Perceptions of curriculum innovation among educators in South African dental schools - an explorative study

Gugushe, Tshepo Sipho
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Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch
Curriculum changes that have occurred in most South African dental schools have been influenced by several factors such as organizational outlook (the dental school as a learning organization), legislative frameworks that have had an influence on higher education in South Africa and epistemological interpretations of these changes by educators within dental schools. Very little is known about how medical and dental educators experience curricular change or innovations that in effect may contest their established pedagogical views. They themselves (especially those who have been teaching for many years) are products of a teacher-centred approach to learning. This, therefore, means they may have a product orientation rather than a process orientation to curriculum development. What may have been overlooked is that challenges and successes of curricular reform or revision may also be influenced by challenges to the established identity and role of teachers involved, and that some teachers’ perceptions about teaching may be in conflict with the recommended changes or innovations. The purpose of this study therefore, was to explore the influence (if any) on South African dental educators’ perceptions towards curriculum change or innovation which has occurred in the dental schools and to assess their orientation to modern pedagogic practice. The objectives of the study were twofold. Firstly to determine the South African dental educators’ perceptions and pedagogic practices to the following trends in health sciences education viz. curriculum organization, education for capability, community orientation, self-directed learning, problem-based learning, evidence-based health sciences education, communication and information technology and service learning. The second objective was to determine the influence of socio-demographic variables to the dental educators’ perceptions and pedagogic practices. Data was collected through a questionnaire which was sent to all educators at dental schools. At the time of conducting this study there were 220 educators; 168 educators responded to the questionnaire. There was a 76% response rate to the questionnaire. The data was processed utilizing responses and coding them into a computerized data set. It was coded, edited and checked using the procedures provided by the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) in order to work out the various calculations relevant to the study. The SAS FREQ procedure was used to calculate the descriptive statistics needed. The study indicated that the teacher-centred paradigm is still predominant, even though the educators claimed to be using some aspects of modern pedagogic practice. One socio-demographic variable that had a significant influence (p<0,05) on community orientation was the age of the educator. Another variable that had a significant influence on evidence-based health sciences education was number of years in academic dentistry.
Thesis (MPhil (Curriculum Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.
Curriculum innovation, Dissertations -- Education, Theses -- Education