INTRODUCTION : There is a need to measure the social accountability
of dental students following service learning
OBJECTIVES : To pilot the Community Service Attitudes
Scale (CSAS) and to test its reliability in a South African
context while matching CSAS findings with students’ perceptions
of their SL experience.
METHODS : Final year dental students at Sefako Makgatho
University anonymously completed a modified version of
the CSAS and submitted written reflections before and
after SL exposure. Students also participated in two focus
group discussions after exposure. Before and after CSAS
data were statistically compared using t-tests. Qualitative
data from the focus groups and reflective essays were
matched against the findings of the CSAS.
RESULTS : Students (n=41, 76% CSAS response rate) generally
displayed positive attitudes towards communities in need, both before and after exposure (no statistical difference).
The CSAS internal consistency was excellent (α =
0.96). Qualitative findings suggested a need for stakeholders’
involvement in the procurement of SL resources and
in meeting community needs. There was tension between
SL and quota-driven dental training.
CONCLUSION : The CSAS showed good reliability and appears
a useful tool to measure social accountability in South
Africa. The qualitative findings need further investigation.