oa The Journal of Independent Teaching and Learning - Social and academic integration in an extended curriculum programme
Extended curricula have been introduced in a number of programmes in South Africa as one mechanism for addressing issues of equitable access, the low throughput rate in higher education and the need to articulate better the gap between school and higher education practices. This article considers the extended curriculum programme in Dental Technology at the Durban University of Technology and argues that in order to achieve these multiple aims, such programmes have to provide a broad range of inputs which consider the learners in both social and academic ways. Dental Technology has offered an extended curriculum programme since 1995. In 2003 the programme was re-curriculated to comply with Department of Education funding criteria. The Dental Technology extended curriculum has evolved to include a range of interventions which support learners as they adjust to university life and which induct them into the discipline-specific norms of the Dental Technologist. It is through the integrated development of academic and information literacies as well as the conscious concern with social integration that this programme has succeeded. Analysis of semi-structured interviews with learners and staff of the Dental Technology programme shows that this intervention is successful specifically because it takes note of a combination of multi-faceted issues. It mediates learnersâ?? acquisition of complex concepts and nomenclature while at the same time narrows the gap between the literacy practices of school and tertiary education. The explicit foregrounding of academic literacy practices through real tasks in the specific discipline promotes the acquisition of analytical, reading and writing practices and conceptual understanding. In addition, it was recognised that attention to social integration issues led to more settled learners who were consequently able to enjoy academic success. Social integration was achieved through a well-defined mentorship programme running parallel with the academic programme.
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