Motivational interviewing (MI) has been promoted in recent years as an effective method for engaging patients in positive health behaviors and increasing adherence to treatment regimens. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a brief training of MI techniques provided within the dental school curriculum. Third-year dental students received three hours of instruction on MI theory and techniques and then were assigned to use the method with a patient and report on their attempt in a paper. To determine if the brief training and paper assignment were effective methods for training students and assessing their understanding of MI methods, the papers were analyzed to assess aspects of the students' self-reported use of MI-related methods. Effective use of MI techniques was demonstrated by students who appropriately matched their intervention to the patient's stage of readiness to change, accurately recognized patient resistance, and responded to resistance. The paper assignment appeared to be an effective method to assess the students' use and understanding of MI-related techniques.