"We are not in the least bit used to these ways of studying": Developing academic competence in all students

18 Nov 2009

This article is located in the field of academic development in oral health science education. Specifically, it examines the academic difficulties experienced by oral hygiene students in their transition from high school to university. A qualitative approach was employed to elicit student and lecturer perceptions. Drawing on empirical evidence from a case study of a cohort of first-year oral hygiene students at a dental faculty in South Africa, the article contributes to an understanding of how first-year university students might be better prepared for the challenges of reading and writing in higher education. The voices of lecturers and students are used to highlight the nature of the difficulties that students experience in the transition from high school to university. The suggestions that students made regarding how the transition might be eased are also examined. The final section draws on these suggestions and presents a working model for an academic development module for first-year oral health students.