An investigation of the perceptions of learners and staff in respect of the dental technology extended first year programme
This study investigates the perceptions of learners and staff of the Dental Technology Extended First Programme (EFYP) currently offered in the Department of Dental Services at the Durban University of Technology. The EFYP has been offered since 1995 in order to meet the needs of under prepared learners in the Dental Technology programme as well as to address transformation of the programme. The Dental Technology EFYP has evolved over a number of years and was one of the first extended programmes offered in South African higher education. No evaluation of this programme has occurred since its inception. Moreover, the present study is particularly relevant as it has been conducted at a time that the Department of Education is concerned with low throughput rates in South African tertiary education. It is hoped that insights into this programme gained from this study will be of benefit to educators either currently providing foundation provision or those contemplating foundation provision in the future. It is noted that little research into foundation provision has, to date, been conducted in South Africa. For this study, learners currently registered in the Dental Technology programme and staff from the programme were interviewed in semi-structured interviews, and the main themes concerning foundation provision emerging from the study were identified. I conclude that the current EFYP is an academically sound programme contributing to the academic development of individual learners as well as to the overall success of the Dental Technology programme. Learners were unanimous in their belief that the EFYP contributed positively towards their academic advancement. Furthermore, learners noted the contribution that the EFYP made to their integration into higher education through a range of interventions such the departmental mentorship programme. Staff, also, favourably viewed the EFYP as academically successful.