Transition from Diploma to Degree for Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists: Academic and social experiences

Buller, Victoria (2019) Transition from Diploma to Degree for Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists: Academic and social experiences. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis joins a continued discussion in the social sciences about transition into Higher Education (HE) for non-traditional students. Transition into Higher Education can be problematic, particularly for direct entrants and those from a non-traditional background. Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists can enter into Higher Education (HE) following diploma level study. In 2012, the School of Dentistry at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) developed the BSc (Hons) Dental Studies for Dental Care Professionals to support the academic development of Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists allowing them to have the opportunity to study the final year of a degree to build on their existing diploma.
Using Gale and Parker’s (2014) concepts of transition as induction, development and becoming as a framework, the study aimed to investigate the expectations and academic and social experiences during the transition into HE. A qualitative methodology using a phenomenological case study design was adopted. A topical approach to interviews was used and a purposive sampling technique was carried out with eight participants who were at different stages in the programme. In addition to this, documentary evidence was examined.
Four key concepts derived from the research; expectations, motivation (including family commitments, personal and career), transition and communities of practice. The study found that both the periods before and during transition are significant for students and therefore the study concludes that student pre-induction is an area that is limited in current literature and therefore would benefit from further research to support student transition. Further research could also examine the correlation of the length of time away from study and transitional issues. The study also recommends that a pre-induction strategy could be developed which could include a pre-transition questionnaire, digital support materials and the use of Microsoft Teams to facilitate a community of practice.

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