Daniel Zahra : A Psychologist in Medical and Dental Education

Daniel Zahra : A Psychologist in Medical and Dental Education

  Untitled Document

I currently work as a Lecturer in Assessment Psychometrics at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry), supporting assessment and research across all medical and dental programmes. Working alongside amazing colleagues, I am involved in a diverse range of projects, and continue to develop my own areas of interest combining psychology, philosophy, and education, and in particular decision-making, simulation, and inter-professional education.

Working with Clare McIlwaine, Louise Belfield, Kamran Ali and other colleagues at PUPSMD my main areas of research currently are related projects exploring inter-professional engagement in dental education. Alongside this, I am also working with Rebecca Baines on patient involvement in student assessment.

Research Overview

With respect to work on assessment, my work is focussed on the predictive validity of assessments, the use of simulation and virtual reality, and analysis of student's preparedness for practice in dentistry. More specifically, I am interested in whether measures of reliability can improve predictive modelling of student outcomes, how medical students interact in simulated environments and reach consensus on clinical decisions, and dental student's perceptions of their own capabilities across both the academic and clinical elements of their programme. Each of these aspects are interrelated, and help to provide a broad, eclectic understanding of medical and dental education.

Previously, my ESRC-funded PhD research investigated the effects of emotive content in syllogistic and conditional reasoning. This work was supervised by Professor Simon Handley of Plymouth University, with Dr Simone Schnall of the University of Cambridge as my second supervisor, and Emeritus Professor Jonathan Evans acting as a third. The studies comprising my thesis follow on from my previous work looking at concurrent-mood effects in similar problems, and extend my early work on assessment anxiety and reasoning.

I have also worked with PCMD on the analysis of a large multi-site evaluation of the improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) programme. The aim of which was to not only provide some idea of which factors (treatment type, treatment duration, demographics, amongst others) lead to greater improvements in mental health, but also inform improvements to the services provided across the South West. In addition to work on the IAPT project, I have also had the opportunity to work on projects investigating factors affecting mental health in different populations, as well as offer statistical support for projects investigating the efficacy of online advertising in health, and diabetic foot ulceration, amongst others.

I have also been fortunate enough to have the opportunity consultant research outside of educational contexts, including elements of an NHS intervention project, clinical evaluation of dental implant survival rates, and a project to evaluate the engagement of elderly individuals in rural communities in collaboration with Plymouth University's School of Nursing and Midwifery.


In addition to my research, I have taught undergraduate and masters psychology students research methods and statistics, focusing on good experimental and qualitative research design, ethics in research, regression-based techniques and analysis of variance. I have also lectured on critical thinking, social and environmental psychology, teaching students at undergraduate and masters level.

In my current role I contribute to teaching of quantitative research design, supervise clinical education masters students, and teach undergraduate medical and dental students clinical decision making and statistics.


The Benefits of IPE in Dentistry

Recently accepted paper in the European Journal of Dental Education, a collaborative effort within the Peninsula Dental School BScDTH Team: available here.

Thought for the Day

"Same Scope. Same Standard"