academic performance, as measured by 1st year GPA, had a strong 0.852 correlation with graduating rank in class. But 1st year operative scores showed only a moderate 0.389 correlation with graduating rank in class. No correlation between carving scores and 1st year GPA (0.18) were observed. Thus, the best predictor of final academic performance was the 1st year overall GPA, while carving scores showed weak correlations with both 1st year operative scores and final rank in class and a negative correlation with entering GPA. This data set suggests that for this population hand skills, as measured by a carving test, is weakly or inversely related to intellectual performance, as measured by entering and graduating GPA. These results warrant further investigation.