The implementation of curriculum change, and innovative pedagogical theory, can help educators and administrators in higher education further the learning gains of students in the sciences. But the introduction of new methods of teaching, or curricular restructuring, can be interpreted by students differently, potentially affecting students' emotional states as well as their relationships with peers. To support not only the learning of students, but also their emotional and social well-being, pedagogical and curricular theory should be enacted in ways that take into consideration the full scope of the student experience. In this dissertation, the implementation of curriculum and pedagogical theory, and the effects of the usage of active learning methods, are examined through student learning gains as well as through any reported social and emotional affects. In the first chapter we examine the history and realization of the integration of clinical and biomedical sciences in the field of predoctoral dental education. In the second chapter, the effects of early experiential learning opportunities are examined via students' progression to clinical competence and students’ self-reported confidence in a predoctoral dental program. In the third chapter, we consider and review how curricular change may affect students' emotional states, their relationships with peers, and if the concept of stereotype threat played any role in the complication observed. Lastly, in chapter four we explore how active learning may benefit, or hinder, the learning of students in an undergraduate anatomy course with social anxiety in a virtual learning environment. Throughout this dissertation, we seek to promote student learning through the use of educational best practices and consider how curriculum and pedagogical changes might also affect the feelings and emotional states of students, for the purpose of building a considerate and effective educational environment.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





student learning, curricular change, learning gains, cognitive and attitudinal change, biomedical sciences, clinical sciences, science education, peer mentorships, stereotype threat, student anxiety, student relationships, early experiential learning, integrated national board dental examination



Included in

Biology Commons