Piloting the community service attitudes scale in a South African context with matching qualitative data

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    INTRODUCTION : There is a need to measure the social accountability of dental students following service learning (SL) exposure. 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.